The Art of DJing, Beginnings, Living with Pasquale Rotella & more with Morten [FNT Exclusive]
Posted by Middy on August 14, 2013
Danish DJ / Producer Morten Breum, now Morten, because “it is easier”, has been around music all of his life. His father, a music teacher back in Denmark, put Morten in an environment where music was king, and this led Morten to enter DJ classes at his school at 13. From there he was hooked, soon playing gigs at local bars and soon local clubs, elevating himself to becoming the icon he has become in Denmark, scoring commercial endorsements with Pespi and Red Bull (and even his face on Pepsi bottles) and playing at a royal wedding, what up Armin. He moved to LA two years ago, where he has become much more anonymous and enjoyed the LA life.
We caught up with him on the tail-end of a busy week of meetings with labels, media and other people in New York, that was to finish off with a show at Lavo NYC that Thursday night. Later that day he was going to get an additional tattoo (he has A LOT of them) with Vice filming the whole thing. Seems a bit weird to watch someone get punctured with needles and ink, but hey, to each their own. His production “Look Closer” was supposed to come out on the 6th of August on PRMD, but it was not releasing in Denmark on that date because of territory restrictions, so Morten decided to put it off until Denmark could be put in the original release, to stay true to his original fans, and so it is coming in 5 days. Click the jump to catch our interview where we talk about ditching university for DJing, playing hits, crazy people in Vegas, living in Pasquale Rotella’s house and more.
FNT: Were your parents skeptical of you skipping university to pursue a career of Djing?
Morten: Haha, I love that question. My dad yes, very. He always told me if I went through high school then I could do whatever I wanted after, so I kind of took his word on that and he was not that happy when I wanted to be a DJ and I wanted to have tattoos. It’s not the type of environment he grew up in. My mom always supported me and just wanted me to be happy, as long as I stayed out of trouble, which I did, then she was happy, but my dad was definitely not happy. Now he accepts it and understands that it is cool that I want to travel the world and I make tons of people happy, but I think he believes I am missing out on working in an environment of working in a 9-5 job and working with businesses. He doesn’t really understand the other things I get to explore.
FNT: Could you see yourself working in a 9-5 job?
Morten: No. I couldn’t, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I have always done this. I have DJed since I was 13.
FNT: Would you consider yourself a DJ first or a producer?
Morten: DJ 100%. I have always been DJing. DJing is what I do.
FNT: Do you agree with guys playing hits because they think the crowd will like it or the situation calls for it?
Morten: Yea I do. I don’t mind if people play hits, I don’t mind if people please the crowd. Seeing big clubs and a DJ playing really credible unknown underground music and no one likes it and no one’s dancing is not good for anybody and I would rather see a DJ throw the party off. There are so many different Djs in the world; there are so many different tracks, so much different music. I mean, everyone is unique in their own way and I try to play my own sound, my own style and I integrate hits when I’m playing.
“Hits” is not a forbidden word for me, but I also try to educate the crowd and bring them new music. That for me is what a big part of DJing is about. Its about introducing you to great music, and that’s what I love. The best thing for me is to sit up here and play a bunch of tracks from my laptop that I know you will like, that I will make you like, tell you a story about each track and try to make you like it.
FNT: Why the change in name to Morten?
Morten: My real name is Morten Breum, it’s always been that. Being here in the US, It’s a hard time explaining to people my name and no one can pronounce it and its just easy with Morten. Morten is still unique here in the US and is a very Scandinavian name and it’s just to make it easy. It’s a headache explaining to people. Its always “Morten” and then they don’t know what to say.
I have a funny story from when I played Sensation in Denmark. I played in front of 35,000 people and the speaker from Holland introduced me, MC G, when he introduced me saying my last name, I had to wait like two minutes before the crowd stopped laughing before I could start playing. Breum is difficult to say, so Morten is easier.
FNT: What did he say?
Morten: Morten Breeeoooouuuum, he couldn’t pronounce it. It was hilarious.
FNT: How has your relationship with Avicii impacted your career?
Morten: When the release [Look Closer] comes out we will see, but it has impacted how I work with really good people. But it is a work in progress.
FNT: What other guys from Denmark do you think have a chance of breaking out?
Morten: Tomas Barfod is a really, really talented producer and DJ. He had a lot of success when he was part of a duo called Filur that had massive vocal house tracks. There is another guy named Faustix [of Faustix & Imanos] who is one of the really, really talented guys in Denmark who is doing really well.
FNT: You made the prediction in interviews last year that tech house would have a resurgence in the US in 2013, do you see that happening?
Morten: In the underground scene yeah, probably 2014 maybe 2015. I think tech house will keep growing and become bigger and bigger. I really like tech house and I have seen the scene move in that direction in Europe, techno, tech house. I am not sure it is going to be the biggest thing here in 2013, there’s only a few months left.
FNT: What was it like living with Pasquale Rotella?
Morten: Haha, you really did your homework. He was never there. He traveled a lot. I met him a few times, I didn’t stay there that much. He was such a nice guy, so that was cool, but we didn’t see each other much.
FNT: So you just lived in the house?
Morten: Yea, a mansion, but I lived with Jesse “Cy” Waits” [XS Vegas], who is like my brother and we spend all our time together. Pasquale was very busy during EDC, so he was traveling a lot, so I only met him a few times.
FNT: You said you are “a terrible drinker”, has their been a night on the road where things got a bit out of hand?
Morten: Yeah, of course it has. I think for any real DJs there have been. I don’t do hard drugs, so I am just not very good at drinking. A few drinks and I am drunk. So I don’t drink that much.
FNT: Any notable stories?
Mortem: Ah there was a time in Denmark where I drank too much, but not on stage. Afterwards I had to go to the restroom and shout for someone.
FNT: Craziest fan experience?
Morten: A guy in Denmark has a tattoo of my logo on his leg. I think that is pretty intense, that’s for life, that is really dedicated. He is a very nice guy and he follows me and supports me in anyway. I have much love for him. I have been on the road for many years and I have seen some crazy stuff, but him tattooing my logo is dedication.
FNT: I read some story of some guy in Vegas throwing money at you…
Morten: Yeah, there was a Middle Eastern guy, every time I mixed he threw 100 dollars up, and he kept doing it. I had to stop him, it was too much. But that’s Vegas, it’s crazy in Vegas.
FNT: What is one thing people would not expect about you?
Mortem: I think tattoos hurt A LOT. I think they hurt a lot on me. I am a hippy. I like yogurt. I like the chill life. I don’t like the wild and crazy life, I like it more chill. I like the mentality of sharing and being nice to everyone.
FNT: What do you have coming up?
Morten: I have a track coming out on the 19th of August called “Look Closer” featuring Paul, coming out on PRMD. That I am very, very excited about. I am in love with the track. I’ve had the track for a long time now since I completed it and I can listen to it on repeat and I don’t get tired of it. I think it’s a timeless tune and I love it. I have crazy collabs with big, big artists and there is no reason to hype it before it is there.