Way back before Motez was making bangers and rocking festivals, he was getting some classical piano know how and its these skills that he flexes on Own Up. Clearly influenced by the 90’s, Own Up is a fresh and revitalized update rather than pastiche but not only this, in a nice twist, it still manages to sound like it came from the guy that made Roof Ride Back. Motez is many things. He’s #1 ‘next big thing’ (In The Mix), a key 2014 ‘artist to watch’ (MTV), an ‘artist to watch out for’ (vibe magazine), and he’s earned the attention of dudes like Flume, who named Motez as one of his most excited artists alongside Ta-ku and Wave Racer.

He’s chalked up two Hype Machine #1s, had main support duties for Disclosure’s most recent Australian tour, was the only Australian to be invited to play the debut Oceanic tour by cult-followed Hard-presents, played to thousands on the main stage of Field Day, and had 3 tracks in Australia’s TOP TEN most played EPs of 2013 by Stoney Roads. Impressive! VERY.

He’s chalked up two Hype Machine #1s, had main support duties for Disclosure’s most recent Australian tour, was the only Australian to be invited to play the debut Oceanic tour by cult-followed Hard-presents, played to thousands on the main stage of Field Day, and had 3 tracks in Australia’s TOP TEN most played EPs of 2013 by Stoney Roads. Impressive! VERY.

You grew up in Baghdad, correct?

Exactly. Generations of my family are from there. We were originally based in Southern Iraq, actually.

Lets back it up a little bit, for those who are less familiar with your back story, which is kind of interesting in itself, you’re from Iraq, and you moved to Australia only a hand-full of years ago to pursue music. Iraq, not necessarily a central hub for electronic music, how did you find yourself in production in the first place?
I have been producing since I was in Iraq. I was born there. I grew up there. I started doing much when I was there. Then I started DJing when I moved to Australia. Now obviously Iraq has many problems, as you can hear on the news every day. We moved (my family and I) a few years ago, to establish a new life, in a new way. I think I started to take music a little bit more seriously and I think that till last year, which kind of took off. I haven’t really started DJing until five years ago. I was a producer before I became a DJ.


Growing up in Baghdad do you find that that had a strong influence on you creatively?
I think the kind of geographical location not really. It kind of affected I think my way of doing things, the things I hold dear, I think my methods not necessarily in music but generally speaking in day to day life in terms of like not taking things for granted, you never know what’s going to happen it might be a little bit kind of ominous way of looking at things. I think it helps you kind of gives you a bit of buffer, you know just in case something wrong happens because in Baghdad you wouldn’t know what’s going to happen, it might be a bomb around the corner or something like that. Even the idea of having a diary back then was a bit funny because you don’t know what’s going to happen, so that kind of gave me that sort of way of looking at things. And that obviously consequently has affected my way of doing things. I think my work ethic relationships with other people musically I think the last EP that I did the track “trying to shake it” in that EP was, it had an Iraq instrument so I think when I did that and I put that in the track I kind of realised that I think a lot of the music back home has a bit of a weird sort of funk to it so I think that gave me a bit of sense of funk and I kind of found myself listening to a lot of funk and a lot of jazz and anything that has a bit of the swing I think I just kind of felt myself gravitated more towards than any other genre so I try to implement that in my music along with some instruments from back home.

That’ll blow people’s minds, what did you have in mind?
I wanted to make sure that I use something very unique; so I chose an Iraqian instrument called the Zomborg, which literally translates to wasp. It’s a tiny little percussion instrument that you play with your fingertips which produces a very unique sound. I had that sample (thank god) and wanted to use it in a weird way, so I just slid it right in giving that kind of percussive raspiness to it you know.

So was it always going to be music? and what was the music scene in Baghdad like?
Well Iraq has, there is a lot of traditional Arab music. Iraq is geographically if you look at it on the map it is like south of Turkey. It is west of Iran. So in a way it’s kind of a gateway to that side of the world and non Arab side of the middle and on the kind of east of the west side you have a lot of the Arab world so from a like even like cuisine culture music they all are, it’s like a melting pot of all of these countries together.

