The “4+1 and 5” is a series of interviews with popular musicians and their personal crafted playlists edited by Bay Area based (415 area code) blogger, SFCritic. Musicians are given five questions and asked to relate their responses to individuals songs, which are compiled into a playlist for readers to enjoy. With five questions and five mp3s, coming straight from (415), you’ve got “4+1 and 5.”
James Vincent McMorrow is often quickly compared to Bon Iver. His similar folk sound was crafted like Bon Iver in a remote house surrounded in natured. So much has been made of this comparison that SFCritic thought it best to get to know James Vincent McMorrow based on the man behind his praised debut album, Early In The Morning.
SFCritic (SFC): Hello James, I thought to bridge these questions based upon your experience creating Early In The Morning in a natural, reserved place in Ireland. Did you take vacations with your family to a certain natural place in particular? What is a particular memory you have of one of those experiences and what song reflects that period in your life?
James Vincent McMorrow (JVM): We went on a lot of holidays to the west of Ireland, a place called, Roundstone, which is in the county Galway. They have these incredible back to back beaches called Dogs Bay and Gurteen Bay. The water is so clear–it’s almost like the Caribbean. Once while I was learning to windsurf I got swept out towards the open sea that was fairly terrifying. I remember listening to “The Changing Man” by Paul Weller a lot. I think I was about 12 or 13 and I loved that song.
SFC: After moving to your house where you began recording Early In The Morning what was the first track you finished? What was your daily routine like in the recording process? What is a song you listened to that helped your creative process (maybe while you were running on the beach)?
JVM: The first track I finished was “If I Had A Boat,” which was also the song that made me want to go and make a record by myself. It was definitely the first thing I played for anyone.
My routine consisted of getting up around noon, starting work straight away, going running on the beach in the evening and then working all the way through until about four or five in the morning. I distinctly remember listening to “Sovay” by Andrew Bird while I was running on the beach, that album The Mysterious Production of Eggs was something l had on repeat, it’s fantastic.
SFC: Can you describe the scenery and atmosphere of the location you wrote Early in The Morning? What album reminds you of a similar setting (obvious example: journalists make the comparison to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago)?
JVM: It was beautiful, really stark and cold in January when I first moved up there. Then it became warm and bright to the end of my spell there. You could hear the sea all the time, it was like the soundtrack to the recordings. It’s the hiss that you hear on the album. After The Goldrush is an album that reminds me of a similar setting, although I’ve no idea how it was recorded or where, but just the tone and feel of it, evokes similar feelings in me as the ones I had when I was making my own album.
“Once while I was learning to windsurf I got swept out towards the open sea that was fairly terrifying. I remember listening to “The Changing Man” by Paul Weller a lot. I think I was about 12 or 13 and I loved that song.”
SFC: If you could take one song from your album and put it alongside a scene in a movie or a novel you’ve read, what song would it be and what would be the scene?
JVM: Interesting question, not something I’ve ever thought about before. I think i’d love to hear a song of mine played alongside a passage from a Cormac McCarthy novel. All the Pretty Horses is my favorite book of his. So maybe one of those scenes where they’re up in the mountains rounding up the wild horses, the way he describes the Mexican countryside is so vivid and compelling and I think perhaps “Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree.”
SFC: Where do you see yourself next creating an album? What song or music describes the journey ahead of you?
JVM: I like the idea of working for a couple of months on my own. As for a song that describes the journey ahead of me, I have no clue, I guess cause the journey ahead is completely unknown to me. I am just keeping my head down and working as hard as I can, so perhaps something with a really loud and fast kick drum in it! [Arcade Fire “Keep The Car Running”]
1. Paul Weller “The Changing Man”
2. Andrew Bird “Sovay”
3. James Vincent McMorrow “Follow You Down To The Red Oak Tree”
4. Neil Young “Southern Man”
5. Arcade Fire “Keep The Car Running”
PLUS: James Vincent McMorrow “If I Had A Boat”