Interview: Motez - Lost Paradise

‘Personally I’m not just a music producer or an artist, I’m a music lover, and as a music lover your taste changes all the time, and that kinda reflects on my music…’

Motez Obaidi, or simply Motez is a well groomed and well spoken gentleman who now holds two SA Music Awards for Best Music Producer. We spoke to him before his set at New Years festival Lost Paradise, where he divulged his thoughts on his own sound, his 2016 travels and his 2017 aspirations, and also reveals an unexpected piece of trivia about one of his hit 2016 tunes.


Are you excited for the festival today? Keen to see any of the acts performing?

Definitely Harvey Sutherland, and Mo Funk who I’ve just listened to a couple of mixes by and he’s playing right before me so that’ll be really good, and Skream will be amazing too. It’s gonna be amazing because he’s (Skream) a legend of the game and he’s done so many things so it’ll be really cool to see that. I played with him on Holy Ship a couple of times and it always happens that I’m playing at the same time so this is the first time that I’m actually gonna hear him play non dubstep stuff, he has changed a lot.


Not totally unlike Skream, your sound over the years has progressed further and further, going from even a grungey rave sound to now a really clean tech - even future - house one. What are your thoughts on how that progressed along?


Well that’s the thing, you have to kinda look at it like personally I’m not just a music producer or an artist, I’m a music lover, and as a music lover your taste changes all the time, and that kinda reflects on my music. You’ll hear even more changes in the next single, it’s gonna be completely different and that might change back to whatever it is, it’s just that I trying to stretch my muscles as much as I can, and show people different sides of what I can do, and what I actually love, because I don’t really listen to dance music in my spare time, I listen to so many different, weird things.


In a lot of interviews and bios it’s made known that you’re into a range of soul and hip-hop kind of stuff. I think it shows in The Vibe especially because of the fact that every song is so much different to one another.


For me, the reason why I love a lot of funk, and soul, and blues and things like that is just because I love the musicality behind it, and I try to use that myself as much as possible whenever I can. But sometimes the beauty of dance music is that you can put very minimal instrumentation and make a good track out of it. 


Do you think you prefer playing your style of music in a festival setting like this, or in a more intimate club setting?


It depends really, again because I’m a music lover first and foremost so my sound kind of depends on what you feel. The smaller places I play different to big stages, and I was lucky enough to play on bigger stages. House music itself is inherently a small sounding kind of genre in a way, like it’s almost designed to be played in little intimate clubs with everyone close around you. Whereas it doesn’t lend itself to be played on a bigger stage so you need to be very specific about what you play. So I guess I’ll see what’s kind of going on around me, and what is the vibe of the place, and play accordingly. Particularly in these types of shows, I’m not doing the semi live show I was doing earlier, I’m just doing a DJ set. That gives me a lot of flexibility in a way, and it’s a lot more fun.


You’ve had a very busy year, you were over in the US, getting to play a show with the Nightbass crew, AC Slater and that crew have made one of the biggest names in the house music world, how was that?


It was great, Aaron (AC Slater) is an absolute legend, such a nice guy, I really kind of bonded with him on a personal level. That was a special night because I got to play with Sinden, who was also on the lineup, and Sinden from 2006-07 has been one of the pioneers of that sound that really messed about the concept of dance music back then. It was very weird for me, it had an element of serendipity playing with him. There was even a moment, I played a track of his at the end from like 2009 and he even looked at me and was like “nobody or even me have played this for years” and I told him “dude, you have no idea, I’m kinda freaking out because I really looked up to you and still do”. Apart from that, it was good to be part of that family they have there, I know a lot of the people on that label, such a tight crew and very nice people.


So you had played with them and been friends with a number of them prior to the show and then were invited along?


Yeah you play sort of the same circuit of shows in the US, either Hard Festivals or EDCs and you bond with all these guys, they’re really nice people and very welcoming so it was kind of natural for me to play one of their shows. I guess also some of my releases are very similar sounding to them, they’re like an American take on a UK sound.


Having experienced the American and Australian house music scene first hand, what are your thoughts on the acceptance of house music in the US and Australia on the big stages?