The music back home was a reflection of that but it’s mainly middle eastern music. We did have a lot of western music though. My dad had a massive influence on that because in the 60’s and 70’s and even 80’s Iraq there was a music scene. There was a lot of kind of, for lack of a better term, western music, so my dad kind of gave me that influence in a way but when I was growing up there wasn’t much because Iraq was under a lot of pressure from sanctions and dictatorship and the invasion afterwards in 2003 so there was more or less focus on traditional music within the country so people like myself didn’t really have a place to kind of grow musically to I think demonstrate our abilities to perform. There was no place for us to do it so that’s why when I moved to Australia in 2007 I kind of went alright this is my place I can like flourish and it was never just music like I finished a degree back home and I came to Australia and finished another degree here so from a job perspective I think I wasn’t looking for anything to do with music as such but I just found myself kind of doing music and all of a sudden things are happening and things are happening to an extent that even my mum who comes from that traditional 9 to 5 sort of background she went look you need to concentrate on your music I think that’s going somewhere so I paused everything and I haven’t looked back since.

Family support is crucial, so how did you get your break into music?
I actually worked in a music store in between selling music instruments and I think so many people come through that have amazing talent, I mean I use the word talent in an abstract way but people come through that have so much talent, raw talent so to speak but they don’t go anywhere because in their minds they take those things for granted and at the same time like what I think happens like in my mind in a subconscious way my brain was already driving my behavior towards music and I think it’s the drive and determination that kind of led me to where I am.


Growing up I was a shit kicker kid, but I guess when you apply yourself and there’s no real pay off but the joy of doing it that you start to form greatness. I think that acquiring knowledge is a very important within the industry and as much as it’s corny and cliche to say, but knowledge is very very powerful. When I finished my masters degree in International Business and one of the subjects that I loved a lot is called knowledge management and knowledge management puts a dollar sign to that notion. I apply this every day whether I am working on music or anything else.

So let’s talk about your name?
Motez is not really a common name back home but it’s not that strange. It’s a combination of names. Motez means “proud” in Arabic. I think I need to thank my parents for this one.

You completed a computer engineering course over there, right?
Yeah, I finished all of that over there. When I got to Adelaide, I completed my masters in international business here. I’ve done a lot of studying in life, haven’t I?

Did your computer engineering background influence your interest in music production?
It definitely did. It really goes hand in hand with a lot of other industries. When we’d study electromagnetic fields, we’d touch on the idea of modulation. Modulation also applies to synthesis, which is what goes into music. There was a lot of parallels in there, but if I was honest, I’ve forgotten all about computer engineering. *Laughs* I haven’t worked in it for so long. I was really young. It’s all just music in my head now.


So are you going to give yourself some time to sort of, explore this sound on the dance floor and tour a bit? Or are you diving right back in the studio to keep the creative juices flowing?
Making music for me is a cathartic experience and I can’t, not be making music. The good thing for me when I’m home in Australia is that I can come home and keep making music. Touring over seas unfortunately doesn’t give me the same opportunity but you know, occasionally on the road I’ll be able to make music. For example the Vancouver EP was made on the road in Canada, and same with being in California and being able to produce with Wax Motif. I’m happiest, though, when I’m home in my own studio and writing. That’s my way of expressing myself and I can’t stop it.

Would you say a majority of your producing takes place at home? What’s your studio setup like?
Yes definitely, I’ve got a studio that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of gear (which in my opinion I think is a good thing) it just has a couple keyboards, a really old early 80’s mixer and that’s pretty much it. It’s a nice little zone for me to do my thing.

Well now that we know what grinds your gears, let’s talk a little bit about what doesn’t grind your gears. Who are some live acts right now that you think are doing a good job in incorporating a live aspect to their setup?
I remember seeing Madeon, I played with him in Indonesia, really great guy, he does the same kind of thing, and I think Lido does something similar. Perfect example, RUFUS DU SOL, Flight Facilities, and Odesza are absolutely incredible from a live perspective, also Hayden James. That is a really good sort of blueprint for a lot of people and I look up to these guys and how they are doing it.


I see that in your music. It’s funny the word funk gets thrown around everywhere, and funky means something different to everyone. But in terms of your music I hear it in that garage influence, with the drums a little bit off beat.</strong
Absolutely, that’s the main. I have a big shuffle on the track, but I’m listening to the album by Cuthead, he’s from Germany. The album, made me not make music for the rest of the day it kind of got me depressed it was that good. The reason why was because it was full of shuffled, a lot of swing on the tracks.

Winding down from that, what is one golden piece of advice you pass down to inspiring young producers out there?
Don’t just listen to dance music, go and listen to something completely different. Listen to pop, listen to things that are different. Another thing learn music. Learn how to play keys, learn how to play guitar, piano, whatever you want. That will give you more and let you stick out completely different to the crowd. You are making music after all.


Bali's #1 interactive one stop party shop, bringing the weekend to any device your rocking 24/7. Subscribe now for our free Bali Clubbing weekly Wednesday newsletter!

Scroll to Top