An interview with Flo Morrissey

“Show me the way it used to be,” goes the first lyric on Flo Morrissey’s debut album Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful. The song was written five years ago, when Flo was only fifteen, and thereby fulfils its own wish. Her eerie vocals, reminiscent of Kate Bush, sweep above a woeful guitar melody, searching for an answer perhaps too close to heart to be found. But the singer songwriter has had time to reflect upon her past; the record has become a journal of sorts, of her development as an artist and individual.

Growing up in Fulham and Notting Hill with nine siblings, Flo’s dreams of becoming a musician persevered amidst a comfortable chaos of babies, French classes and family commitments. She always knew she wanted to make music and built up an online network by uploading songs and videos from an early age. Her manager first came across her work on a Japanese blog three years ago, around the same time she dropped out of school to delve wholeheartedly into a career. The jump was “kind of on a whim,” she says when we meet in a Walthamstow garden borrowed for the afternoon, yet was still a decision that had evolved subconsciously over time. Flo doesn’t strike me as an impulsive person. Her eyes are curious and calm as she ponders her deep emotional attachment to music. 

The album is a collection of songs written over five years. Can you still relate to the older songs?

Some songs are about experiences I’ve had two or three years ago and I don’t feel the same way anymore. I’m removed from them and at the same time I have to give myself to the song when I’m singing it. One lyric on Show Me goes “Show me the places where we hide / Show me the places where we died”. Coming from a fifteen year old, it sounds really depressing. I don’t know where it came from, but now I feel like I can relate to it in a stronger way, because I can see the journey of the song. It’s almost like a journal or giving advice to yourself. 

What feeling do you get out of making music?

It’s my favourite thing to do. There’s an indescribable feeling you get when you know you’re doing the right thing and it’s fantastic when you’re in your rhythm. I don’t know what else I would do. But it can be tricky, too, because it’s a very introverted and sometimes lonely job.

Have you always wanted to share your music? 

Some of the songs, like Show Me, have been with me for a long time and I’m ready to share them. It has been nice recently to be on tour and meet people that have heard my music and gone through similar things. When I first created the songs they were for me, but now I think that the best thing is when people can relate to them in some way. 

How do you find the discrepancy between writing something personal and then sharing it with others?

I’ve only started to think about that recently. I write the songs for myself and then now, over the last couple of months, I’ve realised it’s weird that people can hear them. But it’s very special if someone can connect to a song. It doesn’t make it less personal for me, but instead expands the song. 

As humans, we all have parts of ourselves that are unexplored. It’s almost impossible to explain why something has an effect on you or brings up something in you. Often people don’t have to explain it. Actually, I don’t want them to explain, because you just get it. I can see it in their eyes.

Is that what you want to communicate with your music - a sense of common ground?

Definitely. That’s the overall theme of my music. I don’t want people to look down on it as teenage love songs. I like it when music is timeless. I’m not trying to replicate a certain era, it’s just what feels natural to me. And wherever it stems from, people will make it their own.

Do you feel like you have control over your creative output?

I’m lucky. My label completely trusts me and has let me steer the way. I’m thankful to have been able to go with a label like that, because nowadays the music industry is so… not evil, but artists are moulded or taught to be a certain way from a young age and I want people to like me for being me.

How do you write songs?

For the most part, I start with a title and then the lyrics and the music develop from that. I believe titles are very important and hold the songs together. But recently I’ve started on the lyrics and have to wait for the music to follow, so you just have to adapt. The message for the album has become a song called Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful. As I get older - with anything, not just music - I’ve realised that you have to work with the ordinary and see the beauty in the ordinary.Anything can be beautiful, but it might not be what you expected or as exciting as when you were fifteen. Sometimes you put so much expectation onto life that you forget what’s around you. I want everything to be an experience.

This interview originally appeared on the Oh Comely website.