Morris releases her incredible second major label album, Girl, on March 8 via Columbia – which features production from Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters) on a trio of songs. The lead single/title track was streamed 3.3 million times in its first week, while its video directed by the legendary Dave Meyers (Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Pink) also surpassed a million views in just over seven days.
In 2017, Morris told Music Week about her journey from early self-released albums and failed auditions for American Idol and The Voice through to her breakout success with the Grammy-winning, double-platinum single My Church. For our latest interview we go in-depth on the making of Girl, while also finding out her views on the imbalance of female representation on country radio, therapy and what she’s learned from some of her peers like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.
Notably, Girl arrives on the back of her huge 2018 crossover collaboration with Zedd, The Middle. Released in January 2018, the dance-leaning pop track – a collaboration with Zedd and Grey – has since been streamed over 621 million times on Spotify alone.
In our cover feature, Morris acknowledges there was, initially, a build-up of pressure attached to her return in light of her success.
“I obviously have more going on this time,” she told Music Week. “The stakes are higher when you’re more known. You don’t want to fall into the ‘sophomore slump,’ but you also have to just push that all out of your mind. Once I got the first few songs in the can, the pressure started to melt away because it’s like, ‘Who gives a shit about the critics or people who say something doesn’t sound like My Church!’ I wasn’t setting out to re-record those songs – you’re just setting yourself up to disappoint if you do. I’ve always been the first person I need to impress.”
Who gives a shit about the critics or people who say something doesn’t sound like My Church? I’ve always been the first person I need to impress
“This album is the evolution of Maren – Maren 2.0,” Morris’ manager Janet Weir of 42 Entertainment/Red Light Management told Music Week. “There’s something for everyone on there, there’s something for country, something for pop. I don’t look at her as a country artist, or as a pop artist, it’s just Maren. That’s something that’s been pretty amazing to watch.”
In the feature, Morris also explains her attitudes towards people who love to accuse artists of ‘Not being country enough’.
“I’ve seen artists listen to that criticism and stay in their lane,” she told Music Week. “Some of them have been very successful staying in one lane, and others have been suffocated by the box they’ve been put in and implode and self-destruct. I’ve seen that happen with both male and female artists that are new. If I had listened, I don’t think I would have this tour set-up, I don’t think I’d be selling as many tickets. I wouldn’t have The Middle!”
Morris' cover feature leads up Music Week’s Nashville 2019 special – which also includes interviews with the CMA’s Milly Olykan, Country To Country Festival’s Chris York, rising star Kassi Ashton, Sony/ATV Nashville’s Troy Tomlinson and Lady Antebellum. Subscribers can read the feature in full here.
Photo: Jamie Nelson