Analogue Music | Class Photo

Class Photo

By Matt Conner

Patrick Morris is a slow worker.

Yes, there was the move to Europe. Yes, there were family tragedies. But even beyond the circumstances and difficulties that stalled his creative processes, the reality is that Morris, the man behind Class Photo, is admittedly a slow worker.

Five years after leaving his post with STRFKR, Morris is now ready to strike out on his own with his debut LP, Light Years Later. It's a wonderful bedroom twist on nostalgic pop/rock flavors, depending on the track, and the sum of these parts show a strong attention to detail—marked by impressive flourishes and real restraint. Perhaps a nod to all that time spent perfecting his craft.

These days, Morris is a Norwegian resident looking to forge his solo career away from his former home in Los Angeles. Fortunately, he's finding his footing along with some new friends. As they say, these things just take time.

Analogue: It's not hard to notice the five full years since you played with STRFKR until now. When you first knew you wanted to put something out there of your own, did you expect it to take so long?

Patrick Morris: It wasn't planned. It just happened gradually. That's now how I wanted it to go, really. I would have much rather have it all come together a year or two earlier, but things take time. In the middle of that, too, I moved to a new country. I also sat on the album a while and did as much as I could with it. I didn't want to throw it up online. I wanted to do the best for it that I could, because I really like it. It's important to me. I spent a lot of time on it.

Back to your question about taking a long time, I think I've always worked kind of slow. I don't write a song in a day. I write a song, maybe, in a year. With some of the songs on the album, I've been working on them for maybe ten years. They're songs that are finally coming to light because I finished that verse. I don't think it's intentional. It's just how work goes for me.

Doing something that you've never done before is really, really what makes anything creative exciting.

Analogue: Are you pretty disciplined in the amount of time you give to it? Do you only work when inspired?

Patrick: The former. I don't just work on stuff when I'm feeling extremely inspired. I'm more the kind of person who is disciplined. That's your word, but I do go in and I work on stuff even if I don't really feel that inspired. I can't just wait for it to come. If I did it that way, I think it would have taken 10 years.

But I think I'm just slow because I had to transition from being not really in charge of the vocals at all—like in STRFKR, I hardly did anything with that. I wrote a few lyrics, but I didn't think of any melodies in terms of vocal melodies. The same thing of my other band, Strength.

So I had to transition into doing that, and that took me awhile to figure out how to sing. I didn't want it to just be another instrument. I wanted the vocals to be thoughtful and the melodies to be strong. It took me a while to find my two feet, to feel grounded.

Analogue: Were you excited about that challenge? Nervous?

Patrick: I was nervous. I also think it's really great to have a challenge, so I'd say both. Doing something that you've never done before is really, really what makes anything creative exciting. I feel like if I'm doing the same thing that I'm used to over and over again, then it's really not exciting. I think it's interesting and fun to sort of have to learn something from scratch and not know if you're going to totally fail or not.

Analogue: Working at such a slow pace, what does the cutting room floor look like?

Patrick: It takes a form of a playlist. I have a playlist and it's mostly song sprouts—loops and things like that. If I like something, I'll put a star by it and may or may not come back to it. But the whole list just gets bigger and bigger. With the single "I've Been Cleaning Your Room," I started writing that song in 2001. It used to be called "I've Been Cleaning My Room." It took a long time for me to want to work on it again. After it'd collected enough dust that it felt new to me again, I could write the verse and the rest of the song besides the chorus.

So that's what it looks like. I have a lot of stuff going back to even before that, where it's like, 'Maybe that will inspire me to do something one day or maybe it will disappear into the ether.'

Analogue: When you take so long, how do you know when you're done? Or is even that a step of faith?

Patrick: Good question. I think it's depending on each case what it can be, if it's just a feeling or if I've been chiseling away at something and going in every day working on it. With that song "I've Been Cleaning Your Room," I tried it as a rock song with just guitar. I tried it as a really driving dance-y song. I tried all these different production methods and had the A through Z version of it, like little demos recorded of it. Then I landed on something that felt right.

That's why it takes me so long. I have to write it on the guitar and then I have to produce it. It takes me a long time to feel good about the songwriting and to write all of the parts. Then I really want to do something on the production that makes sense with the song because every song is different.

Analogue: Does that make it hard to find cohesion among the songs?

Patrick: I use the same sounds a lot, so when it came to having this record being done, I was using a lot of the same sounds from song to song. I have two main synths. I had to have some cohesion there and use certain sounds, so there were rules. I couldn't go out and use a soft synth that I didn't use anywhere else. I didn't use any soft synths on the album. I also did it with what I had, which is a very old drum machine from the nineties, which I use on everything, and these two synthesizers that are pre-MIDI. There's a limitation and I think the limitation is really good because it's inspiring and it finally gives you this cohesion.

Analogue: How is Oslo as a creative home?

Patrick: Oslo has a lot of musicians here. It's a small scene. When I first got here, I was finished with my record and I was looking for someone to master it. I ended up finding a guy, Chris Sansom, in Oslo. He said, 'You're a newbie here. Let me introduce you to some people.' sRight off the bat after moving here, I went to a bar where there were a lot of musicians. I met a guy who was looking for someone to rent a studio with and I did that.

So I've found it easier to make musical friends here than it was in L.A. It's easy to find people to find people who do a lot of different things or wear a lot of different hats, and I think that's inspiring. I think there's a lot of different stuff in Oslo to see.

Analogue: Beyond the release, what else is happening for you creatively?

Patrick: We're playing two show in Oslo for the release. One of those will be an in-store at a record store. Early next year, we'll hopefully be playing a festival although that's not confirmed yet. Then we'll be playing in Bergen, which is the second biggest city in Norway, I think. Beyond that, I'm hoping to tour more in Europe and the U.S. Right now I'm just trying to get some stuff for the new year.

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