On the heels of the release of her debut album, Banshee, Kendra Morris talks kicking her ex-boyfriend out of her apartment, making connections and how artists can get the most out of CMJ 2012.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Banshee. How has the feedback been?
It’s been amazing. I just keep knocking on wood because I put all of these emotions into this album. I spent like a year working on it, and it took a while for it to even come out. When it finally came out it felt like I had a baby.
Last year when you performed at CMJ we dubbed you one of the top 10 R&Bish acts to watch. Do you identify your music as R&B?
Absolutely, I would definitely say it’s in the R&B realm. That’s the music that has always inspired me. But the good thing about being a songwriter is you get inspired by many different things, whether it is people I meet or something else that I’m listening to. So my music can reach into other categories as well.
As a songwriter you can be as personal as you want. Do you do a Taylor Swift thing and list ex-boyfriends’ names and kind of air them out?
[Laughs] No, I haven’t gotten there yet. But they know who they are. Banshee was actually written in the middle of a breakup. There were a few songs I wrote before the breakup, some written during and some written long after the breakup. It’s funny because I remember during the breakup when he was finally getting all of his shit out of my apartment, he looks at me and says (impersonating him), “Well, I hope you have a great album,” kind of sarcastically, and I’m just like, “Thanks, see you around.” [Laughs].
He actually had to live with me for an extra month after we broke up. I couldn’t just go and kick him out. He wasn’t a bad person; he just wasn’t the person for me. Then he finally physically moved his body out, but then he proceeded to leave all of his stuff in the apartment for another two months. It sucked so bad. Finally, I was like, “I’m going out of town. I need you completely gone when I get back.”
What can fans expect from this year’s CMJ performance that is different from last year’s?
It’s going to be new material, but it’s just come together so much. Me and the band have become more accustomed to the vocals. I think it will be a new-found confidence with the album coming out. I think people will know a lot of the songs now.
Are you reuniting with your former band, Pinktricity?
No. [Laughs] That’s really funny. Pinktricity is buried with the neon Nerds. That’s where I got the name from. It was a flavor of Nerds.
Now that you are more seasoned at CMJ, what part of the festival are you most looking forward to?
Probably seeing friends that don’t live in town. People come from all over the festival. All of the different parties and seeing a lot of different bands. I think it’s exciting seeing the city come to life in that sort of way.
What do you think are some of the benefits of attending festivals such as CMJ?
There is something really important about having a network of other musicians. Over the years, through festivals, I have really built on friendships with other artists. That’s really great because that’s where you are going to get the most advice and learn the most. One of my girlfriends who is playing this year is an amazing artist, and we try to do lunch once a month. What we do is sit and exchange ideas and see how we can help one another. With these networks you create, you can learn from other people’s mistakes and their successes.
What tips do you have for first-time CMJ performers?
Go to as many shows as you can, and don’t stay in your bubble. Some of my best connections have come from when I got over being awkward and shy and went up to someone and said, “Hey, I really like what you are doing or wearing.” If you can go outside of that scary and awkward feeling, you are breaking down this wall, and that’s how new relationships are built.
Kendra Morris performs Saturday, October 20, at Rockwood Music Hall as part of CMJ 2012.