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Aug. 11, 2022

Interview with Mokita

We had the pleasure of interviewing Mokita over Zoom video.

Nashville singer-songwriter-producer Mokita (aka John-Luke Carter) returns with his new single “Happiness” via Nettwerk.

The candid track is complimented by a distorted bass line...


We had the pleasure of interviewing Mokita over Zoom video.

Nashville singer-songwriter-producer Mokita (aka John-Luke Carter) returns with his new single “Happiness” via Nettwerk.

The candid track is complimented by a distorted bass line alongside a zestful production. Led by textured chill-pop and sweeping melodies, “Happiness” is brimming with introspective lyrics and fervent vocals. There’s an honest delivery behind “Happiness” not only with its alluring soundscape but with its theme of not finding happiness but creating it. The track is a testament that happiness is not 24/7 or a light switch away and that the biggest takeaway is becoming content right now with yourself.

In June, Mokita released his single “Crash,” in which he teamed up with rising artist Charlotte Sands. The track is about being stuck in a relationship with someone that you know won’t last, it’s not good for either of you, but you can’t break the cycle of it. Directed by Ed Pryor, the music video makes references and callbacks to 80s movies and pop culture.

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Transcript

What is going on?! It is Adam. Welcome back to bringing it backwards. A podcast where both legendary and rising artists tell their own personal stories of how they achieve stardom. On this episode, we had a chance to hang out with Mota over zoom video. John Luke, AKA mot talked about how he got into music grew up in well kind of lived in three different areas between South Carolina, Virginia, and North Carolina started playing piano at five, six years old. He was kind of, as he said, guilt tripped into it a little bit. His grandparents offered to pay for his piano lessons. And you know, you can't turn a gift down from grandma and grandpa. So he started taking piano that all changed for him. 3 (2m 9s): As far as how much he enjoyed playing piano. When he moved to Virginia, he got this new music teacher. Absolutely loved her, actually still stays in contact with her to this day. Recently saw her when he was on tour, which is a cool story. The piano he learned on from this woman, he has a replica of it at his house that he recently bought. So he shows us that we hear about his journey in music from releasing a CD as a senior project in high school, going to college, not really pursuing music, but doing a singer songwriter thing, finishing college, moving to Nashville. And then that's where everything changed for him. And he also talks to us about the new body work he has coming out and the most recent song happiness. 3 (2m 52s): You can watch the interview with Mota on our Facebook page and YouTube channel ad, bringing it backwards. It'd be awesome if you subscribe to our channel like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at bringing back pod. And if you're listening to this on Spotify, apple music, Google podcast, it'd be incredible if you follow us there as well and hook us up with a five star review, 4 (3m 14s): We'd appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcast, wherever you listen to podcasts, 3 (3m 20s): We're bringing it backwards with Mota. What's that, man? How are you 5 (3m 25s): Doing great. How are you doing, bro? Can you hear me alright? 3 (3m 27s): Yeah, I'm doing fantastic. Actually. I was just having a, a bit of a technical issue here this morning, but I was able to get it figured out. It's all good. I've been trying to like figure out why my email hasn't been working, but it's all good now. I'm I'm I figured it out. 5 (3m 42s): My email that was sending everything to junk mail, like everything weird. Yeah. So I that's so weird. I wasn't getting any emails for like a month and I was like, dude, am I not doing what's going on? 3 (3m 55s): Did people stop caring about me? What's going on here? 5 (3m 59s): Article 3 (3m 60s): Mine was just not logging in. Like I did the password I even did. Where you could see that you were putting in the PA, like, not just the stars, the actual letters wasn't working. I just tried to do browser. And then it worked. And then I went back to the old one and then nevermind. It was just like this whole thing. And it was, it made absolutely no sense. All that matters is we're here. And I appreciate you doing this. Thank you so much, 5 (4m 22s): Dude. Absolutely. 3 (4m 24s): Awesome. Awesome. Well, I'm Adam and this podcast is about you and your journey in music. And of course, we'll talk about happiness and how you got to where you are now. 5 (4m 32s): Sick dude. Let's do it. 3 (4m 34s): Cool. So you're are you born and raised in Nashville? 5 (4m 38s): No, I'm actually from North Carolina originally. 3 (4m 40s): So I mean you're in Nashville now though, right? 5 (4m 42s): Well now, yeah, I've been in Nashville for like seven it's. I always, I always forget. It's been, it's been seven, a little over seven years. 3 (4m 50s): Wow. I just moved here. I'm one of the many California refugees that came here like a year in a month or two ago. 5 (4m 57s): Oh, sick. You're in Nashville now. 3 (4m 59s): Well, south of Nashville. 5 (5m 1s): Yeah. Are you liking it? 3 (5m 3s): I love, we love it. My family and I moved here. My, my wife and two kids and it's been the best decision we've ever made, 5 (5m 10s): Dude. That's awesome. Yeah. I, I enjoy, I enjoy I've enjoyed it here. We, we literally just moved. Well, we were in Brentwood before, and then we just moved to Nashville or sorry, the east side, but it was like, I was on tour for six weeks and then the day I got back, we had to move. So it was, 3 (5m 29s): Oh my 5 (5m 30s): Gosh. Brutal. 3 (5m 31s): That's crazy. Brown's beautiful. I'm a little bit further south of you, but I'm I'm in Williamson county as well, but or where you were, I guess it sounds like you moved, you moved east Nashville. 5 (5m 41s): Yeah. We moved to east over here. Yeah. So beautiful. We're we're done moving. So the worst. That's good. 3 (5m 49s): Awesome. So you said born in North Carolina? 