Behind the Beat: Morgan Page
Last time we sat down with Morgan Page in 2013 he was in the middle of his 3D tour. Since then he has continued to innovate and is creating unmatched experiences for his fans using technology. In speaking with him one can see that his mind is always working to think ahead of the curve as well as outside of the box. He started his career at the young age of 12 years old teaching himself the art of producing. With over three hundred episodes of his radio show “In The Air,” his dedication to music making is quite apparent. Working on several projects at once, the American producer somehow still manages to find time to tour the world and impress large crowds like that at Spring Awakening Music Festival.
Only The Beat: We caught up with you in 2013 during your #MPP3D Tour, what has been your favorite project since then?
Morgan Page: Well, I’ve been working on some stuff with Oculus, like virtual reality music experiences. That will be really fun. These are some pretty intense projects. You’ll see more of that this coming year. I wanted to do another 3D tour but it’s really expensive to do. Maybe just select cities, instead of doing 35 cities, just in the best markets. We brought that on with a semi-trailer and just rode around with a bus which is really expensive but, it was really fun.
OTB: What kind of things are involved in order to make a 3D tour happen?
MP: It’s a whole crew of people, a lot of tech. Definitely something you can’t do by yourself. You need a tour manager and director and stuff like that. But, other than that I’ve just been working on new music. Trying to keep the focus on new stuff, new songs that last. It takes a long time to come up with new albums. My new album ‘DC to Light’ came out last Summer, so a year ago. I already have another albums worth of material so lots of new music coming along the way.
OTB: Do you know when it’s going to come out?
MP: I don’t know yet. I can’t announce who I am going to collaborate with but it’s going to be a diversion from the usual 120 BPM House music, which is tough. Everybody is like “Oh, you have to do something different but also stay in your lane.”
OTB: How important is it to you to stay with your traditional style in order to appease fans?
MP: It’s tricky because I have to really love the sound. You have to do a mix of what you love and what the fans love.
OTB: Your 3D tour was more interactive than other tours. How important is it to you to get your fans engaged?
MP: I think that what I eventually want to do, is to find ways to engage them before the show, during the show and then after. So it isn’t just one, crazy, drunk night and you forget about it the next day. To me its not really worth doing those shows. That’s why we’re doing stuff with virtual reality and like the meet and greet before the show to give them an experience they can keep afterwards. It keeps that adventure alive. It’s challenging stuff and it’s expensive to produce these things but to me its not enough to just throw an LED wall up there and tell people to put their hands in the air, which I’ll do anyways, but that’s a very bare minimum.
OTB: In a previous interview you said, “Music has become less valuable, less free and less disposable.” What do you mean by that?
MP: I think it’s less than free because a download used to be a really cool feature. Now it’s really free so it’s worth less to people. People are expecting free at a minimum. I’m not about getting downloads; I think those are dead in the water. But, I think as a creator of content you have to create more rich media. That’s why we are doing experiences. We’re going from the information age to the experiential age. That’s all going to be like, “How was the experience? Did you have a good time at the festival? Did someone step on your feet? Did you get drunk or thrown out of the festival?” It’s about what the experience was like and how can you improve that? I’m trying to use technology to scale those experiences. Also to get those experiences to people where they don’t have this technology, they don’t have festivals, they don’t have the money to travel or people are not old enough or they are too old.
OTB: You started your career on the radio at University of Vermont when you were 15. Now you have your weekly podcast “In the Air.” You’ve been at that for 312 episodes now. Did you always intend on doing radio or did you always want to perform live sets?
MP: I always just wanted to make music and that got me into naively thinking that I could do these mix shows and play my own material. It’s been a long, strange sort of zig-zag of progress moving forward, moving back. The radio was the first stepping stone. But radio is nice because you can play a lot of different styles rather than one splinter genre which is where a lot of clubs and festivals got to be, just playing the same stuff, same sound all day. That gets boring. I never thought DJ-ing for a living was a reality. It’s still crazy to me.
OTB: You’ve had so many episodes, how do you keep it fresh?
