The alt-pop vocalist still receives hate online, but doesn’t engage. “I just like to find the human in people,” he says. “Whether you agree with them or not, there’s has to be a bridge. Otherwise, we’re just standing on islands slinging arrows at each other. There is so much more to life than hate.”
It’s personal experiences like this – and the time he was called “f----t” in front of his mom during the Women’s March, or being told that men can't call other men "beautiful" – that inspire Morgxn’s music, and his latest song, “A New Way”, is, in his own words, the most personal yet. Billboard spoke with the singer-songwriter about what inspired these deeply personal lyrics, death threats and Pride commercialism.
Your new single “A New Way” is very referential to your life. Does the song speak to anything in particular?
It’s funny how something so personal can be so hard to talk about. I’ve never created anything more personal in my entire life, and there’s something very scary about that. I asked myself if I should be holding back, but the reason I make music is to express something that I feel and something that is real.
The last few years -- somewhere after losing my dad and finding that my music is connecting with people -- there was this level of pressure that came with putting myself out there. Like, the world is falling apart, I have a voice, and I don’t know how to help it. That’s what “New Way” means to me: you can feel hurt and you can feel scared, but you should do something about it and make the world a better place.
How is the world falling apart -- are you speaking societally, politically?
People can sit behind a computer and attack others without any consequences. We’re literally seeing people’s rights are being stripped away every day -- women are being told what they can and can’t do with their bodies, and a Snapchat filter is making gender transitioning look like a fun drinking game.
I deleted my Twitter for a week because I had been receiving some Internet hate. It was after I released “Holy Water” and people were like, “I’m not going to trust a man that wears a dress,” and “I’m not going to trust somebody who paints his nails,” all this stuff is very triggering to me as a child because I was made fun of for everything: for being fat, for being ugly, for being different, for being feminine. The internet can be this cesspool of hate. But, with that said, when I put out the album Vital, I had no idea that it would turn into this way of connecting with people who are like me and struggle with knowing that they are worth being loved.
In “A New Way”, you mention the ages 14 and 19. Did anything substantial happen in those years?
Fourteen was an age where I was wistful and naive. I played with toys in the bathtub longer than I should ever admit in an interview [laughs]. I wore a Superman cape to school not on Halloween, at an age that is probably not safe to admit either. That was where 14 came from, I felt youthful and that anything was possible.
Nineteen was the first time I was living on my own and I was all like, “I’m 19 and living on my own, this is fucking awesome!” And it was, because I was finally able to come out at 19, but I was finally able to honestly look at myself and say, “You might be into boys.” They were just two places in my life where I wasn’t so concerned with anything except for living my best life.
Was there a defining moment you discovered you were queer?
It was a pretty gradual process. I think coming out has two parts. There is the sexual part: I first hooked up with a guy at 17. Coming out to myself took a little bit longer; I was 19 and, before then, hiding from myself. That’s why I don’t think coming out is a one-time, fix-all process. Coming out is a lifelong activity, where you’re constantly removing these layers of how you thought you were supposed to be and how society expected you to be.
You recently posted about Mother’s Day on Instagram. In it, you mention that you received death threats and were made fun of in school. Are you comfortable talking about it?
I was a victim of an internet bully when I was in seventh grade. There was a kid who decided to create a fake email address and sent death threats to somebody in our class and put my name on the email. This was back when the Internet didn’t move as fast as it does now, and they had to get the FBI involved. They traced the email back to this kid’s house, but the damage had already been done, because the kids at school thought that I was some sort of monster. The school wasn’t going to do anything about it, but my mom marched into school and was like, “You are going to do something about this, because my kid cannot get out of bed because he’s too afraid to walk into school.”
Many queer artists feel pigeonholed in that they are only popular among queer audiences. Have you found mainstream audiences are beginning to embrace queer artists a little more these days?
I still think it’s niche. Queer may be trending, but I think there’s still a ways to go. When an artist is really opening up conversations and creating change in communities that need it, that’s when I’ll think it’s mainstream. When we’re not fighting for the rights of our brothers and sisters and genderless humans around the world.
Brands are attaching themselves to the queer community, especially now as we approach Pride season. Do you think this is authentic or is it more financially advantageous?
I’m not going to say that all commercial Pride is evil, because that’s not the camp I belong to. In a way, it helps reach people. I think about this a lot. The idea of Pride, for me, has nothing to do with festivals because I grew up in a town where that was not a thing. I love Pride and Pride festivals and we can never forget that those exist, not just as a place of revelry, but also as a place of protest.
But now there are so many brands out there that maybe one kid in a small town who doesn’t get to see much stuff but is going to see that Converse has a rainbow line. In that case, let’s do it because it’s saving kids just by being louder and that’s what’s fucking vital. Quote me on that one.