Two-time GRAMMY Award nominated producer/DJ Morgan Page recently embarked upon his groundbreaking Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Experience Tour utilizing 3D technology originally created for Michael Jackson's 'This Is It'. While offering an interactive show filled with stunning immersive environments, Page showcased his pioneering spirit with his ambitious use of new technology while not only displaying his own serious creative talent, but also introducing some of electronic dance music's brightest rising stars as support acts on select dates; Project 46, Walden, Topher Jones, Audien, Beltek and Maor Levi.
I recently had the honor and privilege of chatting with Morgan Page, via telephone, a couple of days after his Concord Music Hall Morgan Page Presents 3D (MPP3D) Concert Experience tour-stop in Chicago on Friday, October 4th, 2013.
William Kelly Milionis: Let me start by thanking you so very much for chatting with me, I understand that it is your off-day I greatly appreciate this.
Morgan Page: Yes
Kelly: Looking at your schedule this coming week it looks as if you are not doing any 3D production but your regular DJ sets?
Morgan: Yes, just doing my regular DJ sets, my Morgan Page shows and then getting back to it later on.
Kelly: I have wanted to see your Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Experience in person since before you announced the dates. I am, however, now at a disadvantage, as I was not able to attend your MPP3D Concert Experience at Concord Music Hall in Chicago as serious health concerns did not make that possible.
Kelly: But, one of our Examiners in Chicago, Ms. Payal Patel, was in attendance, reviewed your show, and gave you a 5 out of 5 star rating. Congratulations!
Morgan: Great! Great!
Kelly: I'm hoping to cover quite a bit of ground in the time that I have with you today. I have a deep respect and admiration for you and your talent; you are a pioneer, a true creative who seeks to set the bar and then raise it...your MPP3D Concert Experience is groundbreaking. From your vantage point, how was your MPP3D Concert Experience in Chicago at the Concord Music Hall Friday night [10-4-13]?
Morgan: It was amazing! I think it was one of the best shows of the tour so far. There's been a number of shows. It's the excitement. I felt that electricity in the room and it's always a key part of the night. It was interesting, we had to set it up so I was actually on the floor which is sort of unusual because usually you are more up on stage. But, due to the lower ceilings of the venue, we had a unique set-up; kind of a double-wide set-up. We took two of our smaller screens and put them side-by-side so everyone could still see it. I think it worked out really well.
Kelly: Any noticeable 3D difficulties or glitches during that performance?
Morgan: No, not as far as I know. I really don't really get to see the show. The audience has the best view in the house, so everything went on without a hitch. It's always a challenge. Every venue is different and there is a certain sweet spot to seeing it, but it looks good from most angles so as long as you have the glasses on and you're relatively in the middle...it's gonna look good.
Kelly: That leads into my next question, each venue you perform live in has its own character and nuances, how does your MPP3D live concert experience translate from different environments; small club, large club, indoor and is it possible outdoor?
Morgan: We have done a real range already. We've done venues that hold a maximum of 400 people, a very small club, up to a coliseum which holds 10,000 people and it looks really good. It's a different experience in different size venues. It's really cool when it's an intimate show where there is a limited capacity; it's all about your relative viewing distance. I think if we did a 10,000 capacity festival, we would want to go even bigger than our biggest screen; that would be four times as big. It's really crazy because the farther you go back the more depth you have, but also when you are close you feel like you are lost in the visuals in a good way, so you feel like part of the show.
Kelly: When you are traveling, does the MPP3D tour travel in an 18 wheeler, box truck or much smaller than that?
Morgan: It's a full semi-truck that follows the bus. We have our crew and all the support acts, myself and all our luggage. All the LCD's and LED's and the trussing and stuff are in a truck behind us.
Kelly: With the current success of your MPP3D Concert Experience, your unique immersive environments and the use of confetti and fog, would you consider or have you contemplated adding specific aromas, fragrances or liquids?
Morgan: You know, we've thought about it. There is one scene of the show where there is confetti on the screen and confetti in real life. It's a big experiment. We're trying different things and there are a lot of future plans I have for integrating more of my movement as a performer in the show; sort of integrating my presence with the visuals. That's what we are working on. We have no plans to do anything with the different senses but I do like that idea. We do want to experiment with 3D merchandise and things like that later on using 3D printers. There are a lot of ideas to experiment but the main limits now are the costs because it's a very expensive show to do. It's very expensive because of all of the content; to create two hours of content took 30 animators two months to do so it's a lot of work. Maybe someday we add in more scents and things like that; I'd be all for it.
