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PDZ.com interview with Jean Morisson

Original interview transcript from PerfectDarkZero.com.

MorissonPoe's song "Glitter Girl (Evil Side)" runs through the opening of PDZ and sets the take-no-prisoners tone for the game, while "Pearl Necklace," their other contribution to the soundtrack, keeps your pulse pounding to the end of the credits. Read our exclusive interview with Jean Morisson, lead singer for MorissonPoe.

ID Confirmed: Begin Transmission

Operative: Morisson, J.
Classification: Singer/Songwriter
Team: MorissonPoe
Mission: Perfect Dark Zero
Mission Parameters: Soundtrack
Mission Hot Zone: United States

MGS: Tell us about MorissonPoe. What is the band’s background? How would you classify your sound? What are your influences?

Jean Morisson: MorissonPoe is a kaleidoscope of different musical styles. The fact that each band member comes from such different genres—[genres] that in retrospect should not work together—I feel is what works in our favor. I am an R&B influenced singer, but I am influenced by artists ranging from the likes of Prince, Gladys Knight, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, etc. Our guitarist MopoMikey is from a death metal background, drummer NYK is a studied musician influenced by jazz and fusion, and then there is DSPoe, our bassist/synth man who is influenced by everything ranging from classical to Duran Duran. Did I mention that he is also a tremendous Chic fan!

MGS: What is your role in the band?

Jean Morisson: I am the front woman/lead singer in the band. I also do all of my own stunts. ;)

MGS: Tell us about the two songs that appear on Perfect Dark Zero™, "Glitter Girl (Evil Side)" and "Pearl Necklace." Did you write them as a band? What was the inspiration?

Jean Morisson: Glitter Girl we wrote as a band. The lyrics are about being kept down by those around you. It is also about the reflection of how deep anger or jealousy can go, and how we must stand up for what we believe, no matter what. We thought it was perfect for PDZ because it’s an empowerment song, and yet it’s not so literal that it takes the musicality away from it.

Pearl Necklace is a song that came together when I wrote the lyrics and melody while waiting patiently in a car (lol ). DSPoe created music around a melody, then the band chimed in and gave it its finishing touches. It was inspired by lethal overdoses of Massive Attack and Portishead meets Jonatha Brooke. I also wanted to write a song from the point of view of true self expression. The fact that when you care about someone, it is ok to be submissive.

I believe there is a great misconception that in order to be empowered, you must be in control. The greatest thing of a relationship or life itself is balance. Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing to switch roles and show your trust and respect by not being in charge all the time. If a woman or a man wants to be respected, they feel they need to be in control. True respect is knowing the difference, being free and enjoying each other.

MGS: How did it come about that these songs wound up in the PDZ game and on the PDZ soundtrack?

Jean Morisson: Sheer blessing! One of our biggest inspirations musically is Nile Rodgers (Producer / Musician for Chic, Duran Duran, David Bowie), who also happens to be the main man driving the gaming soundtrack industry. After we luckily caught his eye, he approached us about doing a song for PDZ, which he was releasing as a soundtrack, and honored, of course, we more than happily obliged. Little did we know at this time, that Rare and Microsoft would pick it to open the game...wow.

MGS: What was it like hearing "Glitter Girl (Evil Side)" during the opening sequence of the game for the first time?

Jean Morisson: It was overwhelming....surreal. So much work and inspiration has been put behind this game.  We're all huge gamers, and not to mention, Perfect Dark fans, so to be a part of PDZ is just like watching Samuel L. Jackson in awe because he's sitting next to Yoda.  We got the intro footage a few weeks before the game was released and watched it together as a band. We were jumping up and down, crying…and we hugged of course. Then we called our friends at Rare, Microsoft, and Nile Rodgers...thanked them thirty billion times. It is definitely an honor. And it does not hurt that it’s such an important game as well. It still feels unbelievable. :)

MGS: How about hearing "Pearl Necklace" over PDZ’s closing credits—have you beaten the game in order to do this?

Jean Morisson: We stayed up for two days straight and beat the game (it’s hard to play when you’re partying too…ha ha). We have video footage of when we beat it...This is when we first found out. Nobody had said a word to us about it...that during the credits, not only does our song play, but at the end, our band name and symbol take up the screen. We again cheered, jumped up and down...truly amazing

Of course, we contacted Rare and again, thanked them 30 trillion more times... :) 

MGS: How do you think the songs enhance/complement the PDZ experience?