5 (5m 51s): Yeah. Born in North Carolina. Well, sorry, born in South Carolina, but like grew up in North Carolina. We moved, we moved around quite a bit as a kid. I was, my dad was a pastor. So we moved, like I was born in South Carolina. We, we lived in Virginia when I was really young. And then we moved from a town called Roanoke, Virginia over to another town called like around Harrisonburg, Virginia. When I was, I wanna say like sixth grade and then sophomore year of high school, we moved again. But this time we moved to North Carolina to the Asheville area and then they've been there ever since, so. Okay. That was the final move. So, 3 (6m 30s): Well, it sounds like you spent a little bit of up until sixth grade in, in Virginia or is that when you moved to yeah. Yeah. Okay. 5 (6m 37s): So like technically, you know, grew up in Virginia, but like as far as like what years I remember the most and like the friends like for North Carolina for sure is where I feel like I grew up. 3 (6m 48s): Yeah, definitely. So when, when did you get into music? I think I read that you were classically or you are classically trained. I've watched a bunch of your live videos, which are insane you on piano, but yeah. When did you start playing? Was that the first instrument you learned and how old were you? 5 (7m 3s): Yeah, I was, I was, I wanna say it was between five and six. I can't remember the exact age, but my grandparents offered to pay for lessons. And I think my parents were like, well, you got, kind of got it. I got guilt tripped into it. It's like week. Hey, so you got 3 (7m 21s): Like grandma and grandpa. Wanna get you this gift of piano lessons? Are you gonna turn it down? 5 (7m 26s): I was like, that is the last thing I want to do at that age. I just wanna like play sports and hang with my friends anyways. So I started taking and honestly the, the, I wouldn't call it guilt tripping, but just like them paying, I felt like, oh, I gotta kind of take. So that honestly kept like pushed me into music. So yeah, I started taking a classical when I was a kid and I hated it. Okay. I hated it for probably like four through like maybe four years. And then when we moved, which I was around like 12, maybe, maybe I was, maybe I was around 10 or 11, whatever. 5 (8m 8s): It doesn't matter. We moved and I got a BR I got a new teacher and that teacher was like night and day. Like I was inspired. I, I really, Yes. She just like, I think she got me. My other teacher was just more of a teacher. It was just like, here's the piece, play it. I didn't really get to pick what kind of music I was playing. It was just like all classical. And I didn't like it. And when we moved this new later, her name was Kathy Lafon and she just like in, I think she saw something in me or something, but she just pushed me into making up my own music. She pushed me into like, figuring out what I like to listen to. 5 (8m 52s): And so at that point on, like I was, I was hooked. I was in, I was into piano. I fell in love with piano, for sure. And those years were really important. Like 12 to 16. I is when, just like, I just went kind of, I got the music bug. I started writing, you know, terrible songs, but I started writing songs and I picked up the guitar around the same age too, around 12. Okay. And so that's kind of when everything clicked for me as far as like, oh yeah, this is like, I was playing sports and everything, but for whatever reason, that was like my thing. I felt like nobody else really around me was doing that. And so it was my kind of break away from stuff. 3 (9m 30s): Wow. Would do you I'm I'm just curious now, do you still stay in contact with that woman that year old teacher? 5 (9m 37s): You know, what's, you know, what's really funny is, is on tour. I made a point to like swing by and when we drove past Virginia and so we had dinner together, like probably a month ago. 3 (9m 47s): Wow. That's so rad. She's gotta be so hype for you. That's so amazing. 5 (9m 52s): Oh dude. Yeah. We had a blast and I I've made a point to see her, like anytime I've gone through there. So yeah, we still, we still keep in contact and I got, this was like, this is like a full circle moment. So the piano I grew up playing on that she had was a Yamaha C3. It was a, it was a grand piano and what she had. And so I always wanted one and like three months ago, I, I got, I got my, got my own, so I, wow. I got the same piano. I'll show you. I'll just move you around so you can see it. That's right over there in the corner. 3 (10m 26s): Oh, beautiful. 5 (10m 27s): Yeah. So 3 (10m 28s): That's so that's identical to what you learned on 5 (10m 31s): It was the same piano. Yeah. The story is wild too. I was actually about to buy a different piano and I sat down and I played a couple notes on this piano and I was like, this feels like the same one. I grew up playing. And I asked the guy what I asked the guy what it was. And he was like, yeah, that's a C3. And I was like, that's what I grew up playing. I was like, actually canceled that, cancel that other one. 3 (10m 51s): Cancel. I bought this one. 5 (10m 54s): Yeah. So when I texted her, when I texted her and told her that she was like, of course ecstatic. And it was really emotional too. It was like, it was like all this nostalgia brew up from when I was playing as a kid. So man, it's been, yeah, it's been awesome. Having a, this is the first time I've had a piano in the house. And like, since I was back home, 3 (11m 12s): Is that right? What were you planning on? Just keyboards before? 5 (11m 16s): Not the same, but yeah, 3 (11m 18s): But still, I mean, having the physical piano, I mean that, there's just, I that's one of my biggest regrets. Like growing up, we had my dad plays piano and we had a piano in the house and my sister is 11 years younger than me, but she picked it up and they both play all the time. And I'm like so jealous. And my dad's whole thing was he wanted to, he got a new piano he wanted, but he doesn't have a, a, a grand piano like yours, but it's, it, it's a real, you know, piano. And it's just, it sounds so awesome. And it's just such a different sound to it than, than a keyboard. Although you could make the exact same sound on a keyboard. 5 (11m 54s): It's I, I, well, I tell people this all the time and it's like, if you don't, if you've never like played piano, even at all, you just don't really understand, but like there's such a difference. Feel wise and sound. Yeah. It's, it's, it's not to me. It's night and day. It was, I didn't play nearly as much until I got this. Like I play, I can't stop. I would rather do this than anything at this point. I gotta make myself do. 3 (12m 16s): That's awesome. Have you been inspired to write on this S new piano? 