Morgan Page: The Flow State

Twice Grammy-nominated producer/DJ and remixer, Morgan Page, sits down with Headliner in Las Vegas to discuss his 'Quick Tips' masterclass at JBL Fest, where he was challenged to create a track from scratch – 'in the room' - in just one hour. His zen-like workflow is something to behold, and it's all documented within a unique deck of cards...

Tell us about Quick Tips, and what inspired you to create them...

Sure. It actually took me eight years to develop these [Quick Tip] cards, and the crazy thing is that each one of them could unlock anyone's creative potential in some way. And you don't have to be a music producer to take advantage of them. I essentially started to write 'tips' down – and that led to 900 of them in one big spreadsheet! They first started out as tweets: I wanted to know if I was able to encapsulate these creative ideas and compress them into one place, which is really tough to do. So I randomised them on Twitter so there would be three updates each day, then I took the best of those and turned it into this card deck.

Quite the task! And the key, you say, is that they're all 'actionable'...

Yes. They each have a powerful visual with a short headline and a tip. I wanted something you could shuffle, and still stay creative. They're like little sparks to get you going - to get into that flow state, that's the whole purpose. You could focus on one card or a cluster of cards, especially if you're doing a collaborative session with somebody else - using the cards to re-cultivate your taste and approach so you're not making the same song over and over.

Any of these cards can help unlock someone's creative potential. Morgan Page

What a good cure these could be for creative block, too...

Yeah, start with the spark that begins the process, exactly. The whole point of writing them was to have a reference so I wouldn't forget the ideas; you know, if you make music for 25 years, you kind of forget what works at some point, and then you have to re-cultivate your instincts and then get back to it – or you get stuck working with one sound.

I am always looking at ways to speed up the process so I'm not spending too much time on the same song; that's kind of the creative suffering you can get into, if you're stuck on one song and a label can't articulate the feedback, maybe. That's when collaboration helps a lot. I think the most important part is to push past the roadblocks: you can stay in the weeds for a minute, but you've got to get out of there..! [laughs]

And these cards aren't just for artists and music producers, right?

Exactly. And that's partly why the masterclass so interesting, because it wasn't an audience necessarily of producers, so I was trying to figure out a way to make it relatable. Some people were influencers, some were speaker experts; there was a real variety of people on it. So it made me think: if I could create a song that provides a glimpse into my day-to-day workflow, it could be good and compelling to a wider audience. After all, you can just make music for fun and not have the burden of having to make it sustainable as a career and have a monthly pay check from it. So I think there is some purity for doing it for art's sake – and if it takes off, great. And part of the focus with the masterclass was for content creation in general; I think there was a lot of value in there for the crossover audience: people creating videos and short reels. They see ideas, so yeah, it's not just for music producers.

I found JBL Fest was great. There was a real vibe to it. Morgan Page

How did you find JBL Fest experience? And tell us a bit about your relationship with the JBL brand...

I found JBL Fest great. I had never been before, but it was so polished and well put together – it was also a much bigger production than I'd expected. There was a real vibe to it. And what was really cool [about doing the masterclass] was that the [JBL] guys just let me do my thing; they really wanted me to track the session live, which was cool, and a fun challenge – I had limited time and on stage there. But the coolest part was that everything went so smoothly, and because there are so many experts in audio gear [on the team], everything worked and sounded great, with no latency. And what I really like with these guys is that they see the vision. Sometimes when you have creative cards and things like this, people don't get it, but it's cool as JBL understand and everyone in the team had a favourite card! They personally were so invested in the project, which meant a lot to me, and hopefully we'll do another seminar... Maybe we'll do a book or something next, I don't know?

Now that sounds like a good idea... There are some great books on audio, but many of them are pretty old now; and I think the way you approached that masterclass – very much with a modern mindset – had a great simplicity to it, regardless of the level of tech you were working with or talking about, so I think emerging producers and artists could really benefit from such a product. I'd read it, anyway...

Yeah, I think it's funny as the cards are almost like a book... but just not bound together, as there's no spine to it. But then when I look at the most useful books out there on music, I don't keep them on the studio desk... [pauses] So maybe there is a way to magnetically bind them together or something? [laughs] But either way you could certainly turn the cards into book form – they just need to be stitched together in some way!

Exactly! And finally, what's next for you, Morgan?

Basically, a lot of touring and a bunch of new singles for [record labels] Armada and Spinnin'. And I'm cooking up the next card deck and where to take these next tips. I'd love to build it into something that I could take out on the road. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people want to do music for fun, not even to sell or even make records... So I think there is a huge opportunity to teach people in that way where it's influencers who want to dabble in it and just be able to learn a new skill, and I think there is also a lot of excitement around re-education: how to learn really quickly and be able to jump around and try new careers. So I think that's a focus of the Quick Tips, as that expands.