Australian producer Motez has been making the most of the current coronavirus pandemic, using the time to write a new five-track EP, Soulitude. It's an EP that showcases the sounds Motez grew up with, with the ambient soundscapes throughout the EP proving to be truly captivating.
He's launched the EP with a live set from the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, with a coastline backdrop providing the visuals as Motez showcases the new songs in a live setting - and both the audio and visuals work in unison to elevate each other, providing an immersive experience, and a great way to experience the new music.
We spoke to Motez about writing the new EP, how he's been doing in self-isolation, and the effect that's had on his creative process, as well as how he turned the songs on the new EP into a live setting.
Cool Accidents: Soulitude was written as a form of catharsis – does that make putting this music out into the work more nerve-racking, or are you excited for people to hear your thought processes throughout the current pandemic?
Motez: I’m very excited, it’s certainly a very different kind of music to what people know me for but it’s a snapshot of what was going through my head and how I was feeling when isolation hit. It’s very personal, and yes, cathartic. I wanted to feel centered, calm and grounded and so I wanted to translate that across to the audience with the least amount of “noise” and obstruction possible.
Do you have a favourite song of the EP, and can you tell us the story behind that track?
I love all of them, they each have an entirely different story and feeling, they’re like different chapters to the same book. For example, the creation of Cascade started with the first sound you hear, a chord I played on my Roland synth, and I kept playing the chords as if they’re “cascading”, falling down through the octaves on the keyboard, then I started building everything around it in a way that carries the track in the opposite direction where it all builds up to the crescendo at the end.
It made me realise how much we think we fall apart when we go through tough times, but in fact, we’re reshaping ourselves to become even better and stronger than we were, that after all the cascading down, we build up. It’s the notion that most of us won’t be the same after this is over. I know that from my personal experience.
You’ve chosen the Fleurieu Peninsula to film the live performance, why did you choose this location?
It’s very dear to my heart because it’s an absolutely stunning part of South Australia where I live, the rolling hills that turn into cliffs which overlook the sea was the perfect backdrop to the EP. It’s ruggedly beautiful and serene. There's this spot where you can see Kangaroo Island in the background which has been hit very hard with last summer’s bushfires and so I wanted to make sure it’s in the back. It’s also home to some of the best wine regions in the world in McLaren Vale.
As someone who appreciates the link between audio and visuals, how do you think that visuals elevate your music when performing in a live setting?
I think it was important to set it up in an environment that compliments the music, I did write most of that EP with that view in mind as I did a photoshoot around that area a few weeks prior to starting work on the music. The visual aspect is not an extension of Soulitude, but I consider it to be an overarching instrument to the whole body of work, so presenting it in that setting was a must.
I had to move my studio home for a while after lockdown and isolation, and for the first time I was in the spare room at my home, which has a window (a luxury I don’t have in my dark studio), and I saw the world go by and seasons change and so I wanted to bring the outside world into my studio when I was writing the EP, but when it came to working on the visual aspect I wanted to do the reverse of that: bring my little world with all my instruments to the outside world.
Can you tell us your process behind developing the live set around the new EP?
Because the EP was mostly built around the piano, it was straightforward for me to play that instrument in the live set, apart from Cascade, for which I played my modular system that I designed for that song. It was hard in certain parts to replicate what I played on the piano, especially with Oohm because the song you hear on the EP is totally improvised, so it was hard to recreate that in a live setting without sounding totally different. I tried to bring it as close as possible to the original song.
How do you think solitude helps your creative process?
It’s paramount, for me personally while isolation was bad in a professional sense because I have had all shows get cancelled with no solution in sight. I did enjoy the forced “solitude” to dig deep creatively with no distractions nor expectations, and it felt good making music exactly for what it is.
How do you think music created within the current times as a result of the pandemic will be viewed a year or two from now – will it be a time capsule to the current events, or will the context be lost?
I think people will inevitably view it as a time capsule. For me personally, I wanted to make a conscious effort not to create this body of work solely about struggle surrounding the pandemic and lockdowns, but about isolation in general and the need for us to feel grounded and centered. It could apply for our day-to-day lives, especially given how chaotic life is with its many distractions.
How do you think the dance music industry will evolve and change as a result of the current pandemic?
I am not sure, to be honest, but I think there will genres of music that will be explored more because we had a break and a chance to take stock, removing the context of “clubs” from dance music will probably make us look at music for what it is rather than all the “gimmicks” that sometimes surround it.
What’s planned for the rest of the year?
I actually have a new tune that will be out in a couple of weeks. It's a collaboration with my friend Qrion, and will be released on Lane8’s label This Never Happened and Sweat It Out. No rest here!