NZ’s new kid king of atmospheric sampling

Stoners, gamers, students looking for the perfect cramming-vibes, lovers, and downright squares are all looking for the same thing right now – sweet as honey lo-fi beats to chill the fuck out to and escape from all the chaos we are inundated with on the reg. Enter MOTAT, the new kid king of atmospheric sampling and good sad vibes. The man behind the music, Lewis Poll, is an enigmatic 22 year old student, who just wants to make music that makes you feel good. 2018 saw MOTAT do just that, with the release of his first 8-track album on Spotify, ‘Good Mourning’ – – “I just wanted to release something for the people…that was a bit more house-y”. On a Skype-call interview, Poll was charming and humble, despite his pretty impressive Soundcloud following, and almost 1 million hits on his track “Terrified” on Spotify. 

Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, MOTAT’s signature phonk is something truly worthy of listening to whilst sitting on some idyllic beach somewhere getting blazed with your mates. Picture backing tracks reminiscent of Imagine Herbal Flows (IHF), with slowed-down snippets of trap being folded amongst beats and over segmented vocals fitting with the likes of Puar and Inteus.  This entire album, and all of MOTAT’s music was produced solely through Ableton software, with Poll himself stating “a mate studied music in 2014, so I downloaded the software and started playing around…but I didn’t even know how to mix until 18 months ago!” Which is a pretty impressive statement to make from someone whose music is tightly produced and polished as fuck. 

Starting out as whimsical lo-fi hip-hop, perfect for studying or gaming. MOTAT has very steadily grown into his very own vibe, interweaving slowed-down, gooey little grooves and jazz beats into his original sound. His recent album “Good Mourning” has allowed both the man behind the music, and the music itself, to evolve into something greater than ever expected.

Why did you start making music?

I started making music mainly because my friend started studying Audio Engineering and got me playing around on Ableton, it took me quite a while to figure everything out but I slowly got there haha. I never really watched a tutorial or anything, I just worked things out in my own very slow process. A good friend of mine who goes by Cyka on soundcloud taught me a few tricks that really helped me appreciate and get into the technical side of mixing etc. At first I was only using Ableton to try and make house beats which I failed at miserably haha, somewhere along the line I got the hang of making trap beats as that was a secret passion of mine and after that, just started experimenting!

What or who are your main influences?

My main influences aren’t even really single artists anymore, it’s more a song I will really like that inspires me. Soudiere was a huge influence for me when I started making phonk, I had always appreciated phonk but he was the first guy that seemed like a very similar dude making those kind of songs from his bedroom so it really inspired me to try do the same. My all time favourite artist would have to be Clams Casino though, his beats are way wavey and the way he samples sets such a bar ahead of anyone else. His songs ‘Blast’ and ‘All I need’ really stand above any other song I’ve ever come across. I would love to try and make stuff in that style, but I don’t think we share the same vision in how we finish a track, it would be almost impossible for me haha.

What does ‘Good Mourning’ mean to you?

The name is sort of a contradiction in how there’s the good and the bad in everything and how things can always be taken two ways. Everything is all a matter of perspective and can always have a different meaning than what we initially absorb. The whole tape was just me having fun making music I love and trying to push some boundaries when it came to phonk. I had a lot of people hit me up saying they were inspired by the Phonk House stuff I did and that was really dope to hear. I tried having a bit of a blend of some fun up beat tracks with some heavier, cloudy stuff too so not everyone would be disappointed. I’m not the biggest fan of the tape as a whole anymore but I guess that’s the way of being creative haha, it’s always a battle for yourself more than it is to please others with things you make.

What do you see 2019 bringing for you?

This year, ideally I’d love some fat stacks of cash to my name haha, but hopefully more than anything that I can make MOTAT grow a bit more and try get the Spotify a bit more consistent with listeners. ‘Terrified’ seems to be helping my other tracks out a lot, it’s just a shame there isn’t so much an audience for phonk on Spotify yet. It really just shows who is most committed from Soundcloud to play your stuff on a streaming platform. Hoping to get some decks after my next Spotify payment and get into djing around the NZ scene.

Cover image by Motat
Inset by arnavnair

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