The path to be a musician can be tough. It has been even more of a challenge in the world of electronic music where new sounds, new names, and new music come out every day. The stories of how these individuals were able to really make a name for themselves differ, and as fans, we crave these success stories. On October 6, just hours before the Groove Cruise L.A. ship set sail for Mexico, Festival Squad sat down with Zack Morgan, better known by his producer name CONVEX. He has a unique story in that his success story includes Insomniac, a contest, a guitar background and a physics class.
While in college, CONVEX entered the dance music community after being hooked to trance stars Above & Beyond. He found himself listening to Trace Around The World, the duo’s radio show before Group Therapy. His career started from that point. “I kind of wanted to dive into dance music community and then start playing some parties and then deejaying around the college campus where I went to school,” Morgan says. After deejaying he began to explore the world of editing and eventually that lead him into production.
The most incredible part to Zack’s story is how he was actually discovered. Insomniac hosts a Discovery Contest, as they did in 2014 when CONVEX won, and this contest allows artists to submit their tracks and compete for a spot to play live at EDC Las Vegas. Morgan recalls, “I know that’s how I first caught their eye was Discovery Project 2014. That seems like a while ago now. But they’ve been my biggest proponent since the beginning of show/playing/touring career. And just helping really get my name and brand and sound out there. Shout to the guys Insomniac.” And the rest has been history. CONVEX has now played at major Insomniac festivals such as Nocturnal Wonderland, he continues to produce future bass bangers, and now has two Groove Cruise sets as feathers in his festival cap.
CONVEX shows no signs of slowing down in his journey to the top. In just a few short weeks, CONVEX will be releasing his newest EP. November 7th will mark what CONVEX is all about. “The thing about this EP is I really feel like it it encapsulates my brand and sound. Better than most stuff that I’ve written.”
After two incredible performances aboard Groove Cruise, we have a feeling that this EP is something that you can’t miss.
Festival Squad: Hi Festival Squad! Today we’re sitting down with L.A. native Zack, better known as CONVEX. He has been incredibly busy with Insomniac, recently having played at Nocturnal Wonderland. Today we sit here on Groove Cruise L.A.; ready for a wild weekend as we venture down to Mexico. Zack! Thank you for being with us.
CONVEX: Thanks so much for having me doing this interview, appreciate it.
Festival Squad: Absolutely. So let’s start off with just your name. Tell me… where did it come from?
CONVEX: Oh man, its a really nerdy story. OK. So I actually started in the dance music community in college. I come from a band background. I know in college that there weren’t a lot of bands really getting around to playing. I kind of wanted to dive into dance music community and then start playing some parties and then deejaying around the college campus where I went to school. And so the name actually came from a physics book and it’s really nerdy but I think initially I just kind of saw it more visually than just hearing the name. I saw like a logo and the graphics that could go with it and kind of like how I could combine that with the branding and the sound. And I was thinking of moving towards but yeah it came from a physics book. I just read it and I was like yeah it’s pretty cool.
Festival Squad: So are you a science nerd then?
CONVEX: Yeah. So I was bio in college until I realized halfway through junior year that it was not really my thing. So I switched over to International Studies. And that’s when I graduated with. Anyway, I’m kind of a nerd though.
Festival Squad: I love this story. So tell me though how does it feel to know that you’re playing not only one but two sets here on this awesome ship that we are on now.
CONVEX: I’m psyched for it. Yeah. The first set I decided to kind of go two separate directions. The first one is going to be kind of my main sound, like the melodic bass that I produce and what I usually play at clubs and festivals. And then the second one is going to be kind of a more underground and deeper like we’re getting kind of sexual with the house music. Yeah. I’m really psyched for both. It should be a good opening to get some people party out there.
Festival Squad: Awesome that sounds great. Well I am looking forward to it so I’ll be catching you at both sets for sure.
CONVEX: Thank you.
Festival Squad: So when and where did you realize that you wanted to pursue becoming a deejay. I know you mentioned physics but how did where did it stem from. Did you have any inspiration specifically?
CONVEX: So I guess I got I went into this in the first answer but I came from a very live music band background all through middle school and high school. I went to high school in Hawaii and I was in bands there and so I experienced a lot of different types of music throughout my earlier years. Once I got to college like I said I really wanted to maintain that musicality and keeping the live element alive in my in my own life. Noticing that there weren’t a lot of bands playing. I first started deejaying and then I wanted to make it more unique to my own sound and myself. So I went into making edits. I feel like it’s like a very cliché way some deejays kind of make it into the scene. And then eventually into production. I guess initially it was just kind of like a thirst to create. Or to maintain like my own musicality through college.
Festival Squad: Sure. And. What have some of your bigger musical inspirations been at this point? You can name a couple I’m sure they’ve got tons.
CONVEX: In dance music?
Festival Squad: Yes in dance music!
CONVEX: Well I started out like a total trance head. So the first thing that really kind of caught my eye, or ear rather, was Trance Around the World which is Above and Beyond’s radio show. I think its Group Therapy now. I listened to that all the time in school but geeze lately… it’s really hard to say there’s a ton. I’d say Flosstradamus. KRANE. San Holo. I mostly produce future bass and a mix of genres in that way. Some are escaping me now. But those three.
