Just as a painter creatively, yet carefully chooses his colors and tools for a mural– such skill is also the strength for a matchless producer. Grammy nominated DJ-producer Morgan Page has mastered the art of balance. Such balance can be heard through his choice of synth build ups glazed with harmonious vocals in each song he produces. Like a fingerprint, each of Morgan’s songs are distinct from his other creations, but remain musically symmetrical in balance. The EDM mastermind is on the verge of touring and a new album as a follow up to last year’s In The Air. Life+Times sits with the man behind some of the EDM world’s most notable remixes, original tracks, and stunning live sets.
Life+Times: In an interview you did for Pensado’s Place in May, you said that “vocals have to be the star.” It makes me think of cooking. The spices should never overwhelm the dish. “Fight For You” and your latest track, “Body Work,” feature strong vocalists. How do you find the right balance between vocals and beats?
Morgan Page: Finding the balance is hard. You need contrasting elements that complement the voice. If a vocal is sweet and pure sounding, maybe you wrap it in a distorted synth or something slightly detuned.
L+T: Your music is a dreamscape of melodies. An integral aspect of your production skills is your crafty approach to chord progression. Do you feel that chord progression is significant enough to make or break a song? If so, to what extent?
MP: Chord progression is key. It sets the tone for the entire piece, and inspires your leads and basslines. I often like the chords to be a hook in themselves. Simplicity for me is key, with subtle variations to keep the brain interested.
L+T: How much of your music is produced through meticulous planning versus going with your creative instinct?
MP: The first half of the production process is very right brained. But inevitably, the music has to fit into a certain structure to work on the dance floor. Arrangement and automation to me are very left brained. Creating builds and tension are as well.
L+T: How long are you on tour? Equipment such as Ableton and Pro Tools make producing on the road much easier. Would you agree and when do you find the time?
MP: Big international tours are typically three weeks, bus tours can be months long. To be honest, there isn’t much time to produce on the road. It’s a work in progress. I mainly do my weekly one hour radio show, and make tweaks to the songs I’m testing on the road.
L+T: What does “live” mean to you when you play a show? I’ve noticed that DJs have varying viewpoints on what is defined as “live.”
MP: Ableton Live! My view is use whatever equipment helps achieve your goals and your sound. Who cares what anyone else thinks or uses? Most of the “keeping it real” or “live” debate stems from territorial DJs that perceive anything “different” as a threat to their livelihood.
L+T: What is key to being able to deliver an amazing live set and producing an equally exceptional record?
MP: My main goal is surprising people – fucking with their head. Taking familiar songs and combining them in new ways. You have no idea what I’m gonna play next. It’s a balance of playing my music, other big tracks, and really inspiring and often overlooked music that people might not discover on their own. Producing a new original piece of music is very difficult. It has to resonate, it has to have immediate impact, but it takes repetition and time to build a hit. Surprising people is important, but you can’t veer off track too much from your sound.
L+T: Is a DJ a musician?
MP: Yes, but I think it’s a moot point. Nobody should have to measure up to someone else’s definition of a career or skill. Invest in yourself, follow your gut, and figure out who to ignore and whose advice is valuable.