Kelly: From your perspective, have you seen fan appreciation of a certain immersive environment you've presented (space, terrain, flyovers, canyons)?
Morgan: We haven't heard anything negative yet, which is crazy. I love it because we are able to go smaller towns, we're doing big cities, but we are doing the smaller towns where nobody has ever seen anything like this. People have seen 3D movies, 3D Imax. I actually went to see 'Gravity' last night in 3D Imax and it was really good, but they really have to downplay the 3D parts because in the movie narrative, the 3D can take you out of the story in a bad way. But, at the show, we can really experiment and pull out all of the stops. You can do things that are close-up to your face. We can experiment more. In a movie, it's a different environment and you can't overdo the 3D.
Kelly: When you are performing normally in a non-3D environment, all eyes are on you and all ears are listening to the music you are playing. When you add the 3D element, or any visual element for that matter, are you still receiving the same audience feedback/response or is it truly different? How do you feed off of that with the addition of the 3D element? Are there different cues?
Morgan: I think it's going to take people a little time to find how to react because people react to it in different ways. It's just different than a typical DJ set and I think that's exactly what we wanted. I think it's funny, because some moments people don't know whether they want to cry or scream or dance and it's a different mix of emotions. Somebody could stand still and just take it in as more of a cerebral event. But what's cool is that it gives me a little more license to explore these more beautiful subtle moments in the breakdowns, where normally that would be a part where you would feel maybe a little exposed in a song so you'd want the energy going one hundred percent all of the time. You could explore these lower energy moments but they have just as much impact. It takes a little while as a DJ to get used to that because you want the energy to never drop. I think people are processing, sometimes you think they are not reacting but they are really processing what's happening and they're lost in that world for that moment. It's my job to bring them back and keep that energy consistent. You have to be a conductor just like you are a DJ. But you do have to rely on cues, and making sure that the lighting is working in sync and that there is an emotional connection, an illusion for doing everything.
Kelly: How was it working with Emmy winner Chris Do and his team at Bl:nd?
Morgan: It was great! There were so many animators. I think we even had a few that worked on 'Avatar'. James Cameron walked over during our rehearsals and was super impressed. It was a bit of a starstruck moment! They were filming 'Avatar Two' next door and we were borrowing their soundstages for rehearsals...when you get James Cameron's approval on the graphics you know you are on the right path!
Kelly: I was going to ask you about your visit by James Cameron...that's so cool.
Kelly: Now, I don't think many realize you are a peer mentor; a true supporter of those who are creative and who are seeking to be successful with their talent. You do so with your work at ICON Collective and by supporting and breaking new artists with your tours, radio shows, and music in your live sets. How did your contribution to ICON Collective as an Advisor come about?
Morgan: They had asked me to do some guest appearances and I always like to share ways that I have found ways to make music, not shortcuts, but tricks to making the process easier for making music. I think I went in a few times and they had asked me to be on the advisory board and to suggest ideas for the curriculum. It's cool to have a role in that and to help other people learn. It's just a fun process. I'm actually working on a book that I'm probably going to distribute to some of these schools too that will help with that creative process. It's really cool to have that dialogue with students and go in and do a Q&A every now and then on 'What's creating writers block" or "What do they have questions about". It's interesting to explore that stuff because it's really good for me. I just like to stay on the pulse of what's happening with these schools. My role is a little bit more outside of the one-on-one mentoring. It was really cool, we recently had an opportunity where we handed out a full scholarship to ICON Collective for a deserving student. It's fun to see people freak out when they receive it. And, it's so exciting because it's a considerable investment, you get a lot out of it and it was really cool to award that. I think there is a lot of upcoming talent there.
Kelly: I interviewed Ryan Henderson of Project 46 recently and learned how you met. Ryan and Thomas have really only been together for about two years but already have enjoyed much success working with great talent such as yourself, Kelly Clarkson and Kaskade, amongst others. How is it that you sense someone has true talent? Is it by your gut, an innate feeling, or something else entirely?
Morgan: I think for me; especially with the support acts, they were guys that did remixes for me and I really enjoy their work or I sort of champion them on the radio show and I wanted to help give them an extra push and I just felt they were a good match for the tour. What I want the Morgan Page Presents brand to be is something that is a platform that can help as a label, mix compilations, present more than just my own music so it's sort of a career goal, something I've been wanting to do for awhile. It's going to be building to even more of a platform when I'm working with brands; actually doing music for Tesla Motors and I've partnered with companies that I really admire, whether it's electric cars or solar power and things like that. So, I like working with artists that are doing good things that I admire but also companies that have progressive ideas that are changing the world.