5 (12m 20s): Oh, for sure. Okay. I think the first thing I did was like, just learn a bunch of old pieces that I had, like just had, and like, didn't want to play 'em on my keyboard. So I started there and then, and then, yeah, what ends up turning into like me playing an old piece, turns up to me, like fiddling around and then writing something new. And, but yeah, no, it's, it's, it's so inspirational for sure. Just have new something new like that it, it happens with guitars too. I'll get a new guitar and this, the, you know, they always say like a new guitar has, you know, saw new songs in it too. It's like, you get a new guitar and it's got, it's got a bunch of songs in it that you wouldn't have gotten from another guitar. 3 (13m 0s): I haven't heard that before. That's beautiful. I that's. And it makes a whole lot of sense too. 5 (13m 5s): Yeah. There's just something about each individual instrument that just, I don't know, pulls something different outta your, your writing 3 (13m 11s): That's killer wouldn't. So you said you started playing guitar around the same time that you moved and got this new teacher. 5 (13m 17s): Yeah. Around 12 is, is when I started playing guitar to impress a girl, obviously. 3 (13m 22s): Okay. That was my next question. What, what made you decide on the guitar versus the piano? 5 (13m 26s): There was this dude, there was this dude named Austin and he was such a good guitar player. And I just remember the girl that I had a crush on was just like fawning over him while he was playing. I was like, well, this feels obvious. I gotta learn how to play guitar now, so 3 (13m 41s): Sure. Okay. Did you get an acoustic guitar? What do you get and how do you get it? 5 (13m 46s): My dad had an, my dad plays too. My, my dad plays, my mom plays piano. My dad plays and then my mom's got a great voice. My mom's a great singer. And so music was always around and I grew up singing in the choir too. So singing was always like a thing too. And, but yeah, I, I grabbed my dad's guitar and he taught me a couple chords and then it was just like, I became obsessed with that for a couple years too. And, but I didn't get the girl, but I did. I did. I got so distracted with the guitar. I was over the girl at that 3 (14m 18s): Point. Exactly. You said you grew up in, in the church. I mean, your dad is a pastor. Is that, that's what you said earlier with that? Were you involved in like the, the worship team and like all that parts of playing probably live in front of crowd on a weekly basis? 5 (14m 37s): Totally. I mean, that's what I think that's what introduced me to live music. That's when I feel like when I moved to Nashville and started well, even, even when I started my own project in college and toured around and like, that was like, definitely just like gave me a push into live music. Yeah. But I started, I mean, I got thrown into it early. I mean, it was like singing in the choir at like 11 or 12. And then I remember when we moved in, when I was a sophomore in high school, I got thrown up, you know, to, to lead worship and stuff and we had the college ministry and I would play for that. So yeah, I definitely just got thrown up and just had to figure it out, which was, which was great and great experience that I didn't know, realize I was getting, it was just kind of like, well, I play guitar and sing, so I guess I'm doing it. 3 (15m 22s): So, yeah. And talk about, you know, getting in front of a crowd, being kind of leading the, the, the whole thing that probably played into a lot of what you're able to do now, as far as like in a live setting. 5 (15m 34s): Oh, absolutely. You know, what's funny is I get more nervous now than I ever was as like a kid. Really? I feel like that you have no fear almost in a way, or the fear is just different. You might be nervous, but you get older, you get older and you get more anxiety. And then you have, you run through too many, like horse scenarios in your head. But as a kid, you don't do that. 3 (15m 59s): Sure. You get way more subconscious. You're like, okay. And then I'm gonna screw this up. And then it's all these people that are gonna, when you're a kid, you aren't even thinking that far ahead 5 (16m 7s): For a kid. You're just like, hoping your hair looks good. You're like, sure. Like I hope I right now. 3 (16m 13s): Oh, that's funny. Okay. So you continue, you start writing songs. You said when you got the guitar around, what did you say? Like 15, 16 is when you start writing? 5 (16m 22s): Probably like 11 or 12 is when I was, 3 (16m 24s): Oh, wow. 5 (16m 25s): Writing. I had this little tape I had, well, I had two tape recorders. This is a classic thing. It's, it's funny. When you do something, you feel like as a kid, you're the only one that does it, but I've heard so many other writers and artists tell me that they've done the same thing, which is really cool, but I had two tape recorders and I would like record a guitar part on one tape recorder. And then I would play the tape recorder. And then the second tape recorder, I'd start recording and then I'd play a different part. So, 3 (16m 52s): Oh, wow. Like your four track. 5 (16m 56s): And I thought that that was the coolest thing ever. And so I, I was always into like, I didn't know it, but like making music as well. So like making the productions and making parts. And that was something I fell in love with at a early, like a really early age too. So, but yeah, around that age is when I started experimenting with like writing and just like tinkering around with lyrics and melodies and stuff like that. 3 (17m 23s): Did you end up going to college for music? 