Last week I wrote an article discussing an upcoming original series called Momentum. Based on a true story, Momentum is the story of main character Michael Morris, a struggling blue collar producer/DJ and his rise to sudden fame. The show aims to create an accurate depiction of the music industry, hitting on a variety of different topics.
This week I was fortunate enough to speak with the creator of Momentum Michael C. Morello and learn a little more about him. Besides creating Momentum, Michael has a number of years in the music and acting fields which give him powerful insight to the industry as a whole. Check it out!
Epic Productions: Tell us a little about yourself and what made you get into the music scene (specifically the electronic music scene).
To keep it short and to the point, I moved to NYC to study theater and film and needed a job to survive so I started bar-backing at Webster Hall over ten years ago. At that time the “electronic music” I was introduced to at the venue was groups like MGMT, Empire of the Sun,Of Montreal, and similar. Being around it every night….night after night...you start to resonate with the progressive sounds. I’m happy you say electronic music here because you will never hear me use the term “EDM”. EDM makes me think of internet trolls who use their mom’s money to buy festival tickets...
Epic Productions: What’s your experience in the music industry? Is there anything you found to be especially helpful to get you where you are today?
I climbed ranks until I was a venue operator and events/promotions marketer at Webster Hall. Then they sent me to get Slake, Webster Hall’s sister venue, up and running for about 3 years. I graduated to warehouse events for various large scale companies. Currently I am focusing on what will be NYC’s largest event space in Bushwick opening later this year. Working hard and getting involved in as much as possible helped me find myself in the driver's seat of many music events. Being able to network with people making moves in the industry also helped. In the beginning I didn’t initially find my job to be that fun, it was work, so the distractions were limited which helped me not get sidetracked early on.
Epic Productions: Running as many clubs and events as you have, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen?
HA. Well…I cannot really get into detail but there will be a lot of it sprinkled into the show. Lets just say clubs and events can sometimes be like the wild west. All in all, if I had to pick something crazy, it would be feeling the energy Skrillex brings for the first time. In 2011 he and Tommy Lee played Webster Hall and the room was in complete and utter ridiculous revelry. The floor was literally shaking up and down a good 2 inches (It’s designed for that). That night was epic.
Epic Productions: What kinds of things go into creating large scale events?
It depends. One offs in warehouses require a certain set of tasks very different from what venue events require. A lot of planning and directing all the moving parts goes into both. Film, Theater, Events, they all feel the same to me. You have to prepare for something to go wrong and be ready for it while at the same time not be too controlling of the crowd. My first priority is safety. Next would be selling tickets. If it is the other way around it is a dangerous recipe. Artists make good money these days along with the vendors hired for these large events. The shit ain’t cheap! And a lot of events don’t turn massive profits like some might think.
Epic Productions: Of the events you’ve put on, which one has been your favorite and which one has been the most challenging? Why?
My favorite has also been my most challenging. Cityfox events are the best. These guys are purists. They truly love the music and care about their audience. Working with The Brooklyn Mirage has been a large challenge but that’s because it’s a massive endeavor. All we can do is push forward and prove the concept. I’m excited to reveal the space with the geniuses behind it later this year.
Epic Productions: Who are you listening to right now? Favorite artist?
I don’t have a favorite. I listen to what my friends play. Anything coming out of the collective Moving Castle, the Webster Hall Friday party Girls and Boys. The likes of Prince Fox and Choppa Dunks have my attention right now. I love to support the local NYC artists because I’ve grown up with them. They are all incredibly talented without the mass recognition they deserve. I would choose any of them over a “commercial EDM artist” any day.
Epic Productions: Having such a wide range of knowledge in this industry what do you think it takes to be successful?
Health - if you want a long career in this industry you can not get roped into the party. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Find the good people in the scene, not ones that you think will get you ahead….and find a way to ignore the bullshit.
Epic Productions: Besides music, acting, and producing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love nature and the outdoors. Having mind enhanced experiences in the woods. Hiking, cliff jumping, it is a peaceful reset for me.
Epic Productions: Do you have any recommendations for anyone looking to get into this industry?
Make sure you like high intensity environments. Something as small as walking through a crowd can be overwhelming. Also adapt to the late nights. This industry is always evolving from venue to warehouse to festival to a private loft and so on. Go with the flow, meet people, don’t go out to get fucked up. Lastly, easier said than done, find a reputable company to work with and be patient once you’re in the door.
Epic Productions: What can we expect from you in the next year or so?
My team and I are putting everything we have into Momentum to tell a real story/time capsule of the electronic music world like it hasn’t been told, a story about the things our generation faces. We have no funding, everything has been done out of pocket which has been very challenging but also rewarding thus far. Electronic music’s role is only the backdrop and soundtrack to the series. The story itself is much more and will relate to it’s viewers in a way they aren’t expecting. I’m not going to candy coat shit and I’m certainly not pulling punches. Fuck the happy go lucky unrealistic movies to come out recently. Welcome to New York.
Otherwise: I’m working on a small venue north of Cabo with an indie director and actor friend of mine, Dillon Porter. And of course the opening of what will be the most special indoor/outdoor venue to ever exist in Brooklyn.