Colchester’s Fraser Morgan will be playing his 1000th show at Colchester Arts Centre on Saturday 8th June, so this is the ideal time for an interview with the man himself. Keep Colchester Cool’s Ben Howard got the opportunity to ask Fraser questions in his most detailed interview yet. 

Fraser, hello! Before we get going, how would you describe your musical style or genre for those who haven’t heard you yet? 

Hello, Ben. I’d say I’m a Singer-Songwriter wrapped up in Folk-Punk energy. 

Congratulations on reaching your 1000th show milestone! Which I have to say is bloody impressive. Can you share with us how this journey has been for you, especially considering the challenges you’ve overcome along the way? 

Thank you very much! If I’m completely honest, it’s been not easy. Don’t get me wrong, it has been so incredibly fun. Travelling around, making friends, seeing new places, and connecting with strangers has been heaven on earth. However, with performing 1000 times, the performance itself is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve spent a lot of time playing to no one, playing for free, losing money, travelling a lot, playing in the rain/cold, making mistakes, missing buses, crying at night, feeling worthless, and doubting myself. 

However, all of this became easier once I practised it all and did it more and more. Once I started to see it as a special opportunity to do something new, with the potential of meeting at least one person who liked what I did, I began to have fun with it and not take it too seriously (though all of these things never go away for me and are still something I have to practice and stay mindful of even to this very day). 

Your 1000th show sounds like more than just a gig; it’s a celebration of love, happiness, and perseverance. Please tell me more about the significance of this event to you personally. 

You’re exactly right there. It’s way more than just a gig. It’s a huge “thank you” and celebration. This particular event’s significance to me is that not only is this my first ever ticketed headline show (and I chose Colchester Arts Centre; start small, right?), however it’s going to be the first time in my life that all the people I have met and have loved and who have been there for me and have helped and supported me in some way, are all going to be gathered in 1 room, at the same time… it feels like the clashing of universes almost. 

Some of these people will have known me since I was born, helped me when I was homeless, or may have only just met me at a gig two weeks ago. However, all will mean as much to me as each other.

You’ve been very honest in the past about your experiences of abuse, homelessness, and mental health crises, so how does it feel to reach this incredible milestone and still have a heart full of love and a smile on your face? 

It feels like the first time I’m allowing the child inside of me to smile and take a compliment. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve worked as hard as I have because pursuing a music career was not only an outlet but to my 16/17-year-old self; it was the answer to my feelings of loneliness and instability. If I made a career in music, I wouldn’t have to worry about how I’m going to eat, where I’m going to sleep or who’s going to love me or be my friend. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately and have a therapy session booked because I think a part of me is still in survival mode. 

However, reaching my 1000th show and seeing those people will be the first time I’ll feel worthy of and actually able to accept a “well done” and a pat on the back. 

You’re using this gig to raise money for local homeless and LGBTQ+ charities. What motivated you to choose these causes, and how can people support your fundraising efforts? 

I chose them because they’re small charities, and I love supporting smaller ones. The people who run them aren’t driving Lamborghinis and own four houses, three of which they’re never in. They’re lovely, down-to-earth, relatable, and compassionate people who want what’s best for those who use their services. I’ve also seen in real-time the effects their charities have on their users, and that filled me with love and reassurance. 

Can you share any memorable moments or highlights from your previous 999 shows that have had a significant impact on you? 

One of my favourites was when we started a stage invasion at a festival called Harlequin. We had about 100 people on stage with us, and it was one of the best nights of my life! Another would be when I was playing a gig and only two people were there. It was a couple who were nestled in each other’s arms, and very clearly deeply in love, so I just unplugged and got off the stage and played them chasing cars in front of them. That was special. 

With such a meaningful event approaching, what emotions are you experiencing, and how are you preparing for the big night? What can we expect? 

There’s been so much preparation that’s gone into the gig that I haven’t had a moment even to process my emotions! It’s been a plethora of emotions that are very much like a rollercoaster, though. A part of me is exhausted as it’s taken up so much brain space lately, but more so, I’ve been feeling quite emotional. Obviously, I’m so excited and ready to step on that stage and give the best show of my life, but it’s also exposed a lot of pain and wounds I didn’t know I had. This 1000th feels like the first time I’m allowing myself to stop and give myself a pat on the back. It feels like I’m giving that little boy inside of me the biggest hug and telling him he’s okay and he’s safe. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and at times, it’s been an incredibly painful and lonely journey. I certainly threw myself into pursuing music, which is the magnitude I have as an escape and distraction, so I’ve had to re-evaluate why I do music. 

I’ve come to realise now it’s because I just really love making people smile and feel present and escape their own stuff for a bit, also because I love travelling, so music helps with that. When I step on that stage to a crowd of people, knowing that I’m an adult now who has stability in their life, a roof over their head and a room of people who have my back, I think it’s going to all hit me at once, and I will probably be a big blubbery mess, 

As you’ve travelled up and down the country, playing in various venues and festivals, how have those experiences shaped you as an artist and as a person? 

Gigantically. I’ve almost played 1,000 shows. Most of them have been to more or less empty rooms, where I’ve lost money, gotten rained on, missed buses and trains, cut my fingers, lost sleep, cried, and more. Life has humbled me many, many times, and I’m so appreciative. I’ve learned to leave my ego at the door, have fun, and not take it too seriously. I’ve learned that I’m no more important than anyone else, and no one else is more important than me. We all intrinsically share the same values. I’ve learned it’s good to be nice to everyone you meet, even if you feel they don’t deserve it, and I’ve learned to express your gratitude to everyone who wants to help you, listen to you or buy your merch because they don’t have to, so let them know you appreciate it. 

