Behind the Track

Behind the Track: Lena Morris

3rd May 2019

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What was the inspiration/is there a story behind your track?

My new single ‘Never (Is An Awfully Long Time)’ covers a very sensitive topic to me: the lack of self-esteem. It is not always taken seriously but that issue touches an uncountable number of people and can literally wreck lives.

When I moved to Brighton, I started being affected by anxiety to an almost pathological extent. Was it the split from my childhood? Was it finding myself alone, far away from my family in an unknown country? Was it the pressure of studies? Probably a little bit of all this. But it changed me a lot: when I already had been on stage more than 70 times in my high school years, it became impossible for me to get back up on stage for 2 years. I therefore prioritised the studio work. My family and friends were being very supportive but the whole situation made me unhappy.

I put a lot of energy to work this issue out. Since last year I have been back on stage, and things are getting better, but I think it is very important to talk about the low self-esteem trouble. I want people to know that they can get better without having to wait “an awfully long time”. But identifying the issues, putting words on them, and tackling them as swiftly as possible, is key.

In the music industry, I meet a lot of people going through the same issues. I also think that social media does not help. When we all “need” to be perfect, have a smooth and flawless image…that creates a strong pressure which turns out to be dangerous, particularly for the young.

I believe that a lack of self-esteem still is an underestimated trouble. This song says that people suffering from it should never feel like drop-outs. My message is: we all are in the same boat and it is going to be okay eventually. We are all capable of much more than we know.

You will have noticed the song stages a woman. It is not only about me. I also wanted to spotlight the many women out there lacking self-love, partly due to the wild world we live in. There is a lot to do and I wish to do my part.

How did you approach writing this song?

I had this phrase “never is an awfully long time” buzzing in my head for days, and I wanted to do something with it. I started playing a standard blues on the guitar, as I often do. When I had the harmonic grid done, I started writing the lyrics. I wanted them straight to the point to create a direct link with the audience. When the lyrics were done, I recorded the guitar line, and played it on a loop to write the bass line.

I don’t really have a typical approach when I write. I go with the flow. The creation process can be very different from one song to another. The inspiration can result from a bass line, a piano melody. This time the inspiration came from a few words. But no matter what, my favourite moment is when the different lines start intertwining. It feels like the song is blooming. That is what makes the first group sessions so exciting.

Do you have a favourite line/section of the song?

I don’t want to seem self-satisfied, this song has flaws like all songs. But I do find something I like in every section of the song. I think it is because the people that worked with me really made it special.
I like the verses for their blues vibe and the narrative lyrics. I remember loving recording the pre-choruses because of the vocal fun I had.

The production on the guitars in the chorus is great (hats off Lou Bell and Pol Mira). The vocal parts (I was grandly backed by Megan Hill and Lou Bell) blend together great. The chorus is pretty hooky, just like it should be.

For the first time we used a lap steel on a song, and Lou Bell’s work sounds beautiful, it really added to the song’s bluesy vibe. And Peter Goldbach’s touching drumming was exactly what the song needed. Not to forget Steven Bamidele who did a great job producing the song.

For all this, I cannot say I have a favourite part in this song. However the chorus line “never is an awfully long time” still sounds special to me, due to what I said earlier.

Can you describe your sound in three words?

Three words? Seriously??? This is terrible for a girl who loves to talk (ha!)
Let’s try… My number one would probably be “authentic”. We don’t use synths, we don’t use weird effects. If our sound was a piece of furniture, it would be solid wood.

Number two would be “heartfelt”. All of us play music to make people’s lives better, because that is exactly how we discovered music as kids. I am often told that it shows. It always makes me proud.

Lastly “connected”. I do care about how my music is perceived by the audience. And when people relate to what I relate in my songs, I feel the deed is done.

See? Barely more than three words (haha)

How do you feel your sound has developed from studying at BIMM?

When I started BIMM I was more of a folk singer-songwriter. With my previous band in Hong Kong, we seldom played my original material. So most of them I’d keep to the guitar & vocal form.
LPWs in first year helped me discover a fuller approach to songwriting, different genres and I naturally moved to Blues-Rock.

Playing with many different musicians is the best way to discover new styles, finding new ways to arrange songs and develop as a musician and a songwriter. I believe I sucked inspiration in from all the musical diversity I have been rubbing shoulders with. I think BIMM is great on the networking side. All the different courses create a musical ecosystem that literally feeds us.

What’s the best thing about studying at BIMM?

Again, the networking. Of course, the teaching team is top notch, we learn a lot about the business side, we familiarise ourselves with many types of music like writing for TV or video games, we acquire theoretical knowledge and understand the music tricks, etc… but the networking is one irreplaceable opportunity BIMM offers which will help us all throughout our lives. We’ll still be enjoying it many years after graduation. That’s why I believe it is BIMM’s greatest asset.

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Author

Sarah-Louise Burns

After studying Ba(Hons) Photography, Sarah has worked in Social Media Marketing since 2013 - she's now part of the BIMM Social Media Team, and is photographer for the Who, What, Why series.