Morgan Geist on the Retro House Revival:
"90 Percent of It Is Completely Boring"
DJ-producer Morgan Geist has no special qualms about you calling his sound retro. After all, his work as Metro Area with Darshan Jesrani boasts unmistakable strains of vintage disco, P-Funk, and '80s synth-pop.
But when it comes to his latest incarnation as Storm Queen with vocalist Damon C. Scott, Geist is adamant about the specific sonic references. Namely, he wants to shake off the perception that he's jumped aboard EDM's current bandwagon of '90s house revivalism.
"Honestly, I hope it's not lumped in with that," Geist tells Crossfade.
"I made my way through the '90s, [and] I disliked most house music. I was listening to Detroit techno, and the primary house stuff I listened to was called 'tracks' -- minimal, raw dance records, usually from Chicago. I'd say those elements, along with disco and R&B, are much bigger influences. So despite people relating Storm Queen to a resurgence, I hope the music is strong enough to stand on its own."
But any longtime fan of Geist will tell you that he's just being paranoid about getting pigeonholed with the dime-a-dozen '90s house revivalists saturating the Beatport charts. He is a notorious perfectionist who epitomizes the quality-over-quantity ethos, releasing records only sporadically but offering up gems each time.
Case in point: Metro Area's eponymous 2002 debut album, which pushed dance music production's envelope and remains a timeless classic among fans today. And Storm Queen is certainly no exception. Sure, chart-toppers like "Look Right Through" and "It Goes On" have that '90s vocal dance thing going on, but they're also rich pop masterstrokes destined to stay in DJs' record bags for years.
"I'm aware of the late-'80s and '90s resurgence," Geist says. "[But] 90 percent of it is completely boring to me, because it's not difficult to ape old low-tech records with new technology and 20/20 hindsight. The difficult (or impossible) part is capturing the naïve and groundbreaking nature of the old records you're aping -- they'll never be as good! So I try to avoid that trap, and try to thwart anything purely retro. I think it's a good producer's responsibility to at least try to do something different."
You'll get a chance to hear just how differently Mr. Geist can do it when he throws down at the Delano Hotel for Young Hearts' monthly soirée on November 13.
What to expect? "My DJing is representative of all my influences," Geist explains. "Since it's under the Storm Queen name, I may play a bit more house -- but disco, boogie, and some classic techno will definitely sneak in there."
Morgan Geist. With Andrew Ward, Bonnie Beats, Baby Sean & Inbal. Tuesday, November 13. Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at 9 p.m. and admission is free with RSVP to YoungHearts@KloudIX.co. Call 305-672-2000 or visit delano-hotel.com.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.