Motez brings his light and shade 

The Iraqi-Australian DJ plays Moe Joe's on Tuesday, June 21

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - AustraliaN Sound Motez has been lauded by Sydney producer Flume for his music.
  • PHOTO submitted
  • AustraliaN Sound Motez has been lauded by Sydney producer Flume for his music.

Motez's career in electronic dance music came after he emigrated from Baghdad to Adelaide 10 years ago, and he is generous in sharing that journey in our interview.

It's a reminder that people all around us have stories of struggle and drama in getting to the point where you meet them. His is no less moving.

"My father came to Australia as a refugee in 2000. He's a microbiologist. He came on a boat and it's a pretty long story. The gist of it is he was locked up in a detention centre for almost a year, it's really sad that it happened in a country like Australia," Motez says.

Upon his release, Motez's father got his permanent residency and brought his family over after six years.

"In the meantime, we were in Iraq during the 2003 invasion and we witnessed what happened after. We left the country just before the pseudo civil war happened in 2006, which is really good. We're an ethnic minority in Iraq," Motez says.

"We lived in Iraq at an important and dangerous time without my father. That's why my mom is important, playing a massively important role in my life. She looked out for myself and my sister in a dangerous period.

"My career started slowly after we got to Australia. It took a while for me to find my feet and to understand the dynamics of the culture."

The rich culture of Iraqi and Arab traditional music has some similarities to dance music and pop music in general, he says.

"You have the buildup and the drop. What I took away from Iraqi music is the rhythm and the swing, which is what I love," says Motez.

"It's very sensual. I started listening to blues at later age and it was the same, it speaks to me. There's something about the Delta Blues... a lot of similarities to the essential music that I listened to when I grew up."

He adds that his culture had an impact on him in terms of his work ethic, which brings us to his tour.

Motez is back in North America to promote his new EP The Vibe and performs at Moe Joe's on Tuesday, June 21. He made his first trip to Whistler just last year.

"It's a beautiful place. Most artists, if they had to be charged to play in Whistler, they would pay. I played there once before, and that drive from Vancouver to Whistler is one of the best experiences in my entire life. It's very nice on the eyes."

Motez is considered part of the "Australian Sound" movement. He says it started with the Sydney producer Flume.

"He has travelled all over the world and noticed more and more that Australians are doing so well in dance music and listed 10 people, including myself, which I am really thankful for. He said we were people who are pushing the boundaries," says Motez.

"It started a debate about what that meant. The people he listed weren't cohesive, soundwise; I think it's groups by the vibe our music brings. It's the sound of the beaches, the sound of ocean and tropical music."

The Vibe is four tracks of Motez "not taking things seriously," he says.

"One track is a bit dark, 'Down With This' with Tkay Maidza, but the rest of the tracks are happy and not too serious, tongue-in-cheek. I was at a particular stage in my career and my life so that I needed to not take things too seriously. I was looking around me and seeing that other people were making their dance music pretty dark and sombre."

Why the sunny ways?

"A lot of music sounds similar, especially dance music. I wanted to get back to my roots and play music that had a lot of melody and instrumentation, even more than in the past," Motez says.

"I didn't write the tracks with this in mind, it was more a response to my previous EP Vancouver."

It's no surprise, then, that the lighter types of music that influence Motez include's Madonna's 1998 album Ray of Light.

"It's not her so much as the producer who made it, William Orbit. He is one of my favourite artists of all time. He's so transformational. Danger Mouse is another artist," he says.



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