One of Toronto’s problems is that there aren’t many venues that play house music. While nightclubs on King Street West can brag about providing their guests with stunning environments, the emphasis in these places is not on the music, but rather on “the bottle service experience.” Admittedly, that sort of experience can certainly be a lot of fun, but most Top 40 doesn’t exactly include what you would call good quality house music.
MOTIV, a music and entertainment production company, aims to help bring more house music to clubs and lounges across Toronto. The goal is to host events throughout the year in alluring venues that reflect the “beautiful and melodic shades of techno.” Although Toronto is lucky to have a world-class house music scene with clubs like CODA, which showcases some of the biggest names in techno like Lee Burridge, Nicole Moudaber, and Paco Osuna, our city could still benefit from some more diversification.
Eager to find out more about MOTIV, I sat with founders Sam Haze and Sherry Mahdavi to chat about details. They tell me that they want to carve out a completely new category of nightlife in Toronto revolving around house music. Sherry says that all across Europe and even the U.S., it’s normal to hear house music playing in clubs and lounges. But the same is not true in Toronto. For some reason the genre is still thought to attract a very niche audience despite evidence to support the contrary – like sold out shows at CODA, or the summer concert and picnic series Electric Island, which had to move from Olympic Park to a larger area on Hanlan’s Point just to accommodate all of its fans.
Last month, MOTIV launched their first event showcasing the Adana Twins at Cabal. The intimate venue boasted captivating pieces of original artwork adorning exposed brick walls, and soft lighting sweeping across the room in a host of pretty colours. As promised, MOTIV not only delivered on the atmosphere, but the music too. The Adana Twins seamlessly incorporated other genres of music in non-traditional, yet subtle ways while always maintaining an expertly concretized deep house electric soul, creating a sound quite unlike the rest. Overall, the night invited guests to share in the joy of marriage uniting the sophisticated elegance of King Street West with the most cutting-edge house and techno known to after-hours clubs.
Staying true to techno’s underground roots, MOTIV is also launching its Deep Series this upcoming May 30th by bringing Amirali to CODA. Slightly different from the regular series, MOTIV Deep Series focuses strictly on the music. Sherry and Sam admit that it’s a lot of fun to experience house music in after-hours clubs, and they definitely want to keep exploring the darker world of techno. However, it’s important for them to stay true to their middle ground philosophy: while they want to explore the deeper shades of house music, they still want to consider the “beautiful and melodic” ones too. With his distinctive melancholic vocals resonating through uniquely blended electronic textures ranging from ambient trance to beat-centric techno, Amirali brings a lot more to the the table than just beats per minute. Welcome, at last, to the middle ground: MOTIV.