We all like to think we know our favorite artists. We listen to their music on repeat, we see them perform live, we read their thoughts online. But sometimes the artists we think we know the best are the ones who surprise us the most. Morgan Page, a mainstay of melodic, vocal progressive house for over a decade, could easily have sold out a tour just by saying his name. “We were discussing what can we do differently, and were just like, ‘I don’t want to go on tour and spray champagne and jump on a table like a brat.’ You can keep doing that, but your herd wont last. We had to do something different.”
The Morgan Page Presents 3-D Tour
What came out of that conversation was an unprecedented 3D bus tour, a symphony of lights and visual effects synchronized effortlessly to the music of EDM royalty. A team of over 30 animators and countless tech crew members (with hardware provided by Alienware) make the one-of-a-kind audio/visual experience possible. The unfamiliar type of show has a certain ethos to it, and while getting handed a pair of IMAX-ready glasses at the concert door seems a little strange, the vision is almost immediately apparent.
It’s new. I wanted a narrative to happen between the songs, so there’s a story that happens over the course of the night. Stuff that happens in the intro comes back at the end of the show. There’s a reason for these roller coaster moments throughout the night.
Calling it a roller coaster might be an understatement. Hearing classic songs like The Longest Road or In The Air is an entirely new experience on the MPP3D Tour. “The idea is to try and make the experience different. You watch each time and sometimes the crowd reacts to a visual event, sometimes it’s an audio event, sometimes it’s the chemistry of both. It’s this complex psychological response.” The Grammy-nominated artist’s unprecedented stage show, powered by technology partly created for the late Michael Jackson’s This Is It Tour, guarantees every participant personally touching moments. “There are party moments, more introspective moments, think about your life moments, and a journey through a variety of emotions. That’s really the goal.”
It turns out that Page, a Vermont native, may have been destined to create the soundtrack to a multidimensional visual dreamland long before the MPP3D Tour was even conceptualized. Morgan’s journey into dance music and subsequent move to L.A. wasn’t your typical starry-eyed fame chase. “I wanted to get music in movies originally, but I didn’t really go that direction. I was already doing dance music, but I didn’t know if it was going to be a viable career or not.” And where would he have gone if not into the DJ booth?
I thought, ‘Oh, it might be cool to work for Skywalker Sound or something.’
We can only imagine what the soundtrack to the newest Star Wars film might have sounded like with Morgan Page at the helm (can you say greatest space dogfights ever?) but clearly the choice to pursue dance music as a career hasn’t deterred him from living that dream. The MPP3D Tour affords him many opportunities to stretch his muscles as a multi-sensory composer. “You have to start from scratch in 3D, it’s not just like recording over 2D content into 3D. There are so many director-type things you have to think about; you’re almost a music supervisor and a director and a DJ with a project like this.”
What’s his favorite moment from the tour? “Some visuals have this psychological response – there’s one visual we have in the course of the night, and it doesn’t matter what I’m playing, but it quiets the crowd, and they’re just, I don’t know, thinking about life, or they’re getting introspective or something and it’s so crazy to watch.” It isn’t just a coincidence. It’s a universal moment in his show. “I’ve even switched songs around in the set with that visual on, and I get the same reaction. I’m not sure what it does, it like calms people down, and then I have to kind of bring the energy back and keep it up.” Experienced first-hand, it’s an unforgettable part of the night.
I think, ‘Wow, what does that mean?’ It’s so memorable that way. You start to realize you can experience it in different ways. It makes me think more about how you develop the visuals.
Breaking ground in such uncharted territory might seem risky, but Morgan sees it as a first step forward into something much greater, for him and for his fans. “This is really kind of changing the way I make music. I feel like there’s universals. It’s a vehicle to try and express the songs in a different way, so even if you’ve heard the songs before, you’re going to be like, ‘I’m being pulled into this world.’ I think people feel like a part of history, like they’re the first to experience something that’s in a whole different world. It’s exactly what we wanted to do.”
The Artist & His Fans
We really all like to think we know our favorite artists. We feel that, by listening to their music, we’re provided a window to their soul. Sometimes that’s only part of the story. Sometimes even the artists we think we know best have unexpected surprises. What about the thoughts that inspire the sounds they make? What drives them as an artist? Who exactly is Morgan Page? For one, he is a man radically familiar with his back catalog of shows. He recalled the very first time he came to Seattle for an event at The Showbox. “The last time I was here was a fundraiser for C89; it was crazy.” Things like remembering the call sign of a student-run dance music radio station solidify the connection Page creates with his fan community.
Seattle is definitely one of the more important cities…I think people here know my back catalog more, they have that knowledge of dance music. With other places, their knowledge sometimes starts or stops at In The Air.
It’s clear within minutes that Page values his fans tremendously, especially those that have been with him throughout his career. In 15 years he has amassed an enormous catalog of albums, singles, and other tracks. Having grown an army of just as many fans, he found a way to involve them in his latest tour. Rather than waiting for official photos to drop, the #MPP3D tour was ripe with fan photos. “I hope they don’t spoil it. They’re like a slice of it. It looks really cool!” The photos spanned the height and depth of the 3D concert experience; and they’re more than just photos of the show.
If you’re guessing that photo to the right isn’t Bieber, the tour-wrecking wannabe idol, you’re right. It’s über-talented tour mate, Audien. Page turns out to be an infamous prankster. “I’m much less serious than people would think. I think you look at pictures and you go, ‘This guy looks like an asshole,’ or ‘This guy looks unapproachable.’ I’m much more of a jokester.” Unlike Bieber and other pop flashes in the pan (we’re looking at you, Miley), Page says egos just aren’t his thing. Asked who his ideal pop collaborators are, Page immediately chose Ellie Goulding and Adele. Apparently, the Adele collab has been floated before, and her team replied that, “’she was just a little busy right now, pregnant,’ you know…having a kid. Excuses man.” We cross our fingers for the future.
I would never want to work on a project that my heart wasn’t heavily involved in, so that’s the most important part, I wouldn’t work on a piece of music that I didn’t love. So if it were making somebody else’s music that I don’t like, that would be really tough. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work, so, you have to be able to get goose bumps, get excited while playing it.
Where does that leave the intrepid Page, now that the tour is over? Classically an album artist, Page will soon be entering the studio yet again. “There’s definitely an album in the works!” But what about singles and airplay? Can an artist truly thrive in the modern age using the album format? Morgan seems to think so, but with a twist. According to him, most of his fans want to be able to cherry-pick. “The idea is to do kind of what Calvin Harris did, release tracks, release most of it upfront, so that the album doesn’t get old. People don’t have time for an entire listen. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do albums, I still think you should. But every song has to be good enough to be a single.”
With so many online- and smartphone-ready music streaming services out there, albums are often split up. Like most other artists, Morgan Page would rather ensure his songs are heard. Unlike most other artists, he still chooses to give the albums to those fans who care about them. “I would hope that the die-hard fans are still attracted to the albums. They hear the singles, and they graduate to hearing the whole album.” This same forward thinking led to the development of MP Quick Tips, the next step in Morgan’s quest to give back to young producers. Much like an album, it has quickly grown from a small collection of pieces into a greater whole set to change the way we learn to make music And, like his recent tour, Page wants it to change the landscape entirely.
It would be tempting to assume that, since we know Morgan Page’s musical catalog so well, we can safely assume what’s in his future. But judging from his demeanor on tour and his upcoming collection of tips, it may be that trowing the curtains open illuminates new horizons. “Everyone is so afraid to give up their secrets. I want to advance the art.”
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