Elle Morgan has a baby face, even for a 12-year-old.
She’s tiny — 4 feet, 9 inches and 63 pounds — and just started seventh grade at Knox Junior High School in The Woodlands earlier this month.
“I’m really excited, because it’s bigger, and there are a lot more classes,” she says. “I’ve never actually had to go from class to class.”
Her voice is sweet and soft, but there’s a twinkle, especially when she scrolls off the names of artists who occupy space on her iPod.
“A lot of Steve Aoki and Afrojack, Nervo and some Skrillex songs,” she says. Morgan even caught Dutch DJ Afrojack at the Free Press Summerfest, where she managed to get into the onstage VIP booths with her dad.
What about the usual tween favorites? One Direction? Katy Perry? Selena Gomez?
“No,” Morgan says, her face scrunching up. (She does, however, like the Disney Channel.)
“I’ve been with house music all my life. I’ve been listening to that music since I was in my mom’s womb. We always listened to it in the house.”
Her parents, who worked in the club industry for several years, took Morgan to see iconic DJ/producer Tiësto when she was just 9 years old. It was her first concert, and she was hooked. (Morgan was 6 years old when her parents moved to Houston from St. Louis.)
“I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ He was just so amazing at that concert. He just connected with the crowd, and I was like, ‘If he can do that, I can do that,’ ” Morgan says. “He was my first inspiration. We have all of his albums, from back in, like, 2000. He’s my hero.”
And with that, a DJ dream was born. Morgan left behind dance lessons and began researching equipment and mixing online. After two years, her parents relented and bought her what she needed to become a tiny mixmaster. Morgan’s father, Christopher Freeman, taught her the basics via instruction manuals and common sense, and she passed him up within weeks.
“That’s when I realized, ‘Wow, this could be something really good for her,’ ” says Freeman, who owns a roofing and restoration business. “If anyone’s been created or bred for the music, she really has been. We only listened to house music — in the car, at home, on the Internet. She always danced. She always sang.”
Freeman brought on local DJ and producer Albert Fix to sharpen Morgan’s skills. Fix has been DJ-ing throughout Houston since 2006 and helps bring some of the genre’s biggest names to town.
"I don't teach very often," Fix says. "I am usually far too busy, but I am glad I was able to teach her and develop a good relationship with her and her family. Sometimes I joke and say now she gets booked more than me."
During an in-studio photo shoot, Morgan breaks into an impromptu set. She’s joyous but focused, throwing her hands in the air and tapping her feet but never taking her eyes off the table. She effortlessly spouts off DJ terminology — Mixed In Key, harmonic mixing, seven-up-three-down — and uses CD decks to create her mixes. No laptops allowed.
“I like to play ‘L’Amour’ by the Bingo Players, and I also like to play a song called ‘Midnight City’ (by M83) remixed by Eric Prydz, and I like to play a song called ‘White Noise/Red Meat’ by Dada Life,” she says.
Morgan’s age could easily turn things the way of novelty, but her skills have gotten her bookings at legitimate venues, including Rich’s, Hughes Hangar, the Usual and Sushi Raku. She also has a regular gig at the Gorilla Hole, a program for fifth- and sixth-graders at The Woodlands Township Recreation Center.
And don’t worry — at least one parent accompanies her to every show.
“(My friends) think it’s pretty cool that I DJ,” Morgan says. “Actually, there are some DJs, like Calvin Harris, who go a little commercial, with like Rihanna (‘We Found Love,’ ‘Where Have You Been’), and they listen to those songs. And I like those songs.
“There are some haters. But then again, there are some lovers. And I have a lot of fans, which is good.”
Morgan recently began working on original productions with Fix, the next logical step for a DJ hoping to go beyond the club circuit. She then has hopes of releasing full albums and touring beyond Texas. As long as school remains a priority.
“She doesn’t run amok. She’s always backstage. She’s not kickin’ it and having a good time. She’s there to work,” Freeman says. “As long as she has fun and her grades are up and she’s having fun, that’s all that matters.”
Morgan wishes she had a little more time to spend with friends. Swimming. Jumping on trampolines. Going to the park. But she’s willing to make the sacrifice for the beat.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing. I think I have a great career ahead of me. I just wish I had a little more free time,” she says. “But this is what I want to focus on. This is my career. Not a lot of kids have parents that are supportive of what they want. I’m lucky.”
6 p.m. Thursday at Fashion Night Out, Ash Couture, the Galleria, 5085 Westheimer; 713-552-1959 or ashcouture.com
10 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Fun-omenal Family Festival, Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney; 713-400-7336 or discoverygreen.com