INTERVIEW: Morgan Page (2013)
Morgan Page is one of the nicest producer/DJs on the scene. A major part of his new tour – Morgan Page Presents – is focused on rising talent with Project 46, Walden, Topher Jones, Beltek, Maor Levi, and Audien joining him on the bus tour. Then there is the 3D element which aims to bring a more immersive experience to the crowd. Talking to him is liking talking to an old friend, and when you think back to all of his massive records over the past ten years (“Falling,” “Call My Name,” “In the Air,” “Longest Road,” “Body Work,” “Carry Me,” “Fight For You”), they all exude that same kind of warmth. I met up and chatted with Morgan Page at the Promo Only Summer Sessions last month right before he was going to launch the MPP3D bus tour. Its definitely a tour you do not want to miss.
RS: Have you ever done a bus tour before?
Morgan Page: No, this is the first one.
RS: What was the inspiration for it?
Morgan Page: The biggest thing was just to go and tour with a team of people that I believe in and champion. To do the kind of production that we want to do we need a bus and a semi-truck to haul all of our gear. We can’t fly with all that stuff, so that was definitely one of our big motivators and we also wanted to go big and do 3D.
RS: What exactly is the technology that you are using for your 3D tour?
Morgan Page: It is HiRes 3D LED, it is very crisp and a lot more immersive than even 3D movies that you will see in an IMAX. It was a technology that was originally developed for Michael Jackson’s final tour. I think that Primus has used it, but no other DJ has used this technology. The 3D shows that I have seen in the past seem sort of halfass, but this is the real deal. There is sort of a secret sauce that they have to the mix but it is basically just a bunch of LED screens and the secret is in creating the content.
RS: With the content that you are creating, do you have VJs working with you or is it a live visuals show?
Morgan Page: We have a VJ, so we are trying to do stuff on the fly. It isn’t going to be the same set every night, but it may be similar, and I want it to be flexible enough so that I can change things up. With that said, we have lyrics and things developed specifically for certain songs and themes. The DJ will be firing stuff on the fly but I won’t be controlling the visuals from the stage.
RS: Who is your VJ?
Morgan Page: The VJ is Chris Butcher and we have members from the team that developed the 3D concept. We will hopefully be able to develop some stuff on the fly after we see how the first few shows go.
RS: I read on your Twitter that you had a big Skype session with the visual guys, how is the development going?
Morgan Page: It’s great; it is a new role for me because it is almost like being a director, it’s interesting. You really have to pare down and have a vision for everything and have a creative focus, the themes for each song have to have a story arc overall. It is tough to do because it is a long set, just over 2 hours, so it is a lot of visuals and a lot of stuff to program and we have to make sure stuff syncs to the beat. It is super-exciting what they have come up with. It’s a weird thing, after you watch the show you almost feel a little high from the visuals, no drugs needed.
RS: I was going to ask you about that, I saw that you retweeted Tiesto’s statement and that you mentioned “3D, no drugs needed.” What is your take on what is going on with the whole EDC and drug thing?
Morgan Page: To be honest I had a lenient, liberal view on drugs but now I just feel like they complicate things. Obviously people can make their own choices, but it is sort of like rolling the dice every time you do something. I don’t do any drugs now, but I drink on the road occasionally and I have tried to minimize that, I feel a lot better drinking less. I really hope that these things doesn’t continue to happen; I think that it’s really tragic that these events have happened and that people are dying at festivals. If it continues to happen there are going to be no more festivals or events. Beyond the obvious health reasons, it’s really bad for the music and the scene, I hope that it can shake this stigma and people will do less drugs at shows.
RS: How do you feel about being a role model to the people who listen to you, follow you on Twitter and also to the DJs that you have on tour with you?
Morgan Page: It’s nice, I think that the guys that are coming along on the tour are great on their own, but I want to give them an extra push and help champion then. It is nice to be able to do that for other artists, I didn’t have the luxury of being taken under anyone’s wing when I was growing up and making music so I am sure they are appreciative. You see guys like Skrillex, who helped build Zedd’s career, and Deadmau5 who helped build Skrillex’s career, so everyone kind of has a musical figure that can help accelerate the process of becoming a big name. Hopefully I can do that for these guys, and hopefully the Morgan Page Presents thing is something that keeps happening and I can continue to bring on new artists that I think really deserve a spot in the limelight.
RS: Looking at the line its kind of like ‘We Are the World,” with Beltek from Slovenia and guys from Israel and Australia, where do you find the guys that tour with you?
