PATRINA MORRIS: A SONGBIRD DANCING
Patrina Morris was born in India to Anglo-Indian parents and moved to England. She was brought up in North London and lived there until as a teenager she was spotted by a model agent while working in a restaurant.
Soon she was living in Paris, Milan, Tokyo and New York and making her way in the world of fashion working for some of the most prestigious clients and appearing in Italian and German editions of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire.
Music was always her first love and after a few years she decided to make a change and began working in the music industry as a singer, songwriter and co-writer. She has been fortunate enough to work with well-known talents such as Paul Oakenfold, Andrew Hale (Sade) and Jon Klein ( Siouxsie and the Banshees).
KOFI FORSON: We spoke last year about doing this interview. I’m quite happy we are now able to agree to this. To be honest with you what inspired me was your fashion video for VOGT – Stockholm. What is your relationship with them? When did you sign the deal? Tell me about the shoot for the video.
PATRINA MORRIS: Ola Kofi!!!!!! And thank you so much.
I met Christina De Mercado the designer and owner of Vogt Stockholm through a longtime friend at my music distribution company and at the time they were looking for a new face for their autumn/winter campaign 2018.
I loved her work and designs and after several conversations she asked me if I would like to be her face for the campaign …. Of course I said “Yesssss, I would love to!” and that all took place in May this year.
Everything regarding the shoot happened pretty quickly as I was about to leave for NYC for two months, so within a week it was decided that Christina and the team would fly out to Portugal … the weather was a little nicer and there would be some interesting locations for them as well, and also being able to show me in my own environment.
I was also lucky to be working with an old friend, photographer and film maker Mr. John Martin Gilliam from London. So the shoot was pretty easy as we knew each other… (good fun and lots of laughs!)
There was a lot to do in a short space of time as we had lots of stills as well as the video….
Of course it ended up being cold, windy and even rained that day but we were held up in a lovely Portuguese café in Faro with food and wine…! (Lol!!!) So lots of dashing in and out of the rain … and mission accomplished.
Lastly, I was very excited that Vogt also used a snippet of my music for the Ad; so all in all it was a-dream-come true.
FORSON: You were originally discovered as model. How did the modeling experience lead to music?
MORRIS: I unexpectedly fell into modelling, which totally changed my life I guess… on how I viewed the world and the future.
Music had always been my biggest passion growing up but I never believed it was something I could do other than a hobby. I think by accidentally falling into modelling and learning the craft, it gave me confidence to see that life wasn’t “all set in stone” and that I could and should at least try to follow a dream.
FORSON: Your earlier experiences were in the DJ/Dance music and drum and bass culture. How did you evolve from that to finding your voice through Bossa Nova?
MORRIS: I think that when I first started the dance and drum and bass culture was really happening in London and to be honest at that time it was my only way into music. I actually love all genres of music but what captivates me most….is a good song.
After a few years of going through a process and learning a lot… it seemed like a very natural transition as the core for me is always a song. I had moved to Portugal and didn’t know anyone. It was just me and my guitar for a while. So I started to write just for me; I had always loved Bossa Nova; the romance, the stories, the rhythms… I just couldn’t play it well…. (Lol!!!) So I decided to go to guitar school to learn and was then able to create a vibe of I suppose… a singer/songwriter who also sometimes fused Bossa Nova inflections into the equation, in my own way!
FORSON: Now you have worked with an “eclectic” group of musicians. When did you start working with Brian Jackson?
MORRIS: Yes, I feel like I have been extremely blessed… I started working with Mr. Brian Jackson about two and a half years ago, I’ve been a forever fan and it’s crazy to think that we actually met on Facebook… See it does work…! (Lol!!!)
In the beginning we started working over the net, sending files back and forth, etc… So it was truly amazing to finally be in the studio with him in NYC earlier this year and again just recently. He is a forever friend, beautiful soul and amazing teacher… Again I’ve learnt so much!
FORSON: Your music works well basically with guitar and voice. What was the process like in the studio, having such accomplished musicians work with you? How did each musician affect recording of the songs?
MORRIS: It was a truly wonderful process… bringing a song together with accomplished artists!
Everyone brought their own vibe, but they had really listened to the songs and had an idea of what they felt was needed for the production. We initially started with drums and rhythm and took it from there!
I guess each musician brought a part of themselves, which is what was so special to me, apart from the fact that they are all so “badass” and amazing at what they do. They really tried to understand me and the feeling… We created something together as a unit which I couldn’t have really imagined when I was writing the song… It was like re-writing the song again…. with a brand new sound!
FORSON: You are currently promoting “SAD is…” your work with Siousxie and the Banshees guitarist, Jon Klein.
How long have you known him? When did you start talking about making this record?
MORRIS: “SAD is” was my last EP but since then I’ve released a new single called “Now I know” and a viva Ibiza dance remix which Jon was also involved in….
I’ve known Jonny for many years since I first started in music, so it was really amazing when we hooked up on FB after a few years of not seeing each other. We were always good friends and in tune musically but kind of lost touch when I moved away from London.
The record somehow really just evolved from another project… I had been asked to put a song forward for a film and the brief was very specific. I asked Jonny if he would like to work on it with me. As part of the brief, it was to be just guitar and voice and I love his guitar playing so we got started and of course ended up writing a lot more than one song to find the right song.
Last Christmas, I was going through files and after hearing the songs again …decided that perhaps it would be nice to put out something a little different and experiment with new concepts and so I set about re-working the songs for the EP …. Which are now available online.
