AUGUST 20, 2013 – MORTEN Interview
A few weeks ago, fresh from his gig at Tomorrowland MORTEN (Morten Breum) was in town to celebrate the release of his new track, Look Closer. We sat down with the celebrated Danish DJ to talk about adjusting to life in the U.S., growing up in Denmark, his rise to the top, the meteoric rise of electronic dance music, tattoos, his new music and his ever evolving sound.
You moved to LA a few years ago. What do you miss most about Denmark?
MORTEN: My family, my friends & my fans. I miss them a lot. L.A. has so much to offer, but you know home is home and even though L.A. is a place I see as home now and really started to get used to being here amongst Americans. I still miss my Mom.
What inspired you to become a DJ at an early age?
MORTEN: There was this youth club where I grew up. They took in kids in the area so we didn’t get into trouble, they offered classes in swimming, drama and there was this DJ course, which the club offered after school. No one knew about DJing, so I went into it and I picked it up pretty fast.
We have this tradition in Denmark when you turn 18 you get money from your parents, so you can go to college–sort of a savings and I got about $2,000. I convinced my parents to give it to me 3 or 4 years before I turned 18 so I can buy DJ equipment, which I wanted so badly. I remember just practicing every day.
Getting that early paid off for you. You became a success at such a tender age.
MORTEN: Yeah, they threw me into the Lion’s den, I played at the biggest club in Denmark when I was 16. It was really scary actually, but a lot of fun.
Because you started your career early, you’ve witnessed the ups & downs of electronic dance music both in Europe & the US. You’ve seen the growth both in Europe and here in the US. How would you describe the scene now vs when you were first coming up?
MORTEN: When I started out, there was a lot of Urban, a lot Hip Hop music was really popular and EDM was more underground, a sub-culture if you will. Then EDM grew really big really fast, it almost became too big too quick & it disappeared again. As hip hop took over, it became huge all over the world thanks to the likes of Biggie & Tupac. While this was all happening, EDM delved deeper underground, even more sub-culture. But then it came back 100 times bigger and just took over everything. It felt like hip hop the whole urban scene just became stagnant. It became too much and afterward, house music started to creep up, both in Europe and the US. All the stories about its roots in Chicago & Detroit, it’s always been sub-culture, but now it’s just massive and it’s just blown up. Sometimes it feels really weird to have witnessed all of that, but in a good way.
Larva is in my top five of 2012. And with your music so versatile. Where do you find inspiration for your music?
MORTEN: Through DJing, I get so in tuned by people dancing, people moving, people being in the club. Just people around me, people I work with—by the environment that I’m in. My music has definitely changed production wise since I moved to LA and since a change in management. I’m not stubborn when it comes to music or the kind of music that I want to work on. I really want to work with different people & different artists. I’m open minded when it comes to producing and making music.
Over the years as you’ve matured, how has your sound evolved in your own words.
MORTEN: When I was young it was very hip-hop, very aggressive, edgier then it evolved after the whole house music thing came along, from one sound to another and now it’s become more melodic—still very powerful. Definitely melodic and also more friendly for my female fans.
Your very first tattoo? And how many do you have?
MORTEN: When I was 17 I got a Chinese character saying protection, but I got that covered up later on. Then it sort of ballooned and I just got more and more that I lost count.
A few weeks ago, you were a part of Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium. Can you tell us more about that experience?
MORTEN: I didn’t play the main stage there, I played at a stage called “the Secret Garden,” where the stage was floating on water. It was jam-packed, it was really, really fun, lots of Americans & lots of fans with flags representing where they’re from. Tons of people from all over the world. Just an incredible experience.
If you saw your 14-year-old self now, what would you say?
MORTEN: To be humble. Never look down on anyone. Never step on anyone or talk bad about someone else to promote myself. Be good to other people. Keep doing that and everything will work out. This has taken me far because I haven’t spent any time on whatever other people do wrong & just focused on myself.
Your track Look Closer, which will be released on August 20th on PRMD Records. Can you tell us more about that, what went down producing that track?
MORTEN: Well “Look Closer” to me is easy listening for a big audience. I think it’s a beautiful track, it has beautiful melodies. I think Paul did amazing with the vocals. It’s a track to me that is timeless. I can listen to it on repeat. It doesn’t have the drop that‘s out there right now, where it’s going crazy. For me it’s just beautiful. Production wise I worked a lot with PRMD with Ash, my management. They really helped out a lot with this track and guided me.
As I said before, I keep an open mind/ear about my music. Paul did a great job on the vocals, which he actually sent to us first and we worked around the vocals.
And the video looks amazing, a lot of fun. Love it.
MORTEN: Yeah, I think what made the video good was that we didn’t go over the top. We didn’t try to show something else. It’s you know very easy to make a video that looks like something it’s not. Like for example, someone coming out of a Ferrari or all sorts of crazy stuff. It was lite, nice & fun. I didn’t play the main stage or go prime time all the way, but all the gigs I had was a blast with some very nice people there with me.
You have 3 more singles due to be released on PRMD, anything you can share with us & your fans?
MORTEN: We’re keeping a tight lid on that. It’s tight, we can’t share it just yet.
Early in your career, you collaborated with a few Danish DJs. Any collaborations you can share that’s on the horizon?
MORTEN: I do, but that will come later on. I don’t want to hype it. I can’t disclose anything other than that we are making beautiful music.