Power demonstrates itself in the ability to not only speak up, but to also scream every once in a while. Amplifying her vision as loudly as possible, Kailee Morgue shakes a cauldron of alternative pop hooks, punch-y punk conjurations, ink-worthy gothic eloquence, and ethereal electronic bliss. After quietly establishing herself as an iconoclastic force with 60 million streams and widespread acclaim by everyone from New York Times to Highsnobiety, the Phoenix-based siren unearths a torrent of intense emotions on her 2020 EP, Here In Your Bedroom [Republic Records].
“In female pop, there’s more anger than ever,” she exclaims. “There are less women singing about their isolation and loneliness; there are more women screaming and being very forward about how they feel. I love that energy, so I tried to translate the power of older hardcore music into modern production. I realized you can make pop music with a punk spirit. I finally embraced the attitude.”
A three-year journey from a part-time job slinging fast food to emerging as a subversive pop wunderkind allowed the 21-year-old to do so. Along the way, she unveiled a series of fan favorite anthems, beginning with the breakthrough “Medusa” [7.6 million Spotify streams], “Siren” [8.2 million Spotify streams], “Do You Feel This Way” [feat. Whethan] [6.7 million Spotify streams], and “What The Hell Happened To Us” [24.2 million Spotify streams] from Quin XCII’s The Story of Us. Not to mention, she attracted tastemaker praise from The FADER, NYLON, Pigeons & Planes, PAPER, Vice’s i-D, and Teen Vogue. Between packing houses coast-to-coast on tour, she joined forces with Hayley Kiyoko on the 2019 single “Headcase.” In addition to tallying 2.6 million Spotify streams, OnesToWatch pegged it as “an Early Contender for 2019’s Best Pop Moment,” and Billboard dubbed it, “a dreamy trip through the 20-year-old’s mind.”
Along the way, she sharpened the edge of her signature sound. Primarily working out of producer and collaborator Cameron Hale’s Los Angeles studio, she achieved a new level of cohesion. At the same time, she listened to “all of these powerful women in pop like Taylor Swift and Halsey” as well as formative influences, including Black Flag, Gang of Four, and Neck Deep—even naming the project after a favorite Goldfinger song.
“I was really studying music for the first time,” she explains. “I was thinking about what makes a bass line get stuck in my head or why a beat causes me to tap my foot. I was around people who were just as invested as I was. I mainly worked with Cameron. He’s got this specific room where we could hone the creativity. It was a blessing to have this space, because I always felt slightly less comfortable than I would in the comfort of my bedroom at other studios.”
The first single “Knew You” trudges forward on a crunchy muted guitar before slipping under a heavenly bridge. Produced by The Heavy, it builds towards a warm hook upheld by distortion and handclaps. On the chorus, she confesses, “Just can’t stop missing you, when it gets late in my hotel room, tell me what time that you’re coming through, how did I get so hooked on you?”
“I’ve finally allowed myself to start writing love songs and about relationships,” she smiles. “I never indulged in this style before. I’d just gotten into a relationship where I was constantly writing about love and that dynamic. I was super playful, but honest. I’m being really open.”
Elsewhere, the seductive swing of “Tied Up” sees her tread new territory between dreamy minimalist keys. She goes on, “A lot of women can’t really talk about sex, so I wanted to in my own tasteful and soft way.” A snappy beat and propulsive guitars steamroll into the middle-finger-raising refrain of “This Is Why I’m Hot.” She croons, “And they say I’m too personal, it’s cool but it will never sell, that’s quite the observation well, you can take it as it is or not, but this is why I’m fucking hot.”
“It’s an empowering moment,” she goes on. “I’m saying, ‘Take me as I am, because this is what you’re getting.’ It could be directed at anyone who has had an influence on my career or questioned me. It was a moment of deciding, ‘This is what I’m doing. You’re going to take it as it is. Get over it, or fuck off’.”
In the end, Kailee Morgue offers catharsis by embracing her inner scream like never before.
“I want any listening experience to be cathartic,” she leaves off. “I’m showing both sides of myself now. Some of it is stripped down and upbeat. Some of it is angry. I love it when music can validate my feelings. If I can do that for someone else, there’s nothing better.”