A Calm Amongst The Chaos.
Danish DJ/Producer and Los Angeles resident MORTEN invited us over to his downtown L.A. penthouse to listen to some exclusive new music, discuss his love of Hip-Hop and talk about his latest projects. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the interview as MORTEN has somewhat of an aggressive on-camera presence. During his web-series whoisMORTEN he can be seen mixing and producing music and spinning at shows that resemble Jordan Belfort’s parties in The Wolf of Wallstreet. However I was surprised when I walked in to meet a very casual and laid-back guy who welcomed us in and was really an open book when it came to the details of his life. MORTEN has quickly become a sought after act in both Europe and the United States which has lead him to a wild career of travel, EDM festivals and big music, but underneath the hype lies a very career driven and disciplined individual. One who’s ready to take over the world.
MORTEN, where are you from originally?
MORTEN: I’m from Aarhus, Denmark.
When did you get to the states?
MORTEN: I did a lot of traveling back and forth for the last 5-10 years but I’ve been in the states for 3 years. First I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan because my grandmother’s sister lived there, but in the beginning I was in Miami and New York then I got to L.A. and I fell in love.
So how long ago did you start working on music?
MORTEN: I started DJing when I was 13 years old and I started producing music 6-7 years ago. I’ve always loved music, my dad used to teach piano and flute and he tried to teach me a lot when I was a kid so music has always been a big part of my life. Then I started DJing around the age of 13.
Wow, so you started that early?
MORTEN: Yes I started very young, there was a youth club in Denmark I used to go to and I fell in love with it there. When I was 16 I cracked the password for my savings account that my mom and dad were saving for me, the password was “bicycle” and I took the money and bought myself turntables (laughs).
How’d your parents feel about that?
MORTEN: My dad never found out and my mom is pretty chill so that was cool.
So you just got back from Houston? Tell me about your show.
MORTEN: I played an early set which was actually pretty fun, because people were still getting in to the festival. When I went down there was a deep house set on, and I managed to take it out of deep house and made a pretty big party out of it. When I ended my show there were thousands of people and it was main stage so obviously it was pretty big. I loved it, it was a great time. The next day I flew directly to Austin where I played at the rooftop of club Rio for a sunset set. It was really fun, really beautiful.
Is there a certain set time you enjoy the most? What time do you usually prefer to play?
MORTEN: I think my music and my energy on stage is more for a primetime set, I’m very aggressive and I like to play during a main set.
Do you ever stay at a show to meet your fans or other DJs?
MORTEN: I don’t do it much in Denmark but in the US I like to meet other artists so I do it a lot here. I’m very chill, for example when I was done playing in Houston I stayed for awhile at the festival and absorbed the atmosphere and met people, I think it’s very healthy for DJ’s to listen to other DJ’s.
What’s the most common misconception DJ’s face?
MORTEN: That would be my social life. I travel a lot, I’m in my 30’s and I don’t have a family. I love what I’m doing and I’m working a lot but it compromises a lot of my social life. I rarely go out, I don’t have a 9-5 so it’s not like I have friends over at 5 and can just hang out. It’s more or less full time work for me.
The industry paints a picture that DJs live a wild extravagant lifestyle of partying all the time. Is that true for you?
MORTEN: No I did that when I was younger, now I tour every week and for me to drink every week would be a headache. I try to stay very healthy, I want to be doing this for at least the next 10-15 years so I’m trying to stay healthy, as you can see I look like a 20 year old guy.
I was trying to tell you, you look like a Targaryen! Do you watch Game of Thrones? They’re really beautiful and you look like one of their brothers or something.
MORTEN: I would say maybe Terminator (laughs) or like a Rambo maybe.
Tell me about your newest project.
MORTEN: Lately I’ve been working on a lot of big room progressive tracks, I really like that vibe right now. I’m all about producing huge tracks.
MORTEN: Yeah very heavy, very huge I actually never produced that big sound before so im very pumped about it. I played some new stuff in Houston and got really good feedback.
Which country have you played for has the best energy during a show?
MORTEN: That’s a really good question. I played in Belgium for Tomorrowland, that was crazy but that was more for festivals, for me they go hardest in Denmark but that’s because I’m from there. I would say the state of Texas is pretty wild. They go crazy there. Texas was pretty wild
What’s the thing you love most about what you do?
MORTEN: I like to make people happy, I like to make people dance. I get a huge kick out of watching people have fun, it’s not so much that they’re looking at me, actually I get a little shy on stage. I may have an appearance that I am really comfortable and I’m really enjoying people looking at me but I actually would prefer if there was a wall in front of me where people couldn’t see me and I could just play. But I like to see the reaction on people’s faces when I do what I do.
Besides electronic music what do you listen to?
MORTEN: Hip-hop. I love hip-hop. I love gangsta hip-hop, I don’t like R&B that much. I like gangsta rap.
Who’s your favorite rapper?
MORTEN: I used to listen a lot to NWA, Tupac, Biggie I like Jay-Z & Lil’ Wayne. Some of the new guys like ASAP and Big Sean are killing it right now.
What about a hip-hop collaboration?
MORTEN: I’ve been back and forth in the studio with Too Short actually, we have something in the works.
What other artists inspired you coming up?
MORTEN: I love the mentality of Bob Marley. I like the way he’s been doing it.
What is it about Bob Marley that you love?
MORTEN: It’s his energy, he’s on another level, he doesn’t try to be anything he’s just him. I love his lyrics, there’s so much power in his stuff. I also like Deadmau5, some people say he’s a jerk but I like him a lot, hes an amazing producer. I love his music
What do you do when not working?
MORTEN: I try to stay healthy, I try to work out. I mean I haven’t done it for a long time but I like to play poker or go for a long run or go swimming.
As a whole where do you think EDM is going in the next 5 years?
MORTEN: Obviously it’s taking a big turn and going towards the deep house movement. I saw some big deep house DJs play this weekend and I don’t think the EDM scene is really there yet. I think it’s going to be more housey, more groovy and there will be more quality music compared to just the big bass right now. I want to merge my sets with different genres, I like to play hip-hop, I like to play some trap and dubstep. I like to mix my set up a little.
And what’s the longest it’s taken to finish a piece?
MORTEN: Wow, well I have a track I’m still working on and I started it 6 years ago.
Is it a challenge?
MORTEN: It’s a huge challenge. It was originally supposed to be a collab and that changed so it’s still in the making to become something else. Then you get to the point where you just leave it as it is so we won’t go insane.
What’s your favorite piece of your own work to date, what tracks resonate with you the most?
MORTEN: That’s a good question. The “Look Closer” track has a special vibe to it, that was an important part of my life and I’ll remember the journey around that track forever. I produced a special track for a beautiful woman named Taylr Renee that I really enjoy. I’m definitely going to remember that track.
Do you have any advice for other artists trying to make it in this industry?
MORTEN: Consistency is definitely a good thing. You can not give up because you will get a million reasons why you should give up and stop what you’re doing all throughout your career and the important thing is that you keep working and keep believing in it even though your career will go up and down. And then I believe a lot in karma, I mean if you screw around and be a jerk to people and try to fuck with people it’ll come back, and the same with karma the better you do the better comes back to you. I also believe you should never sit back and think, “I’m good at it now”, you should always be your worst critic and try to be better, never be satisfied.
And lastly, what can we expect from you in 2015?
MORTEN: Me coming at 200 miles per hour. I’m ready to go crazy now.
Photography by: Chad Images