5 (17m 26s): No. You know, I, I, I think at one point I wanted to, and I think luckily I got, I didn't get into any of them. And I think it's a, it was such a good thing because I, the schools that I was trying to go to, I think would've, I think it would've changed my like kind of relationship with music a little bit, just because when I went to school, I ended up going to school as a writing major, 3 (17m 56s): Which helps 5 (17m 60s): It, it was such a different to me, it felt like, oh, this is so different from music, but it really, it really did teach me how to write better. But when I went to school, I kind of left music behind for a little bit. I still played, but it wasn't like the ultimate thing anymore. It was like, I still play. But now I'm doing like intermural sports and hanging out with my friends and still played. I think it was a, I think college, like almost separated music a little bit from like, what I thought was like my identity, which I think was really helpful for me because everyone knew I played and I still did stuff, but in college I was kind of just there hanging out, having a good time. 5 (18m 41s): And then when I got done with college, I got super into music again. So it was almost like a little break. And then I got super into it. And then I was like, wait, people do this for a living and then anyways, move to Nashville. But, but yeah, in college, I, I didn't study any music at all. I actually literally got turned down. 3 (19m 3s): Where were you applying to? Like Berkeley and 5 (19m 8s): In like in I'm sure I could have gotten into certain programs there, but like what I wanted to get into of like performance and stuff, I just realized like, oh, there's so many kids that are so much better than me. So I'm just like, I think I wanted originally to be a performer, just like actual like player. And then I think I was shell shocked a little bit when I came to Nashville and realized that like, oh my God, everyone's good. 3 (19m 32s): Right. 5 (19m 34s): I'm not even like, close to being as good as these people. So that was inspiring too. So in college I just played a lot, you know, I would practice for hours and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I just knew that like, if I did ever want do this, I had to get a lot better. So shell shock. And, but it was also motivation. I feel like people either take it two different ways. They either get discouraged and quit or they it's motivation for them to get better. And I think originally I wanted to quit and then it was like, nah, I still love this. I wanna get better. So 3 (20m 5s): Sure. You said that you did some touring in college. Is that you mentioned earlier a little bit. 5 (20m 10s): Yeah. So 3 (20m 11s): And what was that project? Cause it, 5 (20m 13s): It was, it was just, yeah, it was like a singer songwriter project. And I just like, yeah, it was just, I would just play at different, like, it was a lot of college playing a lot of the colleges and it was never, it was never anything that felt like it was gonna amount, anything. It was mainly just for fun. 3 (20m 30s): Okay. So that's why you said that it was just kind of something music. You kind of went away from it a bit in college, but you were still writing songs and playing out a little bit. At least. 5 (20m 38s): Yeah. I was still doing it. I just, it wasn't as kind of like consuming it wasn't my everyday thing. It wasn't like doing it every day. It was like, okay. I would friends and I would write new songs and then they would ask me to play at a certain college and I'd go play. And anyways, it was a lot of that stuff. It was never any, it was never like, I never went on like a tour in college. It wasn't a bunch of schools. It was just like little one offs here. And there 3 (21m 3s): Was there, like there must have been a moment though, like even maybe prior to college or while you were in college that you wrote a song or you showed someone in one of your songs that you got like some validating, you know, response to like, oh, you know, this is really good or you're good at this. Or was there a moment like that, or maybe you wouldn't have continued on or can carried on or was that just something you knew you were gonna do anyway? 5 (21m 25s): Yeah, I did. So I, I don't know what it was, but like in, so senior year of high school for our like senior project, I, I recorded like a record. That was like my thing I wanted to, I wanted to talk about like the music industry and like music publishing and stuff like that, the business item music. But I also like for my like physical product, I did like an actual record. And I think that time that I felt like validation as far as like giving, you know, handing up my high school kids, these songs, and they knew that I played, but like, I don't think anybody like really knew like, just like how much I was into it. And that was massive validation of just like, I remember one girl, this is so funny cuz like it, the CD like it's dude, if you don't Google it, don't try to find it's. 3 (22m 14s): I was gonna say, I'm right after this song gonna find this CD. 5 (22m 18s): Well, I hope you find it just so you can see how, how, how far I've come. It's a good, a good lookback. I remember this girl was like, I like this. Like you're better than like Jason Maraz. I just remember her saying, I dunno why I remember this. And I remember being like, well that's not true, but that is so sweet that people connected to the music. So that was my first like taste of like, maybe I like can, I don't know, maybe I can do this. And then in college I did another like record and would like pass it out. And I think, I think I, I almost probably had less insecurity at that time just cuz there, I didn't know what was out there. It was just kind of like me making music and it was just like, I don't really care. 5 (23m 2s): This was mainly me, but wow. Other people dig it too. So I think there was a lot of validation in that. Just handing out people like really digging it. 3 (23m 13s): Yeah. I mean to, to have even the courage to, to hand out a CD of songs that you had written to kids at a, at a high school is a huge thing in itself. 5 (23m 24s): Oh totally. 3 (23m 25s): They're your worst critics and the people you have to see every day. 5 (23m 29s): Yeah, absolutely. I think, I think the other, the other moment of validation was just when I would hand stuff out to people that I didn't even know. And then they would like contact me later. It's one friends and your friends would be like, this is sick. And you're like, well you're my friend. So you would say that anyway, but like handing, like I would, you know, be on like outside the cafeteria and hand out CDs to people and you never know. And like, I, I think it had, like, I think at this time I like probably had my email and like I probably even put my phone number in there. I don't know, just like any kind of like feedback I was into. So anytime people would reach out and be like, oh my God, I love this or whatever. 5 (24m 12s): And it was somebody, I didn't know. It's just something random that, that always was like super validating. 