FORSON: When we spoke last year you were coming out of a digital deal with Sony. You now have a distributor deal with Chris Blackwell. Would you say your music is now more accessible to the general public?
MORRIS: Yes, it is available on all the major sites now.
FORSON: You have quite an exceptional relationship with your fans. (It began with Myspace…)
How has the early days of social media changed, compared to Facebook or Instagram? What are you able to do now that were not able to do back then? Is this more reflective of the times we live in?
MORRIS: To be honest, I think that Myspace was more user-friendly for music fans and artists ….. It was really about the music!
I was a late starter to Myspace, but it did actually change my life. I got my first label deal from there, (a fabulous fan base). Gigs, actually everything for me started from Myspace. It was pretty much a special time unlike now…. you couldn’t buy “likes”, followers, etc… It was very real and most artists big or small at the time were running their own pages which a lot of them are unable to do now.
So it really was an amazing social community…. I was sitting in a field in Portugal but was able to connect with amazing artists and people around the world and every day you were able to see how many people had clicked on to a song; companies were watching from around the world!
I love Facebook and Insta, and yes to me they are more reflective of the times we live in … but they are much more social than music-related and they don’t have the buzz that Myspace had at the time.
FORSON: You were brought up in London and now you live in Portugal. How are cities important to you and the making of your music?
MORRIS: I didn’t actually realize until I arrived in Portugal how different the process would be… I think for writing and creating Portugal is amazing; I have the peace, quiet and nature that allow you to breathe and think, along with the everyday chores that take up a lot of time just being able to function, all of that keeps you very grounded!
But recently being in NYC was also amazing, a different energy; fast pace, people… It was also wonderful for business and getting everything moving … Ideally, it would be great to move between two places; the peace and the speed of the big city!
FORSON: Your stunning image (in pictures) graces most of social media. You have worked with photographer Alan Beukers. How was he important to the start of your career?
MORRIS: To me the visuals are just as important as the music and it was so wonderful that Alan was able to interpret the feeling of everything through his beautiful pictures and videos. We are a fabulous team; he captured me perfectly which was truly special and important for my entrance into the world of music and the internet.
FORSON: As a working model, what are your impressions of its evolution, from how you got discovered working in a restaurant to what are now #instagirls?
MORRIS: To be honest, since my transition into music I haven’t really modelled very much; it’s been all about music. The record companies in London told me I had to stop modelling or I would never be taken seriously as a musician…. So at the time, that is what I had to do if I was going to pursue a career in music. Since then times have changed… The internet arrived and now being an independent artist I am free to make my own decisions and actually consider it an asset. Recently, being back in front of the camera, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed it and I’m totally enjoying every moment.
The industry has changed quite a lot since I started, everyone was shooting film back then and it was a real craft doing it that way; we had to get it right. It’s a lot easier with digital and I enjoy that process too, much less to worry about…! (Lol!!!)
I do admire the “Instagirl” revelation; all of it takes a lot of work and dedication. I guess the only thing I can say is that when I first started, companies would book you because you were the right face for the job and now it seems it’s for the amount of followers or “likes”!
FORSON: You were an original and continue to still use social media to promote your career.
What is your best advice as far as branding, the use and protection of the self-image and the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with your fans?
MORRIS: An Original… “Thank you”. When I first started with social media, I truly didn’t understand it or know anything about it… So I guess I went in with “heart “. Regarding branding and self-image… stay true to yourself and possibly try to copyright anything you put out there…
My fans, I love and adore; I’d have to say that without them I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish as much as I have so far. I am forever grateful and always try to get back to them whenever I can. It’s not easy as the fan base grows but I have managed it for 10 years and continue to as much as I can. I think it’s important to take the time.
I had a catch phrase on Myspace which was “keeping it real” and I guess for me, that is the best way to maintain a great relationship.
FORSON: You recently got back to Portugal after spending some time in New York City. There’s an upload on your Facebook featuring images of you touring the city with bassist, Nate Jones as your guide.
You must have had a lot of fun.
MORRIS: Too much fun… (Lol)!!!
Although I used to live in NYC, a lot has changed, so it was wonderful to have Nate as my friend, guide, homie, and fellow musician to take me through it!
It was one of my best nights in the city. We had dinner at the Soho Hotel, which I love. We went there after rehearsals and then watched Nate play. That was followed by a dream come true… The Blue Note, NYC… I’ve always wanted to go see a show there. Robert Glasper was playing that night. He is a friend of Nate’s and I’m a huge fan, so it was wonderful to hang-out with the “Cool-Cat-Jazzers “. Then we all headed off to the Zinc Bar just down the street where apparently everyone goes after the Blue Note for jam sessions and to chill out!
I met a whole host of amazing musicians ….
The vibe was fantastic and the music, out of this world! It was truly fabulous just watching and listening to the artistry, actually just being in the room, it was certainly a musical evening I’ll never forget!
FORSON: What are your plans for touring, or perhaps doing some film work?
MORRIS: I am planning on both next year! “Fingers crossed” I can make that happen; a very small tour in the USA, if that works out in late spring. Ideally, I would love to support someone.
And I am already working on some film projects!
FORSON: What is the best thing about being home again?
MORRIS: Easy…. (Lol!!!!)
…Peace, quiet, hanging out with my fur babies, cooking, good food and nature!
It’s like another world!