WAX MOTIF Sits Down With The Garnette Report
A Lollapalooza Interview!
The Garnette Report’s Taylor Hawkins had the chance to sit down with Aussie DJ Wax Motif, right before his set on the Perry’s stage on Day Four of Lollapalooza, to tell readers all about himself and his music!
TH: Can you describe Wax Motif ‘s style of music to the readers?
WM: “Okay so my style of music I guess in a blanket term is house music. I’m from Australia and dance music has always been quite big out there”.
TH: How did you get into DJing as Wax Motif?
WM: “Growing up I couldn’t really see another way to get into music. I’m not from a musical family, we don’t have any connections. Like, I can’t sing. I tried to rap, I sucked. So this kind of just made sense. I didn’t really have to talk to people, but I could still do music. It’s cool, I like not having to rely on other people too.
TH: You’re pretty independent?
WM: “Yeah, I’m pretty independent. So, like I think when I was in a band at 18, that was a lot of relying on other people. You know what I mean? And like it’s hard to stay super motivated when, like, not everybody’s equally as motivated. So yeah, this just kind of worked”.
TH: So you pretty much just kind of fell into this essentially?
WM: “Yeah so I’ve gone to college, I graduated in finance. And then like, I was doing job interviews and hated it like everyone else. And like, my parents are Chinese so they’re very f****** strict. Not anymore, but they were. So basically they were like ‘Okay you have one year to, like, do whatever you want. And then after the year, if you’re still broke and living at home, you have to go get that job’. And I was like ‘Cool’. So then I started working in a bar. Just, like, a backpacker bar. And when they had like an open DJ slot I’d be like ‘Oh can I go DJ’. So it started really organically like that. Like, literally from the ground up. I was playing Monday nights for like 4 or 5 hours to like backpackers. I’d play for suits on a Friday night. Then eventually I was doing almost every bar in my city, I was playing every night of the week and that’s how I was paying my rent. And then eventually I moved out of home and told my parents like ‘I’m just going to do this’. So I quit the bar job with like 2 grand, and just immediately went into touring with the band”.
TH: So you were a bartender for a bit then?
WM: I was a bartender, I was in the kitchen, and I would clean. Eventually, I was working in the office by the end of it. I kinda just did every role. Every level of s*** almost”.
TH: Did you always know that music was something you wanted to pursue?
WM: “I always knew I liked music. But it was never something that was presented to me as a viable job. So like it didn’t exist in my mind. I always liked listening to music. And then when I started making music, I liked making it. I just didn’t know how to make money from it. I mean obviously, I worked it out, but from the get-go, I always, like, wanted to do something in entertainment. Like I definitely didn’t want to wear a suit. That’s what I knew. I didn’t want to be told what to wear, I want the freedom to get up and wear would I want to wear. To, like, have the freedom to decide what time I wake up, even better. So those two things and travel. They’re my three things. And so, I don’t know, it wasn’t presented to me as a real option, so, no I didn’t know this is what I wanted to do. But, I think once you start getting the little wins, you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and you get more and more motivated”.
TH: You mentioned that house music is big in Australia, but what are some other things that have influenced your style of music?
WM: So many things. I mean mainly movies and TV. Yeah, because you can sample a lot of good stuff. So, like, sampling from YouTube is pretty big now. You know? Like, funny clips. But I’d say if you asked me today, there are a lot of good ideas coming from TikTok.Whether it’s random sounds that people are uploading, or it might be just a clip that’s going viral. Or there’s a lot of people that just play an instrument and be like resample this. And I just find that s*** super inspiring! It’s so accessible, and like, you realize how many f****** talented people there are out there. Like, girls will just sing acapella and go ‘remix this’ and you’ll be like ‘dude this is f****** sick’”!
TH: So speaking of getting inspired, can you walk me through the process of creating a Wax Motif set?
WM: “Oh yeah, usually I’ll start, I mean obviously I have a lot of original music that I have to play. So usually I’ll start with that. Like which songs of my own that I’m expected to play. And then I’ll try to work everything else around that. I never try to play too many of the same songs in multiple sets. So after 2 or 3 sets, if it’s not one of my songs it gets switched out. And it’s just kind of like fitting it all around my songs because there are certain songs that if I don’t play them kids get really angry. And I get it because it’s like if I went to see the Chili Peppers and they didn’t play, like, the big ones I’d probably be a little upset too. But then it’s also hard because it’s such a big catalog, and with things moving so quick you want to stay current. So, I just try to find a balance between giving people what they want to hear from me, which is my own music, and kind of giving them something new as well”.
TH: What’s your favorite Wax Motif song that you’ve released?
WM: “That’s a f****** difficult one. I’d say from my older stuff I think most fans will know this one it’s called “Make It Rain”. It’s not like my biggest streaming song, but I don’t know, just in terms of, like, how I made it. The sounds used and stuff, at the time no one was doing that. It just felt really forward and unique which was cool. And then of the recent stuff, probably the Malaa collab we put out like 2 weeks ago. That’s a collab that’s been in the works for, like, years. We should have done it years and years ago. Our sounds are very similar, similar fanbase, we came out at the same time. So, I’m happy we finally did that one. And it’s a good song”.
TH: What is your biggest takeaway as a rising star in the music industry?
WM: “Yeah, I don’t know what the exact term is, but it’s either, like, treat everyone nice, or don’t burn bridges. Something along those lines. Because things change very quickly. People that are at the top will be at the bottom, and people that are at the bottom that you never thought would go to the top will be at the top. And like, before you know it, everything is the other way around. And I just think part of the reason here is because of how I’ve carried myself with other artists and other people in our industry. But yeah, things change very quickly. I think there’s people when I started that are much smaller than me and probably vice versa for other people. So yeah I just think you got to stay solid”.
TH: I totally relate to that 100%! My father always taught me that ‘You never know who you’re talking to’. So, you have to always stay respectful, presentable, and professional.
WM: “Exactly! Exactly! Your dad hid the nail on the head with that one for sure”.
TH: Any new projects in the works you want to let Wax Motif fans know about?
WM: “Yeah! My next single is out in 4 weeks. And I’m actually really excited about this one. Which, feels kind of weird to say because I know I’m excited about all my music. But, this one feels really special. The vocal and everything came together really easily so, excited for that. And then we’re about to do, like, a 25-show US tour. So all my energy after this will be just focused on getting the visuals right and getting the stage set up right for that.