intro by Kris Upjohn & interview
by Jennifer Warner
Dance jazz? Awesome. Mocean Worker masterfully merges classic
jazz club stylings with today's electronic dance festiveness to
create music that is irresistible and a whole helluva lot of fun.
It helps to like jazz, of course, but even if you don't, the joy-driven
hooks of this re-presentation of jazz flavors in his latest album,
Cinco de Mowo, might make you overlook any grudge with
jazz (and, really, why should you have a problem with one of the
music world's great genres?). Fine, so I'm a tad biased. But that
doesn't change the fact that this album is packed with fun-making
tunes and a wicked blend of dance grooves and brass, woodwind and
piano (not to mention some organic percussion besides the electronically
Mocean Worker makes thekind of music great parties are made of.
You can keep your DJ-of-the-Month club (just joshing), this is the
hot, freshly baked goodies your ears and dancing legs deserve.
To find out more, we talked to Mocean Worker (aka Adam Dorn) via
email for this exclusive interview!
Hi Adam!!!! Thanks for doing this interview. Since its via
email maybe you could give us a visual — where are you now
and what’s going on around you, maybe what you look like at
this particular moment, and how you feeling today?
Well... I'm sitting in my publicist's office staring at a PC monitor
that has some sort of blinking weird siezure inducing issues going
on. But I'm having a nice time because we are talking about this
weekend's English Premier League soccer (FOOTBALL!) results and
I'm in a great mood because my Tottenham Hotspurs put the smackdown
on Derby County 4-0! I'm wearing an English Flag t-shirt, I look
You had a pretty incredible musical upbringing. Are there any
particular memories that stand out as either surreal, formative,
or just unforgettable?
Absolutely. I'd have to say playing on stage with the Neville Brothers
at the age of 15 during a sound check was the one of the wildest
experiences just because it was the ONE music experience that that
solidified for me that I was going to be a musician for a living.
Art Neville, keyboardist for both The Nevilles and The Meters sat
me down that day and said point blank. Get used to doing this for
a living, this is what you do man. That left a really really huge
impression on me. In general though on any given weekend because
of the works that my father worked with we always had someone hanging
about. I will say (and I'm not sure your readers will know who this
is) when Marvin Hamlisch (famous song writer) came to our house
and wrote songs about my mother and asked my brother to teach him
how to throw a curveball, I had to laugh a bit. My childhood is
literally peppered with an insane amount of stories like that.
Where did you first hear drum & bass and what was your
I first heard Drum and Bass while living in Paris in 1994. I heard
a much chiller jazzier version of it while living in paris and fell
in love and started messing around with writing in that style pretty
much right away. When I moved back to NYC from France in late 1996
I started going to a party my friends Gabe and Redboy used to throw
called "OXYGEN" it was one of the best most chill, fun
to go to party's in NYC for many years ( think it ran for almost
8-9 years actually). I learned how to DJ because of Gabe and Redboy
and DJ'ed their party SO many times I was a regular, Oxygen was
a residency for me basically. That was my NYC family and many of
my strongest oldest friendships post France grew out of that scene.
It was such a fun unpretentious FREE party. I really miss those
days. DJ's without attitudes... that's what it's all about.
How did you get into DJing?
See above answer... hahah . Seriously to add to the above answer
Gabe was DJ'ing one night at a place called DEN OF THEIVES in NYC.
I just walked up and hung out by the booth and sort of was watching
him. I thought I was maybe annoying him but out of nowhere (I guess
I was literally putting out a good vibe and giving him his space)
he says, "hey man, I'm Gabe, you seem like you are really digging
this stuff, want a drink ticket?" I just cracked up and knew
I had a friend for life. I had never DJ'ed in my life and never
really check out DJ culture at all. For some reason that night I
got the fever to learn how to DJ and although I've never really
become like a proper big room mixing kick ass DJ I do love to DJ,
just really prefer to play with my live band and do the live thing.
I'm more of a musician than a DJ. I do thank Gabe and Redboy for
taking me under their wing and teaching me some basics. Had a blast
DJ'ing their party for the next 3-4 years plus they are just really
lovely human beings.
Do you still DJ at all?
