Germany might have given us Kraftwerk, the progenitor to everything electronic, but it was a Detroit genre that galvanised them into a bubbling cesspool of dance music. As thriving as that scene was, it was only until Paul van Dyk’s remix of Humate’s ‘Love Stimulation’ that something wholly deutsch was born; trance. Having had 18 years of experience in the genre, Alex M.O.R.P.H. was the second generation of DJs to follow the footsteps of Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren – naturally his popularity can be credited to his co-options of their tracks as well as his seminal originals ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘Life Less Ordinary’. Hell, you might have dug a trance track without even knowing it was his – Alex lives up to his namesake, he’s an amorphous DJ-producer who have had multiple aliases. A man who changes is a man who isn’t afraid to evolve, JUICE speaks to him on staying to your roots while still growing, his stage name, and miscellaneous topics.
First off, something we’ve been wondering – does M.O.R.P.H stand for anything?
I had a fav track in the early years I started DJing which was from Spicelab called ‘Amorph’. It kicked me totally out of the roof. I liked it so much that I thought about some options to make it distinctive for me. Also, ‘Amorph’ means unformed, or formless, which for me means I’m not to be categorised in the way I look. In the early years, I often changed my style when it comes to clothes, haircut, beard colour, etcetera. So, ‘Amorph’ was the perfect word for me.
You’ve been loyal to trance but you are also not opposed to following its evolution. How do you balance the two?
Of course as an artiste you have to follow the music’s evolution. Otherwise you will be stuck at some point. Music always evolves, always moves forward. New sounds, better quality, new effects, new ways of arranging a production, new mastering tools, and etcetera, etcetera – there are many examples. The change is happening all the time. It’s just about how you do it. If you do it too radical, it moves in a wrong direction and will be hardly accepted by your diehard fans. So be gentle and more importantly; never cut your roots. This helps you to stay original.
With more than 15 years under your belt, what would say was the hardest part about doing what you do?
The hardest part is to keep up the quality and to keep your fanbase happy over so many years. Sometimes, especially when I try to do some new stuff, it’s impossible to please everyone. There will always be some people who won’t like it and want the “standard M.O.R.P.H.” stuff back (whatever their own definition of it is!). I don’t wanna lose my loyal fans, but I also wanna be allowed to do something different from time to time without having people be disappointed or call me names. This is a bit of a struggle sometimes. But luckily most of my fans are very tolerant and open to my art.
We read an interview with you from 3 years back where you spoke about how easy DJs can gain exposure today. Do you think that fact has worsened the ratio of good to bad DJs somewhat?
Yes, it’s easy to promote yourself. But it’s hard to gain exposure because the market is so flooded as everybody wants to be a DJ nowadays, and everybody has his own podcast and Soundcloud, or using other platforms to make themselves heard. A good DJ still needs a professional agency to do the business and marketing, because there are even more bad DJs who are spamming the whole internet (laughs). It’s not easy to stand out against them, even if you are better DJ.
On a personal level, what do you get from playing to an appreciative crowd?
It’s just a fantastic feeling if you have an appreciative crowd going mad to your music. It gives you chills all over because it shows that you are doing something right — both personally and professionally. If you have people showing respect to your art and your performance, it’s one of the best feelings you can have. It makes you happy and proud, and it makes you keep doing what you are doing.
Alex M.O.R.P.H. played at Elements of Sound: Rise of The Red Knights last Saturday 15 February ‘14.