Interview: Joel Morgan

Joel Morgan is a Detroit-based DJ and producer associated with the Blank Code and MINTEC labels, also featured on the roster for the recently created booking agency Modified Artists. 

I know that prior to working with Blank Code, you were one of the creators of MINTEC, a record label that seeks to combine the best elements of techno and minimal. Do you find that the minimal style still influences the sound of your DJ sets and productions?

There’s a lot of minimal elements that I tend to use, not just in music, but my everyday life. I try not to clutter things. Keep it clean and simple. If you have too much goin on at once, not only does it sound bad but you can get overwhelmed and lost in your set. It’s the versatility and the non-linear approach that makes it interesting and different every time.

By extension of your work with Blank Code, you’ve also been added to the Modified Artists booking agency roster, which is run by one of the Blank Code co-creators. It’s pretty likely that this will result in a drastic increase in out-of-state gigs. Are you excited about that prospect, anxious about it, or both?

I’m beyond excited. Chad does a really great job managing the Blank Code label and all the artists. I have no doubt that he will do the same for modified artists. We have a really solid roster so far with some heavy-hitters like Luis Flores, DJ Hyperactive, Audio Injection and Drumcell to name a few. Those guys have had such a huge influence on me and my music career, I feel honored to be on the same team.

If you could pick one venue, event series, or festival to play at in the US, which would it be?

Without a doubt, Movement Festival here in Detroit. It’s much more than just playing a festival in my home town, it’s more about what Movement stands for and where electronic music is headed. To me, Movement is about the deep roots of techno and Detroit. The Paxahau crew does a great job preserving that. It seems like there’s a new festival popping up every month and a lot of them are focused around the glitz, glamour, neon and sparkles, which is fine, but that’s just not for me. Movement cuts right through all that and showcases the most important thing, the music.

More locally speaking, things seem to be changing fast in Detroit. In my opinion, the “scene” seems to be on the up-swing in terms of show attendance, vibe, and development of new artists. Where do you think the Detroit scene is headed in the next five years?

The scene, at least in Detroit, has a tendency to go in waves. You’ll have a few years of it kind of being slow, then a few years of it on the up swing. We’re in an up swing right now that happens to be “commercially backed”. We’ve all heard of this “EDM bubble”. Naturally the EDM craze will settle down and people will move on to the next big thing. But in Detroit, techno is here to stay.

What about in the next twenty years?

That’s tough to say. Of course I’d love to see techno stick around forever, but it could go in many different directions. In twenty years, it could have the same outcome as disco or be as impactful as rock and roll and be a huge part of the music industry for many years. It will be interesting what the next couple decades will bring us.

What are your personal goals, as far as music goes? How far do you want to take this?

I’m not in this for money or fame or anything of that nature. I truly enjoy creating and playing music, meeting new people, traveling new places and just the overall experience of being an artist. As long as I can do that, I’m a happy camper. One thing I do enjoy is teaching others about the music and the equipment and the science behind it all. Maybe one day I’ll become a professor (laughs).

In my older years, I can see myself working more behind the scenes of the music industry. Hopefully hardware design (yes, I have two degrees in Electronic Engineering) some of you know that I already have a few home made modular pieces and am designing a monophonic synth.

Alright, and we’ll end with the same question we always do. Which up-and-coming artists or labels are inspiring you right now?

Drumcell is a well established producer, but I’m really digging his new “Sleep Complex” album on CLR. The whole sound of the EP is really inspiring. I love that he breaks the traditional “four on the floor” pattern and comes up with some neat ways to lay some kick drums down.