3 (24m 18s): No for sure. Yeah. Like you said, if it's a friend or a family member, you're like, well of course you're not gonna be like this sucks. What do you doing 5 (24m 27s): So many compliments from my mom to be like, yeah, she's right. I'm like really killing it. 3 (24m 32s): Sure. So what makes you decide to move to Nashville and do you finish college and try to go a different career path and just decide, you know, that I want to do music. How do you land in Nashville? 5 (24m 44s): Yeah. So it was kind of, it was a little bit of a slower process than I think like in my own head. I, I never, when I finished college I was working at, so my senior year I started working at a, we have a, a casino, like a big casino near where I'm like, my hometown is. So I started bartending at casino and making like really good money senior year, like way more money than any of my friends. And so that 3 (25m 14s): In high school or college 5 (25m 16s): In college, 3 (25m 16s): Yeah. Okay. I was like, wait a minute. This bar letting you serve at. 5 (25m 21s): And I, no, but it was in, it was senior year college and I started bartending and was making solid money. And so it was kind of this like seamless transition of like, I don't know what I want to do, but this is a great gig for a while. So finished college, I bartended at this casino for probably probably two years after college. Maybe it might have even been a little longer. Might've been three and the whole time I was like kind of playing music, but I didn't, I didn't realistically think that I was going to do music for a living. 5 (26m 2s): It was never, it wasn't like this like moment where a lot of these guys, a lot of these artists and musicians were like, yeah, just like went for it and did it right outta school. And I didn't, I didn't know. I didn't know what I wanted to do. So I did, I did that. And then I had a friend, one of my best friends who I went to college with, they were living in the area and he was one of the only people I had ever really collaborated with as far as like, felt like we were both super passionate about music. So he and his wife had started going to Nashville and he was going just to write, like he was writing country songs and like he made some connections and was telling me like, you should move. 5 (26m 44s): Like I think you would really dig it. And that was honestly the first time I realized that people wrote music for like a living. Like I, I was only like only four and a half hours away from Nashville. I didn't know that that was a thing when he was telling me all about this, I was like, oh, I didn't know. I thought you had to be like, basically like a Justin Bieber to like, or like a Keith urban, you know, I didn't know. You could just write for other people. So that was my first taste of like, oh, well maybe I could do something like that. And I remember they told me they were gonna move and I was already feeling kind of like apathetic towards work and like a little burnout and not sure what I wanted to do and was just like, all right, cool. 5 (27m 25s): Like I'm gonna move too. I just, I kind of just needed somebody else to tell me they were gonna be there that I knew. And so they moved in may and then I moved in June. So I just, I moved a month later and just had no idea, didn't know anyone, but them just moved. And I started just making connections with the same people that he was working with. And I just started, I started bartending here in Nashville. Like a lot of people do and was also just trying to write with literally whoever would write with me. And I did that for the first like year and a half was just like bartending, you know, four or five days a week and writing whenever I wasn't bartending. 3 (28m 9s): Wow. And did you, from, from that experience, what was like the next big, like, was there a big moment after that was like, did you like, what was the first kind of, you know, milestone, you'd say after moving here. Cause I, I know that a lot of people move to this town in hopes to, to obviously break through and do something. And it's a lot of, like you said, bartending, just riding with a million people and to keep going and going and going and going and finally getting some sort of break, like where, where did that lie? 5 (28m 40s): Yeah. So I think about a year and a half, I was writing with this little, like this little kind of publishing company. I wasn't, I didn't have a publishing deal with them, but I was kind of like in their circle of people that were, they were working with and I decided that I don't really even know how this happened, but I just decided I wanted to start another, like a project again, like an artist project, but I didn't want to sing, I, I don't know what my thought process was. I think what I wanted to almost be was like a Calvin Harris almost just like 6 (29m 19s): Dramatic pause, a dramatic pause, says something without saying anything at all. Dramatic pause is a go-to for podcasters, presidents and radio voiceovers. It makes you look really smart. Even if you are not feet deserve a go to like that, like, Hey, do choose life comfy. Good to go to 5 (29m 49s): Being, this was also when the DJ scene was just like blowing up. Like it was like, yeah, people were featuring. And so to me it was like, I think I was insecure and didn't really wanna sing anymore and was just like, well, I feel like kind of, I feel good about like me being able to produce stuff and other people singing. So I was like, I might just start a project for fun. So I did, it was the mojito project and I was that's one of the reasons I didn't use my name is cuz I was like, well, I kind of wanna use like a different name and like have people feature. And so 3 (30m 23s): Cause you weren't gonna be the vocalist. So instead of just being your name as a singer songwriter, Moto was the yeah. Okay. That makes sense. 5 (30m 31s): Yeah. So that's kind of how that started. And I had basically, I just had a bunch of tracks. They were just like a bunch of just no, no lyrics over on, there were just bunch of just like instrumentals and I just would like send them out to people. And anyways, I had a kid send back like the top line, just with like his vocal on it, of something he had written and I'm like, oh this is rad. And then anyways, we just like kind of talked together and put it out and, and it kind of like, and I say, I say it popped off. Meaning like not, not popped off how things pop off now where it's like, they go like crazy about pop for me. It popped off like it did well enough to get some like attention from other people, some label stuff. 