Beyond The Booth 010: Wax Motif dishes on Biggie, Kendrick, and hip-hop’s impact on his life
Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.
We’d be hard pressed to accurately describe LA’s vivacious electronic landscape without including Wax Motif as one of the west coast’s scene’s brightest power players. The Aussie export, lesser known as Danny Chien, has become both a festival force and club floor regular since his emergence nearly a decade ago, largely behind his contribution to G-house’s meteoric swell in popularity.
He’s been instrumental in putting house music’s crossover with hip-hop on the map, with releases on Diplo‘s Mad Decent imprint, Spinnin‘, Sweat It Out, Fool’s Gold and Tchami‘s Confession label. Though Wax’s hip-hop affections don’t end at the obvious influence they have on his work, in fact, he’s a learned student of hip-hop and it’s cultural tropes with a nuanced taste and an appreciation for the vintage rap that has undoubtedly shaped his craft. Ahead of Wax Motif’s AVALON outing in Los Angeles on February 2nd, he dropped off a tasty new mini mix and then we linked up to wax poetic on a range of hip-hop talking points
Okay, warm up question: Name your top three G.O.A.T. rappers/emcees. Then name three rappers/emcees that are doing it big right now.
The G.O.A.Ts for me would have to be Biggie, Lil Wayne, and Kendrick Lamar. Right now my faves are Vince Staples, Travis Scott, Future, and Ty Dolla $ign.
Growing up, what initially attracted you to hip-hop culture? Can you pinpoint that moment when you went, “damn, this speaks to me.”
Yeah, moments like hearing Biggie’s lyrics in songs like “Juicy” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Also, seeing shots of Dr. Dre behind the desk in music videos like 50 Cent “In Da Club.” And of course listening to The Chronic.
What are some of the main differences between Australian hip-hop culture and American hip-hop culture?
There are a lot. I can’t really comment [much] on the current state [because] I’ve been spending so much time stateside. But it feels like there’s kind of two sides. There’s the more traditional Aussie rap which comes from the more boom bap style of hip-hop and there are the younger kids who are growing up more globally and essentially following the current U.S. rap trends.
So we have crossover genres like G-house and trap that incorporate a lot of obvious hip-hop influence. Do you see a new trend/genre/etc. that blends hip-hop and dance music on the rise? Anyone out there working on something we’ve never heard before?
Yeah, I think the obvious one right now is the Latin trap and Afro trap stuff going on out of France. Kinda more world music influences with trap sounds. I think everything is blending a lot right now, the next EDM star could be some kid from India with a whole new take on it. My favorite song right now is by this kid Octavian out of the UK called “Party Here.” Its like an R&B Jamaican-influenced song over a UK grime sort of beat, that then drops to this double time kinda chorus section. It’s so sick.
Hip-hop is now America’s most widely consumed genre of music for the first time ever. How does that reflect the larger cultural zeitgeist to you? How is hip-hop impacting your work right now?
I feel like its creating less segregation through music. In the past it felt like if you listened to just one style of music then that [determined] the kids you hung around. Like some high school yard sort of shit. Kids now though grow up listening to everything and the hip-hop scene has become a lot more open ethnically because generationally, these kids were born into a already thriving hip-hop culture. Like, I’m a Chinese kid who grew up in Australia knowing every Biggie lyric — it seemed normal to me.
Tell us about the most memorable rap performance you’ve ever seen live and why it stuck with you.
Okay, obligatory shout outs: If you could collaborate with any rapper(s) you wanted, who would it be?
I’m pretty much down to work with most people if I think they’re dope. The name doesn’t matter to me [because] it would actually be more awesome helping to break someone. I feel like I’ve already had the chance to work with some cool people too like Ty Dolla, Pusha T, Starrah, Blackbear, and Tinashe. [I’m] working with some more up-and-coming people too like AD, TeeCee4800, NikeBoi Swoosh, Lil Boi Kantu and Prada Leary. But I’d love to work with Travis Scott, ASAP Rocky, Uzi Vert, Post Malone, Future, Playboi Carti and Smokepurrp.
Following a Friday night throw down at AVALON, Wax Motif is gearing up for a characteristically busy festival season, with a highly-anticipated performance at San Diego’s CRSSD Fest quickly approaching in March. Whether you’re looking for hip-hop, house, or something in between, this mix is exactly what you need, and Hollywood is the place to be on February 2nd. Purchase your tickets here.