MP: I always just represent what’s offered that week. It’s all about what is being sent. The radio show is only as good as what’s sent and how well it’s sorted so I have some people that help me sort through the junk and the good stuff and pan for gold. I make the final selections. Some weeks are tough. Sometimes it’s like, “Oh boy,” but then your put it together and its like all of these pieces of a puzzle.
Morgan Page – In The Air – Latest Episodes
OTB: What artists did you used to listen to before your career that inspired you to start DJ-ing?
MP: I used to listen to the early electronica records like The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, all that stuff was really inspiring. Then I got more into buying vinyl and getting underground and into German Tech House. I used to make underground music.
OTB: How did you teach yourself?
MP: There weren’t really any courses and there wasn’t really YouTube at the time so it was just trying to take the voices in my head and put them to paper and to then translate that to the technology. I did take piano lessons for a couple of years, that helped. Piano I find is a lot easier than guitar. Now, I think that the instruments are getting better. There is a thing called Artiphon coming out soon, it’s a Kickstarter campaign. Their whole thing is that mastery is dead. You can play the ukulele on it or you can play the banjo. It gives you the feel of playing a physical instrument without having to spend 20 years learning it. I’m excited about that stuff. It helps level the playing field. It’s scary when you level the playing field than things can over saturate it.
OTB: Was there a moment in your career where you were like, “Holy crap this is happening to me?”
MP: Yeah, I think when I had Deadmau5 remix of ‘The Longest Road’. He was just getting big, before he had the mouse head and the song was playing in every club in Miami. It doesn’t really happen that way anymore, the way that a song would blow up. But, that was like I could feel the earth’s axis was tilting. It just was really bizarre.
OTB: You have so many responsibilities, I hear you are writing a book, you have your radio show, you’re obviously touring the world, how do you keep yourself sane?
MP: I don’t. I think to be happy you have to be grateful and I’ve taken a few steps in the past few years toward being more grateful and appreciating what I have. You always want something else. If you make a certain amount of money it’s never enough. In DJ-ing it’s always like someone new is making something new and getting bigger. I don’t really sweat about that stuff. I like to just stay stimulated with these projects. The book is really important. MP Quick Tips is my blog as well as a Twitter feed that will soon be a book. That just in itself is a full-time job. Producing is a full-time job. What you need to do is get yourself a good team.
OTB: Is your style changing with the quick changing pace of the EDM industry?
MP: I never want to follow stuff but inevitably you have to tailor your sounds and be current. The guys that are too stubborn, they can sabotage their career. The ones that are too flexible and change too much don’t have anything to stand on. You’ve got to create you brand and your sound, you can’t rest on your morals, you’ve got to keep reworking that every year.
OTB: What artist in the past year would you recognize as notable and innovative?
MP: Madison Mars, he is a producer from Estonia he’s doing huge things now. He’s really poised to be the next breakout star I think.
OTB: Is there a question nobody ever asks you in an interview that you wish would be asked?
MP: The QuickTips thing is really important to me. It’s about curating knowledge and it’s my way of giving back. I don’t think there are any secrets anymore in the audio world. Everything is out there but it is about how you present it. This is my project to give someone the best tips for someone who is making music. Condense it, curate it and then present it visually, in a way that is easy to digest. It’s not like you’re reading a book. It’s more of a children’s book in terms of visualization. But I’m really proud of that. It’s something I’m going to tell my grandkids about; “Back when EDM was big I wrote this book.”
OTB: Do you see yourself working in this industry for the rest of your life or do you have any other ventures that you want to go off on?
MP: Well, I do music for Tesla and really interesting companies. I like these other sectors of people doing disruptive things. I may get more involved in that, maybe films one day would be cool, but right now this is occupying enough time.
OTB: How do your parents feel about all that you have achieved?
MP: I mean they are like “You spent a lot of time on the computer as a kid I guess this is what happens when you focus.” Most of my friends when I was growing up would just party and get fucked up. I think the time that I spent learning my craft really paid off. A lot of people from Vermont sort of just stayed there which is fine they had a different path.
Established and hard-working, Page is an inspiration to young aspiring talent and musicians of all kinds. Watch out for Morgan Page’s new projects, book and his new album coming soon. And don’t forget to tune-in to his weekly “In the Air” podcast on SoundCloud.
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