On Friday 8th of May, we were joined on the Lockdown Live Stream by French singer-songwriter, Morgan Saunier, otherwise known as ‘Granny Goes to Heaven’. His usual guise is of a self-produced, folk-electronic storyteller. For this particular show however, he shed the delicate patchwork of minimalist synths to play a beautifully raw set of acoustic numbers for us.
It’s called ‘Granny Goes to Heaven’, my project, because I started writing music just after my Grandma died. She never had the occasion to see me play, or know that I was playing music. That’s why. It was a duo with my cousin. We were very acoustic at the time. I wrote many songs and then I released my first EP, last October.
His songs, which meander calmly through gentle musings and quiet journeys of self-reflection, offer a welcome respite from the chaos of modern living. What’s clear as Morgan takes a moment to offer his earnest gratitude to our other guest this week, Eric 13 of Combichrist, is that just a simple conversation with him can offer the very same kind of respite. Immediate impressions are of a patient and genial individual who can’t help but bring a calming and a positive tone to the atmosphere around him.
I’m Good. I’m perfect. It’s 2pm here. It’s very warm.. a bit too hot….
Although largely based in France, Morgan has made the occasional journey across the pond to share his experiences through music.
The lead single, ‘Hello My Hands’ off his first, self-titled EP, delicately merges lo-fi melodic electronic beats reminiscent of Boards of Canada, soft-pop synths and the kind of warm harmonies and cycling acoustic guitar licks that would make Death Cab for Cutie proud.
It’s about a time in my life I wasn’t really doing anything. I was like kind of lost.
“Hello My Hands” means hello to the fact of doing something, you know? |
(The video’s) been directed by a very talented guy. His name is Haoyan of America. I met him after I saw… I don’t know if you know this band ‘Crumb’? They’re from New York. I saw one of their videos on YouTube and it was directed by him. And so I wrote to him and said “I love what you do, I love your work. I have some music, I’d like to make a video. Let’s do this! And we directed from New York to Paris, just over the internet. We worked together like that.
It’s a song I wrote… like nearly every other song, on the guitar first and then I do the arrangements like you heard on the video.
Next up, we were treated to the third song from the Granny Goes to Heaven EP, ‘Fear’. The song skirts a darker place; a reposeful tune tinged with melancholy.
Why is it called ‘Fear’? … It’s the same subject as ‘Hello My Hands’ It was a time I used to, it was in 2011, I took drugs like. My advice is don’t take drugs of course… And I had an emotional reaction for several months. It was very weird and I was very afraid. I had a really bad time, and I wrote this song called ‘Fear’.
Morgan’s lyrics mould together considered reflections and recollections with vibrant metaphor, painting stories with a daydream like quality, softly bubbling with emotional nuance.
I left Paris. I was in Paris but I had to take my Mum out of Paris as she was kind of old, kind of fragile so I brought her here.
I spent months in Paris in a flat. There were no windows. Just the piano. There was the sky but up above, it was a studio photo. Strange place. For one month I was by myself alone there. It was kind of scary but I wrote some new songs on the piano and it was actually kind of good.
Although for myself the lyrics of the next song were outside of my lexicon, that same drifting, mesmerising quality was still present.
So I have a French song, because I also write in French… because I am French! It took me a few years to begin writing in French, but I finally did it and I’m very happy with it. This song is called “Le Monde et Ses Aventures’ . I don’t know if you understand French a little bit? It’s called ‘The World and Its Adventures’.
Because I’m kind of a very dreamy person and this is a song I could have written when I was a kid.
Indeed the use of Morgan’s native tongue also served to reveal some of the cultural influences in his melodies and understated guitar parts, which he plucked on a nylon strung acoustic giving everything a very rootsy, organic feel.
The fourth tune we’re treated to is rather surprisingly, a cover of Britney Spear’s ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’
Actually this song is very good. Its very pop, but when you play it on the guitar it can sound very cool.
In truth, ‘cool’ is maybe misleading in its implication of swagger or contrivance. Rather, in fact, Morgan’s version shows an honest connection with the lyrics. Though the words are perhaps a little blunter than his own, the track when given his methodical picking treatment fits comfortably among his own tunes as a contemplative ballad of love lost, though admittedly, the tag line may yank you out of that moment temporarily.
His final track of the show is a track called ‘The Catastrophic’ that apparently will be featured on his next album. Skipping along through what could be a coming-of-age story of a restless spirit, ‘The Catastrophic’ is as mellow and emotive as his other tunes though maybe introducing a few more of the subtle folk-pop sensitivities of Elliot Smith or Bright Eyes.
Granny Goes to Heaven is currently in lockdown in France, so unfortunately the only place you can catch him in the near future is online. We can only hope that we’ll have the chance to see him in Camden soon.
I actually went to play London, for Sofar London in 2018. A very good memory. Everybody says to me that Camden is a place where we have to go play. I’m looking forward to going there.
If you’d like to hear more of Granny Goes to Heaven, you can find him on Facebook, Instagram or check out check out the Spotify playlist below. And of course, don’t forget to catch his performance on the highlights of the Camden Lockdown Live Stream!