5 (31m 16s): And that's, that was the first moment where I was like, thought about like, oh, I could like potentially quit my job and then quit my varsity job. And then that song kind of did really well. And then I signed the label, a label, picked it up, there was this dance label out of, out of Amsterdam. That was like a dance label. And they, they picked it up and they also wanted to sign me for like 10. I think it was like 10 more songs. Wow. So I, I signed a deal to where I was able to at least have enough money to where I could quit my job. And that was like, I felt like at that point I got I've made it like I'm I felt right. 3 (31m 59s): You're doing music full-time at this point. Right. You're not working. Like you just get to write, you had a song that does something. So you're yeah. You're probably like I'm rocking it right 5 (32m 9s): Now. Yeah. I was like, I am crushing it and 3 (32m 12s): Oh, I mean you were, I mean, even that level is so far ahead of, if you thought about, you know, your bartending job or even being, living in, you know, North Carolina or whatever being told, Hey, in a year and a half or two years, you're gonna have a label and you're gonna have this song. That's big, like life changing. 5 (32m 32s): It was the dream. And I, I, it was always my dream, but I never thought I could do it. And it's, it's funny, like making $10 doing something you love means so much more than making a hundred dollars doing something you hate it just like, and so I feel like even though that money was like, you know, I look back and it was like, it was substantial at the time, but it was nothing. And like, but it was enough for me to be like, yeah, I'm all in on this. So I did, I quit my job. And, and the funny thing is about the project is as soon as I put out that song with somebody else singing on it, I was like, I don't, I kind of just wanna do my own thing. So, so the label was super rad and kind of like, let me, I, I found out two things really quick, a I don't like dance music that much, which is hilarious, cuz that was the song was like a dance song, 3 (33m 23s): A dance song. We've also collaborated with a bunch of huge DJs too. 5 (33m 28s): And so then I was like, I kind of just like pop music. And so the label was super rad. Like they let me, they let me kind of like blaze my own trail, which was really cool. Like they could have just been like, no, we want dance music, but they let me kind of like find my artist project in that time, which was like, I owe them a lot of like gratitude to that because not not many labels would let you do that. They would be like, no, we signed you for this thing. 3 (33m 54s): Right. We know this works and we want you to keep doing this. We're not, don't just go run off into the weeds and try to do something completely different, 5 (34m 3s): But they let me do it. And that was like super rad. And I think through those, I was with them I think for like two years. And I was able to like really find my like, like artists, like the sound that I liked. And, and so, yeah, that was like, that was like huge for me. And that kind of like jump started everything. And then I haven't really looked back at that point. I mean, there's been different parts of my like music career where it's like that always at first felt like a side project thing. So it was like paying, it was the initial thing that paid the bills. Well then at that point I was like, I still wanna write for other people and produced for other people. So I did that for a while too. And then I'd say within the last two years it became more like, oh no, I like doing this artist project more than anything else. 5 (34m 51s): So that became my main focus probably around like a year and a half ago, two years ago. Something like that. 3 (34m 57s): Was that like with the pandemic happening or did that have any effect on it or were you already going all in on your artist project prior? 5 (35m 5s): I think when I started to go all in on my artist project was when we got out of the deal that we were in and I was like in a hundred percent, like I was independent. So I was just like putting out music without a label that I think lit a spark in me because I felt like it was my business almost in a way where it was like, I was just so much more motivated in every area because it was like, this is coming out of my pocket songs mean even more to me, me, because I don't have a label to be like, no, you shouldn't put this out or wait, we're gonna wait two months to put this out. It was like, no, I could like put out stuff tomorrow if I 3 (35m 45s): Want yeah. Do what you want. Right. 5 (35m 48s): So I think that's really when I started getting really motivated and that was the end of 2019. So almost, almost the pandemic basically. 3 (35m 57s): Okay. So that's interesting how that kind of fell, where you were able to you're outta your deal at this point. And now you get to go all in on your project and then the pandemic kind of hits. So now all you have is probably time to, to really work on your project. 5 (36m 13s): Yeah. At first it was amazing. I'm sure a lot of people have the same experience at first. It was amazing. It was like, I'm gonna get so much done. 3 (36m 19s): You're like, I got two weeks to flatten this curve and we're gonna be good to go. 5 (36m 26s): So I worked really hard during the pandemic and got a, and put out a bunch of music, but then it just felt like, it almost felt like I put out, I think a lot of people had this experience. I wasn't, I realized that I wasn't really listening that much music during that time. And I feel like music was in a weird place cuz it was just like, people didn't know if they should put out music or like, wait, like how long is this gonna last? 3 (36m 51s): Right. It was like, is it appropriate to release something? Like it got really muddy there for a bit. 5 (36m 57s): Yeah, it did. So that was kind of weird, but I just kept kind of cranking stuff out. And I think like I got like a, almost a monthly release schedule where I was just kind of putting out stuff and, but yeah, that was, that was huge for me just cuz it was just like, I got a rhythm of working on my project and I got really good at finishing songs. I was so bad at finishing songs for a long time. It would just be like, people would just be like hounding me like yo, can we please finish this? But then I got, it was the first time I was ever ahead. Meaning like instead of just, I've got the next song. No I had like the next song and the next song and the next song. And I realized that I functioned so much better when I'm like a step ahead of like what's happening next instead of just always scrounging around and be like, okay, well I think this is the next song. 3 (37m 45s): Right? Try to catch up like almost like, okay now you're, you're probably way more under pressure. Like uhoh I gotta get another song out. Let me get down to the key. Let me, you know, try to write something real quick. 