Yeah, I love to DJ... I'm a crappy DJ... hahahah, mostly breaks
and hip hop stuff and I'm all over the place to be honest, but I
have fun and I try to play tunes that make peoples ass shake. The
funniest thing about my DJ "career" is that I started
out basically making drum and bass records... but the weird/dumb
thing I did was when I went out and DJ'ed (for the most part) I
played HOUSE! Talk about confusing people. Folks would show up to
MOWO! DJ gigs and be like... WHAT ARE YOU DOING... or better yet
, walk up to the booth and be like "when is Mocean Worker going
on?" I've never said I was smart btw... hahaha. I really love
to DJ, I just do it a special way, I love breaks and I love DJing
in a style of say Fat Boy Slim.... except he is amazing and I'm
a bit of a sloppy bastard! Hahahaha. I have done some DJ gigs in
support of the new album and they've all been perfect because people
now know that what I make and what I DJ are much closer to each
other. Breaks and funky jazzy stuff is where its at with some old
soul thrown in. Love me some DJing under those conditions.
Speaking of reactions, what was yours when you hit #1 on iTunes
and #5 on Amazon... on the same day??!? What did you say, who did
you call, what did you do???
I was amazed. I was also very proud because as a self releasing
artist I know that its just so difficult to navigate the waters
out there. Times have changed so much in the last 5 years with record
sales and people sharing music. I really have to thank NPR for focusing
on basically an underdog and giving me a shot to get some national
exposure. So many press outlets and media outlets in general are
so tied to the major record labels that guys like myself, just dont
get a chance. So I was really excited and I loved seeing like the
reactions of friends and family. I know that what I do is a tough
sell in general so to get emails and like messages and comments
on my myspace page from strangers saying "who are you? where
have you been all my life? I love your music!" its just an
amazing feeling. One to be taken in stride and one to grow on ,
but Im not gonna lie it's a tremendous boost to see my music , from
my little label run by me and my friend kevin illicit that kind
of reaction from normal everyday. I was really floating off the
ground. It just sort of gavce me the proof that if people hear the
tunes , they smile and it makes them feel good and thats seriously
What inspired the title Cinco de Mowo?
I had a contest on my website asking folks to name the new album.
I was actually doing it as a joke. I usually always just name my
albums myself and I was kidding around. Meanwhile this girl in Chicago
named Tabitha wrote the following thing "It's your fifth album....
its a no brainer: "CINCO DE MOWO!" I totally cracked up
and she won a contest that wasnt even really being held right then
and there. I gave her a special thanks on the album and credited
her with the title as well. Kind of a nice way to get an album title.
What inspired the MUSIC on this album? How did it evolve from
your prior releases/sound?
The last album Enter The Mowo! was a total departure from
the preceeding recordings. I'd always been lumped in with the drum
and bass crowd but if you listen to the first two albums half of
them are actually very similar to what I'm doing now... chill jazzy
laid back down tempo funky stuff. Maybe not as developed and maybe
not as focused but the signs were pointing towards this direction
from album one. The middle album Aural and Hearty was a
total departure on purpose from the first two albums (Home Movies
from the Brainforest and Mixed Emotional Features)
because I just had enough of the drum and bass thing and had exhausted
any ideas I might have in that style. (Aural and Hearty
really had a backlash and lost me a bunch of fans but on the good
news tip it exposed me to a totally different group of people as
well and those folks have stayed onboard since the release of that
album.) I wrote a song that was in the film "The Devil Wears
Prada" and its from the Aural and Hearty album...
it could easily have been on Enter The MOWO! or Cinco
De MOWO! I've been growing towards this sound since the moment
I started writing music. Enter the Mowo! and Cinco
De MOWO! really are what I'm about and that's my sound. I'm
really comfortable where I am right now as an artist and I feel
like I found my voice where I'm not fitting into a style but hopefully
sort of creating one or at least trying to.
Do you have a favorite song on your new album and why that
It's a tie between SHAKE YA BOOGIE and CHANGES.... Changes gets
the nod because its the first tune I wrote for the album and I somehow
managed to get HERB ALPERT on the sucker! Hahah... Changes also
gets love from me because it had been sitting around for a while
(like 3 years) and I was just holding it for this album didn't want
to use it in the state it was in for the last album and I'm happy
I waited because I wouldnt have had HERB on it.... SHAKE YA BOOGIE
because it's the second tune I wrote and something about it just
makes me smile everytime I listen to it. I got my good friend Steven
Bernstein from THE SEX MOB to play on it and the song itself just
is like totally the vibe I'm going for as a composer. SHAKE YA BOOGIE
is like absolutely the perfect way to set the table for the album.
It's all about what the album is about.
Your Studio: where is it located and can you describe what
My studio is a laptop, currently its located on my couch. Its sleeping.
