with Jans Ingber of the Motet
By Jason Charme
The Motet is a band on a mission to bring the world funky dance parties. With the release of their 7th album, self titled “The Motet” we are witeness to the latest evolution of the band. Founder Dave Watts has always been the creative brains behind everything The Motet. Over the past few years under its current lineup we have seen a major shift. While Watts is still the leader, creative and writing duties are now shared by all 7 members. You can hear, feel and see the ownership with each note played. When you see The Motet live these days you find a band with an incredible amount of energy flying off the stage and a crowd just as energized. The Motet funky dance party is becoming an experience like no other. I sat down with Jans Ingber (Vocalist/percussion) at Snowmass Mammoth Festival to talk about the new album, the evolution of the band, halloween and whats next for The Motet.
Jason Charme: You have the new album “The Motet” that just came out. It’s very different then every other album. Everyone has their own input on it. How did that happen using everyone’s input compared to how it’s been in the past?
Jans Ingber: You know, well this band has been around a long time and been through kind of a lot of metamorphoses. We were doing stuff that was more based around our band leader, Dave Watts, which was electronic and Afrobeat music; things that he could produce himself and he could write himself.
So after playing all these Halloween shows and doing the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, Prince, you know, all that stuff, we kind of got a sound, and it wasn’t yet on record.
Jason Charme: Musically the more you would play and hangout you started defining a sound.
Jans Ingber: Exactly. I mean we were a little bit of everything, but what we found is that we were just a lot better at kind of funky music than everything else. [Chuckle] So we decided to just concentrate on what we really enjoyed and what we were good at. And so, we did a collaborative group writing process and that led to about 13 brand new songs! Nine made it on the record because our songs are so long! [Chuckle]
Jason Charme: Can’t really do a traditional record with every song 7 plus minuets.
Jans Ingber: No, no. [Chuckle] No you can’t! You can’t fit it on vinyl, that’s for sure.
Jason Charme: Is there anything particular, like a song that was particularly your song or your specific focus on the album?
Jans Ingber: Mine particularly?
Jason Charme: Your personal piece on the album.
Jans Ingber: Well, you know, everything was brought together. Like every idea on the record was brought as a half-written idea, and we did that on purpose. Like bring it so that we can collaborate to create the whole song.
Jason Charme: It’s kind of that basic idea, get together and just expand from there.
Jans Ingber: Yeah, exactly. And also it really helps with the buying of the music. When everyone has had a piece of the writing process, then people really enjoy it. They invested themselves in it.
Jason Charme: Feel more involved and more of a personal project.
Jans Ingber: Absolutely. Not just in the song but in the band in general. You know, like our sound.
Jason Charme: It gives you more of an ownership part of it.
Jans Ingber: Absolutely, and so that was a great process. I mean one of the tunes is one called One, Two, Three.
Jason Charme: It’s my favorite on the album.
Jans Ingber: Nice! And that track, I actually had written the bass part and the guitar part. I sang the horn lines all through a microphone. I didn’t play them. I just sang the parts and put different like effects on them. [Chuckle]
Jason Charme: Getting that stuff in your mind just laid it out?
Jans Ingber: Yeah, but then we got together and that’s when the real group involvement happened.
Jason Charme: Okay. I see where your mind is. Now I’m going to take my twist on where you’re going.
Jans Ingber: Exactly. The bass line I sang compared to the bass line that Garrett Sayers plays is night and day.
Jason Charme: Well, Garrett’s bass is just another world of its own.
Jans Ingber: It is, man. He is – he’s got the thing.
Jason Charme: So you said earlier, Afrobeat. It sounds like this album in particular you’re really moving away from Afrobeat, kind of more of just that funk grove. Is that an intentional thing or is it just kind of something that’s flowing through the evolution of the band?
Jans Ingber: Yeah I think it’s flowing through the evolution of the band. It’s not that we’re moving away from Afrobeat. It’s that we’re moving towards this original music.
Jason Charme: You could definitely hear the Afrobeat still in all the new stuff.
Jans Ingber: There is!
Jason Charme: But now it seems like there’s an evolution to it; an actual life on top of that.
Jans Ingber: There’s just qualities of Afrobeat that we really love, which is a very hypnotic, you know, repetitive grove. Man, we’re all about it and that’s dance music! You know, it’s been dance music – African-based dance music for a very long time.
So that was the sentiment of that – absolutely carries on to what we just did. It’s just not traditionally Afrobeat.
Jason Charme: It’s The Motet twist to it!
Jans Ingber: Yeah, absolutely!
Jason Charme: So if you had to say one song in particular, if someone was going to get into The Motet off this album, is their one track they should listen to? You said One, Two, Three but is there something else?
Jans Ingber: Well, you know, the first tune, Like We Own It, I think that one is very, very The Motet. It’s very much like that’s our sound. It has all our own elements.
Jason Charme: The Motet ownership.
Jans Ingber: Yeah! It’s just – it really sounds like our original music, while some other stuff is a little more like Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed. It’s got a James Brown thing. There’s no doubt about it, you know, totally influenced by James Brown. But that, Like We Own It is like totally originally us.