5 (37m 55s): And I was kind of like always stressed because I was like couldn't I had to figure out what the next thing is. And then I think from that point on, even now, I just like, I kind of know what the next couple things are, which, which makes it, it gives you more, I feel like creative, like just like freedom because you don't feel like I have, there's always like the next thing it's like, oh, I've got a couple of things down the line. I can kind of be, do whatever I want right now. I don't have like this like super intense schedule of like I gotta finish this thing 3 (38m 24s): With that less pressure on you. Do you feel like that helps with your writing or do you totally enjoy? Okay. Because some people enjoy the like, okay, I need to have the gun to my head, ready to, you know, have to get it done now type mentality. 5 (38m 39s): I thought that that was good for me. And then after I started getting ahead and like having more like freedom that actually I think opened up a lot of creativity in me just cause there's also so much that I enjoy outside of music. And I think I was those things were like suffering, like my relationships and like just spontaneity to travel and going back home to see my parents. I think I was just so consumed for a little bit with making my artist project work that I like lost sight of so many other little areas of my life. They realized it at the time it was kind of like looking back. I was like, oh, like I realized that I enjoyed the freedom of being able to kind of do whatever I want. 5 (39m 24s): I think that's the whole reason. I've always been so bad having a boss. Like I've always, I always thought that I was lazy. Like I always thought that I was lazy. Like even when I was bartending, it's just like, I felt like I would work hard on my job, but I was not inspired there. You know, like I was doing a, I was doing a task that was like, some people may have done that task. And then like, this is what I wanna do. I love this for me. It was just like, I obviously don't want to do this forever. So when I found music, especially my own project and like something that I loved, well, it didn't feel like work anymore. It just felt like, well, this is a no brainer. 5 (40m 6s): I've gotta spend time doing this. And so I realized I was never lazy. I just was uninspired. I just wasn't on anything that was inspiring. 3 (40m 15s): Yeah. And to be a musician, especially to the level that you are at and, and the grind that you've put forward, obviously lazy, wouldn't be a word to describe you. 5 (40m 26s): No, totally. But I saw myself as that. I think I was insecure about that for a long time. Cause I was just like, I wanna work hard, but I just had no motivation, you know? 3 (40m 34s): Right, right. Cuz you didn't find what you were, like you said, not something that you were really motivated to do. I mean bartending you're probably like, okay, I got here, I got five more hours and I'm gonna get the hell outta here and I'm gonna get to go do whatever. I, I feel, you know, like doing when I get home or whatever. 5 (40m 50s): Yeah, exactly. And I think, I think I've been able to see both sides of it, where it was just like I'm uninspired, I'm feel lazy and then also I've work. I'm working too much. And then now it's like, feel like I've found more of the balance of like what like a healthy work actual life looks like. Because I would say for the, like from the pandemic until probably like within the last year it was like, I just couldn't find that balance. It was like, I was just working too much and then I wasn't maybe even working smart. It was just like just to work. 3 (41m 24s): And 5 (41m 25s): I think I've learned now how to work smarter and, and also have time to like go play tennis or like, you know, not just be in my studio all the time, trying to figure out the next thing. 3 (41m 36s): Sure, sure. Are you still producing for other people or, cause I just, I mean, during the pandemic, was that something you were able to do as well? 5 (41m 44s): Yeah, I was doing that. I mean, honestly I've done that. I've been in and out of that, you know, since I was kind of in Nashville, less of that, I feel like I've tried to cut down on the things that I felt like there's so many things that you do that I felt like I was doing just because like it was music and I was making money doing it. And so it felt like I was, I just had a hard time saying no to stuff. Right. I also did. I also don't think I ever sat down and was like, what do you love doing? And then what parts of it do you not like doing? And I had a moment where it was probably in 2021 where I was like, I wouldn't say I was like gonna quit music, but I was just like so burnt from doing so many different things that I kind of was forced to be like, there's obviously some stuff here that you don't like doing. 5 (42m 35s): So like what is that? And I realized that I didn't love producing for other people and I was doing a lot of it. And so I kind of just quit and I loved doing my own stuff, but for whatever reason, something about producing for other people just felt like it was really draining to me. And then, so now really what I love is like writing for other people, just not touching anything on the, you know 3 (43m 2s): Sure. Just I wrote this song, would you like to use it? 5 (43m 7s): And then doing my own stuff? And that's kind of, that's kind of the two things that I feel like I'm doing the most of now. 3 (43m 13s): I love that. Cuz it's almost writing for other people. At least you get to take your own approach and it's not in the sense of like, okay, the artist is like, I want it to sound like this or I want you to, can you make the drum kick, drum sound like this? And you're kind of like, okay where it's, you're writing your own song. It's gonna sound like it is and you want it or not. 5 (43m 33s): Yeah. And I also felt like I was trying to prove to myself in a way that I was good at producing where it's like, I didn't need to do that. I already, I already feel like I've proven that to myself. I felt like there was an aspect of it that was trying to prove something to myself where I was having fun doing it. I was just trying to be like, you have to do this to like prove it. Right. So I, I kinda washed that a little bit. 3 (44m 1s): That's good. I mean to, to be able to just focus on you and your project, that must be pretty amazing. 