Music that can invoke a state of mind is music that is coming from a place of thoughtful purpose. Motel 7, a duo creating acoustic beats and relatable lyrics, has done just that. Anton Khabba and Dylan Jagger Lee met as students in music school where the two found their voices (quite literally) during their night owl music sessions. The band produces lo-fi beats combined with acoustics notes to evoke a captivating ease and fluidity; a welcoming retreat from our fast paced reality. This fluidity is also expressed in their writing style where the two have adopted a practice of writing what first comes to mind and simply rolling with it.
In 2018, Motel 7 released their first song on Soundcloud, and the encouraging success has grown into a sizable following. Their latest EP, “Headphones”, is a culminating display of Motel 7’s authenticity in their approach to creation. Behind the scenes of “Headphones”, Dylan and Anton acted on the immediacy of lifes day-to-day experiences to produce an authenticity that all listeners can appreciate. We at The House magazine were lucky to have the chance to get to ask Anton and Dylan a few questions to get to know them and their creative thoughts a bit more!
What was your early beginning like? How was the band formed, or how did you start?
We started this all with zero expectations, we were staying up late every night making beats and finally we decided to just put up a song on Soundcloud one night and see who would listen to it. Day by day we saw more and more people finding our page and following us. We wrote a song called “Summer Love” and decided for it to be our first song on Spotify and all other DSPs (digital streaming platforms). We put zero promotion and marketing behind this song, we didn’t even have a band page on Instagram or Twitter yet. This was back in 2018, so after about a year or so, we woke up and saw that this song randomly got 100k plays overnight. We couldn’t believe it. We then started to take things more seriously and put out a follow up single called “It’s A lright”. That is our biggest song to date with over 7+ million streams. It truly established our foundation and reputation as a band. Unfortunately, “Summer Love” is no longer on Spotify and other DSPs, but I think it’s somewhere on YouTube haha.
Can you tell us how your friendship began, and how it progressed to the making of your band Motel 7?
We both met at music school. The school we went to was primarily centered around electronic and dance production. At some point we wanted to be the odd ones out and make acoustic songs with real instruments like a guitar and tie it all in with live vocals. We didn’t think we could sing, we still don’t think we can sing…haha. We just do our best. But ya, it all started there, and we still learn and expand our musical knowledge and inspiration each day.
Can you each tell us briefly about each of you and you’r personal and professional backgrounds?
We both come from musical backgrounds. I think that definitely set a strong foundation for us in terms of how we create. We both specialize in different instruments and have unique taste in writing style. There’s a good contrast between it all. Dylan is also just a Web3 enthusiast, and is building a future for blockchain in addition to music. I (Anton) am just as creative and enthusiastic in other creative outlets just as much as I am with music. I originally wanted to be a film producer and go to school for that, I still want to pursue film and perhaps creative design for brands one day. But for now it’s music!
We know you guys mention you don’t necessarily say you have a certain genre, but can you tell us where the musical influences from your sound come from?
We listen to a surplus of music everyday. Our inspiration changes day by day. We take everything day by day. That’s the beauty of music. You should never lock yourself down to a certain creative limit. For us, I believe it is the blend of both our inspirations that lead to a unique sounding product. We both listen and get inspired by entirely different things. I feel like if we were so similar it would be hard for us to create something that is “cool”. Inspiration also comes from our daily life, and what we do, and how we feel. Emotions are a crazy thing.
Can you tell us about your latest songs and the inspirations behind the ones you have released so far?
All these songs were written in the thick of the pandemic. They came so easily for us. We wrote them all virtually too. So, it was interesting not being able to write in the same room all the time, but quite honestly it was flowing great that way for us. One song in particular, “Messing With Fire”, was inspired by bands like Nirvana, and modern day artists like Lorde, Mura Masa, Bleachers, etc. Our song “Golden” is also a favorite of ours. That one was for sure inspired by the more experimental artists such as James Blake, BROCKHAMPTON, Roy Blair, the list goes on.
How did you come up with the name of your latest EP release “Headphones”?
Dylan texted me (Anton) one day and was like, “yo dude, I dreamt of a song last night, I still have it clearly painted in my mind, we gotta make it a song today or else I would forget” – we did just that. We wrote it all at home, in like four hours. That song was heavily inspired by The Beatles and also a bit of Peach Tree Rascals. This EP also just sounds so good on “Headphones”, so it all makes sense.
If you had to describe your sound or the mood of your music, what would it be or how does it compare to other bands?
Fun, sad, exciting, and weird.
Can you walk us through your creative process when writing music?
We usually start with an instrumental loop or a melody idea that’s recorded on voice memo or something. We then build it out like a box of legos from there. Dylan and I bounce files back and forth via email, and we go on and on like that with notes sent over text messages until we have the song at the finish line. It’s been so productive for us to work like that recently. We also never think twice about our lyric choices. We usually write words down and roll with it, and sometimes they don’t make sense haha…but that’s fucking cool.
How do you overcome creative challenges or creative blocks?
Step away from music entirely and kind of just do life for a bit. The best way to get re-inspired is to take a step back and be with yourself for a bit, be with friends, be with family. Experiences are everything. If you don’t experience anything, then you would have nothing to write about. I think no matter how long one stays away from music, it’s always going to feel a whole lot better when you come back to it and start writing again.
How did you come up with the name Motel 7?
We wanted to upload our first song to Soundcloud but had no name to put it under. At first I (Anton) suggested “Motel 6”. But then Dylan was like we might get sued since there is already an actual Motel called “Motel 6”…haha. So we changed it to 7 and called it there.
What does your 2022 look like? Anything planned that we should know about?
2022 will be a year of traveling, experiencing, trying new things, and writing music about it all. As of right now, no plans are set in place yet to announce at this time.
Lastly, can you each tell our readers something interesting or surprising about yourselves?
We both love to cook. In fact, we do pasta night every now and then and make everything including the sauce from scratch. It’s a fun time for sure.
Dylan: Almost became a pro surfer at some point.
Anton: Is a licensed ordained minister.
Follow Motel 7 – @motel7.