Hailing from the talent hotbed of Manchester, Motiv is a producer with a solid reputation for releasing some of the most venomous beats in the business. His comprehensive and diverse cuts have regularly rocketed up the charts. He’s featured on various labels over the past four years, with tunes aplenty which have been consistently highly reviewed by the best selecters on the DJ circuit. Motiv’s prolific output has seen high quality releases on esteemed imprints such as Liquid V, Fokuz, Celsius, Original Key, and Galacy. With that back-catalogue, we guess it was about time for an album then…
Back on Co-Lab Recordings with Meraki Music, which features tonnes of his own tunes and some fabulous features with vocalists such as Sahala, Anya Asia, and of course Collete Warren, it’s no surprise this lush LP is already sitting at number 1 on the Juno Download Charts across all genres. Typical of his full spectrum style, the album represents Motiv’s trademark production techniques. Amongst the lyrically rich link ups, there’s also insane collabs with Dunk and Teej on there too to add that bit of grit and dirt to the refined, liquid funk sound Motiv has become synonymous with.
We called Jonny up to chat all things Meraki Music…
Hey Motiv. How’s it hanging?
Alright yeah I’ve been at my day job, audio engineering, pretty cool!
Debut album just dropped, you must be feeling pretty excited?
Yeah, definitely, I feel like it’s a big milestone for me on my journey with music, I can’t believe that I’ve been able to do it.
It’s been a long time coming I imagine with such an extensive back-catalogue… How long have you been producing?
I think all in all around 10 years which started off you know just sort of messing around? Producing properly under Motiv it’s been about four years I reckon – so I see it as four years since taking it seriously from when I’ve tried to get noticed, send stuff to big labels and big artists and such, which seems to be working haha.
I bet you’ve had some good support on this album…
So far yeah! It’s been quite surprising to be honest, I’ve just got some of the feedback from the promos, there’s some pretty crazy stuff on there! There’s some great feedback from L-Side, DJ Marky, Ray Keith, Random Movement and Pendulum called it “A wonderful breath of freshness with some classic liquid funk vibes about it, very good!”
So just a bit of support then…
Haha yeah just a little bit, just the right amount…
Epic! So you’ve worked with Co-Lab Recordings before, the home of your latest venture…
I’ve done quite a few bits with them as they’ve got a couple of sister labels too, Calypso Music and Liquid Lab so I’ve done a lot of EPs and such in the past couple of years but I think it sort of made sense to build up a portfolio first there and then end up with an album.
You’ve clearly got a good relationship with those guys then…
Definitely, the album suited there, I don’t think I would have wanted it to go out anywhere else as I’ve got such a good relationship with [label co-owner] Benny, big ups to him. I feel like that label gives me the freedom to express myself. You know, there’s no messing around with it, so I was really happy with that!
You can sense that freedom in the album itself. You’re well known for your liquid style and releases on touchstones like Fokuz, yet you know how to flip the switch with the music as demonstrated by some of the darker tracks on there…
That’s it, I mean I just make drum & bass you know! It just kinda happens that I do the more liquidy stuff.
And you’re damn good at it! Would you say you’re quite an emotive person?
Definitely haha, that’s coming through in the music I feel! I mean, I used to make a lot more sort of darker rollers and jungle stuff. I always made liquid just as a side project and never really used to release it but one day I just thought, I’d rather do what I want and what feels right you know?
Cool, you’ve certainly brought the feels to your debut album. Meraki Music has a lot of meaning imbued in that title…
Yeah, it’s a Greek word…This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love. Or when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be. I’ve always been a strong believer of putting yourself and experiences into your art before anything, that’s what makes it unique and stand out from the rest.
The album is brimming with soul. The theme of Meraki Music is very reflective of the tunes you make.
Yeah, it goes back to what I was saying earlier, like with the liquid stuff, it’s more expressive and seems to translate deeper meanings and experiences somehow.
There seems to be two sides to Motiv; the deep and emotional, and the gunfingers reloader…
Sounds about right! Especially doing live sets, got to work the dancefloor and you don’t always know how liquid is gonna go down, it can be hit and miss haha! Sometimes it goes off, or sometimes you play it and the room empties and everyones in the smoking area or whatever haha!
