Zack Morgan created Convex when he re-directed his focus as a rock guitarist to creating electronic music. Influenced largely by San Holo, Jai Wolf, Ilan Bluestone and KRNE, Convex's productions achieve distinctive energy with breakdowns reminiscent of trance anthems and drops inspired by future bass and neon sounds. One of the most popular DJ's of the UCSB house party and club scene, Convex is noted for compelling live performances that have generated both an avid following and an impressive collection of noise ordinance citations. Beyond Isla Vista, Convex has energized venues in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Honolulu and Las Vegas as the winner of Insomniac's prestigious Discovery Project for Electric Daisy Carnival.
I grew up playing guitar in rock bands so naturally I loved everything like AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. I would practice in my room (amp turned to 11) and try to emulate how my idols played their solos - not just the notes but their whole vibe and feeling. To this day, I still think my melodies come as variations of the over-distorted guitar licks I was so in love with. Even now, I listen to a lot of alternative, reggae and rock for inspiration because I think it’s important to appreciate all genres of music to create work that’s actually meaningful.
Moving from rock to electronic was kind of a strange switch, but it happened because when I got to college there were so few bands that DJing seemed like a fun alternative. As I got better as a DJ, I naturally gravitated to songwriting and producing because I wanted to add more of my own personality into my sets. It’s hard to say which I love more - performing or producing. Both are awesome when it all comes together.
Making music is all I want to do and I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else. I’ve put so much of my life into my music that moments like I had on stage at EDC make all the hard work and hours locked in my studio worth it.
Home Town: Los Angeles, California
Currently Living: Santa Barbara, California
Origin Of Name: I was actually reading a physics book for class (nerdy, I know) and I came across the word. I honestly just thought it looked and sounded cool.
Weapon of Choice: Chopsticks, used to eat orange chicken.
Source of Power: TJR, Jimi Hendrix, Will Sparks, Paris Blohm, Above & Beyond, Deorro, Led Zeppelin, Ilan Bluestone and Mat Zo. Also people that love music as much as I do and coffee and kimchi (not together though).
What advice would you offer someone thinking about entering the Discovery Project competition?
Absolutely do it. Trust yourself and trust your music. Just submitting and getting your tunes out in the world will allow more people to hear you. The worst that can happen is you spend time doing something you love. I admit that it is a bit nerve-wracking to put something so important to you up for judgment, but the reward is unbelievable. It changes everything.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a DJ? Or, what would people be surprised to find out about the profession?
I think many people have this false idea that DJs and producers aren’t really musicians. The stereotype is that we just turn knobs and the computer does all the work. And that’s just completely wrong. Most of the best producers I know are also insanely talented musicians. That’s exactly what makes them so good at what they do. I think people forget that the technology we use in electronic music simply allows us to expand the sonic profile of our music. Unlike rock or pop (where you’re somewhat limited to guitar, bass and drums), I have entire orchestras available to play the tracks I compose. I think it's unfair to say one is better than the other. I want all the flavors, which is why you'll see me incorporating more live tracks into my songs and sets. I love live drum sounds. Here's a secret - my first Christmas present was a drum set and I'm secretly addicted to drumming.
Do you have any memorable moments from past EDC's or any other Insomniac party?
I attended EDC Las Vegas 2013 as a fan, and it was incredible. Actually, I was in complete awe the entire weekend at how immense and beautiful everything was. I remember hanging at the kineticFIELD, and it was just monolithically enormous - it was a complete visual and musical overload. I will never forget the moment my friends and I were watching the last set at cosmicMEADOW and the sun was rising over the raceway. I remember thinking that one day I had to be up on that stage playing no matter what. It motivates me to this day.
How important is it for you to experiment and take on the risk of failure?
Absolutely essential. It’s why I try producing in nearly every genre. At first you suck, but then you get better and better and eventually end up combining elements and creating something totally original. If I hadn’t experimented with dubstep, I would never have been able to refine my sound within bounce and trap. That doesn’t come from playing it safe. For me, if you’re afraid of failing, you’re missing the entire point of electronic music and being an artist and musician.
Do you have a list of people you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
A ridiculous list! There are so many it’s hard to single artists out but Above & Beyond because their concept of soundscape and melody is insane. I love their music because it’s almost orchestral in design. Also Deorro because he’s completely original. I really admire his approach to making music - his integrity and passion are super inspiring. I’d also love to work with some of the incredibly talented acts that I met during EDC, for instance the guys in Dimibo. It was cool getting to know everyone at the discoverySTAGE, because you can tell they have just as much drive and love for music as you do. I could keep on going, but in the end, I just really like collaborating with people that love what I love and have fun doing it.
What gets you excited when you think about the future of electronic music and club culture?
That the movement is just starting. Not in the sense that the music is new, but because the music is now reaching a bigger audience than ever before. I think a lot of people have an issue with the music becoming “mainstream” but I actually think it’s really cool. Why wouldn’t you want more people to enjoy and relate to something you love? We’re also seeing a lot of mixing of genres now that makes for weird, but awesome, hybrids. Like electro-house tracks with trap drops and even using jazz instruments as leads -- it’s great.
Is success physical or internal?
It’s hard to say for me, because it’s really both - internal because when I write a song I like the satisfaction of creating the melody and chords -- you know instantly if it’s “successful”. At the same time, it’s external -- I’m creating my music for others to enjoy so part of the success quotient is seeing if other people enjoy listening to my music as much as I enjoy making it. It’s so great seeing people at a festival or in a club grooving to music you’ve created. That’s the real reward. I’m not too into “things” -- I prefer experiences. There is nothing like the experience of seeing a crowd go off to one of your songs. That’s exactly why my discoverySTAGE experience was so amazing for me.
What’s the most important piece of gear in your studio and why?
My ears. Because production tricks can only get you so far.
If we pressed Shuffle on your iPod while you went to the bathroom, what would you be embarrassed to come back to us listening to?
The theme song from the movie Mulan. So good. Don’t you judge me.
What sound or noise do you love?
Sub bass. It’s hard to work with as a producer, but so sick when it’s right. It makes my entire house shake (sorry roommates).
EDC Las Vegas Set: