“A wild ride so far!” Motel 7 interviewed | Characteristics

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For the Los Angeles-based creative duo Anton Khabaz and Dylan JaggerLee (son of Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe) the last 12 months have been quite whirlwind. Since the anonymous release of their first EP “A Reminder Not To Think Too Much” in January 2021, and the creation of their group, Motel 7they released 11 tracks, racking up over 10 million streams in the process.

Their latest EP, “Headphones”, presents a unique approach to alt-pop, which draws on elements of hip-hop, as well as inspiration from alternative rock of the 2000s. Above all, the six productions mean a desire to escape the world we live in through the ever potent drug that is music.

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Friends since meeting in music school, Anton and Dylan share a natural understanding of each other’s creative approach, although variously different, it has been key to the development of their sound. “That vibe comes from the difference between our production and songwriting styles,” says Khabbaz. “Dylan tends to lean towards a more outspoken freestyle flow with vocals and I sing with a more ambient, ballad-like approach.” It’s a laid back vocal approach that feels relatable and gives the listener a chance to lose themselves in their music.

That feeling of losing yourself and losing your thoughts was of paramount importance on “Headphones.” Written during confinement as the duo experienced a significant disconnect with the outside world, the act of creating music had become a therapeutic exercise. As such, they wanted to convey such sentiment to their listeners, especially in a world where the mental scars of the pandemic still linger. The result saw six tracks which served as the dreamscape.

“We kind of imagined the world as a different place in these songs, a place maybe where a pandemic didn’t exist,” the artists proclaim. “The escape theme was everything to us. Music is always an escape for us, whether listening to it or creating it. We wanted listeners to feel these songs the same way we did the first day we wrote them. Our music is a creative outlet, we put so much of our true thoughts, feelings, confusion, curiosity, anticipation and excitement into every word we write.

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Lyrically, “Headphones” shows Motel 7 at its most introspective, with the duo discussing themes of vulnerability, themes of self-awareness, and the quest for freedom. “These songs were all written at different times in our lives,” they describe. “A lot of the inspiration came from moments and events that happen in everyday life. We think a lot of people can relate to the overarching message portrayed in these songs. We wanted it to be as universal as possible.

However, it also showed them a side that likes to be impromptu, especially on “Golden” where Lee’s verse was recorded entirely freestyle, while Khabbaz knocked out his verse in five minutes. For them, it was a demonstration of their quest to be totally natural in their production. “We think of writing lyrics like writing a poem,” the band explains. “A poem can be a collection of words. Sometimes these words don’t make sense. But the idea that the words are brought together in a single product makes them art.

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The stories told in Motel 7 songs are often complemented by music videos, creating a complete experience. The latest comes via “Are We There Yet,” shot by fellow LA creator, close friend and collaborator, Paris Brosnan (son of Pierce Brosnan). Presenting a spontaneous adventure in Southern California’s iconic PCH. “All of the videos we did together were all homemade and very low budget DIY projects,” the band says. “It was so much fun. It was a collaborative process, and we kind of got it all done. We write all of our songs with the music video in mind as we write. We were so excited to create the music video before even to have finished the songs.

Even by the band’s own admission, it’s been a “crazy ride so far” and the way their music has been received was totally unexpected. Over the past year, they’ve developed a catalog of music that tells the story of two twenty-somethings trying to find their way in the world. Of course, given that Lee is descended from music royalty, there would always be eyes on Motel 7, even expectations, but that’s something they’ve been keen to avoid, instead focusing on building their own history, their own heritage.

“Honestly, we are so grateful to be able to do this. We are so grateful to everyone who listens and to our humble group of true fans who always send kind messages about every song we release,” they proclaim. “We want to be ourselves. It’s so important. Never lose who you are as a person and as a creative individual.

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The “Headphones” EP has been released.

Words: Jake Wright

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