I caught one of your sets actually back in summer here in Manchester, best one of the night for me!
Ah thanks. I’m from Carlise originally but I moved down to Manchester about five years ago now. There’s not much of a scene up there, that’s sort of the reason I moved down, to kick off the music stuff! Carlisle’s pretty dead as you know!
So there’s some great collabs on the LP, you’ve obviously worked with Charla Green before…
Yeah, definitely, we’ve been friends for quite a while and we’ve done a lot of music together especially with her singing on my tunes! Her voice fits the style I make very well. And she’s smashing it with production too, she’s wicked.
Word! So, the first track of the album launches with a big dramatic opening, was that intentionally placed?
Yeah, Halcyon has a 64 bar intro so I thought it made sense to have that large introduction and atmospheric feel it kinda reflects across the whole album after that. It also features Anya Asia who is such an amazing vocalist it deserved to be the first track of the album!
It’s brilliantly structured this album, it’s got that ‘journey’ vibe to it…
That’s what I was hoping to construct. I intentionally wanted to have that journey and the sort of a change up in style around track 7 with Twisters, I also wanted to have the collaborations and the individual tunes split up equally so it fell into place like that.
Did the several lockdowns of late help you with time to finish off the project?
Yeah definitely, even just my music in general, lockdown has helped it a lot and me as a producer.I kind of enjoyed lockdown a lot, not gonna lie haha!
A bittersweet experience as an artist…
Yeah! In terms of the album I definitely produced most of that in lockdown. I think I’ve set a line now with this album, and I kind of fear that anything that I make now has to hit that line otherwise it’s gonna get deleted!
We’ve got a fully motivated Motiv on our hands then…where would be your dream destination for your tunes?
V Recordings. That’s my dream label; I’ve not got anything in the works right now, but I’ve recently released a couple of tracks on the AfterParty VA – that’s on Liquid V, but nothing in the pipeline for actual V Recordings. I wouldn’t say no to having my own EP on Liquid V either!
That would be tasty for sure. You can soak up the meraki vibes for now! Do you have a favourite track on the new album?
Ooohh, I think the one with Collette Warren, Cloak & Dagger, I think that’s my favourite, though it is hard to choose, I love them all.
I see you’ve got a track called Butternut Squash…
Haha I wasn’t actually eating that at the time, I just felt it sounded like that somehow. Like nice and happy. You know what, I’ve never even had Butternut Squash!
Forget the champagne, it’s time for a celebratory Butternut Squash with your debut album!
Butternut squash stew or something haha, sounds like an idea to be honest!
So the album flips the vibe at Twisters, a hefty collab with Dunk…
We’d already made that track, but it felt like I intentionally wanted to flip the mood with that one that goes a bit darker! Start it off with a bang you know.
Speaking of bangers, Air with Teej, probably my favourite track on there…
Ah yeah, was it? He makes wicked music, same with Dunk, absolutely wicked producers, I just wanted to have them involved on it! Quite honoured to have them on to be honest!
Meraki Music wraps up with a more introspective ending, on Astral Traveller… Done much of that lately?
Haha yep, plenty of that! Lots of astral travelling, that’s how I wanted to end it you know, leave everyone hanging on the spacey trippy vibes.
Would you say it’s your best work so far?
Yeah definitely, that’s why I was saying before, I’m a little bit scared for what’s next. I dunno if I can beat this quality! I need to just stop making music for a little bit, get some new inspiration, new sounds going on and all that, see what happens. I started off making garage and dubstep and still do a bit, and I make a lot of hip-hop with my mate, who spits over the beats called Salem Focus. But I always kind of keep that on the side, without really promoting it in the same way. I’d like to concentrate on this stuff a bit more and be able to bring the inspiration into my D&B.
It would be cool to hear it nevertheless! So will you be staying in Manchester for the time being?
For the foreseeable future yeah! I would like to leave the UK, a bit bored of it but I do really enjoy the Manchester scene. It’s a proper tight-knit community I find, especially with music; I feel like even when you go out there’s always someone you know at someone’s gig, you always see everyone supporting each other and that! It’s nice.
So, any hidden motives we should know about…
Haha, I want to be the next Gordon Ramsey, work my cooking skills a bit, maybe my hidden motive is to try butternut squash!