Jean Morisson: The best thing about it is, it's NOT the typical video game music. There's this whole discussion about what is gaming music and what is not. A lot of die hard gamers wish that the music [would] stay the same, [but] they want the graphics to get more realistic. I personally love the evolution of current music, modern music, different music, and the way it can completely take gaming to another level. Can’t wait to see more of this...

I really think that popular music and gaming is the perfect marriage. I mean, I'm a huge Pac Man fan—play it DAILY—but I don’t think I'd listen to the song on my iPod...Though there was that "Pac Man Fever" stint...ouch.

MGS: Do you see a bit of yourself in Joanna Dark, or vice-versa?

Jean Morisson:I could only humbly hope so. She is smart, beautiful, powerful, and [she] stands up for what she believes in. I feel that once I became a part of this game, I will carry a piece of what she represents forever. And hopefully, for all of us, there will be a PDZ Playboy edition featuring Joanna Dark! Hmm…the possibilities. :)

MGS: How has having these two songs placed in PDZ affected MorissonPoe career-wise? Do you think this has opened up new opportunities for you?

Jean Morisson: I can't even express how amazing it has been. The best part is the amount of new friends we've been introduced to. We get tons of e-mail daily from people who love what we're doing and want to help spread the word. The industry has also seriously taken even more of an interest, and we're getting ready to do some promotional TV spots, which is definitely extremely exciting as well. Not to mention that we just finished working on our full length CD that will be released in spring 2006.

I do have to say, working with Nile Rodgers has been such an honor for us. It is something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity. To work with a living legend and have him grace us by also playing guitar on one of our new tracks featured on our upcoming release, is inconceivable. If two years ago someone had told me that not only would I be on an amazing game, but that I would be signed by Nile Rodgers to his record label, I would have smiled, then woken up! In all honesty, he is as amazing in real life as the reputation that precedes him.

We also feel a wonderful pride from the supporters and friends—I don’t know, I can’t get into the word "fans" yet—sending us e-mail about how proud they are. They're totally a part of us, and everything we achieve, they feel it as well…It’s their achievement as much as it is ours, and it’s amazing that they truly feel that way.

MGS: PDZ was one of the nominees for best original score in the Spike TV game awards. With two original songs on the soundtrack, that must have been pretty cool for you. What can you tell us about that experience?

Jean Morisson: It just keeps getting better and better doesn't it?  What an outstanding feeling to be part of such a great multimedia experience, not to mention a great honor to be recognized. We can’t wait for more, and as a matter of fact, we have some great stuff that we're working on for some big games in the very, very near future...Also, I've been very fortunate to make great acquaintances with David Clynick, who composed the original score for the game. He's an incredible musician and did an awesome job.

MGS: Had you considered video game placement as a distribution method for your music before?

Jean Morisson: This is the wave of the future. Period. I remember playing Halo 2 and wondering, who is this really cool band I am listening to?  So many more people became aware of Breaking Benjamin because of this. Lucky for us, it found us, and we're more than happy to be a part of it.

MGS: Would you like to see more of your music in video games in the future? Would you consider writing songs specifically for a video game?

Jean Morisson: Absolutely, and as a matter of fact, we're working on some great games right now. We have a concept of writing songs that will exclusively appear in game and on the soundtracks, as well as songs that will only appear on our albums. I love it!

MGS: What is your experience with gaming? Are you, or is anyone in the band, a gamer? What games have you played, and what kinds do you enjoy playing?

Jean Morisson: We're all gamers here. We all live together and love having Tekken tournaments. We also have a bunch of consoles hooked up...everything from our Atari 2600, NES, to our latest and proudest addition. :) We hope to have a very large TV one day to play them on…but one step at a time. ;)

Besides our apparent obsession with PDZ, personally, I've also been obsessed with playing a ridiculous amount of Burnout Legends. DSPoe has been enthralled with the Silent Hill series, and go figure, Soul Reaver. We can’t seem to pull Nyk away from drunken Tekken, and Mikey plays a lot of everything, including Mortal Kombat: Deception, which his brother was one of the scenery artists on.

MGS: What’s your experience with the Xbox 360®? Do you, or does anyone in the band, have one?

Jean Morisson: We have one. And we will definitely need another for the tour bus, so Microsoft, if you're reading...SEND MORE!!!  It is a powerful multimedia centerstation. It is a major part of our fun, and I want to cuddle it and call it sweet names...ha ha.