Kelly: Now, you are not only a remarkable judge of talent but of vocal talent as well. Working with Lissie must have been unbelievable, but then you have worked with one of those once-in-a-generation vocalists in Nadia Ali. I understand you've probably answered so many questions about you and Nadia Ali already but with your 3D environment would you ever consider adding Nadia to your live 3D set or consider running a 'live interactive hologram' of Nadia working together with you on stage?
Morgan: It's funny that you should mention that [laughing] that's one of the things I want to do. And, we're working towards that. I don't want to spoil to much of phase two, but I do want to have vocalists present; whether they can make the show or not. Holograms would be pretty easy to do once we have the processing power with the computers. So at some point, I definitely want to have a more human element to the show, singers coming out where their head is floating out in the audience and singing the song because that's very doable. It's really tricky to get all of the vocalists in the same place and typically I only have two songs they could sing so it makes more sense for me to animate them or capture them with motion-capture so that is something that we are trying to build towards.
Kelly: Taking us back to Chicago, you've probably been to Chicago many times over the years. Has our city of 'Big Shoulders' offered you much; do you gravitate to the local flavor of food offerings (Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago hot dogs) or is there a park that offers you some sort of serenity (Grant Park, Navy Pier, or the Chicago River)?
Morgan: I always like to go exploring. I love the food in Chicago. I think my favorite is 'Girl and the Goat, as a follower of 'Top Chef'. 'The Publican' and the 'Girl and the Goat' are two amazing spots. The food is always tricky because there is always a long wait and I don't know too many people in the food world [laughing] so you go in and just hope for the best and you have to have your reservations in months ahead of time [laughing].
Kelly: [laughing] and you have played at quite a few places in Chicago...
Morgan: Yea, it's been one of those consistent cities. When Crobar was around, I played Crobar one time, Sound-Bar, Enclave, and a number of venues over the years; and the MID. It's always been that great energy. And, everyone is educated on the music scene, so it's always fun to play.
Kelly: and the 'Girl and the Goat' and 'the Publican' are not too far from the MID...
Morgan: That's right, that's right.
Kelly: I truly appreciate you taking time out your day...your day off, to chat with me. I wish you all the best and much continued success.
Morgan: Thank you.
The Morgan Page Presents 3D Concert Experience resumes on:
October 16, 2013 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street Ballroom
October 17, 2013 - South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
October 18, 2013 - New York, NY - Best Buy Theater
October 19, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA - Sound Garden Hall
October 23, 2013 - Boston, MA - The Estate (DJ show only. No 3D production.)
October 24, 2013 - Baltimore, MD - Ram’s Head Live
October 25, 2013 - Charlotte, NC - Phoenix (DJ show only. No 3D production.)
October 26, 2013 - Orlando, FL - Firestone
October 27, 2013 - Gainsville, FL - Funworks Skate Station
October 30, 2013 - Miami Beach, FL - Mansion
October 31, 2013 - Tampa, FL - Amphitheatre
November 2, 2013 - New Orleans, LA - Ampersand (DJ show only. No 3D production.)
November 6, 2013 - Dallas, TX - South Side Music Hall
November 7, 2013 - San Marcos, TX - The Marc
November 8, 2013 - Houston, TX - Stereo Live
November 9, 2013 - El Paso, TX – Buchanan’s Event Center
November 13, 2013 - Park City, UT - Park City Live
November 14, 2013 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory
November 15, 2013 - Seattle, WA - Showbox SoDo
November 16, 2013 - Spokane, WA - Knitting Factory
November 17, 2013 - Edmonton, AB - Encore at WEM
November 20, 2013 - Calgary, AB - Flames Central
November 21, 2013 - Kelowna, BC - Flashbacks (DJ show only. No 3D production.)
November 22, 2013 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theater
November 23, 2013 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore
November 25, 2013 - Las Vegas, NV - XS Nightclub (DJ show only. No 3D production. No support acts.)
November 27, 2013 - San Jose, CA - San Jose Civic Auditorium
November 28, 2013 - San Francisco, CA - Ruby Skye
November 29, 2013 - San Diego, CA - Avalon
November 30, 2013 - Santa Ana, CA - Yost (All Ages Matinee)
November 30, 2013 - Santa Ana, CA - Yost (Late - 21+)
*More Dates to be Announced