Morgan St. Jean is LA bases, platinum selling singer and songwriter rising into stardom in 2015. It has been an exciting start to 2022 for Morgan, releasing her debut mixtape, Rich Man on Feb. 11th. Since her start in 2015, she has accumulated 40 million streams on Spotify and taken TikTok by storm for her viral single, Not All Men, with the video receiving 1.4 million views in 48 hours. Morgan St. Jean prides herself on an art that is unfiltered and unapologetic to who she is, wanting to be a anchor for women around the world.
We sat down with the viral musician, to reflect on her past, present and future…
Tell me what it was like growing up? When did you know music is what you wanted to do?
Growing up in LA, I think it’s a pretty unique experience, but you don’t realise that when you’re in it, you know what I mean? So, I think it made me really tough and it unpacked the type of music that I make. I always say I think my music is cinematic and it’s just kind of a combination of glamorous and gritty because I think I’m both of those things. I think growing up in a big city and growing up around people who are or have famous parents or having people who were in the entertainment industry in some capacity, left this weird perspective.
And it definitely made me tough, you know I went to high school with all these people who were so wildly talented, and you know grew up infamous families. And I was sitting here like, my parents are not in entertainment. I was like what am I doing here? So it made me tough, and yeah I really loved it though, it’s all that I know.
So, growing up not having your parents in the industry. Did that kind of make you curious to see how far you could progress in the industry yourself?
Yeah, I think if my parents had been in the industry, my journey would have been slightly different but with that being said, I’m so fortunate to have parents that support me and love me and believe in me. But they definitely thought it was a hobby for the majority of my upbringing and childhood. They were like ‘Oh this is cute’. And I was like ‘Please let me be a Disney actor’!
I really wanted to drop out of school, and they were like absolutely not, education is huge for them, you know.
But I think because I was very much in LA, I had so many friends, who had parents in the industry. I definitely got the industry talk very early on. This is when people essentially tell you ‘Look if you’d be happy doing anything else, go and do that thing’, because this industry is so hard and you face so much rejection, and you just get beaten down emotionally a lot being in this industry, being a performer.
Why is music so important to you and what does it mean to you?
Music honestly is so important to me, I think it’s because it feels so much bigger than me. You know, like I’ve said this industry can be really hard but the thing that’s kept me in it is that, I’ve always felt like I was given a voice and by some goddess, God, a higher power… I don’t know who gave it to me but someone gave me this voice and I feel like I must spread a message with that. And over the last year or so particularly, when I started to really write songs about things that are important to me, I’ve seen the impact that it can have.
And I’ve felt so supported by the connections that I have made through my music and I have watched other people’s support through the music. And to just remind people that we are not alone, we are all having this human experience and that, it’s different in little ways but in general, we are so similar and we are all kind of going through the same things.
4 things you’ve learned from the industry?
- To be resilient, I think there have been a lot of moments where it made sense for me to quit, but like I said it feels like it’s greater than me and I’m in it for the long haul. And so, it’s made me tough which I’m grateful for. It’s taught me that, we are all more alike than we would think.
- it’s taught me the power of authenticity, honesty and vulnerability. Not to go all Bruno Brown, but like there’s so much power in that. And I feel like the more vulnerable I get the more my music connects with people. And that’s the goal of everything, so for me, there’s so much power in being authentic and not apologising for your story you know.
- Discipline. I’ve given up certain things for my vocal health. And you know, to make sure, I’m essentially an entrepreneur. That’s how I view my career and there’s the creative side, which is the majority of it. But I don’t necessarily have someone telling me what to do and where to be every day. So, I really love that but it definitely takes discipline and it takes, you know being in control of yourself. So, I like that but it’s a little weird.
- Confidence. It’s taught me to be confident and understand my uniqueness, I call it my superpower. I used to be like ‘my feelings are my superpowers’. I used to be embarrassed by the intensity of my feelings, that I use to feel like it was such a weakness. And as I got older, and I continued to write songs and I was like, wait a second that’s what literally makes me, me that’s my superpower. So I feel it’s given me a sense of confidence and given me a chance to be myself and unapologetic.
