First ever TPY artist-in-residence: Neal Morgan

Above photo credit: Sean Pecknold

You may or may not have seen Neal Morgan hanging around the studio. Neal is our first artist-in-residence at The People’s Yoga. He will be tapping into his yoga practice to explore its influence on his music. Since Neal will be with us until September, we thought we’d give you a closer look into his work:

Q: Tell us about yourself Neal!

A: I was born in 1979 in Nevada City, CA. I was terrible at baseball but loved the game and still do: the best times of my life were spent chewing sunflower seeds and sucking down root beer while playing home run derby with my best friends on the Kellermanns’ lawn as a boy. I played drums and made visual art from a young age. I ended up going to business school, oddly enough, in Berkeley and then working at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art until I started playing music professionally in 2006. Between tours and working on records over 2007 and 2008, I volunteered in a number of states and then became a Field Organizer for Obama’s 2008 campaign. After we won, I finally made my long-intended move Portland. I give lectures on the painter Philip Guston. I’m working on a book about drumming and being a support musician.

Q: What is the purpose of your exploration? What do you hope to discover/create?

A: I played pickup soccer a couple times each week over the course of the year in which I wrote the spoken songs that appeared on my most recent record. Something great would often happen during matches; I seemed to be solving creative problems related to the writing of those songs – how to resolve a line, how to punctuate a melody, adjustments in prosody and sequence within lines – somewhere in the background – in the sub-or-semi-conscious me, I suppose – while my body moved around the field and while my attention was trained on the game at hand. In the gaps between activity that required my foremost attention, in the spaces in which the intense focus would ease, solutions to creative problems would float from the background to the foreground, and I’d realize I’d just churned out a an answer, an improvement; progress.

Then I blew out my knee and had two knee surgeries, so now soccer is a thing of the past. But I can finally do yoga again after extensive physical therapy. As I begin working on my next spoken record, I want to re-create the conditions that might allow the same creative problem-solving that I had experienced on the soccer field. Only this time, I’ll be on the mat at The People’s Yoga. Just like I was completely focused on soccer, I’m going to be completely focused on my yoga practice in class. I won’t be multi-tasking and actively working on material; that wouldn’t be possible for me. This is about what might happen behind the focus; back-channel outcomes that might surface through the intent and through the work of practicing yoga.

Q: Why did you choose The People’s Yoga as your location?

A: I so respect and admire the community and environments Michelle and all the instructors, staff, and students have created over the years, and I want to be more involved. I’ve been a very sporadic student since the Killingsworth location opened and want to develop my practice with greater consistency this year.

Q: How do you think yoga will help with your music?

A: I’m curious about the creative problem-solving that might arise from physical movement, but yoga helps me in so many ways – focus on breathing appropriately, routine, building physical strength, leaving the house for a communal experience, approaching the challenge of learning. These are all things that make me feel more robust and better able to approach the work I do, practically and creatively.

Learn more about Neal Morgan:

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