INTERVIEW: Hector Morlet

Hector Morlet is a cheeky and undeniably talented rising star who you really need to have on your radar. The Perth based singer-songwriter has been quickly building momentum since the release of his impressive debut single ‘Picture Frame’. With releases like ‘Surprise!’ and ‘Party…ahaha’ following suit, he’s captivated listeners with expansive soundscapes that bridge the gap between indie-pop and jazz.

His debut EP ‘Music For Squares’ is a six track embodiment of who he is as an artist. It’s quintessentially experimental, unique and infectiously captivating. From a first listen you will be so intrigued and eagerly wanting to know more. Which is maybe why you are here.

I recently caught up with Hector Morlet to discuss the distinct mix of modern and jazz influences that have shaped his debut EP ‘Music For Squares’, as well as the creative processes behind tracks like ‘Staying Up Late’ and ‘Goodbye My Dear’. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your debut EP ‘Music For Squares’ is a cohesively tight exploration into the sonical world of Hector Morlet. What would you say is the biggest thing people are going to learn about you from listening to this EP?

HECTOR MORLET: I don’t really know, but they might see the kind of musical development I’ve had over the last couple years. I feel like this EP represents my newfound understanding of songs that I can hopefully take with me as I do more stuff.

TB: There is a heavy Jazz inspired influence to your soundscape. So what were some of the more obscure social references that made a major impact on this body of work?

HM: I really liked Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans growing up as well as singers like Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald. I also really like Dave Brubeck, and all the usuals like John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. As for newer stuff I love Mild High Club, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Duval Timothy, Kahil El’Zabar, Hubert Lenoir and Hiatus Kaiyote. I also really like Mulatu Astatke, Hailu Mergia and Pharoah Sanders. That should do it!

TB: What is the most random instrument/sample used on the EP? 

HM: There’s nothing too random in the scheme of things, but I put a bunch of fun sounds into ‘Surprise!’ I just layered lots of little vocal snippets into the last chorus and peppered them throughout for a bit of fun, ya know! I also used a Yamaha Portasound that my grandpa gave to me when I was little.

TB: ‘Staying Up Late’ is one of the new tracks on the EP and immediately stands out with its groove-laden sonic. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?

HM: I wanted to make a song with that drum beat, and so I partnered it with a couple simple chords and just looped it on the computer. I liked the idea of taking a couple chords and changing the bass notes to make them feel a bit different. I don’t really know how to play bass that well but I started trying some stuff out on the bass and that melody stuck out to me. By that point there was a lot going on so the vocal melody only had to be pretty simple. Then I wrote the song around that nugget.

TB: What song went through the most versions to get it to where it is now on the EP, and why? 

HM: Probably ‘Goodbye My Dear’. It’s the oldest on the EP along with ‘Staying Up Late’, and since I didn’t release it until now I just kept working at it. I was never fully happy with it until I worked on it for a week or two straight as the due date was looming. I was trying heaps of different keys tones and vocal takes. That last little stretch to record and mix ‘Goodbye My Dear’ and ‘Staying Up Late’ was the most stressful, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Not because it’s the best it could possibly be, but because I think I gave them a really solid go, ya know?

TB: Between the six tracks on the EP, do you see any of them as like siblings/continuations of each other? 

HM: I do! ‘Surprise!’ and ‘Party…ahaha’ are siblings because the production, beat and structure are very similar, and the chords are mirror images of each other in a funny way. ‘Precious Dragonfly’ is maybe a cousin of those two, while ‘Staying Up Late’ pairs well with ‘Picture Frame’ in my mind. And ‘Goodbye My Dear’ kind of stands on its own to my ear.

TB: The video for ‘Precious Dragonfly’ is a compilation of different landscape shots. What was your inspiration behind doing that for this video? 

HM: The landscapes were secondary to the telephone towers. I really like the series of photos by Hilla and Bernd Becher where they photographed a bunch of industrial architecture but I can’t remember if I learned about them before or after making the video. Either way I really liked the way that telephone towers are these kind of tall, strange looking things that no one pays attention to – even though that seems like a pretty big cliche in art. People have been drawing attention to the beauty of everyday things ever since Johannes Vermeer painted The Milkmaid. 

Something else that’s interesting about telephone towers is that they’re rarely the same. I watched this YouTube video of a scientist tweaking some knobs on a machine to make some snowflakes grow in all sorts of different ways and I was thinking about it a lot while I was driving around. I was already noticing telephone towers a lot and I started thinking of them like snowflakes: no two towers are quite the same.

TB: Let’s play a rapid fire of questions about the EP. Are you ready?

HM: Yes!

TB: The emoji that best describes my debut EP ‘Music For Squares’ is…

HM: The nerdy glasses smiley face.

TB: The song that nearly made the EP was…

HM: A nameless song that will probably be released soon!

TB: The song I’m looking most forward to performing live would be…

HM: ‘Picture Frame’ is always fun. We’ve played all the songs live already so I’m keen to play newer stuff haha

TB: Another name for the EP I played with was…

HM: I didn’t have any other name. I kept asking people “what do you think of ‘Music for Squares’?” And all I really got were sheepish looks, but I went with it anyway.

TB: If your friend hasn’t heard of me, the first track I would play them off the EP would be…

HM: ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga.

‘Music For Squares’ is out now!