Motus is a funky, jazzy, seven-piece band that hates to be asked how to describe their music.
“It’s seven different people’s music styles all fused into one,” says Daniel Lombard, the band’s trumpet player.
“Neo-soul and R&B, new soul, contemporary, jazz, but not fully jazz, not fully R&B—it’s influenced by all of those,” says Monica Parshotam, Motus lead singer.
The band writes their own music collaboratively, each adding their styles, background and specialized knowledge. “Someone will have lyrics and a melody, the horns write all of their parts, and we’ll all create the music around it,” says Parshotam.
What comes out is a fusion style completely their own.
The group formed in Bellingham, mostly made up of WWU grads and friends of friends who joined in.
They’ve been playing under the name Motus since 2017; before that, they were known as Momo Grace. The band decided to change their style and with it their title and several members.
Since changing over, they’ve had growing success, so much so that they moved to Seattle and its larger jazz scene. The entire band moved last summer, but feel fondly for Bellingham and come back to play whenever they can.
“The great thing about Bellingham is, if you’re an artist you will find people to connect with; it’s a supportive arts community,” says Rebekah Way, the band’s saxophone player. “It gave us the courage, confidence and drive to move on up.”
The band loved the college-town feel of Bellingham, and appreciate their hometown roots; they speak fondly of playing at the Boundary Bay Fish Fry, BAMF, Wild Buffalo, Stones Throw and other area outdoor festivals.
Each member brings nuance and experience to the group and every one of them has been mastering their craft since elementary school.
Parshotam began playing the piano in first grade, wrote her first song in the eighth, and sang and participated in musical theater in high school and college.
Troy Bohman, the band’s bass player, sings and owns his own production company. His father was a touring musician and has a recording studio in his home in Leavenworth. He was raised with music.
Jeanie Marinella grew up singing her whole life and now sings backup for Parshotam.
Sam Jaeger went to Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where he studied guitar.
Way started playing music in elementary school. “I got started on clarinet and picked up sax and played jazz in middle school,” she says. She moved from alto sax to soprano and played jazz and improv theory at Western.
Joji Allison is the drummer, and he’s been writing and playing music his whole life.
Lombard picked up the trumpet in fifth grade. He took part in musical theater throughout childhood and learned guitar in high school. While attending Western, he focused on getting technical on the trumpet. “I realized I didn’t want to play classical forever,” he says.
Several band members went on to hone their craft in college, but they generally feel they created their music skills during their long and comprehensive relationships with music.
“Western helped me to train my ear, but a lot of it came from listening to music,” says Way. “I worked at [Western’s radio station] KUGS for four years and learned a lot by listening to artists like James Brown and D’Angelo.”
“You don’t really learn how to write a horn piece for pop music in music class,” says Lombard. In his classes, the trumpet ruled the room. He learned how to become part of a melody and accompany the band after school. “We just started guessing how to do it, and now we know,” he says.
Another thing they gleaned from their musical experience at Western was a vision. “Bellingham sparked inspiration in a lot of our songs,” says Parshotam. “Most of them were written in Bellingham. They’re about aspects of people or places there.”
Parshotam wrote one song called “Peach Sunrise,” a tribute to Bellingham summers and our beautiful sunsets.
Having a band is a lot of fun—seven friends jamming out together while meeting musicians from all over the country at festivals in the mountains.
The problem with moving to the busy Seattle scene is that with it comes a faster-paced lifestyle without the long, outdoorsy days of Bellingham.
The band is doing great in Seattle and have played out at over a dozen locations. Their initial goal was to play at Nectar Lounge, and they’ve already played there—twice.
Not surprisingly, living in a big, spread-out city and holding down day jobs comes with its share of challenges. They’re having successes, but it takes time to make headway in such a large music scene.
“We’re functioning more like a business now,” says Lombard. “In Bellingham, we were more like friends playing in a band.”
“I miss Bellingham,” says Parshotam. “I will always miss it.”
The good news is: They’ll be back.
- June 20, Motus will release their first EP; keep an eye out for it on their Bandcamp site. A show to celebrate the release is set for the same day at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.
- Motus will return to their alma mater on June 29 for Bellingham Beer & Music Festival: Radio Isn’t Dead at the North Bellingham Golf Course.
- Motus kicks off its first tour this summer, August 21-31, where they’ll hit Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Ashland.