Interview: Kelly D. Morris, Creator of The MORE Project

Shortly after the Presidential Election, accomplished video editor Kelly D. Morris asked her Facebook friends to share images of what love meant to them. She then spliced those photos – and many other images – into a powerful video accompanying the new Phish song "More" that seemed ripped from the headlines. A few days after she posted it on Dec. 1st, the video had more than 50,000 views. We talked to Kelly from her home in Marina Del Rey, CA about the thinking and process behind this highly-shared piece of art.

HeadCount: How did you come up with the idea for the MORE video?

Kelly Morris: I went to Phish’s Halloween run in Vegas and got to hear "More" live for the first time.  After the shows, and on the road trip home with my dear friend Kayleigh Mack, we listened to Big Boat the entire way back, singin, car dancing and reveling in post-show glow. So many good songs.  It’s a solid album.  The refrain from ‘More’ remained stuck in my head for a week… ‘vibrating with love and light, in a world gone mad, there must be something more than this.’  Then the election happened and my newsfeed was filled with darkness: so much frustration, depression, and confusion.

With the darkness of the election outcome and lightness of trying to stay positive, all the while with “More” still stuck in my head,  I felt compelled to create something as a meaningful distraction.  Since ‘More’ helped me maintain positive energy, it felt natural to use the song in a video project.

I went on Facebook and posted in three places: GD50 Limbo, Phish Tour 2014 and my own page, asking friends and group members to share images of what love looks like to them. Right away, a lot of people sent me images. I loved seeing their pictures, and finding places for them in the video.

When I listen to “More” more closely, I hear phrases that feel like chapters. The first chapter feels like depression to me… “Life in slow motion, feet are in the clay, I’m going nowhere, I’ve been standing here all day,” It just sounds the ‘I’ is depressed, stagnant, frustrated with the state of the world. That felt visually like the most upsetting ‘news’ moments we’ve had in 2016, and  emotionally like the frustration and sadness many of us have felt over and over this year.  But there’s optimism. “I had a notion there was something more to do’.

In the next chapter and the music starts to build up, and that felt like, “How can we get through this, affirming ‘it’s never really over even when it’s over.’ There starts to be lightness.  The submitted images that resonated for me were pure love: hugs, animals, friends, family, experiences, places, things- love in love in some form or another, which looked and felt beautiful.

Towards the end of the song there’s a refrain and short  jam, followed by text on screen that Regina and I finalized together.  When asked what is it that’s more than this,  my answer is those words: imagine more, be more, create more, give more, love more, listen more, help more, believe in more, there is more, more good, more kindness, more compassion, more knowledge, more to see, more to do, more love, more light.  There is more light and more love, more to believe in, more to see and do and say. There is more, believe in more!  By seeing visuals of people working together, celebrating and dancing together, you’re hopefully left with a happy ending, and a feeling that love and light will prevail. And that’s how the video was born.

How did you spread the video? How do you think it went viral?

I uploaded the video at 1am in the morning, Thursday, the 1st of December. Then I posted it to my Facebook wall and the two Facebook groups.  I didn’t know if anybody was going to watch it, I didn’t know if anybody would care, but feedback started immediately. I couldn’t fall asleep, because I was so excited to read comments and to breathe in the love and excitement surrounding the video. It had 200 hits, and then 500, and then 5,000 hits. That first day it went so fast, by 8am JamBase had done an article, Relix wanted to post the video, and so many kind messages were coming through. It blew my mind. Viewers reacted emotionally to it, commenting that it was giving them inspiration and hope, evoking much needed tears.  

Has anyone from the band reached out?

I have seen that people very close to the band have shared it, I heard that Chris Kuroda shared it, which made me cry, cause his lights are such an important part of the video and every show I’ve ever seen.  So that got me.  This morning, I heard that Page’s mom saw it, loved and shared it with Page, and that he then loved it, and that made me cry, too.  The fact that Page watched it with his mom melted me.  Yay, Page and your sweet Mom.  

In all these years of seeing Phish, it’s kind of wacky; I feel like I know them from afar and that they’re old friends, but we’ve never even had a conversation. I’ve always looked forward to it happening sometime, and dreamed it would be through some sort of artistic collaboration.  I hope they’re huggers.  

What was your first Phish show?

March, 1993 at the Palace Theater here in Los Angeles, which is now called The Avalon.  So March 17th 1993, I was out here on spring break, and happened to be able to catch them.

Have you been hooked ever since?

Yes. Without a doubt. Their shows and music have changed my life and the way I live, what I value, and the people I spend time with.  I’ve been focused on film-making and editing for decades, but  I’ve been able to do my job better having mini-tours or shows to look forward to. I work in dark rooms for long periods of time as an editor, and my sanity has been maintained by being able to get out of those dark rooms and go dance with my friends at Phish shows.

How many Phish shows have you attended?

209. I’m working on getting to the New Year’s run, because after all this excitement, I don’t want to miss feeling the energy in the garden when they play ‘More’ next- that will be meaningful for sure.  But what if they don’t play it til Mexico!  Of course I’d love to go there, too.  I I’ve never once thought, “Gee, I wish I had skipped those shows.”

What’s your favorite Phish show?

Can I say a favorite moment from a Phish show? A jam that comes to mind was early on for me, October 7th, 1995, they played the Spokane Opera House in Spokane, Washington.  It was a tiny venue where the sound was perfect. Harry Hood has always been of my favorite songs.  I love the slow pretty jammy Slaves, Rebas, Hoods and Squirming Coils.  During that Hood jam, Trey turned off the amplifier to his electric guitar and played the notes without the modulation.  It was so incredibly intimate and still and beautiful,  we could all hear every note because the whole audience was silent, so focused and listening. The patience of a quiet audience was rewarded with those notes.

Do you plan on making any MORE videos like this?

I can’t wait to make more videos, films, documentaries, whatever the end result is, in conjunction with The MORE Project.  I’m happy to create with this energy bright in my heart. The MORE Project was built out of optimism, love and passion. Regina and I gave it the name the MORE Project because it wasn’t necessarily a music video, it wasn’t an official release, it wasn’t a documentary... it didn’t really feel like it had a description yet, but had tremendous potential to be more.  We’re figuring out what that means, but this is just the jumping off point.  There’s a whole world of good that will come out of this concept. I have reserved, I’m working on the Facebook page, and I’m open to collaborating with others to give The MORE Project a life bigger than any of us.  I’m curious to see what that will look like.

Even if just one person’s mind and actions are different as a result of watching this video and relating to Phish’s song, wow. One person is great to me, so the fact that this out through the community is tremendous. With 50k views, if everyone who watched the video feels inspired to share their positive energy with the world, through smiles or hugs or good deeds, volunteering, giving anything, or just being kind instead of turning to fear or anger, there is nothing more that I can ask for than that.

The opinions expressed in this interview and the MORE Project are those of the video’s creator and not endorsed by HeadCount. We welcome anyone with a creative project to speak about it on the HeadCount blog, regardless of any message found within the project’s content.