Light shows. Pounding bass. Fevered dancing. That’s pretty much what you expect from any EDM show. Ever since the days of shitty warehouse parties and happy hardcore, electronic music shows have been about the mixing of the visuals, the vibe, and the music. Nowadays, we have huge stages with sound sensitive lights and carefully choreographed set pieces. These shows are supposed to feel larger than life, but size isn’t everything.
While most producers are best known for sequencing samples, some expend considerable effort on the visual effects (I’m looking squarely at you, Deadmau5, Amon Tobin, Wolfgang Gartner, etc.). You can add another name to that list now: Morgan Page.
Page’s show is the first live concert to take advantage of 3D technology. Yeah, it’s about as cool and futuristic as you think. The day of the new tech’s debut I got a chance to talk with Page about the real important stuff: his show, his music, and his favorite place to get Mexican food.
First things first, I need to ask you about your show at Club Nokia. I’m excited for this! Give me a quick rundown of what’s supposed to be happening tonight.
It’s a lot. It’s the craziest. What we’re doing is basically setting up the biggest high-risk 3D tour that’s ever been done. We’re taking this giant screen and creating these immersive environments so that you feel like you’re part of the show, like you could touch objects inside the show. You get pulled down tunnels, fly through stars, and go through a variety of different environments that make sense for each song. There’ll be lyrics popping out, so it’s a whole different experience. I can describe it until I’m blue in the face, but until you see it, it’s hard to explain.
Stuff in the audience?
You can get a depth up to the size of a football field, just in the screen. We push objects back a certain way, so it’s a whole new way of doing things.
Will we have to wear glasses?
Yes. They’re very comfortable, more comfortable than the ones you have in the theaters. It’s cool because you can actually take them out of the venue and use them as sunglasses. (LAUGHS)
What pushed you in this direction? There have been other shows with strong visual aspects in the past, but this sounds like it’s on another level.
The biggest thing is that I wanted a new vehicle to push the show and my sound. It’s a little bit of the festival environment in terms of what I’m going to play and the vibe. But there are also these ethereal, beautiful moments I couldn’t get away with at a festival or even at a club. I think this gives me additional artistic license to try things out.
I think DJing used to be more of a journey, and I want to get back to more of that. I want people to forget where they are and where they’ve been for the past few hours. It’s a tough thing to do, but this totally accomplishes that. You kinda feel a buzz after the show. It’s sort of this emotional thing. You’re in this other world for a little while, and then you pop back into reality.
That’s interesting. A few months back I went to see Amon Tobin’s live show, and I think you two are trying to do something similar by connecting the visual aspect to the music in an impactful, visceral way.
Actually with him, he sort of blends into the background of the show. It’s sort of like an art piece. In this, you’ll still see me. It’ll look like I’m floating through tunnels and landscapes and things, so just seeing a human silhouette up there changes things. We’re also combining it with cryo, confetti, lasers, and haze. Traditional effects actually enhance the 3D image so long as you don’t put too much haze out there.
I read that this is “only the beginning.” Does that mean you’re expanding this adoption of high-technology to your future shows and production as well?
It’s changing a lot of things. Right now, it’s changing the way that I approach music. I composed the intro as sort of this cinematic, ambient piece, and I wrote some stuff specifically for the show, so it’s cool doing things like that. I feel like a director scoring a movie. It was crazy because yesterday James Cameron came over and was watching the rehearsal. We had James Cameron and Johnathan Landau (who were working on Avatar 2) next door, so they heard about it and came over to see it for themselves.
Rave culture has a long and glorious history of DIY light effects. Have you found any inspiration from the scene for some of your visuals?
Ah, the gloving, yes. (CHUCKLES) You know, someone was asking about that on Twitter, like “Is gloving banned at your shows?” and we’re like, “Have we ever banned anything?” There are certain things that are rules, and you know, it’s funny. You’ve got enough to look at on the screen. There are glow sticks on the screen that’ll be happening. People will have sensory overload. I want people facing the screen the whole show, versus facing each other. I think that’s how you’ll get the best experience. What’s funny is that the crowd is gonna have the best seat in the house.
Ah. I guess that’s the burden of being the DJ with the awesome light show.
Lets switch gears a little and get to know a bit about Morgan Page, the Angeleno. First things first: do you enjoy Mexican food?
Yes! My favorite restaurant is Malo in Silver Lake.
What’s your favorite venue in LA?
I guess it depends on whether I’m going there to play or going to see stuff. I always loved the Hollywood Bowl. I love the Exchange downtown. The club that’s now called Create, but it used to be Vanguard. That was a favorite spot. Each place has its own kind of vibe.
Let me talk a little bit about your music now. You have a kind of respect for slightly older pop music. You’ve covered The Police, Rhythm of the Night, The Outfield… There’re a lot!
I just feel like I hear a remake in my head or I’ll just wake up and have the idea, and I’ll just make it a sound, and then do it. I just react around that impulse of having a creative idea and thinking, “Hey, I want more people to hear this.” (CHUCKLES) And it was cool with The Outfield and “Your Love.” They were really psyched about it, and I felt like “Your Love” needed a reboot for 2013. It made sense for radio and everything.
Last question: Are there any new artists that you’ve been listening to or want to put the spotlight on?
After seeing what went down at Club Nokia, I have only this to say: Morgan Page’s 3D show was one of the most entertaining events I’ve been to this year. I’d stop short of suggesting this to people who really don’t like house music, just because this is still very much a full-on assault. There was lots of fist pumping. That said, the 3D experience is novel. More than anything, I can’t wait to see how/if this tech fares on a much, much larger stage (*ahem EDC*), or even how it looks integrated into other types of live shows.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to catch it in Los Angeles again any time soon, but the tour will return to Southern California in November. If you want to see something cool, make sure to check it out then!
MPP3D Tour Dates:
11/27 – MPP3D @ San Jose Civic Auditorium – San Jose, CA
11/28 – MPP3D @ Ruby Skye – San Francisco, CA
11/29 – MPP3D @ Avalon – San Diego, CA
11/30 – MPP3D @ Yost (All Ages Matinee) – Santa Ana, Ca
11/30 – MPP3D @ Yost – Santa Ana, CA