We got the chance to sit down and chat with one of 2017’s hottest rising artists, CONVEX. Los Angeles native Zack Morgan has been all over the map this year with appearances at prestigious festivals such as Nocturnal Wonderland and Groove Cruise. It’s been a steady rise for Zack ever since he won Insomniac’s Discovery Project back in 2014. Now CONVEX is finally releasing his debut EP Remembrance, out today. We chatted with Zack about his origins as a musician, his growth as a producer, where he draws inspiration from, and what’s next for CONVEX. Here’s what Zack had to say.
Hey Zack! CONVEX is really on the rise. Tell us a little about yourself and your musical background.
“Working super hard so thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to chat!
One thing I can tell you is I’ve never been a fan of labels. I’m half White and half Korean so I’m inherently a blend. In Hawaii, it’s called ‘Hapa’ – it means ‘half’ – I like that. I don’t think people are supposed to be one thing or to be limited. Life isn’t black or white even though there’s a lot of bullshit telling you it is.
I’ve been interested in music for as long as I can remember. When I was three, my parents bought me a little drum set that I used to absolutely wail on. Before that, I would bang on the pots and pans in the kitchen. Drums are still one of my favorite things to play but half of me also loves playing guitar. I started when I was eight and ended up playing showcases all over LA before moving to Honolulu. Hawaii exposed me to some super cool genres of music like ska and reggae – I still listen to this day when I need a break. Suffice it to say, I’ve always felt that music was in my blood.
Musically, I’m Hapa in a way too – I’m produce and play on opposite sides of the spectrum because I love how two opposite things can blend together and create something unique.”
I heard you were a rock guitarist. What led you to switch over to electronic music and how did you find your voice in that realm?
“My story in dance music really started in college at UCSB. It has a pretty awesome nightlife scene so I figured I’d join or form a band and play parties. But when I got there I was surprised to see that all the people gigging around were DJ’s. It’s pretty lame but I ended up downloading Virtual DJ first to just mess around with it… Thankfully I eventually got a controller and Traktor. Naturally the DJing evolved into producing. For the record, I don’t buy into the Musician vs. Producer thing – they are both musical in their own way. I wish everyone just looked out for each other a little more. Good music is good music.
Initially, Above & Beyond was my favorite so I tried my hand producing trance. I wasn’t until later that I realized how sick bass music was so that’s what I do primarily now. I still love trance but bass shows are absolutely insane.”
You’ve already played a bunch of Insomniac festivals, including EDC, what’s it like to be asked to play such big festivals by one of the top event promoters in the world?
“It’s really humbling to be honest. Every show has been a gift. I think sometimes I forget just how huge Insomniac festivals are… and then I show up and every time it pretty overwhelming (in a good way). I actually still get super nervous before every show. No matter how ready I am and how psyched I am to play, I almost want to throw up right before I step up. It must energize me because my Insomniac shows have been my best performances ever. I cannot thank them enough for the opportunity – they’ve been so amazing and supportive.”
Tell us a little bit about your day-to-day as a producer?
“I definitely drink a lot of coffee. I think a lot of people don’t think of this as a full time job. It’s definitely a fun job and one that I feel so lucky and grateful to have but the work actually doesn’t stop. It’s like 24/7. Whether it’s prepping a new set for a show, reaching out on social media, doing press coverage, songwriting or recording, there’s not much time left in the day to relax. Even when I finally chill, there’s always a song bouncing around in my head.
That being said, I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I’m definitely a night owl so I stay up until five or six in the morning working on music. Not sure why, but I’m one thousand times more creative at night. I try to wake up around noon to catch everyone during “normal person” hours and get business stuff done. But that completely opposite schedule is rough sometimes.
Being a guitar player helps my producing so much because it really informs how I write melodies and how I approach chord structure. Sometimes when I get stuck on a track, I pick up my guitar and play until I break through my block. I tend to always gravitate towards melody as opposed to hard synths or complex rhythms… though I’m starting to experiment a lot in my new tunes.”
Your EP Remembrance is set to come out soon. Tell us about the tracks? What was the inspiration for it and how you’ve grown as a producer over the past year?
“Super excited about the full EP being released November 21st – ‘Dainichi’ is the first single we put out. Little secret is that I’ve been sitting on ‘Dainichi’ for a pretty long time. I wrote the music more than a year ago and have re-written it no less than 10 times since then. It’s crazy to me how your ears and taste can change over the period of even a couple months. Then kind of recently it all just came together perfectly. ‘Dainichi’ is my take on the fusion of two different cultures – the traditional with the technological. Within the song there’s this fusion jazz break that is super different. My visual artist friend MOTUS (@vjmotus) put together this really cool video that illustrates that dichotomy perfectly. It’s so next level. The second track is called ‘All We Need’ – it’s probably the most in your face mix of genres on the EP with half being future bass and half being hybrid trap. The last song is ‘You Never’ – it’s about how we never know when positive or negative experiences will happen to us. It’s up to us to take a leap of faith into what we’re doing and just trust that it works out for the best.”
What’s next after the EP?
“So much cool stuff! I’m always working on new music – actually really looking forward to the winter months when the industry slows down so I can lock myself in the studio and focus 100% on finishing this new batch of tracks for the next record. I just changed my entire team in September so we are right in the middle of planning dates for 2018 so the plan is to announce those shows soon. Really excited for that – playing live is absolutely one of my favorite things to do so it’s always great to get on the road.”
Check out CONVEX’s Remembrance EP below.