Ready to meet your new favorite couple? If “relationship goals” had a textbook definition, musician Morgan Kibby and chef Craig Thorton would be the first names published. Aside from Kibby’s involvement with M83, both artists have established themselves in entirely unique ways apart from their daydream relationship. With Kibby’s solo project White Sea alive and thriving and Thorton’s 5-star dinner party Wolvesmouth, the worlds of art, music and food collide effortlessly. We talked to Kibby and Thornton about the cohesiveness of not only their careers, but their relationship as well.
If you deconstructed M83, added more vocals, solid lyrics and stringed instruments, you’d find yourself wading in the waters of White Sea. Kibby’s solo project has been a steady work in progress since 2010 with multiple phases sequencing the artist’s growth over the years. Sincere and specific to Kibby in every way, White Sea stands out as Morgan’s most personal endeavor to date.
ROGUE: Your first ever movie score for Bang Gang just won an award, which is amazing! What was your overall vibe while curating the music?
Morgan Kibby: I’ve known the director for quite some time and we were just waiting for the right project to collaborate on. This was her second feature and when she asked me to do it, it just worked. I think because we’d known each other for so long, I knew her taste and the aesthetic that she was thinking of, especially with music. It was a really fluid process. We established a pallet of sound and I scored from there.
I bet making the score for a movie was perfect for you, especially when you understand each other's vibe and vision.
MK: Honestly it was one of, if not the, most gratifying project I’ve ever been involved in. It was really eye opening for me since I’d never done anything like it, at least not on my own. I had scored before with other people involved, but this was my first time being the composer. I fell in love with it!
Your hard work paid off. It’s funny. The first time I ever became acquainted with White Sea was when I drove past your billboard in Silver Lake back in October which said “Stay Young. Get Stoned.” It was so crazy I asked my friend to turn around so I could grab a photo of it.
MK: That was the whole idea! We thought it would be really funny; it’s such a ridiculous song title. When we got the billboard, I was just like, shit, let’s just put up the song title and it was right before we started playing a bunch of shows so it was kind of for laughs but I’m glad you liked it.
What was your initial inspiration to start White Sea and move away from M83 a bit to do your own thing?
MK: Since M83 is not my band, even though I’ve been involved with it so deeply, I knew at some point I was going to have to step out and figure out what I’m going to do once it’s over, because M83 isn’t a permanent fixture in my life. So, you know, I was basically experimenting back in 2010 and that was sort of the beginning for me... finding my footing on my own as a musician outside of a collective.
You’ve had a lot of different sounds over the years. It seems like now you’re really morphing into your own.
MK: I definitely feel that way. There’s some artists who start early on in their career knowing exactly who they are and what they want to communicate. I wasn’t lucky enough to be one of them but I feel grateful that I seem to be figuring out more and more as I get older. I feel like my work is just getting better and better. I’m just starting to come into my own which gives me a lot to look forward to.
I feel like when you’re an artist and your projects have existed for a while, you start looking back on your work and realizing there’s eras of your work and sound. Even just being a fan or a listener, you hear that and there’s so much more to fall in love with than just one consistent sound because you’re sort of growing with the artist over the years.
MK: Absolutely! Totally. You have to experiment and you have to make mistakes. I think it took me five years to do a lot of things I don’t necessarily feel were the right things so that I can finally land somewhere that does feel good which I’m grateful for.
In 2012, when Craig Thornton was just thirty years-old, he was profiled in the New Yorker, lauded as one of the most visionary chefs in Los Angeles--and he didn’t even have an actual restaurant. What he did have was Wolvesmouth, which became the epicenter of an emerging underground culinary world. With no set menus, dates or dress code, the five-star dining experience got way more laid back (in the best way possible). The interactive experience pinions around nine courses of galactically designed food and a hand-picked, specially curated group of twenty or so patrons. Playing everything besides “boring elevator music,” as Thorton puts it, you can expect anything but the expected when attending this truly unique and highly acclaimed dinner party. Known for its masterfully chaotic, yet meticulously artistic dishes and incorporation of art installations, along with exceptional music choices such as the Twin Peaks theme song, Wolvesmouth proves to be a one of a kind ‘supper club’ miles ahead of the culinary curve.
What began your initial involvement in the avant-garde culinary world, with Wolvesmouth specifically?
CT: When I started cooking, I had less equipment than a college kid. It was very, very bare-boned. I knew that in order for me to do food on the level I wanted to do it at, I needed to have the equipment to do so. Once I got to that point, I literally just made exactly what I wanted to. My goal is to get people talking and connecting. That’s why I do things the way that I do. I want people to look at a plate of food and smile or laugh about it and have it spark a conversation – maybe with somebody that you don’t know that may be sitting across from you.
It’s pretty cool to see somebody own a culinary art project/restaurant without compromising their vision, it’s unlike any other dining experience.
CT: It’s definitely taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get here and trying to keep it true to what it is. That’s really the main thing: I want when people come to anything I do, whether it’s an art installation or it’s coming to a Wolvesmouth dinner, I want it to be what people read about or heard about from their friends. That’s ultimately my goal, staying true to the original vision.
After seeing some photos of the plates you guys serve, it looks like your dishes are works of art. They’re pretty insane.
CT: Oh, thank you! The visual is always the last thing that’s thought about, but it’s always the first thing somebody sees. We kind of go through that thing where people think that because the food looks that way, that it can’t taste good, but really my focus is flavor, texture, temperature then visual. I think that that’s the problem sometimes. You’ll see these crazy plates of food but then you have it and it doesn’t live up to how it looks. My goal is I want the dishes to live up to how they look, flavorwise.
Morgan’s contributed music to some of your art installations and you’ve helped with lighting for her live performances in White Sea. You guys have such cohesiveness together, it seems...
CT: It’s cool because we sort of cross over into each other's world with the idea of being able to eventually make one bigger world of food, art, music and technology, all this stuff going on in a singular space all at the same time. I think, first and foremost, we’re more interested in the bigger picture of artistic expression, other than just saying, “Oh, well, she’s a musician, I’m a chef…” I think both of us are just looking at things through a different lens. That’s how we both help each other out. For me, being able to reach out to somebody who’s creative, that’s just something that you don’t really come by. You both have to respect each other's work. We’re both at the same time very much in our own worlds too, so our paths cross, but they can live on their own in parallel planes. That way they both maintain their distinct vision. We’re also both willing to sacrifice for our vision, and I think that’s really one of those things that sets people apart.
Photography by Benjamin Askinas
Story by Courtney Melahn