by Gabel Strickland
“Who is this man with his guitar?” That’s exactly what Esh Morgan wants you to ask, whether you’ve seen him performing on stage or on the streets.
It’s surprising that you may not know him already; He’s half of the duo EshxSchief, who debuted their song Day by Day on 101.1 WJRR radio, he frequently plays shows across North Florida, and he’s opened for reggae group Morgan Heritage on their tours in the U.S. and Europe. Ultimately, though, you should know him because Esh Morgan’s artwork is unique in every way: from its inspiration, to its composition, to its dissemination.
Esh Morgan, like many of his songwriting idols, finds the inspiration for his songs from his life experiences, especially those that resonate with others on a human level.
“Bob Marley would get lyrics through conversations, just hearing the troubles of his friends. Charlie Puth I know also does the same thing, all of his lyrics come from actual conversations.” Morgan said. “Everything in between, it could be something that I wake up from a dream from, a conversation that I had, something I’m going through, something a friend’s going through. If it's something that speaks to me and that I think would speak to other people, then it generally can be written down into a nice melody.”
In making some songs, like Morgan’s single “Gumball Machine,” which is about childlike joy and appreciating little things, this inspiration is found by looking at life experiences from a unique perspective. The song beautifully narrates the story of how Morgan’s younger brother found a Gumball Machine.
“Everything in that [song] is verbatim what happened that day….we went out for pizza, they found this gumball machine, and it was just me observing them and seeing something that not everyone would see.” Morgan said. “They might just see some kids kind of running around in the restaurant, but I saw something different. It just made me feel like a kid again.”
Esh Morgan’s music has a unique sound to accompany those inspired lyrics. He and his bandmate, Chris Schiefelbein, call it “electro acoustic”. Many would already find this pairing of two juxtaposing sounds intriguingly unconventional, but, as Morgan explained, EshxSchief has even more musical influences which further specialize their sound.
“What we call ourselves is an electro acoustic duo, I think because we’re so heavily guitar influenced,” Morgan said. “So, if you want to think of it as alternative meets reggae influence, also soul influence and really good songwriting influence. Some of my teachers in songwriting are Bob Dylan, John Mayer, The Beetles, of course, and I’ll kind of take that and put it into the modern sound of today.”
That special sound is a product of an especially experimental and free creative process.
“I like to start things on my guitar, just strumming some chords, and then try and find a melody to go with the lyrics if I haven't already found something. Then from there I’ll build the instruments around just that. The whole song could just be guitar and vocals, that's kind of just the way I intend songs to just be able to be. Unless it's more touching into that electric sound, in which case there's a lot more influence with drums and bass. But for the stuff that I've been working on and recent projects, that is the basis: start off with some guitar, add in whatever lyrics or story you’re trying to tell.” Morgan said. “I'm glad I went to music school, though, because I don't always stick with traditional writing and chords, so I do get experimental sometimes.”
For musical duo EshxSchief, a large part of that creative process is collaboration.
“Sometimes when we’re doing sessions he’ll be working on guitar parts and instrumental things. Even on stage he’ll do a lot of loops and then make a beat or something like that in our loop station, and I will come up with things on the fly and just start singing, and then I’ll make a chorus and he’ll break things down, and then we’ll move and ebb and flow together with the melody and the instruments and the guitars.” Morgan said. “It works really well, so, we’ve been honing those skills and just building up that chemistry for about three years.”
Esh Morgan is great at finding unique ways to share his music with others.
For example, not only did his dad’s reggae group, Morgan Heritage, introduce him to music as a kid, it helped him spread his musical talent later in his life. He toured with the group in both the U.S. and Europe during his summers between semesters studying music at Stetson University.
Recently, Esh Morgan has also begun taking his TikTok followers with him onto the streets, where he plays songs for random people. In his videos he goes up to one or two strangers with nothing but openness and a guitar, asking to perform a song for them. The viewer can watch his small audience light up as he continues playing for them.
This practice is Morgan’s own twist on a popular TikTok trend.
“I've seen a couple people do interactions and get people’s live reactions to whatever they do on Omegle, and I said ‘Let me take that and do it my own way.’” Morgan said. “The intent behind it is to give something to people and I suppose in return I would just share it with everyone and they share it with their friends and everyone can see ‘Who’s this guy? Who’s this guy with his guitar just singing?’”
Despite this unique way of disseminating his music, Morgan says building a fanbase is the hardest part of his musical journey, but he is nonetheless encouraged by his love of sharing his music with others.
“The most challenging aspect for me right now is building a fanbase.” Morgan said. “The most rewarding, obviously, is sharing the music, getting people’s reactions, playing live shows. Honestly, that for me right now is the best. I love Fridays because we’ve been blessed that, even with COVID and everything, things have started to ease up and we’ve been playing shows here in Florida at least once a week.”
So, if you’d like to see even more of Esh Morgan, come to one of those shows in Sanford or St. Augustine at their Oasis venues. Otherwise, follow him on social media at @esh_morgan on Instagram and TikTok and @eshxschief on Instagram. You can follow EshxSchief's link tree to keep up with them on all other platforms, leave a tip, or get information on their upcoming shows and musical releases.
Trust me, Esh Morgan is an act too special to miss.