khal: Your track record in DnB is kind of short, but very impressive. How did you get into DnB production?
DJ Motive: Short but impressive - sounds like I'm a wrestler. I got into production thru the usual channels really, I've been DJing since about '97, but there comes a point for many DJs where you can't find the exact sound you're after. So you have to try and do it yourself.
khal: Australia wasn’t initially known as a spot where ill DnB was coming from, but as of late, guys like yourself, Pendulum, Shock-One, BaD RoBoT, Greg Packer and others have really started to make noise. Do you guys get together at all?
DJ Motive: I know Pendulum and Greg Packer - but all the artists you've mentioned are from Perth - the world's most remote city - so it's a fair way from my city (Melbourne). About 5 hours via plane, or about 4 days by train.We usually try 'n get together for a drink if they are in town, which is a few times a year, but we've never tried to make a tune together.
khal: Would you say there is a certain “sound” that Australia brings to the DnB scene as a whole?
DJ Motive: From an international point of view, it's pretty heavily slanted towards the Perth sound, the hyper rave sound of Pendulum, Shock-One, BaD RoBoT. On the east coast there's more of the dubwise thing, which I guess people will put me, Ritual, and Vice Versa in to that category - but we don't sell any records so no-one has heard of us.
khal: Who are some of your major influences production wise, and why?
DJ Motive: Ummm.... good question, I've answered this one a few times and I'm pretty sure my answer changes all the time. But I'd say that my influences are Jonny L, Seiji, Switch / Solid Groove, Timbaland, old school jungle especially the '96-'99 era of Moving Shadow and Metalheadz, some reggae & dub - in particular I'm really into some of Sly & Robbie's stuff, some of King Tubby's mixes, some dubstep like Toasty. Optical, Photek, Dom, Jonny L, and Boymerang stuff from '96-'99. To me, all the above have kind of got similarities in their use of bass, beat & sample that I really like - I like good production, I like fuzzy bass, spacious beats and kick-heavy production, a touch of melody (but not too much).
khal: For the production heads out there, can you break down what kind of studio setup you have?
DJ Motive: Yeh I've got a really cool set-up these days that I love working on. It's actually really cheap, entry-level sort of stuff. At the heart is an iMac G5 running Ableton Live 5.2 and Logic Express. I don't really use Logic that much tho, it's all about Ableton Live which I've been using for about a year or so. I don't really run very many plug-ins, TCNative bundle does most of it, ummm what else, Ohmboyz Delay is essential. An M-Audio Firewire card is connected to the G5, running to a Soundcraft Compact 4 mixer, and out from that are the Tapco S8 monitors. On the outboard I've got the Electrix Filter Factory analog filter, the Electrix Mo-Fx rack, which is a flange, tremolo, delay unit with overdrive, and a Focusrite Focus EQ (courtesy DJ Trace). You need some outboard, otherwise you'll have no flashing LEDs to look at, no knobs to twiddle, and that's no fun.
khal: How do you work? Are you just vibing off of instinct in the studio or do you go with a certain sound or plan you want to flesh out?
DJ Motive: hmmmm.... how do I work. Lemme see, well, one thing I do is I pre-produce all my beats. I might just do a whole day of doing beats. I master each beat so that it's sounding as loud and clear as possible.Then when I've got an idea for a tune, I just go in and choose which beat is best. I don't cut or Recycle my beats, I do them in audio not midi. I usually get an idea from hearing tunes, usually old school ones, so sometimes I'll do a DJ mix for a while and eventually, something will come to me. Like maybe I'll hear a bassline from someone's tune, and I'll try and write an answer or counterpoint to it, so if I had it in the mix it would complete the phrase, does that make sense??
khal: Definitely. From hearing tracks like that dsci4 12" from 2006 to your releases on Soundtrax, as well as the smashing "Domino" on Dispatch, you exhibit a few different styles of DnB, from the more mellow side to full on dancefloor destruction. For a genre where there are tons of styles and loads of producers who stick to one style, why do you choose to flex different sounds and types of DnB?
DJ Motive: Yeah I actually don't understand how people can write their own niche style in such a niche genre like DnB. To tell the truth, it's probably because I haven't actually found exactly what I want to do or sound like. "Domino" is probably my favourite so far, I felt like I came up with something there that was mine. But generally, say if I do an amen tune or a liquid tune, I won't go back the next week and write another one just like it, even though it seems that's what the industry wants you to do. I listen to a lot of different music, I write different types of music, I DJ different types of music.
khal: From checking your MySpace page, there’s audio up for a Remix for a Big Bud tune that you did. You also Remixed a DJ Trace track for dsci4. How does this work; do the labels come to you, or do you create these remixes and then submit them to the labels? What are you looking to do when you Remix a track --- update it or recreate it?
