Emerge Impact + Music is created and produced by ABP Media’s parent company, A Beautiful Perspective. Leading up to the event, we’re featuring some of the musicians and speakers who’ll be performing in Las Vegas April 6-8.
Rising indie pop star morgxn isn’t afraid of sweetness and sentiment—though he approaches both from his own particular angle. A single titled “Home” might evoke images of porch swings and home cooking, but morgxn’s (pronounced “Morgan” and styled lowercase) video is set in a New York dance club. “I’m going back home/to the place where I belong/there’s nothing like it,” the chorus chants, as the video’s young protagonist applies lipstick over infectious electro-disco thumps. “Let the comfort of your family/deliver all your fantasies,” morgxn croons in a light, high, Michael Jackson-esque tenor, as a drag queen walks the boy through vogue moves.
“I lived in New York at a time when I was really coming into my own, so I have a very fond place for New York,” morgxn said over the phone while on tour in Germany in support of Ithaca rock band the X Ambassadors. “‘Home’ is about how homecoming can be a personal journey, rather than a physical location that you’re given at birth.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t have a home like that, I mean a home within themselves,” he explained. “We wanted to highlight the ball culture of New York—because those are people who don’t have a community handed to them, so they’ve created this space of their own.” In fact, the drag queen in the video and the boy she’s teaching are cousins in real life; she suggested him for the role because he had just come out. The video really does show a family, in multiple senses.
Morgxn lives in LA now, but music has been a home for him since childhood. “I had a love of singing from a time when I was very little, but my brother had a love of not having me around,” he laughed. Morgxn’s family is Jewish, but Nashville, where he grew up, has a large gospel and Christian music scene, so his parents packed him off to sing in gospel choirs. “That ended up being an outlet for me to just sing really loud and not be in the house.”
Morgxn went on to work in theater and musical theater in New York, where his distinctively high voice was both an asset and an issue. His video for “Translucent,” off his upcoming debut album viral on his own wxnderlust label, opens with a scene from a very uncomfortable audition. Morgxn reads for a major character role, but the director says he needs to be “more forceful, and honestly more masculine.” It’s an anecdote based on a real incident, when one of morgxn’s colleagues told him, “I like what you do, but I wish you could lower your voice like an octave.”
“Translucent” also shows morgxn being harassed by homophobes, another moment pulled from personal experience. “I walked in the Women’s March in NYC the first year, which was this powerful moment of so many people coming together. I got to march in it with my mom, who was so excited. I’m with my brother and his friends, and his wife and my mom, and this guy comes out and he yells, ‘Faggot!’ I’m the only faggot in the group, so I presume we’re talking about me.” Part of what disturbs morgxn most about the incident, he says, is that he was unfazed by it. It’s the kind of remark he hears all the time.
“I think there’s so much in this world that tries to make you act and be a certain way. By doing these roles for so long in my life, I started to lose my sense of who I was and who I am,” says morgxn, who’ll play at Emerge Impact + Music in Las Vegas on April 8.
Music is and has always been where morgxn, who often rocks literal rose-colored glasses and matching hair, can be himself. “I’m not going to say that my music is for everybody, but my music is honest from me. And it’s not a role I have to play or a part I need to fit into, so much as it is an expression of who I am and what I want to say.”
Little wonder then that morgxn’s debut single from 2016, “Love You With the Lights On,” makes honesty into a sensual come on.
The ballad, which got a big debut on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1, is built on a heavy, dragging electronic beat, and the video shows dancers wrapped in bandages pulling each other close in semi-darkness, flinching at the light.
Morgxn’s voice floats over the music: “I want to love you with the lights on/I wanna love you after dawn/I wanna tell you that my body bends to hide it/But my heart it can’t deny it.”
It’s a song about physical and emotional nakedness. And like much of morgxn’s work, it’s also about what honesty and love mean for people who haven’t always been able to be honest about who they love.
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