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White Sea flooded with musical influences, clear in inspiration

June 4, 2014

etchison.4@osu.edu
White Sea is set to open for The Naked and Famous June 4 at the Newport. Credit: Courtesy of Anouck Bertin

White Sea is set to open for The Naked and Famous June 4 at the Newport.
Credit: Courtesy of Anouck Bertin

M83 vocalist, keyboardist and collaborative songwriter, Morgan Kibby, is making waves with her new solo project, White Sea.

Drawing inspiration from her love of Prince’s “Purple Rain”-era of disco music, the percussive rhythms of hip hop and her training as a classical musician, Kibby’s distinct compositions showcase the breadth and diversity of her musical influences.

“I am so fascinated by different genres of music that I tend to be a bit frenetic in the way that I produce,” Kibby said. “I know that I tend to write in a mix of different genres.”

Kibby, who is set to open for The Naked and Famous at Newport Music Hall on Wednesday, said she studied classical piano until the age of 14 and began playing the cello and writing songs at the age of 17.

This classical background is incorporated into many White Sea songs in the form of orchestral instrumentation, Kibby said.

“I love strings and horns,” she said. “I actually was lucky enough to be able to hire a little chamber orchestra to play on my record. It was a really exciting moment for me.”

In 2008, Kibby collaborated with Anthony Gonzalez of French electronic band M83 and provided keyboard and arrangements for the band’s fifth studio album, “Saturday=Youth.”

Kibby toured with the band and co-wrote several tracks from M83’s 2011 album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” including “Midnight City.”

“M83 was a very collaborative experience,” Kibby said of the band’s influence on White Sea. “There are so many lessons that I’ve learned in terms of what kind of live show I want to put on, how to operate as a band (and) how to communicate with the people that listen to (my) music.”

Kibby said that while she has learned a lot from her experience with M83, she is looking forward to experimenting as a solo artist.

“White Sea is my baby. It is kind of up to me to do as I say. The construction, the music, the conceptualizing, it is all me,” she said. “It is a different kind of responsibility, it is a different kind of pressure… I love it. I love feeling like I am putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together.”

From the name “White Sea” to the inspiration behind her songs, Kibby said this solo project is intensely personal.

“I love storytelling, and so, to me, I think that is my approach to writing my own material,” said Kibby, whose first name translates directly to “white sea dweller.” “It is kind of (like) plunging into my own depths and being self reflective and writing about myself.”

Kibby said her first full-length White Sea album, “In Cold Blood,” was inspired by a recent breakup.

“It is really kind of your classic, ‘I-had-a-breakup-and-I-need-to-write-about-it’ scenario,” she said. “I didn’t quite understand the significance of pain as an impetus for good writing until this happened. It was an unfortunate catalyst, but it definitely was an event that inspired me to really open my floodgates and let a lot of songs come out.”

The release of “In Cold Blood” May 19 coincided with the start of White Sea’s inclusion in The Naked and Famous’ summer tour.

“I am excited to be on the road with people who are supportive and who feel like family,” Kibby said of her inclusion in the tour. “(The Naked and Famous) put on a fantastic live show, and I just think it is going to be a great place to start playing new songs consistently for the first time.”

Kibby said she hopes that her music inspires a “polarizing reaction” in her listeners.

“I hope it touches people… This record is personal and very emotional,” she said. “I really hope that it affects people. I’d love for people to have a strong reaction to the music. That’s the goal.”

Newport Music Hall is located at 1722 N. High St. Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m.


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