Get to Know Rising Singer-Songwriter Morly

Katy Morley is poised to become a major voice in pop and soul. Here's how she overcame shyness while refining her sound

morly interview katy morley

Photo by David LeKash

Katy Morley has been thinking about the function of art during troubled times. Specifically, what’s the meaning of art that’s not overtly political during an era of political turmoil? Katy (who records under the moniker Morly) asserts, “You have to see that it’s worthwhile trying to make people feel things, and just feel better. Make people feel less alone and inspire people to try to be their best.”

Morly’s newest work will definitely make you feel less alone. In fact, her songs are so intimate and personal, you might feel like she’s seated at a piano right next to you. Her three-song 12” release, Sleeping In My Own Bed (out now via Cascine, listen below) showcases the singer-songwriter’s stirring voice and gift for stark, emotive arrangements. “I guess I was more interested in classic songwriting, is what it comes down to,” she says of the release. “And more organic sounds. I decided to not use [music production software] Ableton for a year and only write songs on piano and guitar. I think it actually ended up really being fruitful. It was a really good learning experience.”

The piercing directness of Morly’s music comes, in part, from the singer’s lack of pretense as well as an innate shyness that she has worked hard to overcome. “I am finally starting to feel comfortable onstage,” she says, “and really enjoying it – which is new. It used to mostly be terror mixed with the high of performing. Now, I’m settling into it more and actually just enjoying communing with a group of people.”

Katy loved to sing as a child, but mostly in private. After college, she pushed herself to perform onstage. One breakthrough came during a performance with the indie collective Gayngs; Katy nailed her set and “literally ran into Prince” in the hallway afterwards. Prince had watched her perform, and afterwards, Katy says, the purple one gave her a smile that slowed time itself.

Another breakthrough came early this year, during a stripped-down set at a Los Angeles music festival, where Katy was scheduled for her first-ever solo performance with “just me and my instruments” (she had previously performed “surrounded by my machines, and a drummer”). She arrived to find that the venue’s rickety piano was half out of tune and barely playable. Her manager considered canceling the performance, but Katy decided to take a leap of faith. “This massive calm came over me right before I went on and I just sat down and was so comfortable,” she says. “I was talking to the audience which normally I don’t do. Everyone was so quiet and really listening and I could just feel that. It just made me perform so much better. It was a really, really wonderful thing. I’ve never had so many people come up to me afterward and say how much it meant to them.”

morly sleeping in my own bed

‘Sleeping In My Own Bed’ cover art by Katy Morley

Despite her current focus on music, Katy thinks of herself as a painter first. She has painted all of her album artwork to date, including the Sleeping In My Own Bed cover, which depicts her brother and a friend asleep on a train. Katy painted the image when she was nineteen; it has now taken on a new life. “I didn’t really know why I did that painting back in the day,” she says. “Now I know why.”

One of Morly’s next creative goals is a full-length album. “It’s definitely in the works,” she says. It’s unclear what that album will sound like, but one thing seems clear: it will be about music first – not persona or image or facade. “That’s all it should be is just about music,” she says of her work. “It’s not about me.”

Listen to Morly’s ‘Sleeping In My Own Bed’ here:

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