Kendra Morris : Get Familiar

Kendra Morris has been creating a pretty big buzz for herself with her breakout song “Concrete Waves” and latest single, “If He Didn’t Go.” Gearing up to release her highly anticipated album, Banshee, via Wax Poetics Records, the singer has already got the cosign of various artists notably legendary producer DJ Premier who made a remixed version of “Concrete Waves,” for the three track EP. But, who is this girl?

Despite what a recent blog critic suggests, Morris is nothing like Nancy Sinatra nor Lana Del Rey, nor is she making songs about being depressed. “She saw the video ‘If You Didn’t Go’ on MTV Buzzworthy and she titled her blog ‘Lana Is That You?’, then she was like what’s up with all these girls walking around being all sad and walking around like they’re Nancy Sinatra wannabees?” recalls Morris.

“I am not a moper.  I’m pretty aggressive. I’m usually in a positive mood and all my songs and videos are different.  It was just the fact that she had this comparison.  I have nothing against Lana Del Rey, or any artist who is putting her best foot forward and doing her thing but, we have nothing in common.  I don’t think I’m Nancy Sinatra,” she insists, adding, “I love Nancy.”

Morris is cut from her own cloth and living proof of the cliché, ‘hard work pays off’.  The New York resident, by way of St. Petersburg, Florida, grew up listening to the greats like Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and early Sam Cooke. Growing up, Morris knew that singing was the career path that she wanted to pursue.  She used to sing in her closet (still does) and tape herself on her karaoke machine, both of which were beneficial for her career today.  

“I was never the best guitar player but, I would take whatever materials I had.  Even if I wasn’t the best guitar player, I knew I was good at layering the guitar parts or layering the vocals,” says Morris. “I had a boom box and I would play at venues throughout the city and would use the boom box as my amp.  I remember one show, I put all my harmonies on one cassette tape.  I stuck the cassette tape into the boom box so I could have background vocals.”

At the age of 22, Morris moved from Florida to New York with her girl group, Pinktricty. The group whose namesake comes from the candy Nerds, could easily be described as power pop group with all of their influences coming from a different genre.  She says the group was “shitty,” however they had good songs.  The group eventually broke up after two years, which allowed Morris to pursue a career as a solo artist.   

She worked odd jobs and performed at local venues around New York, and through a lot of persistence finally got to work with producer Jeremy Page.  The two worked on her demo and her first project Kendra Morris EP.  From that project, Morris was able to secure a record contract with Wax Poetics, their ear caught by the song “Pity, Pity.”

“We worked with Notable Publishers, which is partners with Wax Poetics,” says Morris. “They sent it over to Wax Poetics like, ‘Hey, check out this girl’. They called me in to come hang out in their offices.  I don’t even think they wanted to offer a record deal or anything.  I kind of just went off on this rant about how passionate I am about this music and these songs and writing and what I wanted to do because I always had in my head that I wanted to do music.”

That meeting led to history in the making and Morris being signed with the label.  Through the label, Morris has released two singles which are doing well around the blogosphere — “Concrete Waves” and “If You Didn’t Go.”  “Concrete Waves” explores more than just relationship dynamics, but serves as a metaphor with multiple meanings.  

“I remember this phrase [concrete waves] popped into my head one day. Skateboarding is like surfing on wheels on concrete and it’s like a wave when you’re on the ramp and hitting all these things on a rail or when you’re going down a hill – it’s a concrete wave,” explains Morris.

The metaphor also speaks of wanting to be in a relationship with someone you know you’d have magic with, but can’t because of who that person is and the people who will get hurt along the way – just one example of many personal subjects and experienced explored in Kenda’s breakup-inspired debut album.

Banshee is anticipated for release this summer through Wax Poetics Records. 

Kendra Morris online: / Soundcloud / YouTube / Facebook / @KendraMorris

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