Highly MOTi-vated

The Dutch DJ reached out to Tiësto, and now he’s a star

Illustration by Jon Estrada

Illustration by Jon Estrada

In this age of information, it’s not uncommon to form a relationship with someone over social media before ever meeting that person in real life. Dutch DJ MOTi—or Timo Romme if you’re checking his I.D.—made friends with EDM powerhouse Tiësto via Twitter, and was soon on the fast track to success. Impressed by a string of singles that MOTi sent to him over a short period of time, Tiësto has endorsed his new protégé’s career with bookings to open for a number of shows across the U.S., including January 1 at Hakkasan.

How did you connect with Tiësto on Twitter?

Tiësto did a compilation album with Dance (RED) Save Lives. It was a free album to help raise money for AIDS awareness, and he put a track of mine on there. Afterward, he started following everyone who had a track on the album and I was like, “Oh, what’s this? Tiësto is following me on Twitter! What happened?” So I sent him a direct message and said, “What’s up? Can I send you some music?” And every track I sent to him, he liked. After four or five tracks he said, “Why not do something together?” That was the start with Tiësto.

You’re good friends with Dutch DJ Quintino, too, right? How do you guys know each other?

We both started DJing about eight or nine years ago. The scene in Holland is really small. That’s why all of the Dutch DJs know each other. We started being friends and hanging out and making music together. He used to live just around the corner from my place. We’ve been friends for a long time.

Who are your favorite producers to work or hang out with?

We have a group of friends in Amsterdam: Kenneth G, Quintino, Martin Garrix—he was amazing to work with. It was fun to work with DVBBS. And, of course, with Tiësto. We’re all friends.

You have a slew of new releases coming out. Do you produce them all at once or make music on an ongoing basis?

It kinda depends. When I’m touring, I’m always working on my laptop. So it doesn’t matter if I’m at home or in the studio or my hotel room. I can always work. Sometimes I make a lot of tracks all at once, and sometimes I don’t make anything for two months because I have [writer’s] block or something. I try to work as much as I can.


You’ve just completed your first headlining tour. Any standout moments?

It was amazing, but at the same time scary. I’ve always toured with Tiësto in the States, but it was the first time I went by myself. I think Webster Hall in New York City was amazing, because Tiësto came with me as a surprise guest and nobody knew. So I just pulled him onstage and people went nuts.

Where haven’t you played yet that is on your list?

There are a lot of cities that I really want to play. This was a short tour, only 10 shows. I really wanna do Miami. I’d love to do Atlantic City. And, of course, Vegas! I want to do a headlining show in Vegas.

Have you made any plans to hit any of those spots yet?

Yeah, I’ll be [in Miami] somewhere between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I think I’m doing five or six shows that week, so I have to fly [somewhere new] every day.

That’s a lot of travel. How do you recharge when you’re on the road?

I have to sleep a lot to make up for all of the traveling. And the drinking during all of the shows.

What gets you in the zone to make music? 

I drink a lot of coffee.

Your new track is called “Ganja.” What’s the inspiration behind it?

The line before the drop says something about ganja. I worked on that track with Dzeko and Torres while we were in New York together a half-year ago. The title is purely based on the vocal sample.

So, do you love the ganja?

Well, I am from Amsterdam …

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