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S1-E11: Morgan Page

Morgan Page, is a Grammy-Nominated American DJ and music producer. His tracks include “The Longest Road”, “Fight for You” and “In the Air”. Page has received two Grammy Award nominations; a personal nomination for best remix with Nadia Ali and in 2009 his song was nominated for best remix; “The Longest Road” (deadmau5 Remix). Page is signed to Armada Music worldwide.

Luis:
We are talking to the one and only DJ producer Morgan Page. We try to get the inside scoop on a possible collaboration between him and another huge name in the EDM world. And we go over what it’s like traveling the globe. Plus, he reveals a special technique that he used while recording a couple of songs, including The Longest Road.

Dylan:
All right, we’re on the phone with Morgan Page, artist, DJ, songwriter, even a freaking radio show host. Hit tracks include my favorite, The Longest Road, Fight For You, In the Air. Grammy award nominated. Hello, Morgan Page. Great to talk to you.

Morgan Page:
How’s it going? Good to be here. I love Chicago.

Dylan:
A lot of people have been saying, this is a lot on Twitter that Cascade and Morgan Page are the reason they’re going to Spring Awakening.

Morgan Page:
Oh nice.

Dylan:
Then I kind of was getting into on Twitter about you and Cascade teaming up to do a song. Is there going to be some talk here in Chicago about you cutting a track?

Morgan Page:
I hope so. I’ve thrown the idea out to him. The ball is in his court. So yeah, people want to see that. The more people tweet about it and stuff, the more likely it could happen. Hey, we’re both busy, but it’s all about getting together one day in the studio all day.

Dylan:
What is your sound? How do you describe what… I don’t know. Is there a way to do it, to describe what you do?

Morgan Page:
Yeah. I mean, I think my emphasis is just on really strong vocals that stand the test of time. I’m just trying to make stuff that resonates and goes beyond the fashion of dance music. You can remix it, rework it. Every year, I dress it up in a new jacket and try something new, a new framework.

Dylan:
It’s funny. When I talked to Kaskade, it’s eerily similar. He talked about how his thing is bringing true songwriting back, putting a message in the music. It’s about the vocals.

Kaskade:
Just approach it from a musical side. Write songs, be a song writer, say something in the music. I mean, my stuff’s about dance floor tunes that actually kind of speak to people.

Dylan:
You guys have this. I really hope something comes of it, that you guys end up teaming up and doing a track. That would be awesome.

Morgan Page:
Yeah. Usually it’s just a matter of aligning the schedules and just finding a good top line that you both resonate with. Because I know he books… He, and myself, are very picky with vocals and very particular about certain lines. And I always really kick the tires on every line that we’re working, really try to whittle it down to lyrics that mean something. So, yeah. It’s really important.

Luis:
Speaking of the vocals, how do you go about picking the vocalist that… Your latest single with Angelica Vee. How do you go about picking who you’re going to feature on you’re on your next song?

Morgan Page:
Usually, it’s just a really distinctive voice. I mean, I don’t use a lot of dance vocals, but she’s one of the few. Her and Nadia Ali are probably one of the few that are definitely go tos the dance music world. She’s really versatile. I just look for that texture in the voice, whether it’s the texture of Lissie’s voice or Angela McCluskey. I try to catch people before they blow up and become too much of a diva.

Dylan:
Yeah. I was reading some of your MP Quick Tips, and some traction was… I loved the lesson that you had on the… You’re talking about the vocalists and everything. Is that true when you’re looking at a vocalist, you’re looking at the minimal, just a true real singer? Like, I mean, is that part of it, too, just getting down to the bare vocal thing?

Morgan Page:
Yeah. A lot of the new stuff I’ll filter out everything except the vocal that has a lot of high-end content, so I try to just really make it shine.

Morgan Page:
I love how some of these songs, like the new Drake single, not the latest one, but One Dance, I love how they use minimalism in that. And there’s almost nothing going on in the song, and it’s so strong.

Morgan Page:
But if you pile on all the layers, it really can pull away from the vocals performance. I think it’s a real art to it. It’s easy to keep piling layers on, but to me it’s more about traction and just really leading the essentials in there. That’s when you know a song is done is we can’t strip anything away.

Dylan:
Didn’t you say it’s like a Jenga where you’re taking away pieces and trying to see if it’s still stands?

Morgan Page:
Yeah. You need to take away some things. I’ll mute layers and be like, “Oh, shit. I missed this. I need to have this back in the mix.” I mean, I think really the records that have been historically doing a lot of radio in the past and today are simple. But simple isn’t easy.

