[INTERVIEW] Mahmut Orhan Unveils His Debut Album 'Pangea': A Sonic Melting Pot Of Culture

Mahmut Orhan, Pangea, Ultra Miami 2024
| March 20, 2024

Turkish superstar DJ-producer hybrid Mahmut Orhan has been on an absolute tear since he wrote his first hit “Feel” back in 2016. Just two years later, in 2018, he was named GQ Turkey's DJ of the Year. 

Fast-forward to 2024, and Mahmut has racked up over 2 billion views on YouTube and 500 million streams across streaming platforms. As if this wasn't impressive enough, a recent explosion on TikTok of #mahmutorhan has led to over 400 million views for his captivating performances behind the decks.

Now, this Friday, Mahmut is releasing his debut album, Pangea, marking a historic milestone in his already historic career. This project blends diverse musical elements from his travels and touring experiences across the globe.

As Mahmut prepares for monumental performances at Ultra Music Festival and other renowned venues, he shared insight into his cultural influences, distinct production style, and the evolution of his musical journey, from humble beginnings in Bursa to becoming one of Turkey's most celebrated dance music exports.

Check out our exclusive interview with Mahmut Orhan below. 

 

iEDM: Your early experiences with music were deeply rooted in Turkish cultural heritage. How has your upbringing impacted your taste in music and signature style of production?

Mahmut: Massively! I have always loved the sounds and traditional instruments from my homeland, continuously sampling and using them in my work, only with an electronic influence.

 

iEDM: As an artist known for blending intercontinental sounds, from regions such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe, how do you navigate the balance between honoring cultural traditions and pushing musical boundaries in your productions? 

Mahmut: I am never consciously trying to balance things. The ideas and elements I use within my music come naturally. It is not a forced process but more about what sounds right in my head and what comes out of the sessions with the people I collaborate with.

 

iEDM: Your latest single, “Nighter,” explores a different direction with heavier melodic techno elements. What prompted this evolution in your sound, and how does it exemplify your artistic growth?

Mahmut: In the case of “Nighter” I felt that TUANA’s incredible vocals fit that vibe. I have always created what comes seamlessly to me at any point in time. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with other great artists, who you could say helped inspire my recent work!

iEDM: Dr. Alban and ZHU are among your inspirations from different eras of dance music. How have these artists contributed to your own project?

Mahmut: Both artists have been experimental with their sound on multiple occasions over the years and are not afraid to bring in unique sounds. I like to do the same! 

 

iEDM: Could you share some insights into your journey from DJing in local clubs to performing on international stages, and how this transition has shaped your approach to music? How do your sets differ between smaller, intimate venues versus on a festival’s mainstage?

Mahmut: The change from smaller clubs to bigger venues came as my sound developed, getting darker and more fitting for the types of shows I wanted to perform at. It is an amazing feeling to play your own music and see it go down well, so I have continued to make music for these occasions!

There is more freedom to take risks with smaller venues and really dial into the vibe of the crowd. But with the bigger festivals it is often a real occasion and moment. I love playing at both.

 

iEDM: Why do you think that Ribale Wehbe’s vocals are such a seamless fit with the instrumental in “Andalusian”? When listening back to the song, what specific soundscapes or layers stand out to you?

Mahmut: Ribale has a truly unique vocal. Her vocal riffing mixed with the melodic synth elements and the percussive drums throughout makes this one special. 

iEDM: Collaboration has been a significant pillar of your music, especially with artists from dynamic backgrounds. How do these collaborations enrich your creative process and contribute to the global appeal of your music? What is one artist that you would love to collaborate for the first time with in the near future, and why?

Mahmut: Collaborations have been a big part of my journey, and on the new album you will hear many of them. They have allowed me to be exposed to audiences I might not have been, and I am always learning by working with people from various backgrounds. Everything I pick up along the way contributes to how I think about my music. 

I would love to collaborate with ZHU. As I mentioned above, he is always bringing something unique to the table! 

 

iEDM: Your debut album, Pangea, is set to release this Friday. How does this album reflect your personal journey, experiences, and cultural influences? 

Mahmut: The album is a reflection of my journey over the past few years. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world. Wherever I go, I try to take inspiration from the cultures I find interesting and integrate elements of those into my work. Pangea is that – a symbol of the coming together of diverse influences and cultures from across the world in one body of work.

 

iEDM: Is it just coincidence that Pangea is dropping the day before your set at Ultra or was this planned to build hype for your performance? Either way, how do you aim to weave the album into your set?

Mahmut: We wanted to create as big of a moment around the album release as possible, and there aren’t many bigger moments than UMF! There will definitely be a few tracks from the album weaved in, but you will have to tune in to find out! 

 

iEDM: As you prepare to perform at Ultra Music Festival, Tomorrowland, and Coachella, how do you tailor your DJ sets to resonate with each unique festival atmosphere and audience?

Mahmut: I try to create a blend of what is true to myself and my sound, but also the location and venue I am playing and what their preferences are, having played in the USA many times before!  Although I am about to debut at these particular shows, I have got a good idea of what goes down well!

iEDM: From your perspective, how does music serve as a universal language that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, as evidenced by the reception of your music worldwide?

Mahmut: Music is about the feelings it creates in different settings and at different moments in time. Sometimes you don’t have to understand the lyrics or the language of a track, but it just feels right. My fans and people who have been to my shows all go on a journey of feeling the music when I play.

 

iEDM: As you look ahead in your career, what major goals or aspirations you have yet to achieve, and how do you plan to continue growing as an artist?

Mahmut: We are just at the beginning. There are many things to do as time goes by. Today, I am trying to touch people's lives and make them feel united under what I am creating. However, my ultimate goal is to leave a cultural legacy behind me which is going to inspire future generations.

Mahmut Orhan, Pangea, Ultra Miami 2024

CONNECT WITH MAHMUT ORHAN: INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBE | TIKTOK | X | SPOTIFY

 

Photos courtesy of Mahmut Orhan.

 

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CONNOR PHILLIPS

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Fueled by his passion for EDM, Connor’s life revolves around dance music and its ability to bring people together. Raised in upstate New York, Connor was deprived of festivals and raves until he attended Florida State University, where he was instantly hooked. Fast-forward to today and Connor has become a house and melodic techno DJ, an avid EDM-based interviewer and writer, and has worked PR for the likes of Matroda, Bleu Clair, and other new-wave house icons.

Outside of music, Connor loves pretty much any sport (huge Knicks, Yankees, and NY Giants fan), going on hikes, traveling, and food. Based in Florida, there’s a good chance you will eventually run into Connor at one of the popular festivals and clubs throughout the state.

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