Raymond Wassef, known as Ori Moto, is a very talented experimental Hip-Hop DJ who is constantly changing and improving his tracks. Wassef got into making music at a young age from playing in different bands to making music by himself in Sydney, Australia. With the influences of Egyptian music from his culture to artists such as Kate Renata and Michael Jackson, Ori Moto has built a diverse sense of style within his music.


Ori Moto is one of Gnarles’ most insightful DJs when it comes to the process of creating and performing his tracks. In this interview, Wassef dives deeply into his experiences performing, influences, the advice he has for fellow musicians, and more.

“For me, everything about this is a different experiment and a different reason to play live. Even playing live is an experiment for me.” – Ori Moto

What genre do you consider Ori Moto to be? Who influenced you?

“Genre-wise? All I ever call ‘Ori Moto’ is electronic because that’s the only kind of music I am making with Ori Moto/what the tracks have in common. They [the tracks] have been influenced by a lot of different genres. So mainly, Ori Moto is influenced more by the sort of dancey, R&B, Kate Renata, sort of melodic track of Troy Boy, 70s disco, and 90s R&B. There’s a lot of different things in there and the more I try to call it one genre, the easier it is for me to make more stuff. Making stuff is the thing that makes me happy. So I just call it electronic. But for me, it is experimental. I always imagined the music that is called ‘experimental’ sounds a certain way, which I don’t think my stuff sounds like. For me, Ori Moto is very experimental because every beat I am making is an experiment to see if I can actually make that beat, you know? And a lot of the time, like an experiment, it turns out in a way that I didn’t expect [laughs]. I’m as surprised as anybody else!”


Where have you performed? What are your favorite venues to perform in as an experimental/electronic DJ? 

“I’ve performed in a lot of different kinds of places with my other projects. But with Ori Moto, for the time being, has been playing in small bars. Ori Moto, up until recently, was just a bedroom project. The ‘playing live’ part is there to help me write more. My favorite venues, and I’m not necessarily talking about the ones that are the nicest or have the best sound, although good sound helps, are the ones where I get to share my new beats. Beats that aren’t even finished sometimes. Ones that are even considered a work in progress. To which I can get immediate feedback from the room on whether it’s working or not. It doesn’t mean, like, people going bananas or whatever [laughs]. It could just be someone who doesn’t know that I am playing my own music, since it just looks like I’m just DJing, coming up and saying ‘Ah I really like this! Who is it?’ or someone who is trying to shazam what I’m doing. It’s like ‘Yeah ok so this beat that I’m doing? That one is a good one and I should explore this idea more.’” 


Since your experience revolves around the audience’s reaction to your music, what constitutes as your least favorite shows?

“My least favorite shows are the ones where that doesn’t happen. Where I can’t get a read if what I’m doing is coming across to the audience. Everything I do at every gig, I take back with me into the production process. I make notes on which tracks are the ones that are working in a particular way. Then the next time, I sort of open up those played sessions and see what I can do to make them work better or understand what was working. That’s what is informing me of whether I like a show or not. Everything about this, for me, is a different experiment and a different reason to play live. Even playing live is an experiment for me.”


So you would say that the audience should try to show the DJ how they are feeling about the set?

“Yes, it can be really nice. I was with a friend at a bar one time and my friend was really enjoying what this DJ was playing. The music was a kind of background cruisy music. But for whatever reason, just the zone he was in really resonated with my friend and she kept saying ‘I’m just really enjoying this so much this guy is great’. I kept telling her to go tell him that, but she kept refusing because she didn’t want to bother the guy or whatever. In the end, after I hassled her into telling this guy what she thought while he was packing up, she went and told him. He was so happy that he basically got her email address and emailed her a playlist of what he had done plus a bunch of links to a bunch of songs. She was so excited about the fact that now she was able to keep listening to that type of music after that day. I would argue that almost no DJ or musician who’s going to play in public doesn’t want to connect in some way. It’s sort of that gratification in getting to know that you’ve connected with someone. Particularly, if it’s with a stranger. It’s almost something that a lot of us crave and it’s weird that it’s the approval of strangers that is an important thing to us. I would argue that if someone is going to leave the comfort of their bedroom or studio, and take their music out there, that they want to take something back when producing. Any kind of reaction and response or whatever is pretty valuable and important.”


I saw that you just released a couple of tracks such as Xpct and Satz, is that part of a bigger project or just two individual singles?

“Each track I release is building a larger picture as to what it is that Ori Moto does because as I was saying before, I’m broad in terms of influences, styles, and experiments. For me, each track I put out is a marker or example of the notion that ‘This is the place that I am in at this specific time’. All of those aspects give an indication as to what the tracks that I haven’t released are like that go into the set. When playing for four or five hours, there are a lot of other connective tissues that come into play. Some samples that are quite different from each other but come together in the larger set or project.” 


How does being Egyptian and from Australia, as well as residing in Berlin, influence your music?