As a musician, playing all these shows and meeting all these people has helped me hone my craft, make people laugh and put on a show; however, as a person, they’ve taught me how to act as a human being. And I feel the latter has contributed to where I am today the most. 

What advice would you give your younger self, the kid who was bullied and told music wasn’t for you, knowing what you know now about your journey and where you’ve ended up? 

I would say this to my younger self: Sign up for therapy as soon as you can. Unlearn all the unhelpful things that once helped you but now get in your way. Don’t make your issues everyone else’s. Please forgive all the people who have hurt you and forgive yourself for the mistakes you made growing up. No one’s going to hate you and give you as hard a time as you will, and it’ll all be unnecessary. At the end of the day, no one is thinking about you or those things that you think they are. Learn to befriend yourself because you’re going to be joined at the hip for a very long time, and if you don’t, it’s going to start to get very loud in that head of yours. 

Write as many songs as possible, try everything, never stop persevering and getting back up, and fail as much as you can. When it comes to writing songs, there’s no good or bad; write what feels good, have fun, play as much as you can, and treat every gig like it’s your last and play like every room is full to the brim because you never know who’s in those rooms and who knows who.  

You had the opportunity to perform with Luke Concannon of Nizlopi at Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester, a gig I had organised. I resigned from the venue before the gig took place, but I saw the footage of you and Luke on stage. Can you share your experience of performing alongside your childhood hero and the emotions you felt during the event? 

I’m so happy you brought this up because if you didn’t, then I would have! It was insane. I remember when you asked me if I wanted to play it, and I had to keep quiet for like 5/6 more months or something; it was torture, haha! Luke is one of the reasons I play, write and hold myself the way I do. He and Ed Sheeran (whom Luke inspired), so to get to play alongside him and let him know who I was when I walked in was mad. I remember being 6/7 years old watching the music video for the JCB song in the pub my Mum worked in while I ate Quavers. And I got to perform that song with him on the night, like, what!? 

Life’s unpredictability is precisely why I’m still holding on and going. I still talk to Luke now; we send each other huge voice notes on WhatsApp. He was going to come to the gig, but he’s in Scotland, unfortunately. I’m hoping Nizlopi will make a comeback, and I can support them, hahaha! That night is still something I’m processing. I’m starting to learn to slow down a bit and appreciate more, and that night is one of the most recent things I’ve revisited. I’d say that was the 2nd most important gig of my life (after the 1000th), and I owe that to you. Thank you so so much. 

Honestly, it was my pleasure, Fraser. It’s just a shame I missed it!

While preparing for this interview, I saw your Facebook post from 12th August 2022, where you wrote a heartfelt message to your future self, expressing the hope that by the age of 27, you would have reached the milestone of 1000 gigs.  I’m purely writing this a message to my future self in hopes I can see this and share it: dear 27 year-old Fraser, it’s 25 year old Fraser here, you’re currently at 718 gigs. you currently do on average a minimum of 150 gigs a year. i hope this time in 2 years you’re at 1000 gigs, love ya x”  

Now, two years later, having achieved that goal, how does it feel to look back and see that you’ve not only met but exceeded your own expectations? 

I came across this on Facebook too! I remember writing it in my friend’s flat. I didn’t actually think I’d do it, then I came across it, and it blew my mind; I was like, “…I actually did it!?” I find it really funny because what are the chances? It genuinely makes me physically laugh. Jammy little boy, haha! I didn’t have any plans for my 1000th for a long time, so to know I’m going to be doing it as my first ever ticketed headline gig at the biggest venue in Colchester and one of the most infamous ones in the country… it’s bananas, right!? Haha, I’m really proud of that little boy for keeping on keeping on.

As we wrap things up, let me know your favourite artists from the Colchester music scene and why. 

Jack Walsh – he’s a lyrical genius with this thunderous voice that rumbles through every single one of your ribs. 

Generation Feral – she’s one of the most badass artists I’ve ever met. Her songs are the wake-up call we all need. She’s unforgivingly herself. 

Jackson Rivers – he’s one of the best storytellers I know and there’s a lot of wisdom in his songs. Evy Frearson – she has this super captivating voice, knows how to write a banger, and is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Armoured Man – I feel like I’m sitting down staring at a fire when I listen to their music. Their lyrics make me want to laugh and cry, and they’re so funny to see live.

Combat Sports – they have such an incredibly fun and full sound. Not only are they amazing people, but they also wear great costumes live. 

Finally, how do you hope your story and music can inspire others facing similar challenges or doubts about pursuing their passions? 

Oof… I’ve never really thought about this really… I guess when I first started (and even still now), I needed hope and reassurance, both artistically and as a human. I don’t know, really… I guess I want to prove that you can change if you want to and that life can and does get better if you give it a chance to sort your head out. And that it’s not about how unattainable things you want feel, and how many times you’re told you can’t do something, or how many times you collapse to the ground and bawl your eyes out; it’s about practising perseverance and getting back up, and focus on why you do something. 

If you love something and it brings you meaning, no matter how bad you’re told you are or how impossible it feels to, keep doing it. Look at me; I’m a council house kid who doesn’t know their dad, has experienced abuse and homelessness and has very little money and no family in the industry, and only now, at 26, do I feel like living off my music *might* be possible one day, and that’s enough for me.

Fraser, this 1000th gig is simply the start. I, and many more in Colchester and beyond, look forward to what happens next in your career. Have the most beautiful time at Colchester Arts Centre, and for those without tickets, there’s still time to buy some here