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Marc Mount, the Denver-based DJ and producer known as Mport, serves hundreds of people at the Star Buds dispensary each week. His clientele is far and wide — excited tourists from the South East experiencing legal weed for the first time, weed connoisseurs from California hoping to prove their state has the best bud and of course, Denver locals making their weekly trip to re-up on their favorite strains. As an up-and-coming producer, Mount is constantly gauging customers and discovering potential fans. Unsurprisingly, customers from other parts of the country aren’t always receptive to the terms “EDM” and “bass music.” It’s not uncommon for tourists to ask “what’s bass music?” Denver locals, however, have a much different reaction. “People in Denver are educated about the scene,” Mport explained.
He’s not wrong. In a lot of ways, Denver is the centerpiece of the American electronic music scene. World-class producers like Illenium, GRiZ and Big Gigantic have called Denver home for years. Even more exciting, Denver is saturated with the next wave of stars, from A Hundred Drums and Mersiv to TVBOO and, of course, Mport. The thing Mport loves most about Denver’s music community though is the fans.
“I feel spoiled,” Mport said. “I talk to touring artists all the time, and they talk about playing shows in North Carolina or something and the crowd just isn’t always into it. But Denver is very educated in their music. They love the music here.”
Denver was one of the first cities in America to embrace the genre, and Mport, who was born and raised in the Denver area, has been along for the ride since day one. In fact, he was in the crowd at Excision’s first American show, held at the Ogden Theatre. That night, on February 17, 2012, Mport fell in love with electronic music.
“I remember just being like, ‘This is dubstep? I love this. This is crazy.’”
It’s been more than a decade since those roots were planted at Excision’s American debut, and Denver’s love for EDM culture has sprouted into a mecca of wubs, dubs and raves frequented by some of the most popular DJs in the world. Our city is a holy trinity of talented artists, die-hard fans and, last but not least, legendary venues. These days, the Black Box is considered the epicenter of the underground bass community. Known for its state-of-the-art Funktion One sound system, the venue has reached legendary status across the country. But before the Black Box, there was Beta Nightclub — Mport’s training grounds.
At its peak, Beta was the place to be. That’s why, while studying sound engineering at CU Denver, Mport jumped at the opportunity to be a production intern at Denver’s most popular club. The experience proved to be more valuable than he could have imagined.
“Beta was definitely legendary. I started in the upper room as the intern doing lights and sound and one day this dude named Brian was like, ‘Yo, do you wanna be a DJ?’ I didn’t know how to DJ but I’d been watching people do it [at Beta]. I was also producing at that point. So I learned through osmosis.”
And so, Mport’s professional journey began. He spent the next four years learning his way around a turntable, crashing greenroom afterparties with Skrillex and Zed’s Dead and joining Esseks and LSDream on stage for a WAKAAN takeover in 2018. Before Beta eventually fell from grace and was forced to shut down, Mport says there was no place that could compete with the production quality they provided.
“Everyone I’ve talked to that has played Beta says that’s one of the top venues they’ve ever played… just based on the sound alone. Being in the booth, you had four 18-inch subs pointed at your head. It was like you were in a spaceship.”
Working four nights a week for four years, Mport saw hundreds of shows, literally. Some were great. Others… not so much. In a city that’s saturated with aspiring DJs and producers, it’s difficult to stand out amongst the crowd.
“We’re spoiled with so many different artists all the time. I get very nervous thinking I gotta do something different. I gotta sample songs in a different way or just tease it. I’ve always wanted to stand out cause I saw four shows a weekend for four years and I’d hear the same like 10 songs all the time. So if I heard a song enough times, I’d literally write it down and like delete it off my computer. I’m not gonna play that song. Everyone plays it. I don’t wanna play it.”
So how does Mport manage to stand out amongst the vast sea of talent in Denver? He goes left.
“There’s this analogy I love. You know the movie Mad Max right? There are hundreds of cars in the desert and they’re all going right. And then one goes left. Where do your eyes go? They go left. I wanna go left.”
Although Mport began crafting his left-field, experimental sound and style during his residency at Beta, it wasn’t until the pandemic that he fully leaned into the stranger, untraditional music he’s now known for.
Like many artists, Mport spent countless hours redefining his creative identity while the world remained idle for almost two years. Without live shows to test out his new material, it was difficult to determine if he was on the right track. When he got booked for Cervantes’ first post-pandemic show, a six-person back-to-back set, Mport had a decision to make: fall in line with the other five DJs and spin traditional dubstep or shock the crowd with deep, experimental bass. After watching the crowd explode with excitement every time Mport was up to bat, he knew he’d made the right choice. He’s gone left ever since.
That’s why Mport’s music works so well — it’s authentic. He doesn’t follow trends. He creates them. Most recently, his ambitious direction manifested into the comedic Brad EP, a conceptual collaboration with Denver bass duo Kyral x Banko released on Liquid Stranger’s iconic WAKAAN label.
This career milestone was a full-circle moment for Mport, who played an opening slot for a WAKAAN takeover during his time at Beta. Sharing a lineup with Esseks, LSDream and Liquid Stranger taught Mport a valuable lesson — to believe in his vision and lean into the strange sonic world of experimental bass. Even then, circa 2018, before WAKAAN became the powerhouse it is in 2022, Mport understood the influence this new label would soon have.
Going left is about pushing the boundaries of sound and culture through distinct originality and unapologetic authenticity. For Mport, it’s also about repurposing the strange sounds of the everyday world and trippy cartoons into creative samples. From a vibrating massage gun (“Vibration Gun”) to Adventure Time (“The Jiggler”), nothing is off-limits. Mport says that although he still enjoys making more serious music, he leans towards the music that makes him laugh. Life is already too serious in the first place.
“I feel like my favorite songs that I’ve done, I don’t think about them too much. I just have fun and if I’m laughing while I’m making it, that’s a good sign. I think people take it too seriously sometimes. I love comedy music. I always loved Weird Al and stuff like that. So if I can have hints of that in my music, that’s awesome.”
Mport’s music is fun, there’s no doubt about that. More than that, though, he represents the Denver EDM community with grassroots connections that are rare to find these days. As Denver’s notoriety and musical reputation continue to expand, more and more bass artists are moving to Denver to experience the community for themselves, and hopefully take their careers to the next level. That’s great, but there’s something refreshing about a Colorado native paving his own path through the crowded industry, taking his Colorado influence with him.
2022 has been a huge year for Mport. From performing at Global Dance to his first headlining show at CADENZA on August 20 (tickets on sale now), it seems like he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Photographed by Roxanna Carrasco
Lead Stylist Ashleigh Perri
Makeup by Leah Llanes