morgxn Teams Up With Sara Bareilles For Marvelous Collaboration, “WONDER”

Photo by Emma Mead

Oh, I wonder if what I say will matter to someone, sings morgxn. “WONDER,” which nears eight million collective streams on Spotify, including the new Sara Bareilles-featured version, certainly has people paying attention. Within its glistening pop layers, the singer-songwriter delves into the rat race of making music and what it’s like these days simply as a human being.

“I made music long before anyone ever heard it, and I’ll keep making it─hoping those who might feel it, hear it,” he tells American Songwriter. “I know what it’s like to sing to a room of four people. I know what it’s like to sing to a crowd of 10,000. I sing from the same heart in both places.”

“WONDER” saw its initial release last summer, during the height of the Covid pandemic.  A year later, morgxn believes, as many others do, “a version of life” was truly lost. “It’s not something we get back, but if we are conscious and acknowledge the pain, hurt, transformation, growth, we might integrate into some kind of newness that will blow our minds. I don’t have a crystal ball; although, I do have a few great astrologists. There is a season I feel like I had to grow through. ‘You have to break to break through’ is something I’ve said to myself for a while now.”

Bareilles recently spoke about her favorite line in the song (I wonder if anyone will hear this) in a TikTok Live, bringing a smile across morgxn’s face. “I think that was one of the first lines that just fell out of my mouth when I wrote the song. There are songs, and then there are songs that change your life,” he reflects. “No matter what happens, ‘WONDER’ has changed my life. Just hearing Sara talk about how that line falls out of her mouth and how she connects to the feeling─and even the small (but big) details of where the line sits in her/my voice and what the pleading means for the statement─all of these things are like tiny prayers you hope a song holds. To hear an actual icon pick up on those subtleties let alone celebrate them… I almost don’t have the words. A fan actually sent me a bracelet that says, ‘What you say matters to someone’─a direct response to the actual plea.”

A long-time Bareilles fan, morgxn ran into the pop icon backstage at one of her 2019 shows, and she asked what he was working on. “She seemed genuinely interested and asked to hear it when it was ready. At the time, I was really in the middle of my process, and I didn’t want to send something half finished,” he recalls. 

When the song first dropped, he shared the link with her, and she immediately “responded with enthusiasm. But also, it was the middle of a pandemic, and we both were just trying to be alive. Things really became more concrete when she emailed me following up on this duet idea. It was a very joyful process of weaving our voices together to make this new [version].

“What Sara brings to the song is depth and wisdom and grace. She and I sing from different points of view, but we share one vibration in this song. There’s also less production in this updated version,” he continues, “and I think it’s a really great metaphor for taking away layers and letting the ones that remain shine even brighter. With fewer ‘parts’ in this version, there is almost a louder and more immediate plea.”

When “WONDER” began blowing up on TikTok, a close friend relayed the news to him. He also received numerous DMs from creators boasting nine million followers, but it all seemed like a distant fantasy. “I wanted to tell her that she was crazy─I don’t know if it’s really happening,” he says. “But instead, I just tried to celebrate the small wins. I’m pretty sure the next day the song was playlisted at the top of Pop and Emerging Artists on TikTok, and then it just soared. I don’t know if I even know when something is ‘happening’ because I’m busy living in/worried about the next moment. But I’m trying to take each of these steps and feel into the next.”

On the day Billie Eilish revealed morgxn’s “Home” was a direct influence on her own hit “Bad Guy,” he was dropped from his label─or, as he says, in reframing the narrative, he was simply “released” from the contract. “Come back to me in 20 years,” he says with a laugh. Despite the setback, he released an EP titled MERIDIAN : vol 1.

Such monumental personal and professional shifts can certainly be disheartening, or they can fuel one’s art to even greater heights. “I wrote a song called ‘A New Way’ that someone commented on TikTok why everyone has been sleeping on that song. I didn’t say it, but I do think that I was singing about a new way long before I really needed to go out and find a new way. There’s so much about this journey and the journey post-label that has activated a power I forgot I had—to say what I mean and mean what I say. But I felt a similar but very different kind of shift after my dad passed. Life is all about the moments that take your breath away, and then hopefully songwriting is about discovering ways to put it into words.”

10 years into his career, morgxn feels he can finally call himself a true songwriter. “Every song I write, I wonder how I did it and if I’ll write another. I’ve always been terrified to call myself an artist or a writer because there’s so many connotations of both in the industry. but I’ve often felt like an explorer. I came to songwriting through singing. But I have a lot of respect for the craft and know my best songs are yet to come.”

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