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Tanya Morgan Q&A

Rocking the Party Line

Tanya Morgan is a name that evokes images of a smooth female neo-soul singer (or at least that's what they would like you to think), but when you listen to one of the group's recordings you get hip hop, circa early 90s. Things get even trickier when you think of the logistics the group faces: Von Pea lives in Brooklyn, while Donwill and Ilyas, who also form the group Illwil, work out of Cincinnati. With the help from a broadband connection the MCs are able to form like Voltron in cyber space and collaborate instantaneously.

Their first CD Moonlighting was released on San Francisco indie hip-hop label Loud Minority Music April 4. Von Pea, Donwill and Ilyas spoke with SF Station during a recent conference call.

SF Station (SFS): Who is Tanya Morgan?

Donwill: Tanya Morgan is an old country western/soul singer who got strung out on heroin. She asked us to keep her legacy going and do some music. She lost her arms in an accident and couldn't play guitar any more, so she said, "I need ya'll to rebirth me and bring me arms back (laughs)."

Tanya Morgan is just our personal statement. We wanted a name that would take the focus off who we are and how we did it. We want people to say, "OK, the name is weird, let's just hear the music." We don't really want you to pay attention to the back-story, just the music.

SFS: But, isn't that a question that gets asked a lot?

Ilyas: Yeah, constantly.

Donwill: We didn't even think about it as a catchy name. We kind of wanted to do it so people didn't think it was us.

SFS: You describe your music as "running man music." Is that a reference to the old hip-hop dance move?

Von Pea: A lot of people like to say we have an old vibe to us.

Donwill: Futuristic retro.

Ilyas: I say it's music you could slap a crackhead to.

Von Pea: What?

Ilyas: Slap the high out of them.

Von Pea: They say we have an old-school sound. Some of our songs are more up-tempo, as opposed to a lot of other underground songs. Our songs are a little fast, so that's what the whole running man thing is about.

Donwill: But don't expect to see Hammer pants at our shows.

SFS: Did you really meet over the Internet?

Von Pea: I hate to say it like that because it always sounds like geek, nerd stuff. Donwill had some music online and I had some music online, so we just decided to make some stuff together. When we started working on the album Moonlighting we met in person.

SFS: A lot of [your] beats, recordings and ideas were exchanged via e-mail and Instant Messenger. How did that work out?

Von Pea: Yeah, Instant Messenger, e-mail and telepathy on occasion (laughs).

Donwill: I wouldn't say it's my preferred method of contact, but it was how we were talking before and it made sense. Putting stuff in the mail costs money for postage and you have to wait. With the Internet, if you want them to have it it's right there.

Ilyas: Don and me were used to working in the studio together and with guests on occasion. It was pretty easy as opposed to the old-school method, where we would be sitting there trying to figure out who would fly to where so we could record together. We could just record in our separate locales and e-mail them to each other.

Donwill: It was a lot freer. I've had experiences where there is somebody making you do you take 50 hundred times and by the time you're done with it you don't even like the verse anymore.