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DJ interview


photo by Bill Douthart


"Shake Ya Boogie", directed by animator Czarek Kwasny and based on the classic Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1930's. It's pretty amazing. Watch it on his website


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 generated beats).

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 presentable :)

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 reaction?

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 the goal.

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 one?

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 its like?

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 favorites!)

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 dammit!

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!!!!!!! :)

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