Four years ago, if you saw Morgan Bain perform live – and you were likely to, as you were likely to see the hard-working muso at one of WA’s venues – you would’ve probably seen him guitar in hand, playing plaintive folk songs.
See him play now, though, and you’ll be exposed to a very different beast.
Foregoing the jangly guitar-folk sound which has become synonymous with regional Australia, Bain has taken large swathes of inspiration from classic soul, r’n’b and contemporary electronic music. The 20-something, who has been playing music from the age of 10, said it was necessary for him to find passion in his own work.
“I was playing folk, then I kind of went into rock,” Bain said, ruminating on what you could call the ‘middle period’ of his music.
“But I realised I didn’t actually have any songs. Like, actually proper songs, songs I had created myself.
“You know, a lot of guitar music is chorus, guitar solo, chorus, guitar solo, end. And that’s fine, but there’s not a lot of room there to come up with anything original.”
The tack Bain has taken over the last two or so years, which has subsequently shaped the sound of now two EPs, has been something of a nostalgic looping back to his first steps in making music.
“I had an immune disease when I was a kid, so I spent my first seven or eight years in hospital,” he said.
“I had a lot of time to myself, and I got really good at doing impressions – like voices. Whatever was around me, I’d imitate. The nurses, The Simpsons on TV, whatever. And I got really good at that, at imitation.
“It’s something I’ve only really thought about over the past two years, because that’s the time where I’ve just obsessively been going, ‘What are my songs? What is the music I want to make?’
“And I realised the way to go was to record the way I like to listen to music. Which is just really a bit of everything.”
Bain said while he enjoyed playing guitar-driven folk and rock, he felt like he was just trying to fit in to the zeitgeist, and wasn;t being honest to his own musical tastes.
“I went from folk, to rock, to kind of folk-rock,” he said.
“And I enjoyed it. And audience enjoyed it. But didn;t really feel like I was doing it for me.
“Like I would go home and listen to Outkast, or D’Angelo, and just be blown away with how they put songs together. And then I would go on a week of just listening to Oasis.”
Bain obviously feels the need to draw those parallels together, and he’s done so with new singles Why Don’t You Stay and Hush, which are sublime R’n’B tracks that give full wight to Bain’s rich, deep voice.
It’s clear those impressions paid off.