Kendra Morris Interview – Under the Covers

Artist of the Week: Kendra Morris

Happy Presidents Day, everyone! Some of you may have a long weekend, but the work never stops here at What Song is in That Commercial. We got in touch with the wonderful Kendra Morris, who has been getting a lot of buzz lately thanks to her cover of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” that appeared in the trailer for Dead Man Down. We talked to Kendra about everything from reality TV to possibly using her song in a commercial for fireworks and bullets. Read on.

Okay so first off I gotta ask you about your appearance on Redemption Song. How did that come about? Was it a good experience for you?
Redemption Song…wow. What an experience. My buddy lived next door to someone who worked for FUSE and they mentioned they were casting for a reality show about wild female singers trying to make it in this crazy industry. I am always game for an adventure and wasn’t really sure exactly what it was they were filming, but sent them this random jokey email one morning and they called me in for a casting right away. I figured, what the hell? If anything, I’ll walk away with a great story to tell. It was sort of like Bad Girls Club meets X Factor. After I wound up getting on the show and had been in that bizarre world for a few weeks I realized that I didn’t want anything to do with being a part of that sort of thing. I felt like someone’s pet monkey. They kept making me feel like a turd. This entire spiel that they are your last shot at having a career in music… yadda yadda… I wound up mooning them and walking off the show on the fourth episode. No one is gonna tell me where my career is going but me. All in all it was a great experience, but one I never want to have again.

I noticed that show was hosted by a WWE star and Dead Man Down is also connected to WWE. Is your song’s appearance in the trailer a coincidence?
Chris Jericho hosted the show, but getting the trailer placement for Dead Man Down was actually a total coincidence. I didn’t even put the two commonalities together until someone else brought it up. The world fits together in such strange ways sometimes.

The song in the Dead Man Down trailer is obviously a cover. Do you enjoy doing cover songs? What’s one song you haven’t covered that you would really like to do?
Man, I wish I wrote “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” It is such an incredible song and when it was written it came from such a fragile place. I love doing covers, being able to bring a little piece of yourself to something you have always had a crush on.  It can be like breathing a new life into something that’s been having a long afternoon nap. It’s also a great way to turn other people on to both the original author of the music and your own. I think it’s so cool seeing people that maybe didn’t really know Pink Floyd who heard the trailer and then went and dug up Pink Floyd and were able to have their own discoveries. It has also turned a lot of people onto my original material.

I’ve been screwing around with covers for many years now. Back when I used to do all my own recordings on this old eight track I would make lists of songs that I loved and throw my own twist on them with layers of guitar and vocal melodies. I’m so glad that doing covers has continued to be a large part of my career although my first love will always be writing my own material. The list of songs that I’d like to cover is endless, however, I have an album that drops early this summer on Wax Poetics Records that is made up entirely of covers and so I got to do some that have been lingering at the top of my list. I like surprises so I’m gonna leave you in the dark regarding the tracks involved. Heh heh heh.

If you could have your song featured in any commercial for any product, what would it be and why?

Hmmm… I love the idea of having a song in a television show or a movie because I feel like it is art supporting more art.. that is always ideal.. however here are a few songs from my recent album Banshee that I’ve paired up with proper commercials…

Concrete Waves – Some company that makes pools. Is there a Mister Pool?
The Plunge- Toilet bowl cleaning supplies
Pow > – fireworks and bullets!
Just One More – Happy Hour at your neighborhood Applebees family restaurant.

What’s your live performance like? Do you still go solo or do you have a backing band now?
I play with a five-piece band these days involving guitar, keys, bass and drums, and me makes number five. I started out playing solo shows with just my ’69 Fender Mustang and a huge Ghettoblaster working as my guitar amp but these days I mainly focus on my voice and working the stage. I just recently switched things up and went on a three-week solo tour where I played guitar and sang without my band but the next tour will be with the full band.

Who plays guitar on “Shine On”?
My producer and collaborator Jeremy Page played guitar on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” He is a phenomenal talent and I feel lucky to be in cahoots with him. He actually plays in my band as well, so if you ever make it out to one of our shows and we play “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” be ready for a treat.

What’s next for you?
We just finished the covers record which is titled Mockingbird. It comes out early this summer. Planning some touring and lots and lots of writing and recording. I never stop moving. My short term memory has been going to crap lately. My mom says it’s because I am jamming too many things into my brain at once. She knows everything so I believe her. Maybe I’ll take a break and go see a movie one of these nights.