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Two years ago, Morgan Page decided to minimize his carbon footprint and run his Southern California pad on the power of the sun. After installing solar panels on his roof, his home studio became fueled by sunrays, thus inspiring his latest studio release, DC to Light. We caught up with Page to discuss his more aggressive and electrical album, putting his geeky how-to tips into a forthcoming book release, and plans to incorporate virtual reality into his future tours.

You recently converted your studio to run on solar energy and used that to record your latest album, DC to Light. Tell us about how that process unfolded.
It started two years ago. I got the solar panels, and then I didn’t really think about music at first; I just put them in as a way to make the power go down. I live up in this canyon in Los Angeles, so I thought, “Why not take advantage of this sun that’s just baking my roof?” Around that time, I started production on the record, so I got it set up. It powers my car, it powers the house, it powers the studio, and in my own little cool, techy way, I integrated technology into the house.

How did that inspire the direction you took with this album?
Going solar was the big inspiration. It served as a cool metaphor for the album. The main idea is that DC to Light means full frequency, so it’s directly a more aggressive, electrical-sounding album than my other releases in the past. The older albums are a little mellower and a little more melancholy, so that was kind of the theme of this record. Even though DC to light is sort of the lowest to highest frequency, solar power would be light to DC. You never know what your subconscious influences are going to do when you are making music, but to me, the studio sound is a little different because the sun informs the record. That may be a stretch, but it’s physically and literally in the record, which I think is cool.

This project is more aggressive in terms of my choice of how I layered things. There is more distortion. There are definitely more mellow tracks on there, too, like “Safe Till Tomorrow.” It’s important to not do a whole aggressive album start to finish, but it’s got highlights in there that are more aggressive.

You had a lot of guest vocalists appear on the record. How did those collaborations come about?
It was mostly new vocalists. I think we had 12 different singers total. Lissie is on this record, Meiko, Angela McCluskey, but a lot of new names like Britt Daley, Chris Batson, whose voices I loved. I loved the textures of their voices, and it brought in interesting new tones—versus more established singers like Angela and Lissie, who have a more kind of sawdust, groovy voice, and Meiko, who has a very different voice.

How do you go about finding some of these new lesser-known singers?
Usually, my favorite way to do it is to go through the live acoustic environment. A place like Hotel Café [in Los Angeles] is a really good resource for that. I saw one of my vocalists perform there and could literally visualize her singing my songs while she was playing live. I love hearing vocals and trying to mentally pair them up to what I’m working on. While they are singing their songs, I play my songs in my head and see if I can hear it synching up. That’s fun, because there’s no autotune; there are no effects. You can really hear the songwriting.

“You can’t be afraid of failing.”

After going through this whole process of converting to solar, what did you learn about solar energy and the science behind it? Are you hip on the entire nerdy solar lingo now?
I am still on the grid. So, I can take power from the sun; I can take from the grid; I can mix both sometimes. But I have enough of the solar panels to power the entire studio. The system I have is no larger than a four-kilowatt system. Each day, it generates 25 kilowatt-hours. There is a power wall that allows you to use power during hot-spot peak moments, and that allows you to store power in case there is an earthquake or a disaster. If you have that power saved up, you’re off the grid and you are safe for a power loss, which is really important for a studio and saving all that data, because you can lose your songs. That was one worry I had early on. If I had a cloudy day or something, could I lose some of my material?

Have you had issues in the past with losing data due to power outages?
It wasn’t the power going out, but I’ve had drives lose power. When I bought the new MacBook Pro, it switched off and on a few times, and I deleted about 10 terabytes of data. I was able to actually recover it, but it was pretty scary. When these companies warn you about power failures and drives, they are not kidding!

You have a book coming out this fall, which will provide fans with many of your MP Quick Tips.
I have tips from all the geeky stuff, like making sure your computers don’t blow up and proper backups, as well as some more creative questions. These are a lot of creative and technical questions I’ve been asked throughout my whole career. I wanted to have them in one place. I took daily tips, and that evolved into a blog and Twitter and Instagram account. I am compiling all of these into a print book, which is on the way. I hired an illustrator, and I’m working on that process. But the one central concept is that I’m distilling complex ideas into bite-size tips. These are things you can wrap your head around quickly, and your eyes don’t glaze over. When you read tip books, they are often paragraphs long, and you can tune them out. I wanted them quicker, universal ideas.

As the years have gone by and the music industry has changed, how have you evolved in your process and the way you do things as a DJ and a producer?
I think the first way would be evolving your sound. You have to keep reinventing your sound but not be cheap and [and not be a] copycat. You have to be ahead of the fans, be ahead of your industry. I think it’s a mix of incorporating your sound and coming up with fresh ideas, which is a very hard thing to do. Every year, I’ve tried to change up the sound a little bit, make sure the music is connecting, make sure I’m not just repeating myself or creating something for a specific audience. I’ve also tried to bring in more technology and change that aspect of the show, so people can literally touch the lyrics; the lyrics will literally pop out in your face. And we’re going to do some cool stuff with virtual reality for the next tour. I can’t say too much about that right now. It’s an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process. So it takes a lot of production planning. But it’s worth it! You have to make your show different from everyone else.

What are you tips for staying relevant and also ahead of the industry?
You can’t be afraid of failing. I definitely am an early adopter of technology. There are times when you try things out and they work, and other times they don’t. I had Google Glass, and I thought it was going to be great. I ended up not liking it, and it’s just sitting in a box, and I spent $2,000 on it. You have to take some creative risks, but you have to make sure your music is going over well with people because if it isn’t, then you have to change your course.

DC to Light from Morgan Page is available now on Nettwerk.

Follow Nicole Pajer on Twitter.

All photos by Devin Colvin.

Follow Morgan Page on Facebook | Twitter



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