INTERVIEW: Morty Shallman

Hi Morty, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, and thanks for having me! I’ve been great, thanks. Just got back from my first SXSW – what a cool town, and awesome event!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “She’s Breaking Bad”?

“She’s Breaking Bad” is the lead single from my upcoming EP “Pop Fiction.” It’s a retro/modern synth/electropop track that sets the stage for a neo-noir style heist story, featuring a bank robbery, a dangerous femme fatale, and a flawed antihero led astray by her beauty and lust for danger. It will be Chapter/Song 3 in the 4-song EP.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

There are two inspirations, one for the music and one for the lyrics. Musically, my producers and I wanted to flesh out the darker and edgier vocal approach I explored on my Halo EP, on the dubstep-flavored track called “Not Too Late.” The idea was to pair that vocal sound with a more driving pop/rock groove, and an infectious chorus that would hook listeners in and not let them go. It’s fun, and somewhat random, to see how it evolved into this retro-80s synthpop track, but that just flowed naturally from our initial inspiration.

As for the lyrics, those were inspired by my car, if you can believe it – a black on black Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, with a 6-speed manual transmission and a 6.4 liter Hemi V-8 capable of producing 480 horsepower. It’s a modern take on a classic American muscle car, really beautiful and fun to drive, but with the potential to get you into a lot of trouble with the law, if you’re not careful. Somehow this combination of beauty and danger inspired the “femme fatale” at the heart of the story of She’s Breaking Bad, and the rest flowed from there.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! As a matter of fact, I’m interviewing directors right now to work with me in the creation of a short musical film – a video EP – to follow up the music portion.

How was the recording and writing process?

Fascinating and challenging. After writing, performing and producing every note on my previous EP, Halo, I decided to shake things up a bit for my next project, and teamed up with industry legend Jeff Blue, who I met through the Music XRay website. Jeff, who is best known for discovering Linkin Park, brought in multi-instrumentalist and studio whiz Steve Dresser, and together we crafted two of the four tracks that will be the new EP. It was an amazing experience working with two such accomplished pros in the studio. They really pushed me to do my best, both as a writer and especially as a singer. It may not be obvious, but with the exception of the “SHE BAD!” group vocals on the pre-choruses, where Jeff and Steve joined me on the mic, I’m singing all the background and answering vocals on the tune, including octaves and multi-part harmonies.

How’s your new EP coming along?

It’s coming along great! I just got the last mix back for the 4th and final tune, so now it’s just a question of mastering and completing the artwork, which includes a super cool digital booklet with the lyrics for the tunes, and short narrative passages I’ve written to tie the whole story together.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The current timeline will see a second single from the EP released on 4/14, then the entire “Pop Fiction” EP will drop on 5/12, followed up immediately by a release party show in Los Angeles on 5/13 at one of my favorite local clubs, Bar Lubitsch.

Would you call this a conceptual material?

Yes. While each song stands on its own as a single, the four tunes together, taken in order, comprise a “novella in four pop songs.” It’s an extension of a concept I’ve been pioneering ever since my first solo record, “Love’s Oblivion, a Novel in Twelve Pop Songs,” wherein each tune is a chapter in a larger story. This theme will also be evident in the artwork, the accompanying digital booklet, and in the long form video for the piece too.

Can we expect a 80s filled record – what role does this decade play on this album?

I’ve been influenced by many musical decades, but especially 80s New Wave, New Romantic and Synthpop. That said, listeners will find a range of influences on “Pop Fiction,” from cutting-edge Indie Pop, to early 00s Rap Rock, to hints of EDM, Dubstep, and of course, plentiful helpings of those crazy, tuneful 80s.

Any plans to hit the road?

I plan to do some regional solo acoustic tours this summer to support the EP, including a jaunt up the West Coast, and shows in Chicago and New York as well.

What else is happening next in Morty Shallman’s world?

After “Pop Fiction,” I’ll be releasing an “enhanced” version of my “Novel with Songs,” “Last of the Zacharys.” “LOTZ 2.0,” as I call it will have the entire novel and accompanying songs embedded directly into a single eBook file, for a more seamless reading/listening experience. I’m also planning a follow-up EP to Pop Fiction for late 2017/early 2018. So, keeping busy!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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