At a time where staying connected is more important than ever, House of Solo has launched ‘Party of One’, a series providing intimate insight into how your favourite artists are dealing with isolation and what we can expect from them during lockdown.
‘Germany’s answer to Norah Jones’, Ada Morghe, has more than enough to keep her busy in lockdown. The singer, actress, writer and author can’t seem to escape her own creativity in quarantine and is set to release her second album ‘Box’ on August 14th. Named so as the artist despises labels, it features jazz inspired tracks co-written by 80’s rock musician Andrew Roachford. We caught up with the artist over Zoom to chat about her newfound love for Instagram live, what’s currently inspiring her and her wish to tour before she becomes a grandmother.
First of all how are you? Are you settling into lockdown, have you got your routine down?
Mostly, however on Monday it became legislation in Germany to wear masks and now I’ll often have a massive panic, running around saying: ‘where is it, where is it?!’. I feel like I should get more, so I can accessorize like with glasses, (laughs). But apart from that I’m pretty good. In terms of music I was really lucky, I recorded the new album last year and I magically did all the marketing and release work for it in January and February. It was actually kind of spooky, I shot the last video literally two days before lockdown!
What’s your lockdown situation like?
I’m in Munich right now with my family. I have two daughters, 13 and 17, and thank god both of them are grown up enough to handle time for themselves. They’re pretty structured and it’s great for the two of them as previously they were pretty much doing their own thing, but now because they’re forced to, they’ve started doing things together.
So many times, I’ve woken up in the morning and been thankful for having a family and being stuck with them.
How has creating online content been for you?
You know what, there are two things that I’ve learnt because of corona. One thing is about time, but I’ll come to that later. The other is about live streams, I’m not normally a social media junkie, I never was. But I love Instagram live, I found out this is my thing! The day of my first live jazz concert, I thought that in the morning I should rehearse by reading out one of my children’s books, and now I’ve been doing this everyday for five weeks!
These were particularly special in the first two weeks when everyone was frightened and didn’t know what was going on. People were coming into my lives and not just feeling connected to me through the music I was playing or the stories I was reading, but they felt a wider connection. I became a platform for people to meet, especially for parents, they were chatting on the live, recognising each other from the previous week and sending supportive messages. It’s obviously different from playing live, there’s no applause for instance. But I think it’s an amazing tool for artists to use, and a great way to connect people.
So, you are an actress, a scriptwriter, a children’s author and a jazz singer, not to mention a mother, how has it been balancing all of these things during lockdown?
Music has really taken over, for the last three years now, it’s been like 60% music. I always say that I’m telling stories and the stories are reaching out for the best form, however, music does make me feel the most complete as an artist. But in general I don’t struggle with different roles as whether I’m writing or singing, I’m completely doing that thing. I may be doing lots of different stuff but I’m never multitasking.
Have you found that lockdown has been a creative time for you? In any of your fields?
Usually it would have been, I’m the kind of person that can adapt pretty well to new circumstances. I think like many artists there are two sides to me, the performer and the introvert. So, there was some part of my soul saying: ‘oh I just want to get back into that little house and play music and write’, but honestly I’ve done a lot of output, getting ready for marketing the new album, I want everything in place so that the music can shine!
I know that you have such a wide range of talents already, but are there any new skills that you’ve been pursuing while in lockdown?
I always wanted to learn the guitar, and I started a little bit, but then I realised that the ukulele was much easier! It’s great as it gives you the opportunity to write a different style of song, it’s the same when you introduce any new instrument, something different always comes out.
I also went through my bookshelf, I’m the kind of person that can’t leave a bookshop without buying something, so I have lots of books and never any time to read them. And I always wanted to read In Search of the Lost Time by Marcel Proust, don’t worry I didn’t get round to it! (laughs) But this really jumped out at me when I was going through my bookshelf during lockdown. So I took out this book, and although it’s not a new idea to me that time is not linear but rather multidimensional, but in this ‘corona time’ this was the first time I really felt this. I really finally feel as though this is my time and I can wander around in it, back and forth, it’s up to me how long I want to feel time. I hope that I can hold on to this feeling after lockdown, instead of going back to constantly running, looking for the next thing.
At the heart of the track ‘Don’t Put Me in a Box’ is the idea that in your professional life do you need to have a specific identity for people to rely on. I’m really interested in the idea of people’s identities being so tied up with their work, what do you think about this, especially in relation to lockdown?
This song is really interesting, I was very lucky to be able to work with Andrew Roachford, an incredibly talented and sensitive man. Prior to the session, I was worried about what we were going to write about, was it going to be love? Na! We sat down and started speaking about how during my whole career, but especially when I first made the transition from actress to writer, people kept asking me: ‘so what are you now?’ And I felt like I had to pick one but I always felt it wasn’t right, so eventually I had to ask people: “can you stop putting me in a box?” He also had experience of this, he didn’t want to be the ‘black guy doing rock music’. Everyone has so many sides that can’t easily be contained.
But that’s a great question concerning identity, it’s something I’ve always had to deal with as a performer. This came up the most at parties when people ask what you do and you reply: ‘actress’, but have to follow up with, ‘but I’m not really doing anything right now’. So are you still an actress? I don’t have the answer, but for me believing that I’m an artist has been an ongoing exercise, the key for me was just believing in my process and trusting that what I have to say is worth saying?
So for those that have felt this more because of Corona, hopefully this can be a chance for every artist to fast track their journey towards self-worth. And ultimately, was Van Gogh not an artist?
Your inspiration for your work seems to come from so many different places, from relationships to elements, what has been inspiring you recently?
Right now it’s mother nature, our world in a sense has gotten small, but really it’s also gotten bigger, our scale has just changed. Everyday I’m running, (I don’t do it very well, it’s more grandmother running) and I’m more conscious of everything!
Are there any people, either personal to you or more widely known that you would like to highlight for their attitude or actions during lockdown?
Elizabeth Gilbert, she wrote Eat, Pray Love. Seven years ago I was doing a reading tour with her, doing her German voice. When she enters the room she brings with her enough positive energy to inspire other people, and she’s really bringing that energy on to her social platforms. Instagram is normally about pictures, but she’s posting long letters and everyone’s so engaged. A Lot of what she’s saying is centered around discipline, and how to work as an artist and getting over your fears.
What are you looking forward to most about the end of lockdown?
Seeing my musician friends in London and going on tour. I haven’t really done much touring before, as this is a new phase of my life, but being on the road is something I know is for me.
Make up: @astrid_holk