Morning Midnight told David Hennessy about their debut album Happy Hour, how the preceding EP gave them the confidence to do it and how music was always an escape for Jess in some turbulent times growing up.
Glasgow- based duo Morning Midnight released their debut album Happy Hour recently and have supported Dublin songstress Sorcha Richardson on her most recent UK tour.
Morning Midnight is made up of Jordan Scott and Jess Pascal who have been making music together since Jess, who has Irish family, dropped out of college to join Jordan on the strength of his demos that had her in ‘tears’ instantly.
Jordan Scott is the singer-songwriter while Jess Pascal’s background in piano, production and synthesis both ground and illuminate the group’s sound.
While their initial band would fizzle out, they would form Morning Midnight and gain momentum with their debut EP Swimming Lessons in 2019- so called because it was their first toe in the water. Swimming Lessons has now gained over 2 million streams on Spotify alone and gave them the confidence to go ahead with the debut album, Happy Hour.
Jess told The Irish World it was surreal to even be speaking of an ‘album’.
Jess said: “It definitely is (surreal).
“It’s a labour of love.”
Jordan says: “We did an EP, Swimming Lessons and then the pandemic hit, and then, because we had nothing else to do basically, we were like, ‘Right, let’s just do an album’ which is what we did.”
Jordan says the success of Swimming Lessons meant all the more considering it all came from their front room.
“Doing it all ourselves, it felt like a big achievement for us.”
Jess says, “It was a bit of a shock to be honest because we just made it in our living room and put it out.
“We were like, ‘We really like this, hope other people will’.
“It gave us the confidence to do the album, I think.”
Jordan adds: “Regarding the production and the sound of the album, it’s changed from Swimming Lessons.
“Swimming Lessons was a lot more raw, a bit more electronic and then as we’ve progressed, I feel like my songwriting has come more to the fore, I have started to focus more on my lyrics and telling a story.
“I feel like Swimming Lessons was us working ourselves out and now we’ve done this album, it feels like, ‘Right, this is who we are’.
“And this is kind of the launch pad now for what we want to do going forward.”
The poignant early single Talk is about learning to stand on your own two feet, but also the people that you leave behind.
“It’s all about growing up,” Jordan says.
“Talk came probably halfway through the album.
“It came very quickly as well.
“It was all in one day. Jess came back from work and the song was basically- It wasn’t quite done, but it was basically there.
“It’s just about relationships that you have and as you grow older, they change and that could be a breakdown of a relationship or it could just change, which I think is almost a bit more poignant really.
“And just being able to have the courage to go your own way, you’ve just got to work these things out for yourself.
“And that’s kind of what I was trying to get at with that song.”
It seems to be saying about those friendships you think will be there forever but..
“Life gets in the way, life gets in the way.”
Jess adds: “It’s just like the idea that you can go from being so close and having all these plans together and it gets to the point where you’re like, ‘Yeah, I don’t even have the guts to renew and talk to you about my feelings anymore’.
“It’s pretty sad.
“Family as well, it could be about not speaking to family anymore.”
Unfortunately this is something Jess knows about herself.
Hailing from Lancaster, Jess’ parents were both keen players of traditional Irish music, with her dad playing the banjo and her mother playing the concertina.
However, it was after hearing Michael Nyman at the age of 7 that Jess decided to start her own musical journey and learn the piano.
“My parents played a lot of Irish music growing up.
“So from the ages of probably one to 10, 11 my idea of music was a lot of ceilis.
“Mum played the concertina and Dad played banjo and the reason I played music is because of that really.
Which is mad for Lancaster had a big Irish trad community in this little English city.”
However the home was ‘turbulent’ but Jess.
“I didn’t have the best time growing up basically.
“I think music for me was definitely an escape and the reason I turned to production because you could make big, sonic worlds: Just tired from everything really, stick on my headphones and make music in my room.
“But I ended up getting pretty good at it as a result.”
Music would also provide that escape from an unhappy school life.
As an introverted ‘tomboy’ at high school, Pascal found herself a social outsider after coming out as bisexual at the age of 15.
She found solace spending her lunchtimes in music rooms listening to pop music and learning Taylor Swift songs on piano.
She says music was “the only thing that made me feel happy”.
By 18, she her own tracks playing on Radio 1’s late night dance shows and moved to Leeds to start studying music production. It was during her first semester at Uni when she was sent one of Scott’s demos and was so moved by what she heard that she decided to quit her course the very next week.
Jordan had also turned away from his studies to pursue music.
Originally from Merseyside, he was pursuing another creative endeavour.
Jordan says: “I studied film at Lancaster.
“I got to my last year and decided to start writing some songs and just playing some open mic nights and it started from there.
“I met a drummer and he was mates with Jess, sent the demo to Jess and Jess was in Leeds and she was studying music production in Leeds.
“She heard the demo and left uni and came back to Lancaster and then we started a band.
“That band then broke up and then me and Jess just stayed together.”
Jess says: “One day my friend sent me a demo.
“And he was like, ‘I’ve just met this guy at an open mic. He’s really good, you should listen to it, he’s amazing’.
“And I was like, ‘Alright, sound’.
“Put the demo on and was just immediately floods of tears.
“Because before that, I was just very into dance music. I was making drum and bass and I was getting my tracks played on the radio and stuff and I was very into that.
“And then it was just this acoustic folk music that I really hadn’t heard anything like it before.
“So I was just like, ‘This is amazing’.
“And decided to drop out the next week and join a band with them
“It just felt like the right thing to do.
“I’m very impulsive.”
Sounds like you were drawn to playing music together.
“Yeah, definitely,” Jess says.
“It just felt like the right thing to do, and it still does as well.”
The duo have been based in Glasgow for years now.
Jordan explains: “From Lancaster, we moved to Manchester.
“It became too expensive so we kind of saw it as an opportunity for us to move somewhere else that we hadn’t been.
“We had a lot of friends up here in Glasgow.
“It’s a bit cheaper to live and the other thing about Glasgow is it’s got a lot going on music wise.
“Music scene’s really strong, really vibrant.
“I’d say it’s pretty eclectic as well.
“No matter what kind of music you want to make, there’s a home for you here.
“I’m not sure every city is like that.
“I think London is like that obviously because London’s just kind of got everything.
“We just did it and we haven’t looked back really.”
Jess says: “It definitely feels like home.
“I don’t really have any plans to leave.
“I don’t see my parents. I don’t feel tied to Lancaster anyway.
“This is my home now.
“I feel like I fit in more here than anywhere I’ve ever lived.”
“It’s very welcoming.”
Happy Hour is out now.
For more information, click here.