Festival Squad: Those are great and I’m fans of all of them. So I know that you talked a little bit about having been in a band and everything and I’d like to know how as a guitarist, which is what you were previously, how has that transitioned into what you’re doing today. Do you feel like you’re using a lot of the skills from when you did play guitar?
CONVEX: Yeah. Well. I think if you come from a live instrument background you definitely take some of the stuff with you. In terms of being able to put chord progressions together. I think, at least in terms of strings, I take the soloing aspect of guitar because that was one of my favorite things to do and that’s translated really well for me in terms of creating melodies. And for future bass and all the melodic type of music that I make, it works pretty well.
Festival Squad: Sounds like it’s really helped you. And obviously being a musician and having a background in music. It’s really interesting because we’ve spoken with other artists that didn’t have that musical background. So it’s neat to hear how it’s progressed from you know the guitar to the trance and now what you’re doing now.
CONVEX: It is kind of a little weird path.
Festival Squad: It makes you unique. So I think that’s awesome. So now what about other live instruments? Are there any other live instruments that you play besides guitar?
CONVEX: Guitar is the main one I kind of messed around with with bass and drums but I’d say guitar has really been the bread and butter of the last 10 or 12 years. So yeah guitar is the main one for sure.
Festival Squad: So I’m going to go back now to Groove Cruise since we are on this awesome ship talking right now. So is this your first Groove Cruise?
CONVEX: It’s my first cruise ever. And yes definitely my first Groove Cruise. Its sick so far and I’m loving it.
Festival Squad: I was going to say how do you feel about the energy and knowing that all of these people that are boarding this ship are going to be coming here and watching you. Does that get you really pumped up?
CONVEX: I can’t believe that there’s no one really on the ship yet and already the vibe is really cool. I know everyone I’ve talked to including you and all the media people…everything is been dope so far but I’m sure once everyone is onboard all of all the fans here it’s going to get crazy.
Festival Squad: I love it. Any pre-show rituals to kind of get you ready to take the stage?
CONVEX: Hmm.. I don’t know about rituals. I mean no matter how many shows I play I always feel like I’m going to throw up before. I get super nervous you know, no matter what. I don’t know about rituals but once I’m on on stage I’m on the deck some laser focus and I’m good.
Festival Squad: I love that. So what are you most looking forward to over the weekend and I’m sure you’re super excited to take the stage. But, in terms of the ship itself anything that you’re excited to do or take part in?
CONVEX: Oh man, so much. Definitely sets like you mentioned. I don’t know I really just want to meet a whole bunch of people this weekend I haven’t been on a Holy Ship or a Groove Cruise and I’ve always been in the on land festivals. So I think being, for lack of a better term, locked on a boat with everyone is going to be cool.
Festival Squad: Awesome. So I know you do have an EP. So lets get into that. I know it’s coming out next month, so congratulations on that. That is super exciting. So tell us a little bit more about the process to get that launched and out there and how you feel about it. I’m going to let you take the stage.
CONVEX: All right. I’m psyched its coming out with Insomniac. I’ve been sitting on these records for kind of a long time now. And they’re three of my favorites that I’ve ever written. The thing about this EP is I really feel like it it encapsulates my brand and sound. Better than most stuff that I’ve written. Three songs. The first one is called ‘Diniche’, second is ‘All We Need’. And the third one is ‘You Never’. It’s really it’s a cool group of songs. I’m working with a really talented graphic artist on the art too, Motis. The art and graphics are looking really cool. So I’m psyched about next month. It should be good.
Festival Squad: Great. And tell us a little bit more about your relationship with Insomnaic. If I’m not mistaken, you won a contest?
Festival Squad: So tell us a little bit about that. Because I think a lot of fans are inspired by that kind of story.
CONVEX: Right. Yeah I know that’s how I first caught their eye was Discovery Project 2014. That seems like a while ago now. But yeah they’ve been my biggest proponent since like the beginning of show/playing/touring career. And just helping really get my name and brand and sound out there. Shout to the guys Insomniac. If you’re listening.. Joe and Greg and everyone in the record office. Yeah you know they’ve just been amazing and they’ve put on the most insane shows. You know, it’s Festival Squad. I know they’ve been really awesome.
Festival Squad: We love hearing that. So just one more question here and this is a big one so go into as much detail as you can. What is next for CONVEX? What is next for you.
CONVEX: What is next. Well I mean short term I think I’m really going to focus on pushing the EP. It’s really important to me both personally and from an artist perspective. I’ve been working on those songs for a while. So that’s short term. I think 2018 is going to be a really pivotal year for me in terms of the kind of music that I’m making. I’m shifting a little bit towards some heavier sounds lately that’s what’s catching my ear. Working with a new team and on some branding stuff. I’m working really hard in the studio. I’m kind of stoked that it’s winter coming up in the industry slowing down. So I get to kind of lock myself in a room and work on music full time. Yeah it’s a lot of music planning some some 2018 dates some big ones. And thats all for now.
Festival Squad: That sounds great. Well thank you so much for talking to us.
CONVEX: Thank you so much.
Festival Squad: We’ll see you out there.