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PAUSE Meets: Wax Motif

PAUSE MEETS:

Wax Motif

Interview & Words: Marcus Mitropoulos// @marcusmitropoulos_
Featuring: Wax Motif// @waxmotif

Behind the scenes with one of music’s fastest-growing DJs and Producers.

Wax Motif is no stranger to the heat. Whether it’s the blistering sun in South America, an overcrowded club in Europe, or standing outside the traveling musical atelier of Kanye West, Wax is comfortable. And as he spins at Shôko in Barcelona, Spain, his ability to remain unfazed while in the heart of the absurdity is apparent. 

I stood, sweatily, peeking over his shoulder, beyond the glimmering vulture logo on his Yeezy t-shirt as he spun in front of a sold-out crowd who stayed until the club’s twilight hours just to catch a glimpse of the Chinese-Australian DJ. Wax is pulling up a barrage of sounds from his most recent projects to club staples, expunging the sonic onslaught of young men who are dying for him to snag their phones for a video. 

Before all of the madness, Wax and I took some time before dinner to sit down and chat about everything Wax Motif. From musical production and collaborating with Kanye West to his love for clothing and cars, we covered it all. Check out the story below. 

The name Danny Chien could just have easily been a name attached to a career in finance as it is the birth name of DJ Wax Motif. Following his graduation from higher education, Wax gave his parents an ultimatum. 

“Can I have a year?” are the words he used when asking his parents if he could pursue music. “If I can survive, keep it going, you’ve got to let me go down that path. If I don’t, then I’ll go and get a job.” At the tender age of 20, Wax threw himself into his craft, dialing in his sound until he was kicked out of his family home, citing neighbors complaining about the noise as the final straw. 

Wax would begin fostering a subset of die-hard fans who fell in love with his authenticity and unique sound. He parlayed his stardom into an EP called Space Jam (2010), his debut project which furthered his popularity as a techno savant in 2010. In the years following, Wax has done nothing short of exploding as a talent in the house music scene, garnering co-signs from the likes of Calvin Harris and Fisher.

Along the journey, Wax befriended esteemed rapper Ty Dolla $ign. The two would remain on each others radar until Ty entrusted Wax to begin producing beats for a house project that he had started working on. The two would work consistently for some time, before heading in different directions. While Wax had embarked on tour, Ty had gone off to Japan to link up with Ye, formerly Kanye West, to begin chronicling what we know today as Vultures 1 (2024).

“That’s where he started playing all of the ideas that we had been making back in L.A.,” said Wax on Ty Dolla $ign. “One of the ideas was the demo to the track that is now ‘Back to Me’. Basically, I got a phone call at 7 a.m., it was a Facetime, then a bunch of messages that said answer your Facetime, answer your Facetime.” To Wax’s dismay, and as he wiped his groggy eyes, he watched Ye playing keys and singing over the demo.

“I didn’t hear anything for a while. I got a phone call two or three months later while they were in Italy and they asked where I was,” said Wax. “I told them I had two weeks left on my U.S. tour and I would come once the minute I finished. So I wrapped up my set at The Shrine in Los Angeles, and the next day I was on a plane to Italy.”

Wax would work tirelessly across the globe alongside Ye and his engineers to perfect what is now track 5 on Vultures 1, titled ‘Back to Me’. The tune is a bit different from what Wax regularly releases, intertwining his upbeat, fast-paced beats with Ye’s deeply engrained 808s. While there, Wax picked up on just about every part of Ye’s musical process, along with flexing his own creative muscles. Laying down tracks isn’t the only way Wax displays his creativity, often dressing in on-trend menswear labels, preferring boxy and following cuts to allow for movement on stage. 

“I like a lot of Essentials, I like Chrome Hearts. I’m not crazy about labels and stuff. As long as it feels good and looks good I feel comfortable. I like ADERERROR, that Korean brand, and I had a bit of a Rhude phase.”

If Wax isn’t sweating on stage in Vultures t-shirts or staying comfortable in Represent at the studio, there’s a good chance he’s interacting with cars. Citing the Fast & Furious franchise as the catalyst for his obsession, the DJ nearly skipped out on a music career, and financial occupation for an apprenticeship with Ford. 

His continuous authenticity is what helped garner fandom at the beginning of his career, and he’s continued to grow his community through car meets. “I wanted to do fan experiences, and I wanted to center it around something that you can do as well,” said Wax. “A lot of the venues had big parking lots so the idea was for a fan to come, walk around, and hang out around cars before the show.”

With Wax Motif heading off to Brazil the week of our interview, it had become apparent that he was off to an environment that he thrived in. Behind the piping hot car exhausts, mid-20-degree weather, and presumed sweat-inducing club environment is a DJ that flourishes in situations others find discomfort in.

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