If you’re into hip-hop, house, and EDM, you’ve probably heard of Wax Motif. And if you haven’t, you’ve most probably listened to one of his songs. As of late, he co-produced Back to Me with 88-keys from Vultures, the acclaimed album by Ye and Ty Dolla $ign. So now it rings a bell, doesn’t it? But beyond being a producer, the Australia-born, Los Angeles-based artist is also a DJ who’s constantly touring to bring his creative vision to life for a devoted audience. Today, we speak with him about the struggles of a fast-paced lifestyle, his musical guilty pleasures (a hint: he’s a redhead British…), and his latest works.
Hi Daniel, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. To get to know you better, what does a ‘normal’ day in your life look like?
If I’m not on tour, I usually get breakfast and a coffee (Coffee Commissary is my go-to in Studio City) and then work on music all day. If I am on tour, I like to find cool spots to eat in the city that I’m traveling in, and if I have some time, take the chance to explore. Before my set, I try to go to the hotel gym and prep my set by looking for new edits and tracks that will keep the energy high throughout the night.
Being born and raised in Australia, you decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, which is clearly paying off. How do you remember the early days in the US? First impressions, struggles, challenges…?
I moved to the United States around eight years ago. Because I started my career in Australia, I didn’t have too many connections or opportunities here, so I had to build everything basically from the ground up (such as networking with other artists, labels, etc.). Aside from the challenges, I did feel like I was stepping into a place with much more opportunities and like-minded people, and am happy to be here today.
After releasing your debut album in 2022, House of Wax, you kept the ball rolling and 2023 was super prolific – with songs like Better Recognize, In My Hands, Otherside, Lo que soy, La samba, or Telugu Tech. What would you say fuels your creativity? Could you give us an insight into your creative/production process?
Really anything can fuel my creativity, from samples I find off of TikTok, new synths and sample packs, listening to music, or anything that captures my attention. I try to find inspiration and ideas based on creating something that others haven’t done and by looking in places that aren’t oversaturated. Then, I take whatever that may be and build my music off of that.
Your music is influenced by many genres, but you seem to have a more personal relationship with hip-hop. You’ve now worked with Ty Dolla $ign, Ye, Gashi, and G-Eazy, among others. Do you have memories from the first hip-hop songs and artists you listened to?
The Notorious B.I.G is my favorite rapper of all time – I have a Biggy pillow on my couch. I also grew up listening to Tupac, G-Unit, Snoop Dogg, and more. I’ve always tried to include R&B and hip-hop influences in my electronic production, but over the years, I’ve been able to produce for major rap and hip-hop artists for their own projects.
I met Ty Dolla $ign back when I first moved to the US but we didn’t become close until a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been able to produce for him and many other artists I’ve looked up to since I was younger. Usually, I’m able to bring a new sound to the table for their tracks, which is why I think this works.
By the way, any musical guilty pleasures? Maybe you love a pop star, genre, or song that people wouldn’t guess.
I love Ed Sheeran – he’s goated. He can step into any musical lane and crush it.
Taking a look at your Spotify, it traces your work back to 2009 with your first EP, Conga Junk. It’s been almost fifteen years! What has been the most exciting part of this journey so far?
Honestly, the best part is where I’m at right now. After having to find my way over the last fifteen years, I’m finally able to execute my creative vision across what I’m putting into my live shows, productions, and collaborations. From stage design, my current productions, and the people I’m working with, it’s a really exciting chapter for me.
Throughout these years, music has experimented radical changes – sound-wise, industry-wise, etc. From streaming platforms to social media and AI, how do you navigate such a constantly evolving environment as an artist? Also, as a producer and DJ, your work is intrinsically linked to technology, but how do you view the eruption of these softwares? Have you been toying with it to at least see what the possibilities are?
I’m a big tech nerd. I like finding new and exciting technologies and playing around with them to some degree in my production process. Evolution is necessary across all things in life. I feel like the music industry is split when it comes to AI – many people think it will ruin creativity whereas I think that it comes down to the ideas that come from it.
Some people are already seeing incredible results, and I believe artists will take these new technologies and bring music further than we can imagine. So far I’ve tried out Suno.ai, a text-to-song technology, and a stem separator named Moises.
You have a busy year ahead, with multiple gigs in Australia, Thailand, the US, Canada, and you’ve recently been to Spain and Brazil. How do you prepare for your live shows? Any rituals before going on stage?
Aside from prepping music ahead of going on stage, a shot of Casamigos Reposado calms my nerves and gets me and the team excited for the night.
As a DJ and producer, I guess your life happens a lot in airports, hotel rooms, and backstage. How do you cope with the fast-paced and almost nomadic lifestyle? What keeps your feet on the ground?
The key is to have a balance in partying, working out, eating well, etc. while on the road, but it is incredibly difficult. Every time I come home from a long period of shows, I make sure to unplug for a few days to reset my social battery. I’m incredibly comfortable being alone, and my downtime when I’m home is key to balancing out my busy tour schedule across the rest of the year.
As a curiosity, what songs or albums are on repeat lately on your playlists? Any recommendations?
The Vultures album has been on repeat for me, as I co-produced Back to Me with 88-keys, but Carnival and Fuck Sumn are also some of my favorites. I’ve also been loving Sunshine by Dew and have been really into DJ Heartstring and Odd Mob lately.