Interview: Motez chats about his latest EP, Late Thoughts

Off the back of achieving ARIA Gold on his charismatic 2017 record “The Future” featuring Antony & Cleopatra, with upwards of a staggering 10 million online streams, Adelaide producer Motez has released his first new music of the year, the Late Thoughts EP. Motez chats to the AU Review about touring and making the EP.

How’s the tour going in the US for you?

Really good, currently in Chicago and just had a few days off. On Thursday I’m heading to Michigan to play Electric Forest Festival. Rüfüs Du Sol are hosting a stage and they invited me and a bunch of other Aussies as well, Dena Amy, Hayden James and Cassian so it’s gonna be a really cool Australian stage.

You’ve played with Rüfüs before, I believe.

Yeah I played three or four years ago, when they were kind of starting out and played with them in America here and even the other day in Vegas, which was really nice. They’re really good friends of mine, we share management and I’ve known them for years. They’re doing really well here.

How do you find the crowds in the States compared to Australia?

I think because of the age difference, because you can’t go to a club unless you’re 21 years or over, so that immediately changes the dynamic because people are older, and the crowds are a lot less hectic than Australian crowds. Australian crowds just go for it and get crazy. In America, you get the super-fan, people that travel miles just to come and see you and they bring their placards, their pictures, their cut-outs, so a different type of crowd. The main crowd are really, really nice and respectful.

That must be a really strange feeling.

Absolutely; it’s very nice, people singing along to your own music is something fascinating and I’ve been lucky enough to play in Europe, Asia and Australia and it’s weird feeling different crowds in different places and how they react to songs.

It looks like an impressive light show that you have.

So the light show was for the Future tour in Australia, which was sold out bar one show, and we designed the lighting to be an essential part of the show itself. So it wasn’t a DJ set, it was a semi-live set and I had my keyboards with me so we thought we’d up the stage presence and focus on lighting in key moments and how those lights represent the song and how those lights progressed throughout the night. So we took a long time to make the way they sit on stage. They’re a big investment, not only financially but they’re really big. So it’s hard logistically but Novatech from Adelaide did the lighting and they’re incredible.

How does it feel when you have a hit song like “The Future”?

The song itself is not only a moment of pride for me, but it’s a completely different song from everything else that I’ve made, but I think it’s the most heartfelt. That came across, not only in plays, but in gigs, where on tour in Australia and here in America where I’d play it, not even in a remix and seeing people sing their hearts out. It’s kind of hard to make a song like that because where do you fit that? I envisioned it to be a song that I’d close my set with, and it’s good to close a serious club set with a happy song, so it took a while to get there, but it was such an amazing moment, seeing people sing along to it, it was so good.

The two tracks on your latest EP are amazing, particularly “Visceral”. What was behind the creation of these two songs?

Given that “Future” was completely different from club world, “Visceral” was more of a thank you to the club crowds, who are a lot of my fan base. “Visceral” was one of those songs that I made a while ago and I just wanted a song that was club oriented but still had a melody and musicality behind it plus an element of weirdness, kind of unpredictable that has a visceral effect on you that also makes it tangible to the crowds. “Roll Out” is more classic Motez club music but it still has weirdness to make the next step, because as an artist you are always progressing your sound.

There is definitely some depth to the two tracks.

That’s something that I pride myself on. Sometimes club music is so predictable, even if I can predict what chords are coming, I can easily get bored by the song. I’ve always prided myself on not only making music that has musicality and melody but also a certain unpredictability because that makes it for me more interesting to play.

Listening to the EP it almost takes you on a journey.

Yes, that’s the point. It’s not deliberate, but I’m working on so many songs and these are the ones that are asymmetrical, they’re not linear and straightforward.

Do you do any writing or recording on the road?

Absolutley, I’ve had sessions with Fred Faulke, who was one of the pioneers of Golden era of French House music and Todd Edwards, who’s a legend in his own right. It’s good to get out of the norm of my studio space in Adelaide and sometimes I’ve written some good music on the road and I think being on the road maybe helps in that regard. When I’m on the road I listen to a lot of music and I think what I’m listening to tends to excite me to write music in a particular direction. Those are the primary drivers behind the music that you make. There’s a sense of excitement because you’re in a different city every day or two. So that kind of adds to the mix, so to speak.

How did it feel being in the states when the EP was released?

It was interesting; I think it was the first time that I wasn’t in Australia when an EP or a song was released. For me when I release, I’m already thinking about the next two releases, but the time difference makes it hard to tune in live when it gets played for the first time, but you kind of roll with the punches. My managers in Australia are my sounding board.

Considering the amount of streaming these days, how do you make money from music?

I think a lot of it is gigs really. You don’t rely a lot on physical sales of you music per se. I think streaming is a kind of way for people to listen to your music and what you’re about and come to your shows and that’s a kind of way that a big chunk of your wages are paid. Apart from vinyl records, I don’t buy songs anymore, I stream and the records that I buy are classic records.

Can we finish up by hearing about one of your side projects where you record city sounds?

This was for an Australian group, Convicts based in New York who highlight different people from around the world in arts, crafts, sports and music. They wanted my take on what it was like to be in New York, particularly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So I walked around with a field recorder recording sounds and went home and used those sounds. I found it really quite interesting in that I did not know how tangible the change in sound was between different parts, because not only the cityscape sounds but the language as you walk through. You hear a lot of Jewish, then you walk to the other side and hear a lot of Jamaican, but you don’t notice that when you’re just walking through. When you have a field recorder and headphones you do notice those things. My preconception of New York has changed in that regard and was really nice to put that into a music piece.

One of my inspirations is from one of my favourite albums by Miles Davis called Doo-Bop. It was released after he passed away but it was him in his apartment listening to soundscapes of New York and translating it across to musical format.

The Late Thoughts EP is out everywhere on Sweat It Out.