"The guitar case coffin makes my house feel like Willy Wonka’s," he says
The drummer of X once told Kim Deal that should she ever make any money through music, she should buy property. She did and told Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, who told Kevin Morby, who bought this place in 2015 with his first advance from Dead Oceans. “There’s something cool about buying a house in your hometown,” he says. “It alleviates some of the sting. Because as an artist you’re constantly thinking what if it all goes away and I’ve got nothing to show for it. So it’s good to have a house – at least I have that.”
Morby grew up all over the Midwest and spent his teenage years in Kansas City, then a “burnt out, lawless wonderland” that was good for a warehouse show; now an American city reformed by a growing tech industry. He says it changed a lot in the 12 years he was away, living first in New York while playing in Woods and his own band The Babies, and then in L.A. around the time he went solo.
The house he owns on the Kansas side of the city was an impulse buy from his father, who flips houses for a living. It’s in the downtown district of a quaint suburb full of buildings from the 1940s, including an original clock tower and a one-room movie theatre. He says it adds to the feeling of his home as a refuge from tour life; the place he returns to to write his next record, like ‘Oh My God’, Morby’s fifth solo album (his first double LP), released April 26th.
He paints in his dining room, writes in his study and demos out back in a studio lined with pine-paneled walls. He has the kind of well-worn instruments that you’d expect to find in an alt. country musician’s homes, and a ton of curious props from past and upcoming videos, some of which feel like optical illusions.
I use my typewriter all the time. I love typing, but when you write on a computer it takes some of the magic away. There’s something archaic in the hammering of the keys. I primarily use it when I’m stuck on a song and the lyrics are 75% done but I need to get out this last part. Then I’ll usually take it to the typewriter. I get a lot of fan mail too, and I address that right here. I put my PO box on my Instagram – I didn’t think I’d get as many letters as I did, but I got like 500, and I’ve just sent those people personal messages about my new album. I saw that you did one of these with Meg Remy from U.S. Girls. We’ve been friends for a long time and we actually only communicate through letters on our typewriters.
James Baldwin candle (also above)
I should mention that I inherited the desk from my grandmother, Dorothy, who left it to me when she past away, but here is my writing zone, and my favourite writer is James Baldwin, so I have this religious candle that is of him. And I also have this picture of James Baldwin writing. That’s something that I like to do – through in my room, when I wake up in my bed, I look over, and there’s a big picture of Nina Simone in her bed. She’s a huge influence of mine.