Danish DJ and Producer Morten Breum sits down with TheBeatMill for an in-depth look into the past and the present
Back in December Morten Breum made the trip cross country from his home in Los Angeles to New York City to play at Lavo NY. While he was here he sat down with us at his hotel so we could find out what it’s like being a Danish DJ, why he ultimately came to the states, and much, much more!
TheBeatMill: So you’re playing Lavo NY tonight! Are you excited? Have you played there before?
Morten: I’ve played Lavo a few times; it’s a guaranteed good party. They always bring good artists in and it’s always high energy. It’s great because it’s not always house music; they play a lot of stuff there like trap and Hip-Hop too.
TheBeatMill: You have a wide range of remixes and bootlegs that you’ve put out including genres like dubstep and trap. Is that something you’ve been trying to experiment more with lately?
Morten: Well I moved to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago and I’ve been hanging around going to Dim Mak studios; I’ve seen a lot of young kids messing around with it trap, dubstep, and Hip-Hop. I’m a little afraid of trap because it feels kind of like reggaeton which was like a movement that came and went. Everyone makes remixes and they kill it and then all of a sudden it’s gone. I think trap is really cool and I love playing it in my set. I feel like with progressive house it’s always the same feeling, but with trap it changes it up and keeps it fresh.
TheBeatMill: How do you feel about dubstep in general or the deeper drum & bass?
Morten: I love drum & bass. But to me, dubstep and drum and bass are two completely separate genres. I listened to a lot of drum &bass when I was younger; it’s very hardcore I love it. Dubstep is a little bit too much for me because it’s too crazy. I did a remix of California love with dubstep but it’s a very clean beat. Dubstep is definitely cool but there’s just too much going on for me, which is why I’ve focused on trap more.
TheBeatMill: So you started DJ’ing when you were about 14. How old are you now?
Morten: I’m 29. Just kidding, I’m 30.
TheBeatMill: Can you tell me a little about how you got started?
Morten: I grew up in Denmark. I started going to a youth club when I was younger. It was a place for kids to go after school so they didn’t get into trouble. There were different things you could do like play basketball or football, but there was also this DJ course by this one guy who started playing Hip-Hop. I picked it up and instantly fell in love, and had so much fun. When I was 16 my parents gave me some money; that’s what happens when you turn 16 in Denmark. Everybody else bought a new bike but I bought turntables and I started DJ’ing every night at home. Then I began playing at school parties and then it just developed more and more. A few years ago I did a track with Enur who produced “Calabria”. We did a track together in Denmark and it became a huge hit; it was #1 on all charts, and we won a lot of awards for it. That was what really kick started my career.
TheBeatMill: Why did you decide to move to LA, you could have gone anywhere in the world, but you chose Los Angeles? Are you a beach guy or did the warm weather attract you?
Morten: Well you and I have sort of the same color skin. We get a little red and then we get white again the day after, so I didn’t move there because of the weather. I consider LA to be the capital of the music industry. I’ve had very good years in Denmark. I’ve played the national stadium and I’ve played Sensation White, and I felt like I needed something fresh. I thought about coming to NY and I love NY but I needed new inspiration and LA has been great for that. I love LA.
TheBeatMill: You said you started with Hip-Hop and maybe that’s why you’ve liked trap so much because it has a similar feel and tempo. Is there anybody in particular that has really influenced the way you’ve been producing?
Morten: The thing is, when I used to play in Europe I played house music and people knew my sound. But when I moved to LA and started traveling people had no idea who I was, and I was able to play whatever I wanted. For me it was really fun to mix it up and try new things. It was cool for me to add that urban sound. Because I have a Hip-Hop background I definitely have a need for a constant tempo which is why I think I also have a very aggressive way of mixing. It’s not like I play all trap music now, but I like to put in an instrumental beat and shake things up. I think a lot of the sound coming out in house music is very alike and that a lot of DJ/producers play very safe, recycling the same tracks. And don’t get me wrong, I play hits myself, but it’s good to take chance every now and then; it’s healthy to do that.
TheBeatMill: What’s the most gratifying thing about making music? Is it when you find the beat you’ve been looking for; is it the reaction you get from a crowd when you drop a new track? What is it that keeps you doing what you’re doing?
Morten: Haha, yeah it’s actually all those things you just mentioned. All the other things that come with it are not important. I LOVE DJ’ing and I love making music. If I were to have friends over just to hang out and drink there’s nothing that I would rather do more than to just sit around and listen to music. It’s always been like that. When I was a kid I played piano and when I learned a new tune I would always play it for my dad. I just love finding new music. Dropping beats in a club that I’ve been a part of and seeing people enjoying it and smiling is my kick; I just love that.
TheBeatMill: So you’ve played Miami, Vegas, San Francisco, and New York. If you had to pick one of those places to play again, which would it be?
Morten: I’d say Vegas because it’s so unique. Seeing your name on a billboard is just amazing. I’ve played Surrender, XS, and even underground techno clubs, but XS is just beautiful. It’s one of the most beautiful clubs in the world. LIV Miami is the same way. Lavo NY is also incredible because it has such good energy, and I know it will always be that way. Pacha NYC also has one of the best DJ booths in the world. It’s sick. I love DJ’ing at Pacha.
