Following the recent release of his third full-length album, In The Air, Morgan Page has accomplished much to be proud of in the last couple of months. In addition to a widely successful album tour, a performance with Calvin Harris at Coachella that garnered rave reviews, and the release of a #1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay chart (Morgan’s track, In The Air, remained in the Top 10 for 25 weeks), the American progressive house producer just recently announced a new residency for 2012 at Las Vegas’ lucrative nightclub XS.
A two-time Grammy recipient, Morgan has earned musical support from artists like Sasha, Dany Tenaglia, John Digweed and Deep Dish. We got to catch up with him as he prepared his weekly radio show for Sirius XM.
Amanda Mesa: Is it true you grew up in a log cabin in Vermont?
Morgan Page: That’s actually true. It was on a dirt road.
AM: How did you get into electronic music growing up in that kind of setting?
Morgan Page: College radio.
AM: I read your first love in EDM was tech house. What drew you to it?
Morgan Page: It was so different from everything else I’d heard on the radio. The stuff I write now is a little different; it’s a little more in your face, it’s a little more melodic. Tech house is a repetitive and subtle. But you know, things change, and I just really liked that atmospheric quality to it—the repetition and the simplicity of it. Now the stuff that I make is so much more main room with the vocals…that’s become the new thing. When I first got into it, it wasn’t so much about the vocals; it was more about just a good groove and one chord instead of a whole chord progression.
AM: You built your own first studio from the ground up in your parents’ basement?
Morgan Page: Yeah. It’s cool because the log cabin was actually a ski lodge. I think, growing up, it was a little bit different from you typical suburban upbringing. I had more time to work on music so I just built my own studio. I paid for it by doing remixes. I started when I was 12, just playing from a very basic computer setup that led to more hardware. It’s ironic now because all that gear is kind of worthless…you do everything with a laptop now. But I remember taking that gear when I was 18 touring Canada…it was total overkill.
AM: How did
you go about promoting yourself and getting your music out there?
Morgan Page: It was a long process. The first thing I did was kind of approach different DJs in the scene where I was going to college in Boston. Meeting people at the club nights, you kind of earn their trust. In terms of DJing, I think a lot of people start in radio. Playing in clubs…my first offer was somebody taking a chance on me, saying, “I like your production, you haven’t played out before but let’s try it.”
AM: Your sound seems to change a little bit every year. How would you best describe your current style?
Morgan Page: I liked electro before, and now I’m feeling like progressive electro-house, so its sort of progressive breakdowns and electro drops with vocals.
AM: What has been your favorite musical period?
Morgan Page: In terms of music, I think right now is one of the most exciting times for music.
AM: Do you still pull in elements of what you used to produce?
Morgan Page: It’s all part of it, but I don’t think there’s any real reason to repeat the same sounds. I’m always trying to pull from a different source and I think that’s kind of what creative work should be. You’re drawing from different inspirations; you’re stealing sounds from different genres. I was talking about how at Coachella you’ll have artists from the Shins to Afrojack, and I love both [and] I can be influenced by both of them even though they’re opposite sounds.
AM: Many listeners have described your music as having an earthy folk quality that still works in the club. How do you maintain that fusion when you’re producing?
Morgan Page: It’s a really tricky balance. You have to balance that folk out; it can’t just be like a soft folk song, it's got to work for the dance floor. A good example of that is a remix I did just recently—it came out last week—of Meiko’s ‘Leave the Lights On’…you can hear the folk influence the breakdown, and then it just goes kind of electro with a little bit of dub step influence there.
AM: Do you prefer the aggressive energy of your harder tracks or are you more of a trance fan at heart?
Morgan Page: I like both. I’m always trying to make it [the music] bigger and more grand and I think that’s part of the process…its easy to overproduce.
AM: How do you avoid that and keep yourself in check?
Morgan Page: I think you know a song’s done when you can’t remove anything from it.
AM: I read that you collect records. Do you still spin vinyl or are you mostly digital by now?
Morgan Page: I’m 100% digital with things live. I started with vinyl, then moved to CDJ’s, then quickly moved to Ableton…I didn’t really like the CDJ thing as much, or vinyl. I think [vinyl] is a nostalgic thing for a lot of people.
Morgan Page: Long-term, my own originals. Remixes are really fun, but they can kind of get lost in the system. To be able to see the impact of an original, and have people tattoo the lyrics on their arm and do other things is crazy.
AM: What do you do when you get musical writer’s block?
Morgan Page: I think you have to kind of relax your soul and relax your brain, and just kind of take your mind off it. If there’s a block, I’ll go for a run, or I’ll listen to other music.
AM: You sound very knowledgeable in the technical aspect of musical production. How did you become so comfortable with the software and equipment necessary to compose electronic music?
Morgan Page: I think I’ve always just sort of been drawn to music and technology. I think technology, when paired with something creative, is fun and it doesn’t really feel like work.
AM: What genres are you most interested in exploring?
Morgan Page: I’ve tried to do a dub step track, which was fun. I don’t know how long dub step’s going to be around. It’d be fun to do acoustic versions of those tracks…you’ll hear on the new album there’s some indie-electronic, and I’d kind of like to explore that side of things.
AM: How do you tailor your style to suit different venues and crowds?
Morgan Page: The smaller the space, the shorter the breakdown and the shorter the buildup. I think the sweet spot is maybe like a 2,000 person club. The festivals are really fun but you have to play differently, and you only have an hour to play. It’s definitely more intimate in a club, and you can actually reach out and touch the artist or people can actually meet the DJ, which is nice.
AM: Deadmau5’s remix of your track, Longest Road, was nominated for a Grammy. How do you feel when other artists remix your songs?
Morgan Page: It's really cool. There’s a little bit of a bittersweet feeling with that one. It was amazing to have him nominated. I’m very picky whom I send the parts to, but you never know what will happen. Deadmau5’s remix was a major tipping point in my career, and things just got extra busy after that.
AM: Do you ever search YouTube for remixes of your tracks by amateur artists, just to see what people are putting out there?
Morgan Page: Yeah, I definitely encourage people. I’ve checked out Sound Cloud and seen a lot of talent…there’s some really good bootleg remixes. One guy did a remix of ‘Fight For You’ that was really good, it was, like, release-ready. I just re-tweeted it and got it out there.
AM: Anything coming up we should know about?
Morgan Page: Just look out for tours in the area. I’m doing an international tour…the next big thing is basically supporting the album that came out a couple weeks ago. I have a single coming out soon called “Where’d You Go.” We’re just going to keep ramping up the show, and I just want everyone to get subscribed to the radio show. You can get on iTunes every week…its on Sirius XM on the BPM channel every Wednesday at 8 pm pacific.