Jason Charme: When you released this latest album The Motet headlined in Fillmore in Denver. What was that experience like? Actually headlining and taking that place over. I believe you guys sold it out also.
Jans Ingber: Yeah, I mean that was obviously – it’s one of the premier venues in Colorado – that and Red Rocks. And so you know it! We’ve always had our eyes on it and we just – finally the people – enough people showed up [Chuckle] that we could go to a place like that and absolutely pack it out.
Jason Charme: So speaking about Red Rocks, doing it with Umphreys this year. But do you have your eyes on that for in the future for trying to do your own headline?
Jans Ingber: In Shala! If that’s what happens –
Jason Charme: If that’s what happens!
Jans Ingber: I mean this is – we’re all about doing this Umphrey show and we want to rock that. Of course we want to rock our own gigue – our own festival, our own whatever at Red Rocks. Red Rocks is the dream venue; not just in Colorado but in the country.
Jason Charme: World wide! Musicians from around the world want to come and play Red Rocks.
Jans Ingber: Yes it is.. It’s a pretty epic venue.
Jason Charme: So your Halloween stuff it’s a uniqueness of The Motet. It’s something most bands don’t do. Every year on Halloween you have a cover set you come out with. This is something you have been dominant in Colorado with. Is this something you are going to branch out of Colorado like The Funk is Dead or is it something you are keeping within Colorado and just keep to the couple of shows?
Jans Ingber: I don’t know. I mean what we do is we concentrate on putting together the best show that we can, and that is going to happen this year. And we’re super psyched! We’re actually going to announce it really soon. (Since announced “Mix Tape 1975”) We’re going to do that and put together the great show. And then as far as other people wanting it, that’s really up to them, you know?
Jason Charme: Just kind of how The Funk is Dead went nationals. The response it got, and you just had to run with it?
Jans Ingber: Well, The Funk is Dead, you know, there are so many people who love that music. We just started getting calls right and left. We hadn’t planned to do it anymore than our Halloween show but people insisted.
Jason Charme: I came out for the Halloween show, came back to Portland and told people about it, and they were like oh my god! I need to see this! It sounds incredible!
Jans Ingber: It was a really fun show, you know.
Jason Charme: That Boulder show was just a blast!
Jans Ingber: It was totally a blast. Those were the shows that we actually put the most amount of effort into changing the music. You know, something like Earth, Wind and Fire, the music is already so deep and so hard.
Jason Charme: And then something like The Grateful Dead, it wasn’t designed as funky music. Earth, Wind and Fire is a funky sound.
Jans Ingber: Absolutely. [Chuckle]
Jason Charme: The Grateful Dead is jamming and it’s a whole another life by itself.
Jans Ingber: Exactly. Yeah so I mean obviously, when we did that it was really fun to add on. We changed the songs. We changed tempos. We changed grooves. We added horns all over it because, obviously, we have horns. The Dead did not. [Chuckle]
So it was just a great opportunity and we spent a lot of time. We put a lot of effort into those shows. And Colorado has been giving us a lot of love on those shows for a long time, and they appreciate the amount of effort we put into it and we reciprocate.
Jason Charme: So what’s next for The Motet? You guys have the new album out, Red Rocks, a bunch of summer festivals throughout the country you’re playing and Jam Cruise again.
Jans Ingber: Yep.
Jason Charme: What’s next up for you The Motet?
Jans Ingber: I mean we’re really stoked to play out these summer festivals. We still have North Coast Festival in Chicago.
Jason Charme: Get that exposure nationwide?
Jans Ingber: Oh, absolutely. I mean we made a commitment a year and a half ago to really get out of Colorado and start, you know, spreading the message of The Motet and spreading the dance party! Throwing great parties all over the country. [Chuckle]
Jason Charme: Wherever we go we’re going to have a funky dance party!
Jans Ingber: Pretty much that’s the deal. I mean it’s not much more complicated than that. We throw parties for people to move their body to and if you like to do that, come see The Motet! [Chuckle]
Jason Charme: The Motet has had a lot of great guests throughout the years. Is there anyone particularly that you would like to see do it again or someone that hasn’t yet.
Jans Ingber: Oh, I mean there’s lots.
Jason Charme: Someone particular that stands out to you?
Jans Ingber: Well, we’ve had Nigel Hall and Nigel is one of my singing heroes in the scene. He’s really great.
Jason Charme: Hero for so many people.
Jans Ingber: Really great singer in this country. And, you know, I’ve done a lot with Jen Hartswick but we haven’t done a ton. I guess, yeah, well she did the Fillmore with us. Geez, she has done a lot of the ones [Chuckle] that I want her to do! I mean of course all the heroes.
Jason Charme: People you idolized.
Jans Ingber: You know, George Porter, Sly Stone , D’Angelo. I mean there’s so many artists who I just think are amazing who it would be a dream to have them come play with our band.
Jason Charme: Awesome. You have a great summer!
Jans Ingber: Thank you!