Actually I have a proper studio in Tribeca in New York in my little
apartment. Truth be told though all of the songs on this album were
written on the laptop using PROPELLERHEADS REASON SOFTWARE. I recorded
the song "Pretty" in my bigger proper studio rig. We mixed
the album at my friend Hal Willners little writing room studio in
the Film Center building in Manhattan. Everything nowadays is much
easier to do and faster and cheaper. If you told me 5 years ago
that I would mix IN the computer and not go into a more professional
recording studio with an analog mixing console and lay everything
off on to tape. I would have laughed and then maybe I would punched
you... hahah.... Well, I would have definitely laughed, not sure
about the punching, I'm a lover not a fighter.
What kind of gear & instruments do you have in it?
I'm originally a bass player so I have a couple of basses and a
really sweet accoustic guitar (that I attempted to play on the song
PRETTY from the new album) and that's about it... not a ton of other
stuff. I have a KORG MICRO synth and a NORD LEAD 1 that I've had
since forever, since the month it was released. I mostly don't use
hardware now though. I'm more inside the box and using soft synths
and virtual apps.
What computer setup do you have have software and hardware?
(If its too much to list, maybe just some of your frequently used
It's not too much to list at all. I'm a huge fan of "less is
more". My laptop is basically REASON version 3.5 and RECYCLE
software and I also have PRO TOOLS LE software and an M-BOX mini
for recording on to the laptop in remote locations. I also have
the latest version of ABELTON's LIVE software which I use for the
live band gigs. I have fallen in LOVE with LIVE and I imagine I
will use it along with reason to write music for the next album.
Such a clever piece of software. The big rig is a PRO TOOLS HD III
ACCEL set up running on a MAC INTEL QUAD 3.25 ghz monster machine.
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE that computer. Such a beast.
Tell me about your band, where do you perform live and how
does that work translating what is an electronically produced album
into a live act?
It's been an amazing process actually. I was a bit freaked out at
first but, this has been put together wisely if I do say so myself.
The live band is basically a 6 - 7 piece band depending on the gig
we do. I play bass and run LIVE on my laptop. LIVE is basically
running basic elements from the album that the band just couldnt
replicate but its really simple we really mostly play everything
as a band and the laptop, and this has become a bit of an inside
joke in the band gets turned off very often during the gig. At one
point or another either Oli Rockerberger the piano player or Isabel
Walker the percussionist will look over and if I havent already
done so, they'll nod and be like. "TURN THAT THING OFF AND
LET'S GROOVE!" It's really funny. The line-up is piano, sax,
trumpet, drums, percussion, bass, and the disrespected laptop! I've
just always wanted to play my music LIVE and it's really working
out nicely now. The band has a full warm funky sound and we play
the music along with the grooves and loops from the album and it's
just funky. It's not some electronic music show where someone pushes
play on a CD player or COMPUTER and bobs their heads DOING ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING. This is a real band and its full of amazing musicians.
It's as much a jazz show as it is an elecotrnic show. But the bottom
line is.... we are all about getting people to shake their ass.
Its all about grooving.
What do you play when you are performing live? Why that?
Bass and I play bass because I spent 15 years as a studio musician
and touring bassist for so many pop acts Id rather not even get
into listing them! Hahaha... I started my professional career as
a musician at 16... my teacher was Marcus Miller who is one the
best bass players of all time. I know how to play me some DAMN bass!
Hahaha.... I did stop playing bass though when I started the Mocean
Worker thing. I was just burned out, now it's so fun to play again
and get to play my own music and not have some pop singer look over
and glare at me because they arent having a good night... hahaha...
It's good to be the band leader in that instance.
What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I'm actually kind of shy. Seriously. I kind of get shy around new
folks and even though I can go onstage or on a radio show and I'm
fine, but one on one sometimes I'm just shy. I dunno why.
Do you have a girlfriend/significant other? If you do what
is something you LOVE about her, and if you don’t, what is
a quality that you’d find irresistibly attractive in someone?
I do have a gf. She lives in LA and I live in NY. I think the main
thing I really adore about her is that she gets me. The quality
I find irresistable about her is that she just loves life and knows
how to have a good time and treats people with tons of repsect.
She is also one smart cookie and funny enough... her neighbor's
dog is named cookie. Hahaha... COOKIE!
If you had a whole day unexpectedly free and could do anything,
anywhere in the world, what would you do?
I'd take my girlfriend to Reykjavik, Iceland and hang out at the
Blue Lagoon spa and get MY relax on big time. If you haven't been.
GO... right now.... stop reading this interview and book your tickets
Is there anything else you’d like to say right here?
DAMN YOU ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS!!! I feel like I just wrote either
the gettysburg address or some sort of treatise on quantum (sp?)
dynamics.... hahaha....... this was fun :)
Thank you!!!!!!! :)
See tour dates and more at :