Get to Know: Hector Morlet's Variety Show
Having just released his highly anticipated debut album, we catch up with Boorloo/Perth indie experimentalist on the rise
Image credit: Leyla Allerton
We’ve been big fans of Hector Morlet for a while now, first meeting him two years ago after he dropped his first two singles, before he kindly walked us through his debut EP Music For Squares last year.
Now, following a string of singles, the Boorloo/Perth genre-bending singer, songwriter, musician and producer has readied his debut full-length album, The Variety Show. Wearing his influences on his sleeve and not shying away from diverse styles and sounds, The Variety Show sees Morlet fusing elements from funk-laden indie psych to chill, loungey pop vibes and even 1950's spaghetti westerns.
The name of the album goes beyond just being a cool album name - Morlet actually threw a weekly “variety show” over a two month period which had a huge impact on his creative process and writing. To celebrate the release of The Variety Show, Hector was kind enough to answer a few questions for us - have a listen and get to know!
Congrats on the new album! Could you tell us a bit about the actual variety shows you threw that inspired the album title?
During July and August 2022, I hosted a weekly show called ‘The Variety Show’ at Mojos in North Fremantle where I aimed to showcase acts you don’t usually see alongside bands in pubs. Over nine nights, the audience watched a magician, a ventriloquist, a fire twirler, poetry, sound art, a sad clown, an anime theme song cover band, an Irish jig band, a modular synthesist and a veggie hotdog eating contest. These acts were accompanied by stellar musical acts such as Jack Davies, Smol Fish, Butter, Drea, Claudie Joy, Mia June, Noah Dillon and Ken Paolo. The experience of organising these events had a huge impact on my practice and understanding of my writing. I consider the nine week residency and this Album part of the same broad brush stroke.
What was the most off-the-wall thing you saw at these shows?
Harry (from SupaThick) messaged me and asked if he could do a set of mouth trumpet songs. Of course I said yes but I thought he was joking up until the moment he jumped on stage! He plugged in his iPad, pursed his lips and the crowd went wild. It was great.
Do you have any non-musical talents to showcase on a variety show?
Nope. My knees can bend backwards weirdly so I guess I could be an olde time circus sideshow?
You cover a wide range of sounds and styles on the album - what was the writing process like for this one?
It just developed over the last couple of years. Most of the songs were recorded in my usual way: come up with an idea (chords or melody), make a demo and then keep working at it. ‘Ghosts and Ghouls’ started as a finger picking and vocal idea but I ended up removing the finger picking in all except for the end of the song - I think I was hanging out with Jack Davies too much. The drums for the themes (The Variety Show I, II & III) were recorded with Kye who plays drums in the live band, and he especially helped me nut out the third one. Ben (also in the live band) and I spent a few sessions recording a million different sax lines for the themes which I had the pleasure of sifting through and sampling - it almost felt like some of the beat making I used to do.
I put a lot of work into the album but it’s nothing to write home about. It was just thinking, playing around, recording, mixing, deleting, sighing and finally “I think that’s it”. I like the simile that writing a song is like a bad romance, it starts out red hot and exciting with the idea and then slowly becomes gruelling hard work until it ends - and the song is done! :) So to sum it up: the writing process was long and incremental, and prodded along by a little help from my friends.
How would you say the album differs from your debut EP?
My intention with my EP ‘Music for Squares’ was to make a stylistic statement and establish the basis of my artistic persona in production and songwriting. I was exploring production and harmony, and I was thinking a lot about cliches and whether I wanted to embrace or reject many different established patterns in western popular music.
With this LP I intend to explore the many stylistic influences in my life, without a dogged fixation on addressing cliches. With a more confident hand in production, I’ve tried to dip into the world of multiple different artists and movements throughout the last century - at least through the song writing apparatus I’ve developed so far. ‘The Variety Show’ is more of a showcase than a statement and more of a curated menagerie than anything tactfully original - whatever that means?
What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating a full length record?
I think the hardest time was towards the end of last year, after I had released the first EP. I really wanted to evolve the sound and improve the production, largely the drums. I spent a long time banging my snare drum much to my housemates’ dismay. At the same time, I found myself longing to make something that really made my heart sing: see Momo by Hubert Lenoir, Whatsapp by Duval Timothy or The More We Love by David Versace. I think this is where the meat of the album - those non-single songs - really grew from. But it was hard because these two things were hard to access and required a lot of mixing and finding tones and reflecting on the songs I was making. This year has been more like ‘ok let’s just do it’, which in a weird way can be easier.
How are the new songs feeling live?
Good! I think they are a little harder to play live than the EP songs but the band has been really nailing them lately. We’ve been playing the themes for a while now and they add a really nice continuity into the set - they provide a grounding point every now and then before we delve into another song. But the only way to really find out is by hearing it with your own ears! November 11 at the Buffalo Club in Fremantle!
Hector Morlet's new album The Variety Show is out now