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"Come Alive"
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Rising Stars [Issue #12]
Morel: Morel Gets Lucky
By Dave Lewis
Lucky Strike (CD Yoshitoshi Recordings)

As radio playlists get less imaginative everyday, artists that push the envelope, mix genres, and challenge the mainstream are growing fewer by the minute.

The electro-pop band Morel, brainchild of the Washington DC-based, multi-hyphenate Richard Morel, is creating the kind of music that can’t be easily pigeonholed, labeled, or ignored. And that’s the way Morel likes it.

Morel made a name for himself as a producer and a remixer, frequently collaborating with Deep Dish. He’s scored club hits with remixing New Order, Depeche Mode, the Pretenders and others. Recently, Morel turned his sights on starting a band and making his own music with the 2002 release Queen of the Highway.

Spending as much time strumming a guitar and singing as he did behind a mixer, Morel shook up his core audience of dance music fans. Likewise, on his new disc Lucky Strike (Yoshi Toshi Records), and with his side-project Blowoff, Morel continues to expand his eclectic sound.

In the studio and onstage, Morel toes the line between the world of rock and that of dance music. “I have a five-piece band as well as the studio stuff,” explained Morel in a recent phone interview. “The more organic songs I write on guitar, and then I sort out the songs with the band and we record them that way, whereas the more electronic stuff evolves in the studio where the computer is the primary collaborator.”
Morel sees new technology as helpful to all musicians. “Today if you’re not taking advantage of what’s out there as far as electronics, I think you’re kind of missing the boat,” Morel comments. “I’ve always thought that the best music pushes the envelope of technology and musicianship, even back to Hendrix.”

For Morel, good music goes beyond labels and genres. “As a kid, radio was different than it is now,” he said. “It was all mixed up. It wasn’t like you had a rock station or an urban station. There were one or two FM stations that played album cuts and they would mix up the Temptations with Led Zeppelin, and it didn’t seem weird. That’s what music is. Now everything seems so much more segregated, which I’m still mad about.”

Lucky Strike freely adds ingredients from multiple genres, which may have some fans scratching their heads, even if they can’t resist nodding them to the beat. The majority of the cuts seamlessly blend rock and electronic sounds. Morel splits the difference on the song “I’ll Do What I Can Not to Touch You,” which can be found in two distinct versions on the disc.

“I try to alienate everybody,” Morel joked. “I think that audiences and music fans are so much smarter then people give them credit for. They’re gonna deal with it (blending genres) in the same way that their record collection is made up of Sasha, Primal Scream, U2, and, I don’t know, Limp Bizkit.”

Unlike many other artists in all genres, Morel is always looking to avoid becoming repetitive or predictable. “If there’s somebody you’re a fan of, they always make that record that you have a hard time with,” said Morel “and I have to say ‘why am I having a hard time with this? I can’t expect them to make the same record over and over and over again.’”

Lucky Strike
Yoshitoshi Recordings

Morel Gets Lucky Morel Lucky Strike

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