- Top 100
April 6, 2012
By: Henry Gould
It’s rather uncanny how often an accident will eventually turn beneficial. My first encounter with Glenn Morrison in March of 2009 was one such case. At the time I was finishing my last term at the University of Western Ontario, on the verge of a brutal final exam schedule, and with the remnants of a rather large and messy St. Patrick’s Day party still littering our house. However, vaguely irresponsible decisions and University life seem to go hand in hand, so naturally the decision was made to head to Toronto for the weekend and attend Guvernment’s Contact event. A friends’ empty apartment presented itself, and with a staggering lineup that included Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery, Menno De Jong, Jerome Isma-Ae and Glenn Morrison, how could we say no? Bags were packed, a car was hired and off we went.
Now, it’s fair to say I overlooked Glenn’s name. At the time, Gareth Emery’s podcast was a weekly feature on my iPod, and Armin and Markus were enjoying their status as the #1 and #8 DJ’s in the world according to this magazine’s annual poll. My naïve excitement was for the big names, and although I had heard of Morrison, his opening set for Markus wasn’t really on my radar.
Fast-forward to the night of the event, and I found myself in the Kool Haus watching Mr. Emery warm up the crowd for Armin. He was doing as good as an opener for Armin can do, which is to say; keep everyone interested, but not too interested. Totally understandable, but when the dark and mysterious labyrinth that is Guvernment is calling your name, you tend to answer. 20 minutes later a friend and I went for a little wander around the complex, eventually stumbling upon Glenn working the main room ahead of the headliner, Markus Schulz. From the moment I entered, the crowd, the music and the vibe were telling me one thing; he was killing it.
Glenn Morrison was born and raised in Toronto, spending a large portion of his childhood studying classical music. Getting up to the level of Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto for classical piano, 14-year-old Glenn started to find favour with the beat of electronic music. The new and foreign sounds of John Digweed, Adam Beyer and Paul Oakenfold started to dominate his listening, and very soon he was collecting records, spinning parties, clubs, and eventually producing music of his own. Using his classical training as the framework, Glenn started learning from the legendary Bruce Aisher, as well as fellow Torontonian Joel Zimmerman (Deadmau5).
In 2007, Contact was featured on Tiësto’s In Search of Sunrise 6, and since then he has more or less rocketed to global stardom. Touring on private jets with David Guetta and Armin Van Buuren, holding a residency at the legendary Amnesia club in Ibiza and playing to crowds of 10,000 or more are just a few of the items now listed on his CV. The former University of Toronto student has pushed his name to the forefront of electronic dance music, crafting unique productions and sets that straddle the lines of house, progressive and trance, while still maintaining a distinctly underground sound. And speaking of sound, the world of audio engineering is another challenge successfully tackled by Morrison. Founding Alpine Mastering in 2010, the company is a Certified A Grade mastering studio, offering bespoke mixing, mastering and ghost writing solutions to the needs of hundreds of musicians. Although professional mixing and mastering is typically a craft taking years to perfect, youthful exuberance and mentoring from industry heavyweights like Airfield Audio’s David Miller and Peerless Mastering’s Jeff Lipton helped propel the business along.
“I went to the school of hard knocks for audio engineering” he says, referring to countless hours spent learning in the studio. “You could say I ‘studied’ under guys like Jeff and David, but I never went to an audio engineering school.” I myself have been a recipient of Alpine’s mastering services, and was extremely happy with the results.
“Many producers and engineers favour a cranked-out production that has been mashed to within an inch of its life that will sound big in the club.” However, Alpine’s motto has always been the opposite, with Glenn choosing instead to focus on “depth, body, warmth and vivacity.” Combine that with a studio full of drool-worthy equipment (Neve Portico Master Buss Compressor / Limiter, Manley Massive Passive Mastering EQ) and it’s no surprise the company mixed and mastered close to 600 records last year.
Flashback to 2009 in Guvernment’s main room, and the first track I remember Glenn playing was Sebastian Ingrosso’s Laktos, which at the time was still in it’s infancy. I had only heard it a day or two before, so to suddenly hear it in the club was very much a Eureka! moment. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably experienced that same excitement of recognizing the track a DJ is playing, and no sooner was that done, Miami to Atlanta by Pryda come blasting its way through the speakers. A little while later he dropped the timeless Crossroads by Zoo Brazil, and in less than an hour I was a certified fan.
“Honestly, I don’t give a shit about genres”, says Morrison in response to my question of what style of music he likes to play. “The overall element is house, but the main ingredient is just great music. The people who try to label stuff miss the whole meaning of what music is for.”
Many DJ’s these days would agree, as an increasing number are seemingly outgrowing the tight confines of their supposed ‘genre’ and expanding their horizons. Deadmau5 has, and probably always will, avoid a pigeonhole while Tiësto and Sander van Doorn have drifted from strictly trance to strictly anything but. This same ability to evolve and stay fluid has afforded Morrison opportunities other DJs would kill for, such as guest mixing John Digweed’s Transitions radio show one day, and rocking the main room of Marquee Las Vegas the next. The ability to please a Vegas club as well as the listeners of the cerebral Transitions is no easy task, yet it’s something he has taken in stride. Purists might call it flip-flopping, but to Morrison it’s all part of the creative process.
So what does the future hold in store for one of Canada’s most talented electronic artists? As they often say, only time will tell, but for Morrison the future of dance music is as bright as its’ ever been.
“Right now in America, dance music is king and it is amazing. The rockstar success of guys like David Guetta and Avicii has propelled the genre to the top of the Billboards, so we should all ride this wave for as long as possible.” Combine this to an intriguing collaboration with Matt Lange (“the work we’re doing right now is extremely exciting, and I can’t wait to share it to everyone when the time is right”), and if the career of Glenn Morrison continues to be anything like that show at Guvernment in 2009, electronic dance music will continue its reign as king.