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A Q&A with Andrew Morgan

On Arkansas house music, releasing music on tape and his new Country Florist album.

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INTO THE RED: Andrew Morgan channels the Gulf Coast, a Frederick Barthelme book and a recurring dream on the latest from Country Florist, "Waveland."
  • INTO THE RED: Andrew Morgan channels the Gulf Coast, a Frederick Barthelme book and a recurring dream on the latest from Country Florist, "Waveland."

Over the last 15 years, Andrew Morgan — as a musician in various local bands and as a producer with solo projects — has amassed a formidable catalog. He was one half of the rock duo Chinese Girls and, under monikers like Ettiem (and now, Country Florist), he's churned out some supremely smoky disco that works as well on the headphones as it might in a club at 3 a.m. Country Florist's trilogy tapes, released by Drawing Room Records, drew international notice, including a spot on Dave Tompkin's "My Everyday Shit, Every Night Shit: Songs That Actually Came Out This Year That I Listened to the Most" list for the Paris Review. On Oct. 20, Morgan and Drawing Room Records released another full length Country Florist album, "Waveland," cited by the label as Morgan's "most 'official' musical offering."

Did you know there is a town in Arkansas called Waveland?

I didn't. The record's named for Waveland, Miss., down on the coast near the Louisiana border. It was ground zero when Katrina made landfall. My title is also a reference to the book "Waveland" by Fred Barthelme. The book's definitely a bit of a downer, but then, so is the Gulf Coast in a lot of ways.

What are your goals with this whole thing?

Damn. Well, if I'm honest, it's to make the greatest house records to ever come out of Arkansas. And maybe make Jeff [Kuykendall, of Drawing Room Records] his investment in the project back along the way as a bonus.

What other house records have come out of Arkansas?

I honestly don't know. There's certainly heads of all ages out there. And surely some of them have produced music over the years, and maybe some of it's even good. I mean house/techno/whatever's been around now for nearly 40 years. Would love to hear some Arkansas gems if they're out there.

How much does random chance play into creating your music? How do you go about choosing samples?

These two questions live together in my mind. I might sit down with a general idea of what kind of groove I'm looking to create based on my energy and mood. I let listening guide me. I'll grab a stack of records — recent things I've picked up or old faves I'm revisiting or whatever's stacked near me — and just listen. If I hear a little snippet of something, a phrase or just a high hat sound or whatever it may be, I'll take a snapshot of it with the MPC [Music Production Controller] and play with it, see where it takes me.

What about dreams? I know you have always had a fascination with them.

Dreams probably played a bigger role when I was writing more lyrics in band situations. I'd mix dream scenarios with real life ones to keep things interesting. With this, making house music and beat stuff, I dunno. One recurring thing in my dreams is finding an old room of mine, a bedroom or something, and I know I've still got an old four-track recorder in there and a box of tapes and maybe there's some real magical music I made years ago hidden in there. Hidden treasure! But I rarely, if ever, in the dream, make it to the point of cracking that code, or hearing anything from this mythical box of tapes.

Are you still recording with tape? Why do you prefer it?

Yes. Everything on "Waveland" has spent time on tape via my trusty Yamaha MT4X. I've been using it since about 2002, and I know how to get out of it what I want. And I just love the sound of pushing signals into the red on tape.

Is that why you put out tapes as releases? Don't you want to be heard by as many as people as possible?

First, let me say that Waveland is available as a limited vinyl LP and digitally. The initial trilogy of Country Florist releases came out on cassette, and that seemed like an appropriate way to present it; it all came from tapes. Everything I've done through Drawing Room Records is available digitally, and accessibility is important. But having physical objects, artifacts, is important to me, and to the label also.

What is it about having an artifact?

Having something in your hand that went through the whole manufacturing process, the stages of which involved other creative and skillful people to pull off, is a cool thing. It connects you physically to all of that. And humans like to collect objects that hold personal significance, whether it's like some rock you found that looks like a wicked skull or my new record.

Besides music, where do you draw influences from? What's your go-to shit?

So-called "Black Twitter" is a go-to. The perspectives there give me hope. It's very educational. The future is black, brown and female. Also, I loved having the chance to see Werner Herzog in person recently at UCA in Conway. His take on things gets mis-characterized by a lot of folks, I think. Like, they come for the existential despair or whatever, but he's actually quite life-affirming. And he reminded us that your art, even if not overtly political, is an act of defiance. I'm into that notion. Can't stop won't stop.

Country Florist's "Waveland" can be streamed and purchased on Bandcamp at drawingroomrecords.bandcamp.com.


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