Morgan Page has seen every angle of the music industry. He's shared the stage with some of the most prolific DJs in the world, including Marshmello most recently.
The house music DJ and producer is currently on tour, and we caught him at GILT Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We chatted about his new EP, Born To Fly, as well as his new production tips site, Morgan Page Quicktips, where he sheds some light on the music industry's most shaded aspects. He provides tips on royalties, production techniques, and mixing and mastering tricks.
You’ve recently started a production site called “Morgan Page Quick Tips.” What was the inspiration and spark behind that?
"I wanted to document things as a discovered them, like good techniques. It was also a letter to myself. If I were younger, what types of resources would I want to see? It's giving back to the community and documenting the process. There's also a Twitter page that sends out a tip every two hours, five times per day. On the blog, there're long-form articles, and there's nobody else doing it."
You discussed royalties in one of your blog posts and how they’re tracked (or not). As you mentioned, there’s unfortunately no system in place to track songs played at festival and concerts, but there are technologies (like Pioneer’s Kuvo) that are taking steps in the right direction. What’re some viable solutions in solving this problem?
"You have to find a way to validate it. Right now you have to have a Kuvo box. [Pioneer's] top-end festival mixer has it built-in. Their next Nexus mixer, which is standard in the booth, will have it built-in. It'll verify what club it's being played at, but it still doesn't have fingerprinting. They need to add that level of technology to it. I think it'll be at a level where you put your phone on auto Shazam in the booth."
"The biggest problem is with remixes, covers, and mashups. If you use the same fingerprinting technology YouTube and SoundCloud use, you can get passed it pretty easily because the databases are so huge. Start with getting the metadata right. Also, take advantage of AIFF [files] instead of WAVs."
Writer’s block is something all musicians run into more often than not. How do you overcome writer’s block?
"The easiest way is to build a better palette. Draw on a more diverse influence of sound. Get some new sample packs; get some new synth presets. You can also get a new synth, but it's a bad habit to get into due to having to spend money on it. The thing with music is that you're going to fall in and out of love with it and your process. You have to have total immersion: eat, sleep, and breathe it. You have to enjoy every step of the process, even though there're steps you don't want to do."
In one of your blog posts you mentioned that you walked into Jack Joseph Puig’s “Willy Wonka” looking studio. It was filled with beautiful mood lighting and custom gear. He told you that “The human ear can only hear three things at once.” Can you explain the importance of this quote and why it’s so important to you?
"It's a rule that's shared among a lot of producers. Max Martin uses the rule of three a lot as well. Your brain can only focus on a maximum of three things at a time. That's why you don't have the lead vocal competing [with other elements]. Maybe one layer is the chord, the other is a vocal lead, and then it's the drums. The way to integrate this is to have each musical part take turns. Having arrangements is really key. Music that's digestible and reachable to a large audience is typically simpler. And simple isn't easy, but there're different ways to do it. You can side-chain stuff and get really technical with it. You can also keep the melody phrasing and composition really simple. No hit song is ever overly complicated."
Your new EP, Born To Fly, is very mellow and happy. What’s the story behind it?
"I just wanted to try something a little different. The concept for this was to try something a little deeper, a little more sultry; and that was the stuff I felt like making at the time. It's very rare that I'm inspired and sit down and make something deep. With [Born To Fly] we felt like there was a common thread. I've done some stuff with Meiko before. We also have a singer from Orlando, Britt Daley, on the EP. I just wanted to try something new."
Born To Fly features Britt Daley, The Oddictions, and Meiko. Do you select the artists you collaborate with, or does the label and/or producer select them? If you select them, what’s your process in choosing them?
"It's pretty much always me seeking people out, or people seeking me out as well. You hope to have mutual admiration with artists. I always take the label's suggestions with a grain of salt. My song 'The Longest Road' with Lissie was suggested by the label, and it happened to work out really well. I go after people that I like, but it's always easier when they're approaching you. If you both appreciate each other's work, it's great."
You have a few more releases coming out on Armada in the near future. What can fans expect from those? Are there any special collaborators on them?
"We have some international, tropical flavored stuff. There's also going to be some pop leaning stuff as well. There're going to be different pockets of sounds. We're using EPs to give a diversity to the sound but also give time to digest the music instead of a full album."
Has anybody ever thrown something on stage while you’re performing? If so, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve had lobbed at you?
"It's not weird, but it's usually underwear. Sometimes it's a Vicks vapor rub soaked bandana."
"The weirdest thing that's happened in the booth was a girl that stripped naked and jumped into the DJ booth. Her boyfriend followed her up and started punching people out that were looking at her. That was a typical Canadian gig."
What’s your favorite thing about touring? Additionally, what’s your most memorable moment when touring?
"Some of the best moments are doing the festivals. Playing Red Rocks is one of my favorites. Playing the double-weekend at Coachella is also a lot of fun. I get really inspired by traveling to the different cities and kinda getting spun around. That's part of the fun. I go crazy if I'm in LA and don't travel. I love LA, but I love to be gone every week. I recently played Vietnam with Marshmello. I think that was mind-blowing."
Who’re some artists that you’ve been listening/jamming to recently?
"My favorite right now in the EDM space is Dropgun and Don Diablo's label, [HEXAGON]. I listen to their tracks and go, 'How do they do this?' I've been making music for a very long time, and I love that feeling of 'How do they make this?'"