Artist Spotlight: Kyle Morton (of Typhoon)

Musician, Kyle Morton, talks about taking 60-second dives into deep emotional waters in his recent collaboration with filmmaker, Matthew Ross. 

Writing music for memory.

Following our interview with filmmaker, Matthew Ross, we will spend the second half of our feature on the collaborative film, Book of Matches, with songwriter, Kyle Morton -- whom offers the musician's perspective of what went into writing a soundtrack for this compelling project.

Aside from being the songwriter for the acclaimed Portland-based band, Typhoon, Morton also ventures into the world of scoring in this recent project -- taking one project, moment and 60 seconds at a time to tell a story. We had a chance to talk to Morton about his process, inspiration and approach taken when scoring this unique audio/visual experience. Enjoy.

Marmoset: How long did it take you to create each song for Book of Matches

Kyle Morton: I wrote and recorded the first song in about three hours, which then became my general rule of thumb for those to follow. With one exception, I never spent more than a day.    

M: Did you want the songs to sound similar, different or a combination of both? Why?

KM: I wanted all the songs to have a common minimalist, field-recording texture to them -- something I was able to accomplish easily enough with some found sound, tape noise and my own natural lack of talent. Within these limits, the hope was to stretch my songwriting legs a bit, so I tried to make each one different from the next while still matching them to the film.  

Musician, Kyle Morton (left) and Filmmaker, Matthew Ross (right)

Musician, Kyle Morton (left) and Filmmaker, Matthew Ross (right)

M: Each section of film is only a minute long. How did this affect the music? 

KM: Wanting each song to be its own story, the minute-mark forced me into a very economical mode of lyric-writing. For example, there is a lot that could be said of a man attending his ex-lover's wedding, but with only 60 seconds to do so, I had to focus on the bare minimum of exposition, while letting the subtext insinuate itself. I keep relearning that sometimes the important thing is what you do not say. It occurred to me after the fact that what Matt and I were doing was a kind of visual-musical haiku.  

M: What did you look to for inspiration when writing?

KM: In most cases, I did not have to look any further than Matt's beautiful videos. I would just watch each one over and over in the recording space and eventually the melody would materialize.  Of course, there are plenty of (fairly obvious) musical influences in there: #4 sounds like my best Elliott Smith impression and #9 could have come straight out of the islander gospels from Malick's The Thin Red Line

M: Have you ever written music for picture before? Any similarities/difference to writing for your band? 

KM: Aside from the occasional commercial sync, this was really the first time I had written for picture.  It is similar to writing songs for Typhoon with the exception being that when writing for film, the images already exist on a screen in front of me, as opposed to flitting about in my brain.   

M: What was your most significant takeaway from the project?

KM: That one can make something special without agonizing over it. 

M: How do you feel music adds to picture? 

KM: Just watch the first five minutes of Pixar's UP with the sound turned off.  

M: What’s up next for you?

KM: Working on a couple records -- a solo album that is pretty much in the bag and a Typhoon record that could take all summer. Meanwhile, Matt has begun to send me some pretty cool new one-minute shots, so you can expect a second edition of the Book of Matches before too long.  

Posted on June 17, 2016 and filed under Field Notes, Music.