The Big Break Up with White Sea’s Morgan Kibby

January 10, 2015 • Posted by 83Music

Don’t expect Los Angeles singer Morgan Kibby to sit down and start spilling intimate details about her personal life to a stranger. In fact, don’t even expect that kind of insight from her music.

That’s not to say getting to know her from the songs she records as White Sea is impossible; they are indeed extremely personal; exposing everything from emotional demons to intrepid hope. But for the most part, songs like  the soaring pop anthem “They Don’t Know” and the more intimate “Small December” from Kibby’s debut solo album In Cold Blood are broadly stroked, musical illustrations depicting the blurry landscape of a spiraling relationship.

Yes, In Cold Blood is a break up album, one born out of her own loss. But if that conjures up thoughts of Taylor Swift or Adele, think again. Kibby’s In Cold Blood isn’t a referendum on a failed coupling; it’s a delineation of the different stages of grief and the oft ensuing tussle between longing and acceptance. The details are left to the audience as fill-in-the-blanks and Kibby says that’s exactly how she wants it.

“I like people to be able to listen to my records and not superimpose my personal life onto the listening of the songs,” said Kibby in an interview with 83Music. “I want them to be able to interpret [the songs] and have their own experience with the lyrics and the emotions that come. I like people to own the songs in their own way.”

For the most part, that’s the classic approach deployed by artists who have made some of the best break up songs over the past few decades. Songs like Willie Nelson’s “Pretend I Never Happened” and Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks.” Nelson’s offering is a bit more accessible though, using lyrics that could easily echo the sentiments of any lonely lover and Bon Iver’s song uses more cold imagery and metaphor, yet tunes render an emotional canvas ripe for individual interpretation.

It’s a direction that Kibby achieves quite brilliantly with the hushed, piano-driven-tear-jerker “Small December.”

“That is the oldest song on the album, I must have written that 6 years ago; which I think is why it sticks out a little bit like a sore thumb,” admitted Kibby. “It didn’t necessarily fit within the context of the way I had produced the other songs. It’s a moment when I tried to be a little more vulnerable and just be honest in my sense of loss as opposed to constantly being angry. I feel like in the grief process of letting go, you know there’s those five stages of grief, I spent a lot of time in the anger stage and that’s where I wrote a lot of the songs from.”

And since no one ever breaks up in a vacuum, Kibby also decided to title her album in a way that sheds light on the responses of everyone involved. Appropriately, In Cold Blood describes the ripple effect that the event had among her circle of friends.

“[In Cold Blood] is not referencing the Capote novel, although it’s easy to think that,” said Kibby. “I love the expression and it came to me when I was trying to think of a title in the sense that this is a break up record. Myself, and a lot of other people that surrounded this very traumatic breakup for me, kind of divested themselves of any empathy or compassion and acted in ways—we all acted in ways—that I just didn’t even realize was possible; good people acting very questionably. So this expression, to act in cold blood, is very appropriate for describing the experience I had when I lost my partner.”

Kibby has since moved on quite triumphantly from that low point—much like break-up-album-cohort Adele—she even has a new boyfriend now and according to her, they spend every available moment together. Clearly, her breakup didn’t leave her jilted and unavailable; far from it actually.

Instead, these days, Kibby is even entertained by relationship disasters– well, those on television anyway;–she’s a huge fan of The Bachelor franchise.

“I think it’s pure comedy!” admitted Kibby. “It’s totally ridiculous that these people come together and think that love is something you can find in three weeks. I love the editors; I think they are really the stars. I think it’s hilarious. That’s not to diminish the fact that I think there are some very genuine people on the show who really are searching. It’s just a walk of life I don’t know. I would never in a million years consider putting myself out there like that.”

But of course, when the reality-television-born relationships from shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette fall apart—and they do—Kibby is happy to know that her album In Cold Blood will be there for them in their time of need.

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