Morcheeba’s Ross Godfrey talks about new venture with Skye Edwards
Ross Godfrey began as a third of Morcheeba on meeting Skye Edwards at a Hackney party. Now he’s half of Skye | Ross
“I was always waiting for a musical revolution – something that would completely wipe out what had come before in a punk style way but it seems everything has just become homogenised,” says Ross Godfrey.
“Morcheeba was really quite cutting edge in the mid-nineties and now, 20 years later, music hasn’t really changed.”
Some other things have changed though: Morcheeba have shed one member and the name and gone for a much simpler Skye | Ross, though they’re keen to see it as an evolution rather than the end.
Ross Godfrey started the band with his brother Paul and singer Skye Edwards when they met at a party in the nineties. 20 years on, Skye | Ross will play their eponymous new album, as well Morcheeba favourites, at the Islington Assembly Rooms on November 2.
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“It’s a bit of a homecoming. When we formed the band, I was living in a flat just off Balls Pond Road. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch and I was with him at a party where we met Skye. They started going out and eventually had children together. But Skye used to come round to the flat I was staying in and she played me some songs, sang some poems she’d written.
“That’s how our musical collaboration started, in a dingy little flat in Hackney.”
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Despite their ascent from that dingy Hackney flat to Glastonbury, Morcheeba has still managed to retain a reputation for playing “lounge” music.
“I always write slow music and because of that people have always pigeonholed us as a chill-out band – it was always about relaxing at home listening to music which in some places was used as a bit of a diss. I didn’t really get it that way. I think being at home, relaxing and listening to music seems to be a very good pastime.”
Now, with the proliferation of bedroom recording and Spotify, there is no need to leave your house to experience the music you want, and are fewer scenes that link musical traditions to places, in the way that punk did.
“You can grow up in Birmingham listening to afrobeat or grow up in Cornwall listening to reggae,” he says. “People are like magpies, they just pick the bits they want.”
In some ways, Ross says, this attitude has made the creation of their new venture smoother, as they have been able to create an album with few constraints.
They made it a family affair by including Skye’s 20 year old son and husband and Ross’s wife and recorded at home, giving a relaxed and natural feel to the music.
“Going into studios seems like almost a dinosaur thing to do. With technology now you just need a good microphone and a laptop and you can pretty much record anything you want to.
“Particularly with Skye’s vocals: once she’d put her kids to bed and had dinner and a glass of whiskey she could put her slippers on and sing whenever she wanted however she wanted.”
Of course, keeping it in the family has been part of their dynamic from the start, as Morcheeba began with Ross and his brother.
Despite a split in the middle, that was seemingly less than amicable – Skye has said there were lawyers involved – the group released a string of popular songs throughout their years.
Skye and Ross had been touring as Morcheeba up until 2014, when they decided at a gig that it was time for a change.
“We’d been playing for a long time – Paul hadn’t toured with us for about 16 years and there was becoming more distance between him and us. I think it got to the point when he wanted to leave.
“It’s been quite refreshing in that it’s been like a continuation but also gets rid of some of the baggage we were carrying along with Morcheeba because people have so many preconceptions about that project. It’s 20 years old and there are so many emotional attachments.”
Releasing themselves from the tension of two decades gave them the chance to explore the music in a new way. It also allowed them to see how much they had evolved since starting Morcheeba.
“We’re definitely a bit more mature and middle aged now, I think I was a teenager until I was about 35. Having children forced me to reassess my priorities and it’s been a very nice transition. I think the new record is more of a reflection of our maturity – we’ve grown into our ages.
“Saying that we had a party in Paris and we all drank loads of tequila and took some magic mushrooms and it was great – there’s still the odd moment, but the majority of the time we’re well behaved!”
Skye | Ross play at Islington Assembly Rooms on November 2.