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Morgan Page Talks About The MPP3D Tour, His New Book, and The Creative Process

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Daniel Taibleson
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Not Your Average Producer

Morgan Page is an interesting character in the dance music scene. Well-known throughout the music industry for his status as a Grammy-nominated artist, but lacking the flashy wild boy archetype  the rest of music industry expects see from a successful Electronic Dance Music Producer these days. But nothing Morgan is doing these days seems to fit the mold. For one thing, he happens to be the only person in the world right now touring with a 3D show; which is a feat within itself. But there are so many other things that I was pleasantly surprised to learn about this Vermont native during our interview that separates him from the rest of the EDM production pack. Some artists are busy partying, Morgan's writing a book for producers and creative professionals. Some artists take their money from touring and live lavish, Morgan is taking all the money he makes from his 3D tour and investing it right back into the show. I saw two of his shows in two different locations in the span of a week, and the guy doesn't drink.
“Coffee is the only drug I do” – Morgan Page
He's a music making, experience creating machine that has the respect of James Cameron and the entire staff working on Avatar 2. And yes, his tour utilizes  the same type of technology. And yes, James Cameron was impressed by Morgan's rehersal when he decided to check it out for himself. I'm thrilled to share this interview with you today, as there were a lot of questions I had about Morgan, personally, that I feel like I finally got answers to, such as, when is he going to come out with a new album? But beyond that, I think his personality really shines through in this interview and I'm excited for you guys to get a deeper look into who Morgan is as an artist and even more importantly, as a person. I went ahead and dropped in his most recent podcast for you to listen to while you read this interview. I hope you enjoy it!

The Interview

OTB: So the biggest thing going on right now, obviously, is the MPP3D Tour. You’re doing 50 stops, bringing a 3D experience to EDM fans all over North America. Was this something that you thought of? Or was this something someone brought to you and said hey Morgan, we want to make you the star of the show? Morgan: Well you know it’s funny, because the 3D really becomes more of the star, than the DJ. But we're working on that ;) Some people came to me and I've always wanted to do something different, I’m tired of confetti, cannons, and spraying champagne and booze. They work, but they're just cheap tricks. I want to be a little more progressive, a little more forward thinking, and this is nice because you kind of, well, you forget where you are, and it pulls you into another world.  But it’s not gimmicky, it’s a vehicle for me to extend what I’m seeing in my head when I’m writing the music and what I’m envisioning; so I composed original music for this, like the intro and outro, actual scoring to the visuals.   OTB: That’s interesting because I was reading your interview with MTV and one of the biggest things you said, pretty much the last thing you said, and something probably most people missed was, “This might change the way I write music" Morgan: Right, right   OTB: Can you go a little deeper into detail? Because I don’t think many people realize that a lot of time, or at least, I have friends that tell me this, producers are composing music to movie-like scenes they’re seeing in their head. I mean I don’t know if it’s like that for you... Morgan: When I'm in the studio that doesn’t always happen, but a lot of time there is a landscape I’m seeing, especially when it’s a more melodic, beautiful thing. I think it allows me to play and have more of these beautiful moments and not bang out the whole time in my set, although it’s a very aggressive set. There are orchestral moments, and it’s really just like being in an IMAX. I’m calling it a festival in an IMAX. But it just changes so much about the experience. Syncing 3D images to the BPM allows us to do so much more within the space. Instead of an object just flashing you can have it move forward, or spin at a certain frequency of speed relative to the song.   OTB: The options are almost limitless. Morgan: I think you just gave me another idea…I mean this is just the tip of the iceberg. But yea, I think this will change the way I make music because I’ll be able to make music for special shows like these in the future.

