Decked Out: Flo Morrissey's Bohemian Rhapsody
The 20-year-old songstress, who kicked off a summer festival tour at Glastonbury last weekend, credits her London upbringing for both her melancholy sound and her eclectic boho style.
Flo Morrissey was 15 when she wrote “Show Me,” the first track off her debut album, Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful (out July 17 on Glassnote Records). Now 20, the singer-songwriter has had five years to grow up with the song, a finger-picked meditation that narrates her experience of becoming a woman. “It resonates more with me now,” says Morrissey. “You have to learn to live with a song in a different way, whether it means the same thing to you or not.”
Morrissey was raised in a close-knit family in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, the second-oldest of nine children. But it wasn’t until she left to record in Los Angeles with producer Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom) that her hometown began creeping into her music. “It’s the loneliness, the lack of something in London, that inspires me,” she says. “When I leave and come back again, I see it in a new light.”
Morrissey also spent time in Paris in 2014, where La Blogotheque, which records musicians playing live in unconventional locations around the world, filmed her playing first single “Pages of Gold.” In the video, she’s perched alone on a statue in a park at dusk, singing about a particularly lousy breakup. “But I don’t want to be a depressing girl with a guitar; I want to have an uplifting message,” she says. “Even the sadness can be beautiful — it’s just [about] finding a way of bringing it out.”
Though Morrissey says “I’m not just some fairy-hippie girl,” she does have an undeniably bohemian aesthetic that was shaped by the vintage clothing and antique jewelry she discovered while wandering the famed Portobello Road Market near her home.
She favors white-on-white ensembles (“I feel pure, like a blank canvas”) accented with colored shoes, like a pair of bright orange Swedish Hasbeens clogs or her petal pink Dorateymur boots. Piling on jewelry is also part of the look, and she’s rarely without her grandmother Flo’s garnet eternity band, and a purple-stone ring her parents gave her when she first signed to Glassnote.
Her stage look isn’t much different from her day-today style. “I keep it casual; I’ll put on some lipstick to show I’m making a bit of effort.” Flared jeans or trousers nicked from her mum’s closet, she says, make her feel grounded when performing (“I feel a bit too floaty when I wear a dress onstage”).
Morrissey will tour the festival circuit this summer, which began with Glastonbury on June 27. “I’m putting all my attention on those songs,” she says, although she also is preoccupied with the one thing on her packing list that hasn’t yet been accounted for. “You’ve reminded me: I’ve got to find some rain boots!”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 27 issue of Billboard magazine.