Wax Motif on new label, debut album, and the G-house movement [Q&A]
From sourcing the sharpest sounds of the sonic second through his House of Wax radio show, to harnessing the same up-to-date energy into his own house music productions, Wax Motif (Danny Chien) is always up to something to keep his act fresh. An incisive remixer and prolific collaborator—known for his work with EDC, Holy Ship!, and HARD Summer founder, Gary Richards (Destructo), OWSLA/Mad Decent all-star, fellow Aussie, Anna Lunoe, and most recently Diddy (yes, that Diddy)—Chien recently released the seminal track to jump-start his new label, Divided Souls.
The eponymous, “Divided Souls” features a DJ-directed, emotionally charged vocal cut, compliments of Diddy (Sean Combs), praising artists who play out lengthy (“20-minute versions”) extended cuts of tracks in their sets. The track is the first single to arrive from the “Fly Kicks” remixer’s forthcoming, debut album, which will see release on the newly minted imprint.
Though he’s been a pivotal purveyor of the hip-hop/house hybrid sound—known as the G-house movement—Wax is never wary to veer off the trodden sonic pathway, harnessing nu-disco, heady bass, and electro into into his cornerstone four-on-the-floor formula. Chien says for the album, though, he’s both updated his old tricks, and tried to focus on songwriting as ardently as possible. Dancing Astronaut caught up with Wax Motif to talk new label digs, G-house, and what to expect from the LP.
Tell me about how “Divided Souls” came together/How you got in contact with Diddy…
It was an old recording that never got released. My friend passed it over and I just started messing with it. In just like a minute, I had a one-bar drum loop, then added a bass loop. I sent it back to him, and he sent it over to Diddy, who was like “Yeah, fire. I’m down.” And then we got it cleared pretty quickly, actually.
So what’s your goal or mission statement with the new label?
Honestly I just want to put out good songs: obviously club-focused stuff, but stuff you [can listen to any time], kind of like in the morning when you wake up and in the club. I feel like a lot of club stuff is just really really club-or-festival-oriented. I definitely want to find a better balance of songs that you can play in the club as well.
Is it mainly going to be a housing for your own recordings, or will you feature other artists?
At the start, I feel like it’s just for me mainly, just so I can be able to build the right vibe around it and take it in the right direction. Then I’ll open it up—hopefully next year.
You’re known for both your prolific, all-embracing DJ-ing/mixing abilities (seen through your radio show) as well as your comprehensive compositions as a producer. Which skill do you feel comes more naturally to you?
I think they go hand in hand. I’m never trying to put anything out that I wouldn’t play in my sets every night. Testing the music in a live setting is an important part of making the music, in a lot of ways. So really, both. Right now, I’m just having a lot of fun making tracks and playing them in my sets that night.
You’ve worked with Destructo (Gary Richards) a number of times. It seems you share a similar ethos regarding blending hip-hop and house music, or what’s known as the G-house movement. Can you expand on that?
Our tastes are definitely similar. We started working together, and it just came naturally—building on music we liked. It’s growing now, as well, where lots of young kids like Bijou and Dr. Fresch are making stuff of a similar [nature].
A lot of my early stuff was really geared [towards G-house]. A lot of it now still is too; it’s just evolved. If you look at my Tinashe “2 On” remix, my YG remix, Young Thug, I think I was definitely one of the first people to start remixing all that new type of rap and R&B stuff into house records.
Who do you feel are some other newer faces freshening up the scene and bringing nuance to their approaches?
Right now I’m definitely feeling NOIZU, Matroda, NuKid. I was just working with Matroda actually because we have a song coming out. I think it’s going to be the second track off my album. We’re just putting together the artwork right now.
What can you tell me about the album?
It’s gonna be fire.
**Both laugh** Any details you can share?
I don’t want to say too much right now. I just want to let these songs come out one-by-one and see what people think. This [last song] was kinda me testing the waters. “Divided Souls” was a little more underground in terms of more techno in the drop than what I normally do. When you think of an album you normally want something more diverse. There’s definitely going to be music that people expect and want [from me], but then there’s also going to be song-oriented, house records.
*This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity and readability
Photo Credit: Leonardo Kaczmarek