"I don’t trust people who pass themselves off as wise men."

Morgan Delt, fresh from releasing a new album of west coast psychedelia, entertains idea of an alien abduction and the theories of Terence McKenna, but has no time for wise men...

Words by Samuel Huxley

Words: 1,150
Est reading time: 5 mins

LA’s Morgan Delt is a dark horsie. No doubt a modest, sweet and eloquent gentleman. But then you let your ear bones receive the art that he creates, and consider the art that he enjoys, and begin to get an inkling that he might be concealing something, playing his cards close to his breasts, a little like sweet Mary Jane who invited you back to her place for a hot beverage, only to discover she had a few funky flagellation plans for you in her love dungeon. Crack goes the whip…

Morgan takes his stage name from his father’s love of a fictional 60s film character, a mildly insane artist with a penchant for gorillas and Karl Marx in his bone marrow. An ear for the infinitesimal, he makes noise that evokes a constant feeling of some kind of dissolution of reality, all shrouded in lo-fi bubbling and ever-flowing liquid tremolo, but the soothing sweetness of much of the melodies on his self-titled debut, acts as an umbilical cord to the earth, a life line that prevents you from fully descending in to the psychic death hole. 

The chorus of track his track Sad Sad Trip begins with the line, “Coz’ reality’s a let down”. Not when you’re speaking to Morgan, it ain’t. And most definitely not when you’re absorbed in one of his authentically psychedelic (there’s surprisingly few around) musical “environments”, full of sampled nuanced oddities, jolting baselines and rich with (unwitting) eastern promise. He’s managed to capture that Stingray by The Tornados original surf-style production that very few have been able to replicate. Recorded on a submarine being chased by a giant puppet fish monster and all that. It’s a precious jewel…

He doesn’t like orgies, they’re not for everyone (or are they?) but he does entertain the theories of Terence McKenna, and for that reason he’s alright by us. Pay attention. This is Morgan Delt…

What is a psychic death hole? Can you ever escape once you’ve fallen in?

That’s cool, I’ve never been asked that. There used to be this magazine in LA called Arthur magazine. It was a free magazine, music coverage, festivals and stuff like that. The guy that ran that left LA and published a piece about leaving LA, and called it “The Psychic Death Hole”. He meant it in a negative way but I see it in a positive way. I guess it’s probably a fancy way of saying depression too.

What do you think would be the ideal setting for people to listen to your record?

I guess wherever you are (laughs). The way I think about it is that the music itself is the environment so when I hear music to me it evokes a space or I visualise a place or a setting. I kind of leave my environment. I would hope the same thing for people listening to my music. I mean you can listen to it however you want. Yeah, I would kind of think if it’s functioning ideally then it’s probably creating a whole environment for you to be in, rather than needing an external environment to support it.

So your advice would be just lay back and close your eyes?

Yeah I guess.

 

What’s your favourite thing about orgies?

Uh, I’ve never been involved in one so I might have to pass on that one. They seem stressful! I don’t know if I’d have a favourite thing about that. They’re messy.

Do you believe in aliens? 

I feel like there must be aliens out there somewhere, but I don’t know about if they’ve come to earth and been covered up and all that. But some of the guys in the band are really into that stuff. I’ve never seen a UFO.

Would you like to be abducted, if it were by benevolent creatures of course…?

No probes?

Maybe a probe…

If there’s probes then I’m not in!

Ok, no probes

If I just get to see their spaceship and cruise around a bit then yeah. But I always kinda feel like they’re probably fungus people, right? There probably is intelligent life on other planets, but it’s probably not humanoid, it’s probably some kind of weird plant, or rain or whatever.

Well in that case, what’s the strangest thing you ever saw?

When I was a kid I thought I saw a ghost. But I don’t know if I believe in that anymore. It was kind of like a green glow person kneeling in my bed. Just watching me.

Creepy.

I think I probably wasn’t really awake at the time. But I thought I was. Or it was a ghost.

Who or what was your first love? What did it mean to you at the time?

I guess music has always been my first love. I started playing music when I was like four and definitely by the time I was eight I wanted to be a musician. But it always seemed impossible and outrageous to be able to do it for real. And when I say music I also mean listening to records, trying to figure out how they’re made, how they’re put together, what all the different parts are.

So what kind of records were you listening to when you were that tiny?

Well at four probably like Disney records (laughs). But when I was eight, pop music. One of the first songs I remember listening and rewinding the tape to over and over again was I Feel For You by Chaka Khan. It’s an amazing song. I think that song is actually where I got a lot of my production sensibility and arrangement ideas. It seems like a totally different style to what I do, but to me that’s how a song should be put together.

 

If you could change one thing about America, what would it be?

Woah, only one? 

Have as many as you like…

I wouldn’t know where to start. There’s so much that needs to be changed it’s hard to even think of an answer to that.

I read you’ve worked graphic design on a quite a few big movies. What’s your number one flick of all time?

I really like that movie The Holy Mountain.

*interviewer attempts to say Alejandro Jodorowsky [director, writer, producer, and star of The Holy Mountain]*

I avoided trying to say his name (laughs). It’s just visually really amazing. It’s based on a book I like called Mount Analogue. It’s such a bizarre movie, it’s kinda hard to imagine people making it and filming it. It’s hard to comprehend.

There’s definitely some nuance of eastern influence spread across the record. Why do you think psychedelia and the east seem to have this persisting romance? 

I think that wasn’t totally intentional on my part, I don’t know if I really even noticed it until other people pointed it out. But I feel like I probably  got it third hand from other places. I used to be really into surf music, and I think there’s a strong connection between the instrumental surf music of the mid 60s and the psychedelic bands in California a few years later. A lot of the guitar sounds are really kind of the same and they were both using all that latest effects of the time. But yeah, some of that surf stuff, like Dick Dale’s Misirlou, some of the first American guitar music to use weird Middle Eastern scales, so I think there’s a connection there. But I also like some of the more recent middle eastern psych that’s been reissued. Turkish psych. I’m not going to remember any of those names. Like Finders Keepers. What’s that label? Anyway a lot of that stuff is amazing.

Do you believe psychedelics should be regarded as medicines?

Yeah, sure. I was always kind interested in the Terence McKenna theory, the possibility that early humans ate psychedelic mushrooms that helped shape our consciousness. But going back to the alien idea, I believe they found spores on asteroids in space, and that’s an interesting idea - what if mushrooms were some kind of alien intelligence that flew through space on an asteroid and landed on this planet, and helped humanity to evolve to higher states of consciousness. I’m not sure I literally believe that but it’s kind of a fun science fiction idea. 

Finally, who or what do you look to for your wisdom?

I don’t really look for wisdom. I feel like most of the people I like are flawed. And I don’t really trust people who try to pass themselves off as wise men.

Well sometimes I think when I’m working on a song like, “What would Faust do?” Their 70s stuff to me is a beautiful combination of pop songs and really weird experimental stuff. You know Brian Eno has those strategy cards he consults when he’s stuck in the studio or whatever. So sometimes I think, “What would Faust do…?”.

Morgan Delt will release Phase Zero through Sub Pop Records on 26 August   

Words by Samuel Huxley