Bjork recently made a strong case for women musicians who produce their own work but lose credit to men when presented in the media. Her comments might have been obvious to some, but for others, it was a lightbulb moment. Once the circuits click, you can’t help but seeing examples everywhere.
Springtime Carnivore’s Greta Morgan is more that willing to engage this train of thought in her rehearsal space near downtown L.A. The room is equipped with drums, a piano, guitars, and tons of storage space. There is sheet music from The Zombies and Harry Nilsson, pictures of The Beatles pinned to the wall, a book on Lou Reed, and vintage lamps in each corner of the space. The environment is homey enough to be a residence if it wasn’t in an industrial complex.
“It was actually the most recent album I’ve listened to today,” Morgan says, showing visual evidence on her phone of Bjork's Vulnicura, “and I think I know where you are going with this.”
And she does. It isn’t hard to notice that producer Richard Swift, now a touring member of the Black Keys, is being attached to much of the discussion around Springtime Carnivore’s bright and wistful self-titled debut record, released last year on Aquarium Drunkard’s Autumn Tone label. But the truth is, Swift only produced three songs on the retro-tinged pop-rock collection. Morgan produced the bulk of the tunes herself.
“Most of the record was recorded in this room,” Morgan says, “and I’m very flattered by the fact that people think Richard produced the whole album, and they can’t tell which ones he did record, because he is an engineer that I’ve always admired. There is a cultural perception of men using machines and women having a poetic expression.”
Morgan doesn’t take pride in her production skills, admitting that it was the result of the “songs needing to exist, and the rate and energy level that was required meant I had to be the one recording them.”
“Industry people tend to pick the low-hanging fruit,” she says, “so if Richard being involved makes more people listen to the album, I’m all for it. I’d love to work with Richard again and there are a few other producers I am curious about. But, if the moment is right, why wouldn’t I record myself?”
Morgan moved to Los Angeles two-and-a-half years ago after growing up in Chicago and spending her teen summers in Santa Fe. And while the Springtime Carnivore sound has all the sunny, breezy characteristics of homegrown product, the aesthetic of her music actually sprang from her time in New Mexico and Illinois.
“I find that I keep trying to recreate the experience of having summers in Santa Fe,’ Morgan says, “because I basically had one friend, so we just tried to fill our lives with whatever fun we could find. Music and books ended up being our go-tos. In a world like Los Angeles where there is so much excitement, I often retreat to that state of mind, where music is the most exciting thing.
“And, even in the depths of winter in Chicago, I’d be learning Beach Boys songs on piano,” she says. “I like warmth in songs.”
Though her recording has often been a solo affair, the incarnation of Springtime Carnivore that is opening for the Dodos on their national tour, including a stop at the Roxy on Friday, will be a four-piece, with a keyboardist who is one of Morgan's dear friends.
“She’s a ridiculous musician, but she works in TV and has never been on tour,” Morgan says. “So, I’m taking my best friend on her first tour. I’m so excited.”
Springtime Carnivore opens for the Dodos at the Roxy on Friday, Feb. 13. Tickets and more info available here.
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