Danish DJ/Producer MORTEN based in Los Angeles invited us to his downtown LA penthouse to hear exclusive new music, discuss his love of Hip-Hop, and discuss his latest project. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the interview as MORTEN has a rather aggressive camera view. During the web series whoMORTEN he has been seen mixing and producing music and spinning at events that resemble Jordan Belfort parties Wall Street Wolf. However I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in to be met by a really laid back and easygoing man who welcomed us and was utterly open when it came to the details of his life. MORTEN has quickly become a sought-after act in Europe and the United States which has led to a wild travel career, major EDM and music festivals, but behind the hype lies a really career and disciplined individual. Someone who is prepared to take over the world.
MORTEN, where are you from?
MORTEN: I’m from Aarhus, Denmark.
When did you get to the states?
MORTEN: I’ve done lots of commuting the last 5-10 years but I’ve been in the states for 3 years. First I went to Ann Arbor, Michigan because my grandma’s sister lived there but first I was in Miami and New York then I got to LA and that I fell in love.
So when did you start working on music?
MORTEN: I started DJing when I was 13 and that I started producing music 6-7 years ago. I have all the time loved music, my dad used to teach piano and flute and he tried to teach me a lot when I was little so music has all the time been a big part of my life. Then I started DJing around the age of 13.
Wow, so you started that early?
MORTEN: Well I started really young, there was a youth club in Denmark that I used to go to and that I fell in love there. When I was 16, I cracked the password for my savings account that my mom and father kept for me, the password was “bike” and that I took the money and acquired myself a turntable (laughs).
How do your parents feel about that?
MORTEN: My dad never knew and my mom was so chill so that was cool.
So you just got back from Houston? Tell us about your event.
MORTEN: I played an early set which was really quite fun, because people were still coming to the festival. When I came down there was a deep house, and that I managed to get him out of the deep house and make a fairly big party out of him. When I finished my show there were thousands of individuals and it was the main stage so clearly it was quite big. I love it, it is an excellent time. The next day I flew direct to Austin where I played on the roof of the Rio club to watch the sunset. It was so much fun, so lovely.
Is there a particular time of day that you enjoy the most? What time do you generally prefer to play?
MORTEN: I believe my music and my energy on stage is more for primetime sets, I’m very aggressive and that I like playing during main sets.
Have you ever stayed at a show to meet other fans or DJs?
MORTEN: I do not do much of it 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 finish playing in Houston I stay for a while at the festival and take in the atmosphere and meet people, I believe it is very healthy for DJs to listen to other DJs.
What are the most common DJ face misconceptions?
MORTEN: That would be my social life. I travel a lot, I’m in my 30s and that I do not have a family. I love what I do and that I work a lot but it interferes with my social life a lot. I barely go out, I do not have a 9-5 so it is not like I have friends at 5 and can hang around. This is more or less a full time job for me.
The industry paints a picture of DJs leading a wild, lavish lifestyle by partying all the time. Is it right 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’m trying to stay healthy, I want to do 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 man.
I’m trying to tell you, you look like a Targaryen! Did you watch Game of Thrones? They are so lovely and you look like one of their brothers or something.
MORTEN: I’d say maybe the Terminator (laughs) or possibly like Rambo.
Tell us about your latest project.
MORTEN: Lately I’ve been working on lots of big room progressive songs, I like that vibe now. I’m all about producing big tracks.
MORTEN: Yeah very heavy, very big. I’ve never really made that big of a sound before, so I’m really excited. I played some new stuff in Houston and got really good feedback.
Which country did you play for having the best energy during the show?
MORTEN: That’s a really good question. I played in Belgium for Tomorrowland, it was crazy but it was more for the festival, for me they played the loudest 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 is so wild
What is the thing you love most about what you do?
MORTEN: I love making people happy, I love making people dance. I like to see people having fun, it is not that they see me, really I’m a little shy on stage. I may have a really comfy appearance and I actually enjoy people looking at me but I really prefer it to have a wall in front of me where people cannot see me and that I can only play. But I love seeing the reaction on people’s faces when I do what I do.
Apart from electronic music, what do you listen to?
MORTEN: Hip-hop. I love hip-hop. I like gangsta hip-hop, I do not really like R&B. I love gangsta rap.
Who’s your favourite rapper?
MORTEN: I used to listen to NWA, Tupac, Biggie. I love Jay-Z & Lil’ Wayne. Some new guys like ASAP and Big Sean are killing it right now.
How a couple of hip-hop collaboration?
MORTEN: I’ve been backward and forward in the studio with Too Short really, we have something in the works.
What other artists have inspired you?
MORTEN: I like the Bob Marley mentality. I love the way he does it.
What is it about Bob Marley that you like?
MORTEN: It’s his energy, he is on another level, he isn’t trying to be anything he is just him. I love the lyrics, there’s so much power in the works. I also like Deadmau5, some people say he is a jerk but I like him, he is a tremendous producer. I love the music
What do you do when you are not working?
MORTEN: I try to stay healthy, I try to work out. I mean I have not done that in a long time but I love playing poker or running long distances or swimming.
Overall where do you think EDM is headed in the next 5 years?
MORTEN: Obviously it is taking a big turn and heading for a deep house move. I saw some big deep house DJs playing this weekend and I do not think the EDM scene really caught on yet. I believe it is going to be more comfy, it is more fun and there is going to be more quality music compared to the big bass now. I like to mix my sets with different genres, I like to play hip-hop, I like to do some trap and dubstep. I like to mix up my settings a bit.
And how long does it take to complete one work?
MORTEN: Wow, I have a track that I’m still working on and that I started on it 6 years ago.
Is it a challenge?
MORTEN: It’s a big challenge. This was initially supposed to be a collab and it changed so it is still in the making to be something else. Then you get to the point where you leave it as it’s so we do not go crazy.
What is your favourite piece so far, what song resonates with you the most?
MORTEN: That’s a good question. The song “Look Closer” has a special vibe, it is a crucial part of my life and that I will remember the ride around that song endlessly. I made a special song for a fantastic woman named Taylor Renee that I actually enjoy. I will absolutely remember that song.
Do you have any advice for other artists trying to make it in this industry?
MORTEN: Consistency is unquestionably a good thing. You cannot give up because you’re going to get a million reasons why you should give up and stop what you are doing throughout your career and the most vital thing is that you keep working and keep believing in it even although your career will go up and down. And then I’m a big believer in karma, I mean if you mess up and be a jerk to people and try to fuck people it is going to come back, and same with karma the better you do the better it comes back to you. I also believe you should not chill and think, “I’m good at it now”, you should all the time be your own worst critic and strive to be better, never settle.
And finally, what can we expect from you in 2015?
MORTEN: I was coming at 200 miles an hour. I’m ready to go crazy now.
Photography by: Chad Images