In The Air with Morgan Page
Imagine flying around the world and having thousands of fans grooving to the sound of your remixes in the hottest clubs. That’s just part of the life of Grammy-nominated Producer/DJ Morgan Page. With the recent release of his new album In The Air, Page has taken his impressive skills to an even higher level. Packed with pumping house tracks and an all-star cast, it’s already spawned several hits – with more to come. We caught up with him recently to talk about his background, the new album, and his use of Sonnox plug-ins.
What got you started on this path?
I really got into music back when there were no blogs, MP3s iPods or anything. I actually learned about electronic music while working in college radio. I was just naive enough to think that I could make my own music and DJ. So I religiously listened to college radio and became a DJ - you didn’t even have to be a student!
I was a DJ at the station at the University Of Vermont. From there, I started managing the radio station and so on. At that point I wanted to actually see the audience and DJ in clubs, so I started producing and doing remixes. I was just working hard at it, trying to get out there and get my music heard. That led to doing bootleg remixes and spec remixes for major labels, which eventually led to me to legitimate remixes. But now, the focus is more on originals.
What is your primary DAW platform?
I like Pro Tools for cutting vocals and live instruments. Right now I’m also really loving Ableton Live. Pro Tools is still my primary DAW, but when I’m on the road and doing remixes I use Live.
How about your new record?
That took about 2 years to do, and it’s all done in Pro Tools. Sometimes ideas would start in Live, and/or Logic, but the bulk of that is Pro Tools - especially since it’s such a vocally dense album. It was done at different home studios here in LA - nothing crazy or fancy.
How did you get turned onto Sonnox plug ins?
I started asking some producers who were getting a really big sound, how they achieved it. I figured they were doing something different with their sound – guessing that they were obviously choosing great kicks and better source samples. Of course, everything in dance music is about the kick - if that isn’t amazing nothing else matters in the song. So in talking to these producers, I was surprised to hear some of them had switched to Ableton Live from Logic and Pro Tools. But the other thing is that they were using the Sonnox Limiter (True Peak Limiter Plugin). Some guys were even using the Inflator and Limiter on the master bus! I was surprised to hear that they weren’t even using a compressor.
I was really curious about it so I tried it out. In the last six months, I’ve had a chance to buy the plug-ins and the results have been a major change and improvement in my masters.
What do you like about having them on your master fader?
To me it almost sounds like it’s what hardware should do and hasn’t delivered on. I basically have transitioned my studio to entirely digital. I have an analog front-end for tracking, but that’s it. I’ve experimented with various summing set-ups, but I wasn’t getting the punch that I thought you would get.
So with the Limiter, I finally have a master solution that I love. It’s loud, but it doesn’t sound like it’s getting choked. I can really push the sound, and use fast attack and release settings without it sounding like anything in the mix is getting held back or the kick is being over compressed. There’s something about the low end that is almost indescribable, it’s totally unique. Having that tool with programs like Ableton really helps make it sound round and even analog-like with a big thump.
What other Sonnox plug-ins do you use?
I use TransMod to add extra edge to effects. It’s perfect for adding a little more attack and/or changing the contour or timbre of certain sounds. I’m also using the Oxford EQ, and I think it’s amazing for doing cuts and such without hurting the overall sound. You can really get surgical with it. I’ll also use the Inflator - especially on mix busses.
The biggest game changer for me is the Limiter. It’s a permanent part of my template on the road since I’ve been doing more touring, and I just know it’s going to give me the results that I want. You have to be able to get work done in the airport, on the plane and in the hotel. You need a good limiter to hear everything because I tend to be in noisy environments, so I think having a tool that I trust and know is invaluable.
Recently, I did an experiment where I created a remix in one day. I was able to do one from start to finish on the plane and in the hotel and then play it live that night. It was cool, as I’d never tried that before, but it was great. The Limiter was an important part of that. It’s really a game changer for me.
Interview and editorial provided by Rich Tozzoli