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OTB: So you see landscapes sometimes when you produce, and I also know that in the actual 3D set you utilize a ton of different 3D landscapes. One second you’re in outer space, then you’re in a forest etc., but is there an overall theme to the entire show? Morgan:  I wanted there to be a story arch to it, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say, the intro foreshadows the end.   OTB: So does that leave room for flexibility in terms of which tracks you want to throw into your set? Morgan: Ya, ya I can riff, usually I’ll play an encore and the guys in the back will have no idea what I’m playing. Friday night at Nokia I tried out a new remix of In The Air and I have no idea what visuals they played with it because I can’t see them haha. That’s the only downside to this, I don’t get to see it! You, the fans, really have the best seat in the house. It’s super important that people understand it’s better than they expect, a lot of people have a jaded view of 3D and they haven’t seen 3D like this. Even Michaels Jacksons 3D, which this evolved from, that he was going to use on his last tour, this is better. It’s much crisper, high definition; it costs like 8 million dollars. We didn't spend that on this, but we’re going all out, and I’m investing every dollar from this tour back into the show.   OTB: So you really care about the experience you’re delivering for your fans. That says a lot about you Morgan, I can really respect that. Morgan: Thanks man. You know I looked at the cost and I said, I can continue just doing big LED walls and fog cannons, or I can go and try something a little more involved. People have this emotional reaction to it at the end of the night and that’s exactly what we want. They don’t know what to say at the end of the night.   OTB: That’s important because I think there's a lot less soul in a lot of the Electro House we hear these days, I’m referring to what a lot of people mislabel as Progressive House, which it isn’t. But ya, obviously, connecting the audio and the visual, the more sense you have together, the more powerful that’s going to be overall as an experience.  I can’t wait to see it Morgan: When are you going to get to see it?   I had no idea…I gingerly pretended like I might be able to make his Vegas show   “Oh nice, I’ll be in Vegas in a few days” he said   Shit. I can’t miss work. Think of something else to say to him...   “Honestly I might just see you in Seattle” I responded before blabbering about how I’m from there; quickly changing the subject by asking him if I could steal a water from the massive bucket of ice, red bulls and beers in front of us.   Little did I know I would be going to Tucson only 4 days later to see the live 3D set for myself.   He then proceeded to show me video of the 3d set from his iphone   My response upon viewing the videos…“oh, shit!”   “Yea, that’s from above the DJ booth. You can actually be inside these objects”   only the beat zoolander   Morgan: I don’t know if you saw the tweets but we were doing rehearsals and James Cameron actually stopped by, we were all like whoa. OTB: I’m glad you brought that up! Because my next question was actually: what is your favorite James Cameron movie? Morgan: Probably Avatar   OTB: It’s not titanic? Morgan: No, I mean I was crying during Titanic but…no I'm just kidding   OTB: dude, Titanic, that was like the first movie I saw boobs in Morgan: hahaha I forgot about that

jack paints rose

 Jack didn't....

OTB: Everyone’s favorite haha. So what, he came by? The tweet was a little ambiguous for me, was he consulting? Was he just like “this is cool!” or what? Morgan: haha James owns the studio, and the technology. Some of the guys we were working with had worked with him on Avatar. They were filming avatar 2 next door and we were on one of the sound stages and they were hearing all this bass and music so their staff came over to check it out. They said ok we got to get Jon landau to come check it out, Jon landau came over and said  “ok we got to get James Cameron” so he came over and checked it out. It was pretty crazy.

Morgan Page MPP3D james cameron only the beat

OTB: What were his thoughts on it? Morgan: He said it was awesome. He said it was impressive and he’s a tough guy to impress so that was really special.   *At this point I steered the conversation back to the important stuff, the reason we’re all here folks, the music. It’s been a while since Morgan’s released a new album and I was determined to get an answer from him about a release date. Turns out, He’s going to be dropping a brand new album for us in 2014 but releasing the first half of the album as singles, one by one, just “like Calvin Harris did,” before releasing the entire album later in the year. The follow up to "Your Love," is going to be "Against The World,” and will be coming out in October.

