MOTE is an American artist, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Nashville, Tennessee, who recently released a brand new single Industrial Love. We spoke with MOTE about his beginnings, writing/recording process, and many other things.
When did you realise that your project/band had the potential to be a career, or long-lasting idea?
I’ve been working in music since I was a kid, professionally , and as an artist. I always felt I had something to say that no one else could and a vision of my own. So it was just a matter of working hard on it over the years. I knew I would eventually find my way, but it takes that sort of irrational belief I think.
When did the first glimpses of your latest release come together?
So I met this guy Ville, who runs The Animal Farm, an indie label in London, at the end of 2021. We spoke an decided to work together. We wanted to hear 6 of my best songs and we would pick some singles out of those. I am of the belief that my most recent work is my best, so I set out to write 6 brand new songs for this year. They came very quickly, and “Industrial Love,” my current single is the first one we picked.
What really inspires your music?
It honestly could be anything. A feeling, or a book, or a story, a cloudy day, a song, at any moment could send me in a direction flying. I am really driven to create though. Like Picasso said, “Inspiration has to find you working.” So I am always looking for something. I think to know more about myself, and how I relate to things. I am always searching for understanding.
Can you tell us a bit about the lyrical process for a song? How does it normally work?
It’s always different. For “Industrial Love,” for instance, I already had the music. I started watching a old German film from the 1920’s, which was basically a visual collage of Berlin being rebuilt after the first war. It was very mechanical, as the Germans can find appealing, and I think it just got me thinking about commonalities about life through a century of time. How much we have in common, and how things of the past have such a big impact on things now, which we don’t often notice. Once your mind is there, the words just kind of fall out. There is so much to say.
What’s the most rewarding moment in your creative process as a band, and why?
Probably moments just like that, where inspiration strikes, and something just moves through you, from the ether, and then somehow in a form in or world. This could happen during writing, or playing live. Moments of creation keep me coming back for more, and also like I said earlier, give me a better understanding of myself.
Who produces your music, and what are they like to work with? (If you produce the music yourself, what do you love the most about working that way?)
So lately, I have been producing everything, but once my demo process is done, I have been working with a man named Mat Leppanen. He is a brilliant guy, full of great instincts, and ideas about my songs. So we have been recording at his studio in London. I love working with him for those reasons, but he is a really positive guy, and I tend to get really serious sometimes, and when I have someone I can trust like that, it helps the flow into the magical side of the recording process. That’s when the songs really become what they are meant to be, and become bigger than just my ideas, and expectations.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your live show? Particular memories that stand out to you?
It’s all about playing live for me. Connecting with people and being in the moment. So when you’re really in it and the crowd is right there with you, it elevates everyone at the same time. We just happen to be the ones with the instruments in our hands. One that stands out is, back when I lived in Nashville, we open up for a modern funk band called The Main Squeeze. We had a small following at the time, and so it was probably the biggest crowd we had played for at that time. Maybe like 500 people. Like 40 people came to hear us, but their crowd really picked up on what we were doing. They really lifted us and we played a particularly elevated set. There is nothing like surprising an audience and them surprising you, and digging in to the music. It made me feel that we could really connect in a bigger way for the first time.
What advice would you give to another upcoming band/act?
Things get harder before you level up, and if you love it enough, you’ll break through. You gotta love it, you gotta live it. Don’t give up.