TheBeatMill: How often would you say you take the opportunity to see other DJ’s play?
Morten: I go a lot. I think it is so healthy for any DJ/producer. Anytime I have an opportunity I go see others perform.
TheBeatMill: Who are some of your favorite artists, both production wise and live?
Morten: Seeing Swedish House Mafia is just amazing. Steve Angello is an amazing DJ, Ingrosso and Axwell, they’re all just unbelievable. I also really like Alesso. I was at Ultra last year with Tiesto and that was mind blowing; I have tons of respect for him. He’s one of the best artists out there and is probably the biggest pioneers of house music.
TheBeatMill: Are there any artists you’d really like to do a collaboration with?
Morten: I’d LOVE to do a track with Axwell. I think Axwell is amazing. You know, I would do a collaboration with Daft Punk if they asked me to also.
TheBeatMill: Are there cities you’ve played that were just not what you had expected?
Morten: Yeah, I was really surprised with San Francisco. San Fran is really into the music. A lot of bloggers came out to see me play. It was just beautiful clubs and beautiful people. San Francisco just has people that are really into the music.
TheBeatMill: How would you describe New York?
Morten: New York is so “Europe.” It feels like I’m in a big city in Europe, it’s just so multi-cultural. Also, with the music it has its great aura of Hip-Hop here with Jay-Z and Notorious all the “East side Hip-Hop” here, you know? But New York has always been, like, the whole gay culture with the underground techno clubs. House music is not new to New York, but it’s kind of new to the New York clubs here.
TheBeatMill: Where would you say you see the birthplace of House music?
Morten: Many people say it’s Chicago or Detroit, I’ve heard both of those, but everyone claims that. You go to Europe, and House music is not from America. I’m sure whatever club you go to in London you won’t find a guy who tells you House music came from America. The Dubstep “grime”, however, for me is more of an LA thing. Dubstep is huge now in the UK, but it came through LA. Skrillex made it big. Have you been to a garage party in LA, it’s like 2,000 hooligans going crazy. It’s just like Fabric in the UK.
TheBeatMill: If you had a choice, pick a festival or a club that you’d love to do.
Morten: I’d really love to do the main stage at Coachaella. I’ve been to Coachella a few times and I just love it there. It’s beautiful, it’s clean; it’s like a golf course.
TheBeatMill: Have you been to Electric Zoo yet?
Morten: No, but of course I want to go. I saw videos and heard the broadcast and I need to make it there.
TheBeatMill: Are there any vocalists in particular that you haven’t worked with that you’d really like to make a track with?
Morten: Yeah, I really feel Robyn. I’d love to work with her. Her and Rihanna are the two artists I want to work with the most. They’re so unique. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Robyn a few times and even play after her at a festival in Denmark.
TheBeatMill: If you could open for one person, who would it be?
Morten: Tiesto. I could play my own way, all the way, and he’d still be able to take it over the edge.
TheBeatMill: Let’s flip the question, if you could pick anyone to open for you who would it be?
Morten: Deadmau5. I love Deadmau5. I don’t mean it as a diss at all. His music is beautiful. Although I do wish he would stop bitching and proposing to his girlfriend on Twitter. Sometimes it seems like he was that kid in school who always got picked on and now he’s dishing it back at everyone, but I don’t see the reason for that hate. He’s hating on everybody. Make music, spread love, have fun. You’re not supposed to love all music. If there’s music you don’t like, let it be. I mean, I love Deadmau5, it just annoys me to see him wasting his time hating on other people. He’s so talented. I love his music, his productions are so amazing.
TheBeatMill: We know you just finished up a few remixes recently, tell us about those.
Morten: I’m working on a remix now of a track that the Stafford Brothers did with Lil’ Wayne and and Christina Milian, “Hello”. I’m doing something a little different with it.
TheBeatMill: That’s great, we’ll be looking out for that one for sure! Thanks for taking the time out to sit down with us. Good luck tonight!
Morten: Thank you!
Review from Morten’s set at Lavo NY:
Now onto the fun stuff: The show. Morten hit the decks around 1 AM to a packed house as per usual around this time on Thursdays. Steve Powers started off the night with a bang as he always does, and Morten came on raring to go. His set consisted of exactly what I was expecting based on what I learned during the interview. A solid mix of house, progressive, trap, and even some dubstep. I explicitly remember myself trying to get him to play more trap, just because the way he incorporates it into his sets is so seamless. He performs with extremely high energy and even needed a shirt change after the first hour. Lavo is pretty well climate-controlled so you can imagine how hard he must have been working to need that. The crowd seemed to love every minute of it too, some even climbing up onto the couches for high-fives. I also remember being extremely impressed by his transitions between tracks. They were so well executed it seemed that the tracks were made as one. This talent also requires perfect track selection but you can tell he has a very keen ear for things like this. As the night came to a close I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy to be going home to go to sleep but sad that the set was over. Until next time Morten, until next time.