Morgan Page against the world

 From Morgan's Live 3D show in Tucson, Az

Tacos arrive on the interview OTB: Are you going give those tracks away for free download? Or even better, what’s your view on that? You’re obviously at a point where you’re a big enough brand where you don’t have to give away your tracks for free download, but you know for an aspiring DJ, is that a good move? Morgan: Oh ya, when you’re just starting out the more mashups and bootlegs you can do the better, as long as they’re all high quality. And give them away. (His tracks will not be available for free download.)   OTB: One piece of advice for aspiring DJ/Producers, GO! Morgan: The biggest thing is getting 10k hours of time in to master something. I mean you never really totally master something, but you know, doing something for 3 hours a day for about 9-10 years, or more if you can.   *Dun dun dun…I bet a few of you aspiring producers out there just shit your pants. Why do you think it’s such a disgrace when someone like Paris Hilton says she’s going to DJ? Because it’s a slap in the face when someone thinks they can do something without putting in the time or the effort, and instead chooses (blatantly) to attempt to do something at a professional level when they don't deserve to be let within 15 feet of a CDJ. And it’s the same for everyone, not just her. If you want to be, do. And do it for a super long time before you try and act like you’re cool (even then, it's never a really good idea to "act" cool, just be yourself and work your ass off).   OTB: So on your path towards that 10k hours, what was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? Morgan: I did a lot of remixes that didn’t work out, and a lot of spec work, which is fine, but in terms of failure I guess maybe I wish I just would have started earlier. I almost wish I skipped college or something... (Follow your dreams…NOW!)   OTB: Ya that’s becoming a common theme Morgan: I almost don’t think it’s worth the money, but I don’t know, I guess it’s an experience.   OTB: We have the Internet; we can learn anything we want online Morgan: The biggest mistake people make is they go to audio school, and they think they’re set for a career. But no one cares where you went to school, not anymore. Maybe for more conventional jobs like a lawyer or doctor, but nobody really cares where you went to school now, it’s all up to you to make things happen.   OTB: So what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, in general? Morgan: No one really ever gave me a ton of advice, word of mouth; it was all stuff I read in books. The whole 10k hour thing comes from a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers.   OTB: I’m all about the self-help books Morgan: Ya, haha, there’s a lot of good stuff out there and there’s a lot of crap too. I’m actually writing a book right now for producers and creative professionals, it’s all about stoking the muse, and you know, dissolving writers block, it’s everything I've written down over the years that’s been helpful, I keep that all in once place.   OTB: Oh wow, so you carry a notebook with you everywhere you go? Or? Morgan: I keep a journal; I use evernote for everything…This book is from 15 years of this stuff so I’m really excited about it. Now I just need to finish the damn thing! I keep thinking I’m done and then I keep having new ideas, but it’s almost there.   OTB: Kind of like a new track eh? But you of all people know when it’s time to call it done and deliver the good word (or sound) to the people. Do you have a title picked out for it? Morgan: It’s going to be called “Morgan Page Quick Tips.” The twitter for it already exists; you can actually see some of the stuff at @MPquicktips   OTB: And it’s really specifically going to be focused on production? Morgan: Ya, really on production and traveling, even getting rid of jet lag, things like that. Or so I’m thinking. The stuff that is for sure going to be in there is: Taking a track from start to finish, the whole creative process, even playing it out and touring. Finishing it up.   OTB: Since you brought it up, walk us through a typical day, what does that creative process look like? Are you producing everyday? What are the things you do on a typical day as Morgan page that help you be successful Morgan: On an average day…coffee, a lot of coffee. I do something called morning pages, which is something from a book called the artists way, and it’s going to be in my book as well. Basically you write down everything that’s on your mind, stuff that’s bothering you, whatever. I don’t do it everyday but it makes a huge difference in terms of clearing out the junk and helping me with my creative process. And I keep lists obsessively, lists of things that need to get done. I’ve learned to write without looking in the car and I’m always just keeping lists of everything. So that’s huge, and just having it centralized on one notebook I bring all around the world. I would advise people to get a nice notebook, get a moleskin or something and write down what you want to accomplish.

 The Show - Tucson, AZ

Now I did end up going to Morgan's show in Tucson to watch the 3D set. I wasn't planning on making the desolate 2 hour drive down the desert on a Thursday night, I had work at 8am the next day, but I was so intrigued by Morgan as a person that I felt compelled to see what all the commotion was about. I mean, come on, James Cameron was impressed. At this point I needed to see it, I HAD to see it. Like Morgan, I don't necessarily want to spoil the surprise and give you a play-by-play, because it's definitely an experience. And I think it raises a lot of questions about the future of what EDM experiences look like. From a race track in Nevada to South Beach, the idea of an "experience" is what's driving this EDM explosion onto the mainstream scene. I've always said this, but Americans expect to be entertained, and one of the main reasons I felt like EDM took so long to catch on was the lack of a concert experience. Insomniac no doubt saw this gap in the market and capitalized on it with EDC, trademarking their catch phrase "It's all about the experience." But before these massive festivals started to catch on in the USA, dance music was something I think a lot of us (in the USA) were listening to alone in our rooms or in our headphones. That's obviously changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm bringing this up because my initial reaction to the set was: "hmm this is kind of creating a disconnect between the oneness that we usually experience in a huge crowd at an EDM show, because everyone is just staring at the screen." But that was only the first 10 min. The fact that we even have the opportunity to choose which type of dance music experience we wish to participate in is insane. And the fact we have the option to experience an EDM show in 3D? Mind blown. I don't think I can really put into words how grateful I am for guys like Morgan who are honest, hardworking, and consistently pushing the envelope to entertain us. Like I said above I don't want to spoil the show, but if you truly insist, it looks a little something like this...in 3D

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