Danish superstar MORTEN has had a special year in dance music.
Touring all over the world, he was on a mission to proliferate his patented "future rave" sound, a genre he conceptualized with partner-in-crime David Guetta. The two released a slew of remarkable songs as the popularity of future rave music skyrocketed, such as a fan-favorite remix of the generational dance anthem "Titanium."
Following a triumphant outing at the momentous return of ADE Festival, EDM.com sat down with MORTEN to chat about the impact of future rave music and his plans in 2022.
EDM.com: How are you feeling after last night's event?
MORTEN: I just woke up and I feel great. I’m very happy.
EDM.com: Let's chat future rave. Where did it come from, what are your inspirations for it, and where do you want to see it go?
MORTEN: Well, future rave is not just a sound. It is a movement for us. We wanted to change the way we saw the mainstage dance scene. We wanted people to keep evolving, we wanted the producers to be inspired, and we wanted to create music that we like to play in our sets.
And now we’re playing a full set of future rave music and it seems like almost every DJ in the world is playing it, so we’re very happy.
EDM.com: It's been a really quick turnaround between you guys launching the genre and it taking over our scene. Are there any other producers that you’ve seen jump on it who you’re really happy to see, or anyone you’re mentoring who is taking the flag and running with it?
MORTEN: It’s all across the board. It’s not just that they make one sound that is from us—I can see the excitement around electronic music everywhere. It’s from Armin van Buuren, who plays some of our songs at like 134 BPM, to the dubstep kids in L.A. who are making remixes of them.
People are endorsing it all over the world and feeling the creativity and excitement about the music. We really love electronic music obviously—we really do—but we felt like EDM was a little bit at a standstill, so we wanted to bring something new to the scene.
Yesterday I played at the AMF and it was really cool. I played like five new records, and just to see the crowd react like they did was really amazing. It’s cool that we are at a place where I don’t have to go on stage and play five big hits—I can just go out and play unreleased music. This is a part of what future rave is: you take chances and you give the audience something exciting and new every time, and you keep them involved.
EDM.com: How would you describe the movement separate from the genre? What’s the mission of the movement?
MORTEN: Well, we were running a little bit with our heads against the wall with every EDM song having the feeling of “three, two, one, let’s go” and we were a little bit tired of it. We were looking for new records to play. David would call me and ask me, “What are you playing?” And I did the same with him every day, and then we were like, “Okay let’s make the music ourselves,“ you know?
We are very inspired by the underground, techno, and the Scandinavian melodic universe of sounds, so we wanted to create music we could play ourselves.
EDM.com: Let’s talk about your relationship with David. How did you guys meet and start producing together? And now that you guys have pioneered a genre together, how has your relationship evolved?
MORTEN: I met David 10 years ago in the gym in L.A., and he came over like," Hey, what’s up, what are you doing here?” because I was working out really hard. He didn’t really know I was a DJ until I met him again two years later. He was playing at the mainstage of Tomorrowland and I sneaked backstage and I was like, “What’s up, we met in L.A.” And he was like, “Hey man, what are you doing here?” And I told him that I’m a DJ.
And then I played a festival in Mexico two years later and we met again, and then we became friends. I would always send him my music, and he would be really good to give me feedback. I sent him a few ideas three years ago and he was like, "This is really, really special." I was in Miami and we met up and started working together, and then we made our first song with Aloe Blacc called “Never Be Alone.“ From there on it was like, "Okay we have something that we feel like is unique—let’s start working hard."
EDM.com: How do you feel your relationship is like now? Is it like a brotherly relationship or a mentor-mentee relationship?
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MORTEN: Yeah, he’s my mentor, you know. David is one of my best friends. We talk all the time and he’s the godfather of electronic music, so I try to learn as much as I can from him.
But we also always seem to agree on how we hear future rave. We’re always on the same page. But in terms of understanding the music and songwriting, I’ve learned so much from him. And yeah man, he’s one of the nicest guys I know and he’s a really close friend of mine.
EDM.com: Let’s talk a little bit about ADE. The event itself obviously is not what it’s been in the previous years, but it’s still one of the most important and relevant events in electronic music. For a young artist, why do you think it’s important to attend ADE, and as an artist like yourself who is established, why do you continue to attend?
MORTEN: Well, for me it’s been very important to go out and feel different sub-genres and underground genres of music. It’s very important for me to come to Ibiza every year and for me to be at a nightclub at six in the morning and get the real flavor of electronic music, and not just listen to the top 10 EDM songs in the world.
And when you come to ADE, you can get that—you don’t have to travel the world. You can stay here for five days and you can get the subculture, you can get the underground music, the mainstage music, you can get it all sucked in in one week. So I would encourage every artist in the world to attend something like ADE. Not just come here to network and be seen and take pictures, but come to really listen to different kinds of electronic music and understand it.
Because it’s so amazing, and electronic music has a lot of emotions in it, but you really have to be in the crowd and feel it. And that you can get in a place like here, so I really encourage other up-and-coming artists to get out of their comfort zone and really get out there and listen to DJs and get inspired. It’s very important that we feel the music here.
EDM.com: What other new sub-genres do you think are going to bubble up and have their time in the spotlight in the next year?
MORTEN: Well, it’s funny because there’s such a big gap between Europe, Asia and South America right now. House music is doing really really well in America—it came really out of nowhere where people like John Summit and Carnage are really, really pushing it, and it’s becoming so big now.
I think that techno is going to have a way bigger impact than what we have seen, I know everyone is feeling like it’s coming. If you ask anyone in the underground they’re gonna say that techno has always been here, but I think on the mainstage we’re going to be seeing techno come a lot, and I think especially minimal techno is going to be very popular.
I also think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of future rave. I feel a lot of excitement and I feel like it’s going to keep growing a lot. I think rave music, in general, is gonna become very big.
EDM.com: And what about you? What’s coming up with MORTEN in the next year that you really want our readers to know about?
MORTEN: Future rave with David. We kinda launched "future rave 2.0" now. We’ve been working really hard over the last few months to kinda evolve our sound and I’m very excited for people to hear what we’ve been working on.
I previewed a little bit of it last night in my sets, and we’re definitely taking a little bit of a different direction right now. That’s what I’m most excited about. I’m also gonna be touring quite a bit. I just looked at my calendar and I’ll be playing all over the world, from Tulum to Tokyo, to China, to Canada and America and Europe and so on. I’m gonna be traveling quite a bit.
EDM.com: Are you working on any EPs or projects that we should be looking out for?
MORTEN: No EPs or projects. Just single releases for now.
EDM.com: Are there any artists who you are mentoring or watching?
MORTEN: Yeah. There’s this kid, his name is Jaakob. He’s from Sweden but he lives in L.A. and his melodies are out of this world. I’ve been playing some of his records on my radio shows and I really listen to them myself. I don’t know what it is about him but there’s something about his melodies that is really, really special and people should really check him out. He’s sick.
Want to see MORTEN live? Catch him live at EDC Orlando this weekend (Nov 12th) at the Kinetic Field Stage.