Luis:
Do you got quite a busy schedule ahead of you? Have you been in the studio before you hit the road?

Morgan Page:
I mean, I don’t work as much on the road, so I block out all the time. Lately, I’ve just been doing super long sessions, lots of collaboration. Yeah, we get the new stuff I’m working on with Lissie that I’m really excited about. And then some brand new singers that no one’s heard of. So a lot of emerging artists. Just something new, original. I can’t mention any of the specifics like songs or vocalists yet, but it’s a whole new sound. I’m experimenting with stuff, throwing stuff against the wall, and trying to mix it up from the usual 4/4 stuff. So we’ll have sentiment dance mixes of all these things. Some stuff is 140, some stuff is a 100 BPM. It’s all just big songs, strong vocals, male or female, and just chord progression. I think it’s going to excite and surprise people what they’re going to hear.

Dylan:
Let’s talk about touring. And, okay, you were at Vegas for a, I mean, for a residency forever. Now you’re going out to Asia. I saw you were saying to Marshmellow, “Can’t wait to spend some time in Asia.” What is it like going all over the place? How do you do that, man? That’s got a whole other thing. That’s a whole other side of this game.

Morgan Page:
Yeah. I love it. I mean, that’s my favorite part of the job is sometimes there’s play-cation, I call them. So, I’m going to Bali. The first gig is in, I think it’s in Bali. I planned a little trip around that. So we can spend a week in Bali and explore the islands and then play a show, and then go to Thailand to play a festival, and then go play in Hanoi in Vietnam. I love it when it’s a new country. I have this map on my wall. I just put a pin in every new city, every new country.

Dylan:
Awesome. We were talking to Robbie Rivera, and I was saying, “Dude, have you kept track of all the places that you’ve been?” He’s like, “Oh my God, do I wish?”

Dylan:
Is there a number of how many cities you’ve played in now?

Robbie Rivera:
No, man. I wish I would’ve done that.

Dylan:
You’re doing it. You got the map with the pins. That’s awesome, bro.

Morgan Page:
Oh, yeah, you got to do it. You have to do it. But it’s also jump in and just go somewhere to put a pin on the map. But I think there’s a lot of places you can travel, and you don’t have to go to all of them. I have a good shortlist of my favorite places. I mean, Asia is definitely up there, so I found myself back in China and Thailand and Bali a lot.

Dylan:
Now, your radio show, is that still going to be going on while you’re on tour?

Morgan Page:
Yeah. I just bring a little Blue Snowball mic and do the voiceovers, do the mix on the plane. It’s a fair amount of work to do every week, get it all together, filter all the music, but definitely a labor of love.

Morgan Page:
You’re listening to In the Air with Morgan Page, episode number 313.

Dylan:
All right. Well, before we let you go, can we go back to my favorite song, the Longest Road? I’m sorry, can we go back for a minute date? That is still my jam, Morgan Page.

Morgan Page:
Thanks.

Dylan:
Can you just talk about the development of it and, I don’t know, is there anything you can tell me about the song to make me love it even more?

Morgan Page:
Yeah. Okay. So there was an interesting technique we did on that record, and we also used it on In the Air, where I literally loop the song, the instrumental with just the chords and the very basic beat, I’ll loop it three or four times, leave the room, and have the vocalist just feel totally uninhibited. I had Lissie just sing the track total, just winging it, singing whatever came into her head, like nonsense lyrics. I’ll come back. And with that track, I just chopped it up, and we identified, oh, longest road is the key phrase in it. But she just sang a ton of different lyrics and I just chopped every symbol, every grass, and vowel. Everything was just shifted and turned around, and we turned into a song that way just from a pretty rough vocal.

Dylan:
Amazing,

Luis:
Really amazing. Yeah.

Dylan:
Amazing.

Morgan Page:
Yeah. It’s a great. It’s not a technique I recommend because it’s super tedious.

Dylan:
That had to take forever. Oh, my God. And then you’re talking about having to be minimal, remove all the stuff. So you’re one of those… When you’re doing a track, it’s a process.

Morgan Page:
Yeah. It’s a process. That’s the whole reason I did the quick tips thing too, the MP Quick Tips. Because I wanted to write down, selfishly just so I don’t forget these techniques, and share them. It’s not about revealing secrets. There aren’t really any secrets, not like that. It’s just sort of extracting this knowledge and getting out to the world, and that’s kind of my way of giving back.

Dylan:
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