If there was a formula for growing your own superstar DJ, Morten’s got all the check boxes ticked off. He’s a transplant to Los Angeles from Denmark. He’s made a name for himself in Los Angeles playing house music. He’s got support from internationally known superstar producers. He’s also positively dreamy.
I recently met with Morten just outside of Beverly Hills. Braum would later be playing at the nearby GreyStone Manor, a posh supper club deep in West Hollywood’s glitzy bosom. It’s the quintessential “Los Angeles” night club. The drinks are expensive and the club’s patrons look like they were all pulled from music videos. Drake even mentions it in one of his boasts. Obviously, the big celebrities are the ones that make all the headlines, but what about the guys behind the decks?
As it turns out, Morten is a whole lot more than a label turning robot: he’s a pretty fucking real dude.
So! You’re back from Europe after a big tour, and you’re going to play GreyStone Manor.
Have you played in LA before?
Yes, I’ve played a few times at Sound, Playhouse, Avalon. But I’m not trying to overkill playing in LA too much. It’s nice to play here once in a while, but not too much.
How do the clubs from your last tour compare to the clubs out here in Los Angeles. How’s the vibe?
The difference between LA and Europe often is, you know… here in LA, it’s very inspired by the whole champagne VIP experience. It’s really dominant down here. People want to go out, have a party, have a table, and show off. Girls wear short dresses, and guys dress up [LAUGHS], you know, tank top, whatever they do, show their muscles. The scene is very glamorous.
In Europe, it can be much more underground, more ravey.
Did you get your start going to raves?
At the beginning, when I started DJing, when I was 13, I’d play hip hop. Very West Coast-inspired. But then, when the whole hip-hop thing came to Europe, I started playing house. And in the beginning, it was a subculture. It was very underground, very cutting edge at all time. Then it became super commercial, and it was just everywhere. Now it’s big festivals, and I guess that’s just the rave scene. If you want to catch the warehouse thing, you’ve gotta go to England.
How did you get into DJing in the first place?
I went to this after school thing — you know, so you wouldn’t get in trouble — and they had different things you could join, like the swim club, and there was a DJ course. They taught me about beat mixing and stuff like that, and I just kept practicing every day. For so many years. Then, suddenly I was at a club playing.
But practicing. That’s the key word. I did that for endless hours.
I think it’s important. Do something that you’re interested in. I had teachers, an afro-American guy from NY. His roots were so different than mine. I came from a very white neighborhood. He was black, and he grew up in a different place than me. The way he taught me about the music at the time was just different for me; he had an urban look at it. I fell in love with that. I loved messing with vinyls and learning to scratch. It was just fun. I got it in my bones. That’s the reason I can DJ the way that I can DJ today.
It’s interesting that you started by listening to and playing hip hop. Who were some of the artists in your playlist?
I’m still a huge fan of Tupac. Still a huge fan of his. Public Enemy, Mobb Deep, NWA, a lot of gangster music, hip hop from here. But it became too commercial. Too much money, bitches… I still love hip hop, but house music production is where it’s at for me.
Production-wise, I make all types of music. I have fun with trap. I do dubstep. I do deep, tech, anything that moves something in me. If it’s fun and moving to me, I’ll make it. It doesn’t have to be electronic music.
Right. I was looking at your Soundcloud page, and the first thing on it is a bootleg Tupac remix.
Yeah, and that one’s such a classic. You’ve got to be careful when touching it. But it’s just a tool to play. It works. People are excited when you play it.
Are there any other genres that you’d like to see mixed together?
Mmm… I tried so many. I did a huge rock band in Denmark… Yeah, I guess I always wanted to infuse house music with classical music. Not just, like, a violin sample, but a symphony. They have crazy harmonies and crazy melodies when they compose classical music. I would definitely love to bring that aspect to house music.
That’s something that needs to happen one day, especially the harmonies, the way a whole track moves together. The whole vibe of that universe that you’re into when you’re listening to classical music is overwhelming. I grew up with my dad, who was a big fan of that. He played piano and flute and violin and guitar his whole life.
I keep hearing people complain about how DJs keep playing the same music, and I understand it’s a problem, and people need to step outside the box, but the thing is, the crowd also needs to get better. The reason there’s a market for DJs producing the same music around the world is, again, because there’s a demand for it. There’s a ton of music that is not Top 10 Beatport and that is edgy and different, but the crowd has to pick it up. It’s not just the DJs’ fault; the crowd needs to be open minded to new music.
Why do you think that might be? Is it the increased popularity of EDM? The internet?
I used to spend 2-3 hours, 4-5 days a week standing in the record store just listening to vinyls. We couldn’t just go online and listen to tracks. We had to pick up the vinyls. I had to get my local vinyl pusher to put music aside for me. He knew what kind of genre I wanted, and I would listen to it. It took me forever to find one or two tracks. That’s how we did it back then.
Now it’s spread out all over the internet. You see 13-year-old kids produce a track, put it on Soundcloud, and it’s a hit. The thing is, you know, what’s in, what’s popular, what’s hip right now… When people go out, they tend to forget that experience of music. They just want to celebrate that it’s the weekend, and they want to have fun. They do not want to be educated, especially in LA. They want to have fun, hand in the air, and party. Get a drink, get shitfaced, and celebrate the weekend.
I gotta admit, getting shitfaced sounds pretty fun.
It is! It’s very fun! But not everyone wants to get out and have a musical experience. A lot of people just want to go out and listen to music they kinda know and listen to tracks they can sing along with. You cannot look down on that. It’s people’s choice, and that’s what they like. There are tons of bars and venues that do different things. For the bigger commercial clubs, they’re for the commercial crowd, and they want something that they can relate to.
When I first came here, I played a lot differently than I do now. I played a lot more edgy. I didn’t want to play like the rest of the people here. But then I learned that people don’t care that much about it. They want to have fun. They want to party.
Given an opportunity, would you do something more low-key?
I just love DJing, so no matter where I play — I can play in front of ten people. I can play in front of 50,000 people. I got it all — I just love DJing. I love entertaining. I love introducing people to new music. I also love seeing people, hands in the air, having fun. The Hollywood crowd just loves to party.
Morten’s new track, “Look Closer,” is now available on Beatport!
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