The Motet is an American funk, soul and jazz-influenced group based in Denver, Colorado, that was born under the concept of creating a personal Musical forum for its creator – Dave Watts – and his friends with very little boundaries, so they have embraced many musical genres since the inception of the group. Two main themes running through all of the music they create is “dance” and “improvisation”.

The group was initially called “The Dave Watts Motet” but later Dave shortened it to ‘The Motet’ to make it feel more like a band effort.

Since 1998, The Motet has inspired the world with its unique sound and the contagious style of its grooves. Over the course of more than nine full-length albums, they’ve traversed the lines between funk, soul, jazz, and rock and built a diehard audience in the process. They’ve sold out countless legendary venues coast-to-coast, in addition to racking up nearly 20 million total streams and views. The band has also graced the stages of festivals such as Bonnaroo, Bottlerock, Electric Forest, Bumbershoot, Summer Camp, and High Sierra.

The band is conformed of Dave Watts (drums), Joey Porter (keys), Garret Sayers (bass), Drew Sayers (keys and saxophone) and Ryan Jalbert (guitar).

We talked about their music, unique sound, and career and these are the responses of Dave Watts and Garrett Sayers (denoted by initials).

Hello guys, how are you? We would like to start by asking you what things have changed for the better in these years.

The ability and ease with which bands can create, record, and deliver music directly to people’s ears in this day and age is unprecedented. Being an independent artist has never held as much power in the history of music as it does today. It’s very empowering to know that as an artist you don’t need to have your music “approved” by a panel of industry representatives to reach the masses. -DW

How is instrumental music perceived at this time that seems to be dominated by lyrics?

For many people, instrumental music is viewed as incidental. Background sounds to enhance a film or to accompany a shopping trip. Lyrics are what people typically perceive as music. For these people, there are plenty of mainstream choices to choose which lyrics feel best to them. There is no interpretation, just what the words tell them.

For me, vocals are just another instrument. The melody of the voice is the music. The lyrics can be a distraction especially if they don’t fit the vibe of the music. An instrumental song requires the listener to interpret the music and find their own meaning. This results in an immersive experience if the listener is willing to take the challenge.

Fortunately for us, our fans are accustomed to instrumental songs as we have always had 50 to 70% instrumental repertoire. Plus, our devotion to funk and other dance styles keeps people on the dancefloor whether or not they are committed to the instrumental journey. -GS

According to you guys, what makes instrumental music feel so magical? And I’m asking this because there are so many people doing music in every corner, that you may even feel overwhelmed with sounds, voices, and so on. But you guys have managed to stay loyal to the roots of the band and to your style.

The “magical” nature of instrumental music comes from the journey that your mind and heart take you on as you infer your own meaning from the piece. Analogous to getting lost staring at an abstract painting. -GS

Press Photo by Scott McCormick

Let’s talk about your latest single, ‘Draccus’. What’s the story behind the song?

“Draccus” began as an instrumental song. I wanted to contrast a syncopated alternate blues form with an introspective ascending cacophony. It’s also a contrast between slow funk and indie-rock bliss. I usually contribute instrumental songs to our repertoire, but this one seemed to be asking for lyrics.

As soon as I decided that the voice should be Joey Porter’s masterful synth talk-box the lyrics spilt out within minutes. 

The disassociated nature of the talk-box creates the perfect dystopian narrator. The lyrics are both political allegories reflecting recent attempts to end democracy, and commentary about the destruction of our planet’s ecosystem. The wordless chorus expresses optimism that we can overcome these challenges. -GS

Why Draccus? Where did that name come from?

A draccus is a flightless dragon depicted in various fantasy novels. It occurred to me that while still very destructive, the imagery reflects both the danger and ineptitude of certain leaders and the cultish fantasy world of religion and conspiracy theories that their followers are lost in. -GS

How was the process of creating this song? Did everyone participate in the final version?  Who decides or how do you guys control things like the duration of the song, the different pieces it will have, the process of bringing new ideas into it, new sounds, instruments, and so on? 

For this song, I brought mostly finished ideas to the band. Then the band helps me find the most effective shape and form. Dave Watts is especially intuitive at shaping the forms of songs to be the most impactful.

Over the years we have learned to rely on each other’s strengths. The choice of sounds, instruments, and parts is based on the unique creative characteristics of the band members.


You have a new record material, ‘All Day’, that will be released on January 18 and will be the band’s first strictly-instrumental project since 2009’s electronica-fueled -Dig Deep-. How about that? How would each of you describe this material? What new elements we would find in it?

The Motet is primarily a live music endeavour. When the pandemic took away our means of income, we decided to start writing songs for this record. With lots of time on our hands, the songs we were writing were more explorative and introspective, resulting in a material that did not need lyrics to tell a story. -GS

Is there an idea or a common thread in this album that intertwines the melodies? Or are they independent songs?

This is the first Motet album to feature songs written by each band member. While there is no intended through line connecting the songs, our shared influences and experiences from 20-plus years of touring create natural congruities that make the songs on this album feel like they are connected. -GS

What was your first thought when you listened to the entire album?

It’s a cathartic experience that may not be well suited for everyone. A listener has to have patience in order to truly embrace this body of work, it’s not for the consumer who has been raised on a musical diet of pop songs. I would say four or five listens through would be the minimum to fully grasp what’s being said in its entirety. -DW

After so many years making music what do you think has kept the band together and stable during this time?

It is difficult to keep a band together. Like any relationship, there are challenges. Working through those challenges is what makes relationships stronger. And we have worked through many challenges. 

We are all devoted to music and that devotion is unyielding. In the end, though, it’s our fans that motivate us to keep going and growing. -GS

We know things have not been easy for you guys but especially for you Dave Watts, since that fire destroyed part of your life. How did that experience impact your life, the band, and the music?

Well, speaking of cathartic experiences, having lost all of my material possessions (and three pets) in the Marshall Fire gave me a chance to reflect on what’s truly important in life. Our community here in Colorado really stepped up and showed me that we are in this together and that with family and friends, we can get through anything. As a band, we are proud to be from Colorado and love travelling the country representing this incredible state. I have four songs on our upcoming record that were written in my home studio which I lost in the fire, so releasing them to the world now feels like bringing some finality to that chapter in my life. -DW

Apart from music, what other things do each of you enjoy doing?

Getting outside as much as possible! -DW

What bands do you admire?

Any band which is true to its craft.  Genres don’t matter, only heart and soul. -DW

What can people find in live shows that already have a date?