Morgan Page: I am a fan of a lot of their stuff from all of the music I have been digging up for the radio show, other guys have done remixes for me, or we have worked in some way on a collaboration. I just think they are all super-solid, great producers, and great DJs. It was kind of a natural fit, and it’s nice to have emerging guys on the road to support the night. I think that the way that we are presenting it is a no-brainer, some of the shows are $20 and you get to see 3 amazing DJs and a 3D show, you can’t lose.
RS: Very true. Talking about your radio show, how is the Sirius show going?
Morgan Page: It’s amazing, it’s an honor to do the show and I am on episode 168 now and it’s going strong. It’s a modern culmination of a radio show that I had in high school and college. It is so awesome to be able to showcase new artists and play my new stuff on a weekly basis.
RS: How is your radio show different than your club show?
Morgan Page: The radio show is all over the place and I jump around even more with the styles, and I can get away with playing things that wouldn’t necessarily translate onto the dance floor. I am a little more restricted when I play live, especially at the festivals where I have to play a lot of bangers and big tracks. There are a lot of new songs that I haven’t heard many times, and sometimes I actually relisten to the radio show and think “oh god that was an amazing track.” The radio show is always different and it is all about new music, if not it would be a little boring. When I’m live it’s about having special edits, mashups, and making sure that things just work.
RS: Speaking about special edits and mashups, what was your inspiration to redo The Outfield’s “Your Love”?
Morgan Page: It was one of those songs where I heard the remix in my head and thought that it would just make sense to do it. The chord progression and the vocoder over the vocal just made me want to do it. It was interesting timing and there was no real rhyme or reason, but it was something that I had wanted to do for a few years.
RS: Are any of the guys going on tour with you at all?
Morgan Page: I am not really even sure what The Outfield guys are doing these days, I think they are still writing music, but there are no plans to tour with them.
RS: What are you using for production?
Morgan Page: I just got some new speakers that are Focal SM 9s. A lot of it is software, so it’s a lot of Xilence. I also use Ableton live and other bits of hardware here and there to track vocals.
RS: You are really excited about these speakers.
Morgan Page: Yeah they’re amazing. I spend a lot of money on speakers and they have to do their job, some of the ones that I had were creating issues, it’s just more fun to be in the studio now.
RS: When you DJ live are you DJing on laptop or CD?
Morgan Page: Laptop
RS: Are you using Ableton when you spin live?
Morgan Page: Yeah I pretty much use Abelton for everything.
RS: I read through your Ask Morgan page, what is the most common question that you get?
Morgan Page: A lot of people still think I am a girl, so they always want to clear that up. It’s funny, usually once I play in a city I get the question of when I am going to play in that same city like the day after I just played there.
RS: You mentioned in your twitter that playing in a city once a year isn’t that often, how often would you like to play in every city?
Morgan Page: Ya know, maybe 3-4 times a year would be great. I play in Vegas about 18 times a year, but that is a different beast. El Paso is great; I wouldn’t mind playing there 3-4 times a year.
RS: What is a city that you went to that surprised you on how good it was?
Morgan Page: All of the cities in India really surprised me. The enthusiasm is just like the US, which was a big surprise.
RS: As you are touring other countries, what do you see coming next on the music scene?
Morgan Page: I am curious to see what is going to happen, because I think we are due for a change in the sound. I think that the big room house sound is going to change but I don’t know where it is going to go, I think that Vegas is going to become a bigger and bigger deal and more of a destination. It is already a lot more fun than it used to be, so I think there will be more and more shows. I also think that you will see festivals get bigger and then oversaturate and start to go back to the clubs. I think that as people age and after they go to all these festivals they are going to get tired of paying $300 a ticket and want to go out on a smaller scale to a club.
RS: What advice to you have for up-and-coming DJs and producers?
Morgan Page: I think that it is mostly about putting the time in. I am definitely a believer in the 10,000 hour rule, so you spend about 3 hours a day on your craft for about 10 years.
RS: I have never heard that before, that is really cool.
Morgan Page: Oh yeah, it’s crucial
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Morgan Page: I just want to thank everyone for coming out to all the shows and I am really excited for everyone to see the 3D show, it is such crazy technology and a whole different experience. Thank you for all of your support over the years and keep tuning into the radio show on Sirius XM and get ready for the next album.
RS: What is the new album going to sound like, are you in production on it?
Morgan Page: Yeah I’m working on it now. “Your Love” is one of the singles off of it; we are doing the singles before the album approach for half of the album. I can’t tell you the name of it yet but it is going to be big room with a lot of vocals and a lot of pop influence as well.
RS: Cool. Is Twitter the best way for people to follow you?
Morgan Page: Yes, Twitter is good but Facebook is great also.
Interview conducted during Promo Only Summer Sessions – August 2013. Special thanks to Justin at Rephlektor for arranging this interview.