“I grew up in Australia with immigrant parents from Egypt. So stuff that they listen to from Egypt and also the type of music I came across as a kid such as Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Tribe Called Quest, influenced me throughout my life. These were my influences when I started to play in different bands and when I became a songwriter within the lo-fi, indie rock, and DIY genres. By the time I moved to Berlin as a grownup, and of course, started encountering the different kinds of music here, I started to see the different ways of making music with newer technology instead of fetishizing older technology that bands playing older genres tend to use. Making music about new things with new technology, as well as all of these other childhood influences, is what makes Ori Moto.”


What is your biggest accomplishment under Ori Moto?

“Right now, the only accomplishment I can talk about with Ori Moto is a very personal one. Ori Moto hasn’t been out in the world for very long to have accomplished something that someone else would find impressive. For me, I feel like my biggest accomplishment so far was about a year ago. On a dare, I played a whole four hour DJ set of just my own beats without knowing if I had enough material to even do it. Not only did I do it, but the thing that I feared the most was that somebody would come and say ‘what is this crap! Play real music.’ which didn’t happen. So my biggest accomplishment was getting away with playing my own beats in a DJ booth. In Berlin, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. After that, I started to take the beats that I am making seriously and how my “all over the place’ genre-wise music is just all part of a body that I get to perform. My project is my larger life performance.”


Who dared you?

“It was a friend who knew I was making beats and he knew I was sneaking a few of my own beats into the DJ set at the beginning. He was like ‘Why don’t you just play your stuff tonight?’ and I was like ‘Oh no I can’t do that!’ and he was like ‘why not?’ Whatever reason I gave, it clearly was not good enough for him so he just dared me to do it. At that point, it wasn’t even up for discussion so he just kept going on and since I didn’t want to be one-upped by my friend, I just did it [laughs]”


What is the funniest thing that has happened on stage or with a fan?

“Ah man okay [laughs] I played at a staff Christmas party which was for these employees for this hospitality company who, I imagine, during the other 264 days out of the year serve drunk people and get a lot of abuse in return. So this is their one night, kind of like a purge, to just let go. Everyone was just off their heads. The people who wanted to dance were just yelling at me. This one girl came and just walked right into the DJ booth and just goes ‘What you’re playing is shit! Just play xyz song’ and I looked at her like ok this is a person I can’t reason with so let’s just play her song she can leave me alone. So I say ‘ok I’ll play your song in a bit’ and she goes ‘Ok.’ and just storms out of the booth. So I play her request and then went back to doing whatever and this woman comes back to me and goes ‘Look man, I told you to stop playing shit and to play what I asked for!’ and I was like ‘…I did play it’ and she was like ‘No you didn’t, don’t lie to me’ and so I laughed and said ‘ok you know what, I’ll play it again for you’ and she said ‘ok fine’ and so I played it again for her and her friends or whatever. Then a few songs later [laughs] she storms back into the DJ booth yelling “Look you I told you to stop playing shit and to play what I want to hear” so I pointed at the screen that the song she asked for was literally playing at that moment and said ‘Look it’s happening’ and she goes ‘No it’s not I don’t believe you’ I was like ‘Can you not read what that says on the screen?!’ she goes ‘This isn’t what I wanted to hear!’ [laughs] I go ‘So stop talking to me and start listening to what’s coming out of the speakers’ and she goes ‘I don’t know what your playing man’ and her friends came and dragged her out of the booth [laughs] it was like combat.” 


 If you had one piece of advice for any solo artist, what would it be?

“Do some research on what you want to do, what’s possible to do, and how to do it. Don’t just start doing things without being at least a bit informed because you are going to set yourself up to be unnecessarily disappointed. There are plenty of ways to find happiness in doing this stuff. You can get bummed out pretty quickly by blindly going into creating or performing. Unless you are very very lucky, it probably won’t work out for the best if you don’t do research.”


 Are you working on any new projects, albums, or songs? If so, when do you plan on releasing them?

“I’m constantly making and releasing stuff with Ori Moto. That’s part of what Ori Moto is. The larger project is building that body of work and exploring all of the different influences and ideas that interest me. I don’t know if I necessarily want to release my stuff as albums. I’m not convinced that there’s a format for Ori Moto. I won’t say the word never because as I described it, it’s all experimental. So who knows what will come next. It’s very much just responding to how I feel about stuff at the moment. It’s not just electronic tools I’m using to make music, it’s also electronic in release and distribution. An album is a format that is rooted in something physical or a format that is based on a bunch of technology that doesn’t apply anymore. Other more interesting dynamics are happening now and I don’t want to look back at past formats with Ori Moto. The formats I’ve explored in my other projects have this concept as well. It’s more based on what is happening now and what is going to be happening in terms of releasing music which is constantly changing around the globe. I’m more interested in exploring new release formats and things that are more relevant in ways that are keeping Ori Moto motivated in creating stuff.” 


You can find Ori Moto’s latest uploads and posts through the following links and on the Gnarles platform:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/orimoto/

Website: https://ori-moto.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orimotor/


*This interview has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to give the artist a proper voice from audio to writing. For the original version, please contact the author.