DJ Motive: I really like doing remixes, one of my favourite things to do. Labels haven't come to me yet, I'm trying to make a name for myself as a remixer, so in the case of "Final Chapter" I asked Trace if I could do a remix. I've also done a remix of "Babylon Boy" on Shout Records - and I approached them and asked to do a remix. With the Big Bud "Children Of Jah" track, it was more that Big Bud wanted me to do one. I took a risk with that one, and turned it from a mellow, strolling reggae flavoured tune into a heavy amen & old school reese tune. An old school Dom & Roland influence on that tune. I was a bit nervous about Bud's reaction but he loves it. When I remix a track I just look at what the original track is, if it's a deeper track, I'll try and do a dancefloor thing. If it's already a dancefloor thing, I'll try and do a deeper thing. There's just no point to a remix if it sounds like the original.
khal: I also saw that you were recently in the US playing a few dates. What do you think is different about spinning for crowds in different countries? Would you play the same set for a crowd in Australia that you’d play in the US? Why or why not?
DJ Motive: Well I wouldn't change what I'd take, but I do notice that certain things go down better in some places than others, so if the crowd was to react one way then I'd keep going down that route. I think it's to do with what the local DJs have been pushing for the years prior. So it pretty much seems to change from city to city. I know that in Australia each city is different. Perth wants the most up front anthems, Adelaide love epic tech tracks, Sydney gets into the liquid and dubwise.
khal: What’s forthcoming from you? I know you have a few things done that are awaiting release… does that wait make you want to start your own imprint up?
DJ Motive: No, definitely not starting my own imprint up. You've got to be really keen on lots of hard work and very little reward if you want to start your own label. Yeh I've got some tunes that have been with labels for 2 years with no release, it's frustrating but it's just the way it is. As for forthcoming, I've got my remix of Big Bud's "Children Of Jah" coming out on Soundtrax, a 12" on Blindside called "Give Your Heart" with "After Hours" on the flip, and a remix of "Babylon Boy" on Shout Records.
khal: There was a thread on DOA that delved into the idea of there not being enough fans in DnB; basically, that everyone wants to be “down”, andt here are no pure fans out there, seemingly. Do you feel this is the case?
DJ Motive: Ok, good question. Ummmm... yeah sometimes you go to a party and everyone is a DJ, everyone is a producer, everyone is a promoter - no one is actually paying to get in and just enjoy it. But I've met some fans, and to be honest they're a bit scary, who are so into it - but they really care about the music. They're good to meet cos they remind me that people care and are listening. Nice people to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.
khal: Is this part of the reason why the scene as we know it today seems to be slumping sales wise, and arguably production wise?
DJ Motive: There really aren't many sales of DnB, but it's kind of caught in a difficult position. The art of making "listening" DnB has long since died. And the dancefloor stuff these days, who's really going to buy it and listen to it - it's not really available in a convenient format for people to buy. DnB producers are in a difficult position. Basically the only money in DnB is from DJing. After getting a decent reputation on vinyl, a DJ can earn in a weekend what you would earn from releasing 12" -that is if the label paid you - and it usually takes a year to get paid after release. Given that it usually takes about 8-12 months for a record to come out, you won't see any money for almost 2 years. So producers are writing disposable dancefloor music which gets them a reputation and gets them gigs, but alienates people who were there since the start and love the sound, the people that used to buy the music. I think that's one of the reasons why we've seen the music go the way it has. And why artistic producers have migrated to other genres.
khal: I also know you’ve put a few mixes up online, showcasing your turntable skills. Do you have anything on that front coming soon?
DJ Motive: Well I have my radio show on straightup.com.au - I've missed my show since I've been in UK & US, but all my previous shows are archived. And there's lots of my own unreleased tracks in those sets. As for a proper online mix, it's been a while since I did the
khal: Can you hit us off with a current top 10 of yours?
DJ Motive: Cambridge 4 - When Pilots Eject - Hospital
Tactile - Aldabra (Commix remix) - Dispatch
Jonny L - This Is Hardcore - Mr.L Recordings
Solid Groove & Sinden - Overbooked - Atlantic Jaxx
Motive - Stop Playing Games - unsigned
Concord Dawn - Man For All Seasons - Uprising
Bungle - Human Poison - Critical
Shapeshifter - Bring Change - TrueTone
Motive - Screw Top - unsigned
Roni Size & Die - It's A Jazz Thing remix - V
khal: If you have a day off of DJing or producing or just any type of DnB related work, what would you be doing?
DJ Motive: I'm a graphic designer by day, most days that's what I'll be doing. I try to travel when I can. I like watching football, or playing it via FIFA06. Now that I think about it I really don't know what I do in my spare time. Big up The Least Jiggy One...
Shouts to Motive for letting me pick his brain. If you want to check out more of his music, hit up his MySpace page. Peep this link for a list of his releases. There are also mp3 links to his Sound Trax releases here. "Babylon Boy" Remix, eh? Sounds sick! Big up ya chest, Motive!