Sorne: Unearthing a New Sonic Landscape
Using only organic instruments to create the powerful sound of cinematic rock, Sorne, fuses primal rhythms with ethereal vocals to elicit a resonate truth. This Austin, Texas band comprised of producer/vocalist Morgan Sorne, instrumentalist Kevin Naquin, and drummer Deano is taking the country by storm with their debut album House of Stone. With a profound sense of tribalism and performance art, Sorne captivates audiences through sultry dancing, fervent drumming, and the vocal range of Robert Plant and Thom Yorke. Performing more than 100 shows in the last year, their live set impacts ears everywhere as their music and stage presence inspires listeners to take charge of their lives. The band sat down with Gen Y Hub to discuss the meaning behind House of Stone and the mission of their tour.
A New Performance Experience
House of Stone is a concept album that follows the narrative of five siblings through their struggles with their father’s death. The story reflects the authentic root of Sorne’s maternal family dynamic, yet branches out into a harrowing account of it’s own. Sorne describes the scene as “cast in a place that could have been in the far past, now, in the future, or in a parallel dimension.” The characters are all adults who are coming to terms with their own identities. “The music and story speaks to the need to listen. Listening is the key to enlightenment at this time,” Sorne said. The characters ultimately speak to their sufferings, hopes, dreams, and past.
This reflection of society translated into song shows how vulnerability can be a tool to connect with each other. The theme of openness encourages listeners to be accepting of who they are and recognize aspects of themselves that they may otherwise shy away from. Sorne explained, “It’s about looking at that part in ourselves. I consider myself a fairly balanced individual because I’m not afraid to shine the light in that part of the attic. It might be uncomfortable for some, but I think by exposing it, you reach a point of understanding.”
How Sorne Found his Musical Path
Sorne was born to two operatic parents in Tallahassee, Florida. By the age of two he was singing with perfect pitch. The oldest of four, his family knew he was special and encouraged his creativity. He performed in plays and the church choir throughout his childhood. “My first exposure to art came when I was six or seven. I saw a painting my grandfather did of Jesus’ face on lambskin. I thought ‘I would love to be able to draw like that one day’.” That was the first time he was inspired to pursue art as a skill. Sorne’s grandfather, a Renaissance man in his time, later became a vastly influential figure. But to develop the talent seen and heard on House of Stone, Sorne admits he went through many trial and error processes.
Dating back to when he was 17, he started compiling what would later become a five piece album. “It started with a story and a few melodic motifs.” The art associated with the work was inspired by a college councilor who motivated Sorne to hone his craft. Sorne not only writes and performs his own music, but also designs and creates the visuals for his album art, clothing, and music videos. “I’m a creative who happens to be drawn to delve into these different mediums and bring them together harmoniously and hopefully tastefully.”
Sorne allows for his work to evolve while he is making it. He does not rush the quality or purpose of each piece, but rather allows it to unfold organically. He has created a rock opera with complex characters whose souls sing for their survival. “I was sitting in a room in Austin, and I thought ‘what right do you have to make art?’ I like to make rhythms, I like to sing, and I like to draw little guys and cut them out.” He looked at what he had been creating for the past ten years and realized he needed to start with a blank slate.
He resorted to a true auditory experience, one that spoke to the depths of humanity. “All of the elements in House of Stone are natural…if a table had a nice resonance I would use that,” Sorne said. The beauty of his new found canvas was that he did not allow musical or financial restrictions to limit his creative ambitions, instead he used what he had to foster the true spirit of music. “Everything that you hear is using some sort of organic sound, recording it, and celebrating the fact that this is what I have to work with. Music is about discovery. It’s about exploration. When I listen to music I want to be taken somewhere. And for me to do that it was about creating new sounds sonically.”
Sorne’s fearless essence is what first attracted Naquin and Deano to the band. Naquin said that what drew him into Sorne as an artist was “the whole scope of what he was doing. It was intriguing and fresh. In some ways it was hopeful that art can still serve a purpose.” From there, Sorne and Naquin brainstormed how they were going to turn this compilation into a live band performance. Deano merged with the band roughly around the same time.
From Austin to New York
The band has performed for audiences in Austin, Boston, New York, and now the West Coast. Deano said, “We’ve had a great reaction. The West Coast has been really receptive.” He added that although it’s great to play for audiences who are visibly enjoying the show, he personally likes playing for audiences who are reserved and more challenging. “They might be looking at me like “what the hell are you doing?” but then it’s fun to watch them get more into it as the show progresses.” Naquin added that “You want to keep people’s attention with a lot of riffs and valleys. You need to gauge your audience.”
This particular album uses a novel tone to represent a primitive story. Sorne said, “The methodology of the work is unique to its sound and I think it deserves that same attention for works to come. There are over 80 songs that pertain to this story.” His inspiration comes from a myriad of different channels including the Earth, cosmos, his relationship to the cosmos, and his family. He adds, “If I want to be an honest creative then I need to be honest with what has made me who I am, and thus be a vessel for that energy to come and allow my personal experiences to act as a filter.” In describing the mission behind his album, Sorne said, “this works speaks directly to my grandfather, it speaks to the cycle of the masculine energy. A desire for there to be more of the age of the feminine, and for the masculine energy to take a back seat. In many ways it’s a prayer for my family, it’s a prayer for the culture. It’s difficult to pinpoint where the message is directed because it’s all connected. As much as I’m speaking to my grandfather, I’m also speaking to you.”
Sorne describes his style as New World music, a fusion of world, new age, and rock. “My hope is that this work transcends genre, transcends age, race, and that it speaks to the human, as opposed to the subculture…I would love to see this work grace stages internationally. A dream of mine is to have [House of Stone] be turned into an opera, film, or traveling show.” Expanding on his uniqueness, Sorne has created a book of art that illustrates his musical escapade with an interactive experience. “There is also a language that I wrote that I’m going to reveal coming up later this year that people will be able to decode when listening to the music,” making the listener much more involved. He shares this bit of advice with emerging artists, “Don’t hold back. If you hold back you stay back. If you believe in what you’re doing, if you can answer the why, allow it to push you beyond your comfort zone. Life begins outside of your comfort zone. And being uncomfortable is a good thing. It’s the catalyst for great art.”
2015 will be a ground breaking year for SORNE as they release their second album and introduce new tools for their audience to engage in their performances. Be sure to watch the impacting short film below and catch their live performance when they hit a city near you.
Britt Hysen is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of MiLLENNiAL. In addition to being a media entrepreneur, Britt is a passionate humanitarian, international speaker, and an expert on all things related to the global millennial.