Started by creative director Jay Levy (aka JSPORT) and rising Fade to Mind producer Leonce in February 2016, Morph has grown to become one of the most popular and inclusive left-of-centre club nights in Atlanta, bringing affiliates of the West Coast label to perform with some of the city's best DJs and artists.
The fifth edition of the party goes down Dec. 23 at Atlanta's Space 2, and the lineup includes CGI Records' Stefan Ringer, Brooklyn-based producer Shyboi of Discwoman and KUNQ, Night Slugs' main man Helix, and a to-be-announced special guest.
For a little taste of what attendees can expect, Morph resident DJ and Harsh Riddims' Divine Interface, JSPORT, Helix, and Leonce have shared an exclusive hour-long mix with THUMP, packed with more colossal rap hits (Tory Lanez's "LUV," Young M.A's "OOOUUU"), bounce edits, and club heaters than you can shake a stick at.
Listen to it below while you read our recent interview with the party's co-founders, and get tickets to the party here.
THUMP: What made you decide to start Morph?
JSPORT: The first thought that comes to mind as to why I wanted Morph to happen is a selfish one, simply because Morph is a party that I want to attend, featuring artists that I want to see within an environment that makes me comfortable. Morph is a public invitation to the party of my dreams and it's so cool that Leonce and I share nearly the exact same vision.
Leonce: It's been in our heads for a long time in 2015 to start a party, because we feel that young LGBTQ and POC in Atlanta needed something fresh and exciting in Atlanta's nightlife. We were personally not as excited any more by the things that were going on at the time and wanted to create something new with a lot of thought and care put into it.
Describe Atlanta's music scene in three words.
JSPORT: Inspiring, futuristic, evolving.
Leonce: Black, young, and inventive.
What's the biggest challenge facing Atlanta's music scene?
JSPORT: The first thing people usually mention to me once I tell them I live in Atlanta is how popping our rap scene is followed by maybe a quick "you got broads in Atlanta?" moment. I think most people associate Atlanta's music scene with rap and mostly just rap. Our city has way more other sounds being created from all ends of the spectrum. I feel the biggest challenge for our music scene is getting ATL on the map for more than just rap songs and reality TV. We're living in a melting pot of sound and people. That's what I feel the first thought of Atlanta's music scene should start to be.
Leonce: The cost of living here has been pretty steadily increasing since the recession which of course is always bad for working artists who are trying to make a living out here. Atlanta's most positive thing has always been that it's cheaper to live here than NYC or LA, but in the distant future, rent increases could change that. We'll just have to see how that plays out.
In light of what happened in Oakland recently, why is it more important than ever for DIY spaces/parties to exist in cities across North America?
JSPORT: The Oakland incident hit extremely close to home for us and all artists countrywide. What's important to me is not only that our spaces continue to exist, but more so that our government and elected city officials shift their focus from shutting our spaces down to understanding why exactly we are forced to "do it ourselves." Most people running or using these spaces are starving artists trying to make something tangible, but they are pushed to the fringes of society, and forced to sustain a culture in the shadows due to lack of funding/affordability of spaces to express freely in.
Leonce: DIY is extremely important, we've done a bunch of our parties in these kinds of spaces, and if we didn't have them around we definitely wouldn't be anywhere near as far as we are now. It's really hard for us to strike a balance with the right venues here for our parties, because we don't want to alienate any of our crowd or make them feel like they're going somewhere unsafe, so we only fuck with a handful of spots right now.
DIY spaces have to continue to exist for our generation and future generations to continue to express themselves, but they continue to be bought out by developers and rich people so hopefully in the future we can somehow acquire a space or have a more permanent home for our parties so we don't have to be unsure of our future doing events any more.
What's been the craziest thing that's happened at a Morph party so far?
JSPORT: We threw our first party in a warehouse, and built a chain link fence wall standing vertically secured to the ceiling about 12-feet high around our DJ booth. At the peak of the night our guests started to grab onto the fence wall as support while dancing/twerking. It was a crazy moment to me seeing that it had evolved into an interactive art installation!
Leonce: Probably when we had Nguzunguzu and Manara on the same lineup! I haven't ever seen anything like that as far as party lineups, not very many cities deserve something as great as that.
What's the plans for the party in 2017?
JSPORT: Consistency and innovation.
Leonce: Thinking of ways to outdo ourselves honestly, we came really far in a year's time, so I'm really excited to see what directions we go in next year with artwork and lineups and new venues we'll try out.
Leonce, you just dropped a new mixtape, can you tell us about that and what we can expect from your debut EP coming this winter?
Leonce: My second mixtape Shadows and my debut EP Insurgency both came from a bunch of live jam sessions in 2014 and 2015, where I had a lot of random ideas with house music all coming out at the same time. I didn't know what the EP or mixtape was going to sound like as I was recording all of the material, but a large amount of it was pretty dark and housey, so it just naturally trended in that direction as we selected the tracks to make the final cut.