Our EDC Orlando pre-show coverage keeps rolling in!
Much like The Magician and Shmitty, an artist like Motez showcases a groove that has been missing from these kinds of festivals. Insomniac has been taking a big chance and putting groovier, deep-house music back into the mix of their festivals, much to the approval of their loyal attendees.
Motez is one of the artists taking the stage at EDC Orlando, and he's looking to bring the soul and groove back into house music in a really great way. We spoke to Motez earlier this week about the creation of his EP Vancouver, his Sam Smith remix of "Leave Your Lover", and much more.
This year, you released the Vancouver EP. I’d love to talk a little bit about that. What was the process like writing these two tracks in comparison to working on a track like “Own Up”?
I mean, “Own Up” was a little bit different. “Own Up” I was writing with a great Australian musician named Alex Burnett. Alex is part of a well-known Australian band that was killing it in Australia called Sparcadia. He’s an amazing songwriter.
It was a different sort of process, because I grew up listening to different sorts of music, a lot of abstract electronic music, not strictly dance music. Writing “Own Up” as a song was really cool because he was the guy that was holding me back in a positive way. Instead of me complicating things and doing really weird chords, he was like “no, if you want to write pop, you need to simplify it. You need it to be a little more straightforward.” He helped with the direction of the vocals and stuff.
With the Vancouver EP, it was a little more club driven and bass oriented. It’s more like my comfort zone in a way, but it was different because, for example, “Tryna Shake It” had Iraqui percussive instruments, which is my heritage. I grew up in Iraq and I wanted to introduce a lot of that in my music. That’s why it was sort of different and special to me.
I noticed that you do quite a few remixes. What draws you towards remixing a particular song? For example, the remix you did of Sam Smith’s “Leave Your Lover”.
To me, I think there’s two things that attract the remixer to the artist. First, it could be the artist that they’re remixing themselves. This was the case with the Sam Smith remix, because I have so much respect for Sam Smith. He’s a dream to work with and having his voice is great to work with.
The second reason, something that a lot of artists do, is that there’s probably some sort of a hook in there that the artists can use to manipulate and form some sort of a musical ground. In my case, I think the Sam Smith remix was a mix of both. The original track was an acoustic track, so there was so much you could do with it. You could take it to any place you want to take it. That was probably the biggest draw for me.
You’ll be playing at EDC Orlando this weekend. Fans are going to be having music thrown at them left and right, many distractions, if you will. In your opinion, what do you think sets you apart from the other artists that are performing out there?
For me, there’s always going to be groove. It’s always groove oriented. I try to put as much soul as possible into my music, a lot of feelings and emotions. I think that’s one thing that’s missing from a lot of dance music these days; it’s very obtrusive, heavy and dark. I think I’m trying to bring that [happiness] back. I’m not the only one; there’s a lot of people doing that. But I’m part of the cult that wants the happy back into the house music. I want to bring the groove, the soul, the swing, and the sexiness back into it. By no stretch of the imagination am I an ambassador for that, but I am part of that group that is bringing groove back into house music.
From the start to the finish, I try to put as much groove as possible into it. There’s a lot of variety, actually! I do play some tracks from 2007 and 2008 that a lot of people don’t even know, but those tracks have influenced me so much. Chronologically, there’s a variation, but the constant is the groove, swing, and soul that comes with house music.
What do you think it’s going to take for artists to start bringing that soul back into that kind of music, in your opinion?
Music is inevitably connected to trends. On the other hand, music is very connected to the actual [general] culture. Culture today is all about being tough and having street cred. I think that kind of takes the soul away from music. Unless there is a change, which I think Insomniac has done! I think they have taken, I don’t want to say a risk, but they’ve stuck to their guns by putting myself, The Magician, and Kidnap Kid on the main stage at Beyond Wonderland. They even put me on the main stage at [EDC] Vegas. I think they know, in a way, that house music is going to dominate very soon, if not already. I think it takes a few, from a marketing standpoint, a few “lead users” to bring the soul back. If those “lead users” say that soul is cool, then they will follow that. I really hope that happens because it’s so much nicer than that obtrusive, in-your-face, dark , dingy music, you know?
Last question: It’s broad, but what does music mean to you?
Music to me is a form of expression and, in a way, a form of therapy. Growing up in Iraq, it was very hard for us to express ourselves musically. There wasn’t the culture to perceive that, I’m talking like electronic music and dance music. And for us, people are busy finding the mundane things. So to me, it was kind of an imperative way of expression. If you look at what they call Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs, the top of that is called ‘Self-Actualization’, and I think that’s what music is to me. I find myself in music, and it’s imperative to who I am. So I’ll always be making music, no matter where I go, and no matter where I am in life.
Be sure to catch Motez when he takes the stage at the NEONGARDEN stage on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7 from 4:05 PM to 5:05 PM at EDC Orlando.
For more music and info on Motez, visit www.facebook.com/motez.music
This has been another Shameless Promotion.