Who is your biggest influence/inspiration?
Lady Gaga is one of my biggest inspirations, I think she is just so amazing in so many different ways and I’m super inspired by her. I think she has done such an incredible job of making her career timeless you know.
And she has always changing and growing and evolving and I love that. She’s put out a positive message for her audience, she’s also widely talented, I’m just obsessed with her”.
Okay as we are swiftly going on to the next topic now, we are going into your song, Gradation.
It came from the heart!
It was co-written by singer and songwriter Upsahl how did that collaboration come about?
She is so cool [Upsahl], I just want to say, for the record, I think she’s one of my favourite people in this industry! She has such a good heart and she’s so awesome. But it happened because my producer was on tour with her and I would send him songs. You know get some feedback and he started playing my songs for her, while they were on the road for more opinions.
She said something to him along the lines of ‘God Morgan has so many good concepts, she’s like the concept queen’. And eventually, we decided to do a singing session together and I was like ‘OMG I have to be the concept queen’ like I’ve got to come up with something good. And I was super intimidated cause I respect her so much and so for the session I was walking the setting with my producer like brainstorming different ideas.
And yeah you know, it’s a cheeky song but also it does talk about how in relationships, we make each other better. You know, I think everyone goes into a relationship and learns something, and particularly women, I don’t think we are often given credit for work that we can put into our partners you know.
Your song’ ‘Not all men’ was trending on TikTok. How did that occur? Was it a thing where you just released your song and did a dance to it? How did it happen?
That was the craziest thing I’ve experienced in all my life. So I had been on TikTok for a while because I was babysitting these young girls and they were obsessed with TikTok. And they were like ‘you have to be on TikTok ‘ and I was skeptical you know. Like the whole music industry was on it and I was like I’ll figure it out but nothing was clicking.
As I had gotten so in the craft of things which is great, then I saw on Twitter that #notallmen was trending. I was like ‘Wtf is this’ this is so insane and offensive and I hate this. I just don’t understand this and so I went to my producer studio and I was like have this idea. I want to write a song, we know that it’s not all men but it’s all women. And we wrote the chorus and he started playing some chords. And I was like ‘shit okay’, and I posted it on TikTok, and I had no followers at the time so I didn’t think, anything was gonna happen and people related to it. And it just resonated with people and it got like you know, over a million views in a day.
I think it just really blown me away, the power of women and like this community, I mean people would share their stories with me and it just blows me away, I mean it makes me emotional because, I think it’s easy to look at a statistic and be like ‘ God that’s insane their’s so many women who experience assault or harassment or whatever, when you read the individual stories and see the faces of the people who experienced it, it’s powerful.
What advice do you have for beginners who want to be in music?
I always say just start, to me that’s the hardest part of anything, it’s almost like going to the gym. The hardest part is getting there, once you’re there, you’re like, Oh I got this, you know?
And I think that’s the same especially when it comes to writing a song like the hardest part is sitting down at the piano or guitar you know, wherever you write, and just starting because there’s so much fear. There’s fear of judgement and there’s self-doubt and there’s you know, there’s just so many insecurities that pop up but once you can break through those, that’s when the creativity comes, you know what I mean.
I would say just start, you don’t need anything to write a song, anyone can do that you know.
What is Morgan St. Jean’s legacy?
I want to leave a legacy of a powerful human connection. And the more that we can relate to one another and understand one another, the better off the world is gonna be, you know.
And to try and find our similarities and not let our differences divide us. That would be 1 and 2 would be, I really really wanna leave a legacy for women, because I just think it’s 2022 and still were all receiving misogyny and sexism and things like that. And I wanna be an example for women, where you can do it all, you can be powerful, you can be successful, you can be confident and you don’t have to feel bad about those things, so that’ll be my answer.
Listen to Morgan’s debut mixtape below!
Interview by Dani Akparanta
Edit and words by Hiba Hassan