Morgan Cole Brown has released his new EP titled ‘Watching Your Friends Get Famous’. I want you to think back to when you learned how to drive a car, or perhaps ride a bicycle if you have not experienced that privilege yet. How nervous were you when you started? Did you have the support of family or friends nearby as a safety net, or were you completely in the dark, left to fend for yourself? Reflect on those initial feelings of loss of control, of rolling in directions you did not want to head toward. Remember how you awkwardly tapped the pedals, or how many times you fell off the bike before brushing yourself off and rising again. It probably did not take you more than a few days to get the hang of it, but in that time and for a while after, you had to learn and grow while witnessing those around you already excelling. It was especially painful being the “slow one” in the friend group, desperately pedaling to stay in the group or pulling out your navigator to avoid taking another wrong turn after falling behind. “How are they so good at this when I’m still back here?” These relatable feelings of envy, anxiety, and imposter syndrome are showcased in a vulnerable light on this new Morgan Cole Brown release, Watching Your Friends Get Famous.

Lifelong musician and Boston native Morgan Cole Brown has been chiseling this release out of the ether since March 2020, very shortly before the air carried with it a global lockdown and pandemic, which abated progress – and life – to an unsteady gait. Throughout that time, Morgan bore witness to many of the hardships that made it onto this EP. Loss plays a central theme alongside the aforementioned imposter syndrome with Brown sharing details from the loss of a romantic relationship as well as the loss of multiple friends’ lives. With the overwhelming crush that comes with those around you disappearing, Brown also found himself comparing his plight to those left who seemed to be zooming right past. If he’s still left but has nothing to offer, what good is sticking around? … an unhealthy but relatable thought.

The earlier metaphor came to mind while listening to “Learning How To Drive”, the first track with lyrics on the EP and this author’s personal favorite. Out of the gate, there is no time to mince words: Brown bares it all. Reflections on his situation are filled with despair, grief, and fear as he daydreams the hypotheticals while reeling from the realities. Powerful yet patient percussion hammers down while the bass guitar provides a simple distorted lead to carry things through. Layers of twinkling electric and strummed acoustic guitar thicken the broth before a spicy discordant chord a minute in combines with the mounds of power chords to bring things to a simmer. It all boils over halfway through into an uptempo pop punk frenzy where Brown more deeply reflects on what sounds like two separate cases of loss. Lines like “Will you ever be happy with anything that you’ve done so far?” and “If I lose another friend to suicide or heroin / I hope that I’ll be next” cut through a dense crescendo before exploding by the end of the track into a sonorous and desperate declaration: Morgan is learning how to navigate this hellscape.

If any of this rings true to you, give this new EP a listen, and even if it doesn’t, consider diving right in anyway. It is refreshing to hear real human struggles – especially relatable ones – being plainly put to prose by someone without pulling any punches. Morgan Cole Brown has been undergoing a forced metamorphosis away from home and is kind enough to share the steps along the way with the rest of us on Watching Your Friends Get Famous.

Q&A

What personally unique challenges as a solo artist have you had to overcome versus the challenges that existed while being part of a band?

It’s hard because I have almost felt more comfortable in a band, but through this whole era of my life, I really feel better representing myself and my own identity. I would say the hardest challenges I’ve faced going from a band member to a solo artist would be the one to just make all the decisions. It’s nice to have control, but you lose a lot of help along the way, and I just feel very isolated.

You have a penchant for sharing your trauma through your art. What allows you to be so open about the pain you have gone through?

I think it’s really hard. I never write songs at the moment, but I like to try and reflect on people or situations and how they have made me feel. Trying to look at the specific actions that led to trauma, helps me be able to write coherently and kinda therapeutic. I am a super open person to start with, but what helps me be so open about anything I’ve gone through, would be the fact that I believe someone else in this world could relate and could really help. If my lyrics are able to connect in any way, I feel seen because of that relatability.

What are some practical things you have changed in your life to help manage your struggles? Perhaps simple new habits or the avoidance of old ones?

Well, I will be back in therapy by the time this interview comes out, so I would say that is the first step. But overall, when I was really in the midst of writing this album, I was extremely unhealthy, depressed, not taking care of myself, no job. I think I would avoid literally everything, so I can honestly, and this is objectively dumb, but new habits I’ve been incorporating into my life would be opening my mail (paying or handling bills on time), making my bed every day, and trying to keep the cleanest space I can. Truly, just trying to do that has helped so much in my life.

If you could collaborate and/or perform with any current musician/group, who would it be?

If I could collaborate with anyone, right now? Super tough, some names that come to mind would be Charli XCX, Porter Robinson, Junior Varsity, Chapell Roan or Car Seat Headrest. I’ve been obsessed with the production that all of those artists are producing, but I would say some really big ones would be The National, Childish Gambino, Slaughter Beach, Dog, Pedro The Lion or honestly? Jack Antonoff…

If you had to start over from scratch without any of your instruments or gear (minus a computer), what would you buy first?

This is such a tough question! I think I would try to produce everything electronically. When I write songs, I think I can get pretty reductive on guitar. I think that when I’m in a rut, I always start with the same chords, which is why I started writing in different tunings. I would want to really focus and be able to create full songs the way I see so many artists on tiktok and social media do. Djing is super interesting to me, because I think of music always in the exact opposite creation method, so that would be really cool to start with learning.

LINKS:
https://linktr.ee/morgancbrownmusic
https://www.instagram.com/morgancbrownmusic
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNOpeIcvQHE7vRg7S9P7–Q

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