The weird thing is that only recently house music has been accepted to be played in bigger clubs or even main stages. It was such a weird thing for me to play at EDC Vegas main stage, and be able to play house and garage because they finally accepted that’s what it is, that’s the sound that people want to hear. Weirdly enough, it came from America - house started there - it went to the UK, it got kind of spun about in a different way and then came back again to the US for people like AC Slater, Destructo, Wax Motif, those guys on the heavier edge, and again more recently with people like Walker and Royce and that crew who are just taking it further and further. I think the sound now is in a good place in America, I went there in July and it was still pumping. You can play house at main stages and people will be so receptive to it. You get people like MK and all those guys playing main stages because now is the time for it. In saying that, I think that we started earlier than America in the last five or six years in accepting house music.


Despite the fact that you do draw inspiration from many other genres of music, who’s really impressing you in the dance music world at the moment.


Again, like you said I don’t listen to a great deal of dance music in my spare time, however people who really impress me are Walker And Royce who are just on a completely different level, and people like Billy Kenny and Maximono who are just incredible, their take on sound is really interesting. Even Australian people like Hood Rich and even newer stuff from LO’99, just really cool, Hood Rich especially… I think if he keeps going this way he’ll be huge. Even people like Mall Grab and Human Movement, they’re just really good. Fono from the UK, I love his stuff. There’s a few who are just really standing out, like you listen to Walker And Royce and I’m like ‘Holy hell, what is going through their heads?’ It is just so interesting. My way of DJ’ing is I play tracks from the middle, or I just don’t play the entirety of the tracks - I try to make it more interesting for me and everyone else - so I have a lot of cue points and I drop from cue points. Walker and Royce are the only guys where I play the music from the start because it wouldn’t make sense to play it from the middle, the whole track is just a progression, it’s a massive story. Even from a sound engineer’s point of view, it’s just so tight.


In regards to The Vibe that you put out in 2016, what was your setting at the time of recording and were there any big inspirations during the recording?


There was nothing really in particular, the tracks all capture different sides of what I do and what I like. The Vibe pretty much - even though I wasn’t intending to - captured that sort of tongue-and-cheek feel, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why Scrufizzer was perfect for it because he nailed that sort of ‘takin’ the piss out of yourself’ flamboyancy. The track “The Vibe” was originally called Cockatiel, and if you listen to it carefully - mind you I’ve never said this to anyone - there’s actually a Cockatiel sound throughout the track that’s looped and scratched. “Know Me” was more about my love for UK garage and 2-step. Every track is different and I made them at completely different points in time, “Know Me” was sitting in my library for like two years before it kind of made sense. There was a big pool of tracks to choose from and we ended up choosing these four. 


Since it’s New Years can you give us some highlights of 2016?


Well it’s been a really good year. Releasing The Vibe was amazing, Splendour In The Grass was incredible, getting to have a sold out tour in Australia was really good, and previewing this sort of semi live show that I did. Winning the Best Music Producer at the South Australian Music Awards was also very incredible, second year in a row which is a really good thing. It’s been a really good year, I only released one EP but I’ve worked tirelessly this year, hopefully we’ll see some stuff next year.


Come 2017 you’ll be heading to the US again to do some shows including Holy Ship, you excited for that?


Yep, third year in a row doing Holy Ship.


So you obviously enjoy it?


I recommend anyone do it, because it’s such a unique experience. It’s a rave on a cruise ship stuck in the middle of nowhere with no phone reception. I don’t know why I’m doing it for the third time, I’m not like a hardcore partier or anything. I’ll be the guy that eventually will be sitting on the top deck like reading a book and drinking green tea, just watching things unfold.


How about a resolution for 2017?


Oh there’s a lot of releases happening 2017, we don’t know exactly what the date is but hopefully somewhere around February or March is when the next single will be released, and it’s gonna be totally different to what I’ve done so far, there’s a school choir in there, a really amazing singer - two singers on board actually - so it’s going to be interesting, it’ll be a great start to the year. 


Finally, word around is you are a bit of a coffee buff, where is Motez’ best cup of coffee?

In Adelaide, First Pour on Melbourne Street, shout out to First Pour. Actually First Pour and Pickle In The Middle, which is like two minutes walk from my house, and they’re really good and everyone there is jovial, love going there.


Written by: Joshua Appleton