5 (44m 8s): Oh dude. Yeah. It's it. I feel like it has, has made me, I think it was scary at first. Cause I was holding onto these other little like financial streams to go all in on something just in case it failed. Like there's always this idea of like, what if it fails? And I like got rid of all these other like opportunities, but all in, in the reverse of that, it also forces me to be, be like, I've gotta make this work. 3 (44m 34s): Right, right. Good. Cause you just cut off those other income streams. It's like, okay, well I'm not doing these things anymore. So now I have to focus more time on my project and I really gotta push it so I can, you know, stay financially set or at least sitting where I'm at currently. 5 (44m 50s): No, totally. I think focusing on just that like one thing was huge for me because I was said to other little things I was trying to split time between. 3 (44m 58s): Sure, sure. So I wanna talk to you about the new record you put out and obviously I'm just going off of your Spotify, just see kind of you have three of the songs clump together under the same artwork. Does that mean that you have a full album coming out or an EP coming out or is it just kind of singles and then I wanna talk to you about the record. 5 (45m 16s): Yeah. I'm I'm like almost done with the record. So pretty pumped I've this is the most music I've ever like had like completed at one time. 3 (45m 28s): Oh cool. 5 (45m 29s): Which feels really good. And also is wild because you it's normally, like I said, like normally I get done with the song and it like kind of comes out pretty soon now I've I decided to just like go in and finish a bunch of stuff. And I think that was really fun because most of the time it's just one song at a time and now it was like finishing a whole body of work, but it just felt like I had all these songs that had like a cohesive either message or just like, they just felt like they kind of fit together. And so I was like, yeah, I guess it's time to like put out a full body of work. So yeah. I, I don't know when it's coming out yet or like a date, but it's, it's all the songs are written and like done. 5 (46m 10s): So 3 (46m 11s): That's so exciting. That's awesome. 5 (46m 13s): Yeah. So I'm pretty pumped. 3 (46m 15s): Yeah, for sure. Well, so I saw, or I love the song crash that you did. I wanna talk to you about happiness, but so Charlotte sands is somebody I recently became hip to and great. I I'd never heard of her. I I'm a huge fan of taking back Sunday. I've interviewed them a few times in the main, and then she put out this, this record with them and I'm like, who, this girl's voice is in incredible. Who is this person? So then I go, you know, down the rabbit hole, this is like, I don't know, maybe six, eight months ago when the song first came out. Yeah. And then I'm finding all these other songs that she had and which is funny now. Cause like I'll, I'll be driving around, listening to serious and dress is like on all the time now, which is killer for her, but I had never heard of her. 3 (46m 59s): And, and then I saw that you like, one of your most recent records was with her and I'm like, oh my, I want to talk to you about that. She's from Nashville as well. Right? Or lives in Nashville. I think. 5 (47m 9s): Well, yeah, we, that was our like first session together. We just had a, I don't even remember when we wrote that song. I wanna say it was like in the fall last year. Oh wow. But we just kind of, I don't know even what, what our, we weren't like planning on like doing a collab or anything. It was just like, 3 (47m 27s): Okay. 5 (47m 28s): And row. And it was just me and her and then that song kind of was what happened. So it's super, but no, she's so rad and we ha we have a blast, like just hanging out. So I think that was what it was too. We were just kind of hanging out. And then I think when she left, I would like, listen back to what we had done. And I was like, wait, this is kind of sick. Actually. I think it was like probably five or six months later. I just like, didn't even touch the track. I just like whatever we did just kind of live. And then six months later I came back and I was like, wait, this is kind of tight. Maybe we should finish this. 3 (48m 1s): Yeah. It's a, it's an awesome song. And like I said, it's so cool to see. I just feel like, wow, I just, you know, landed on her name and kind of found out who she was. And then now I'm just like, it's like one of those things, like if you buy a car, you start singing everywhere. Like she, you know, like I'd never heard of her. And I thought I was pretty H in new music and then now I'm seeing her name everywhere. And then, you know, I'm researching you and I'm like, oh wow. Just did a song with her as well. 5 (48m 26s): Yeah, dude, it was, it was super organic. It was just like, I was already a fan of her stuff anyway. So I thought it was like exciting for me too. 3 (48m 34s): That's sweet. That's awesome. So tell me about happiness. That was the most, you just put that out? Not, not long ago at all. Yeah. 5 (48m 41s): Last week. 3 (48m 41s): Yeah. Tell me about that song. 5 (48m 43s): Yeah. So that that's one. That was one of the funny enough, that was one of the last songs I wrote for the record, which wasn't at the time, even writing for a record, it was just a body of work. Most of the songs I've done were with one of my, like my closest songwriter buddy, who I write pretty much everything with and his name's Trent dabs. And we were, we were just all of our songs. I feel like happen when we're just talking about stuff. And I was just talking about just how hard it is to just like live in the moment without like feeling like I gotta look forward to something, you know, as a kid, I remember I, you, I get, I gotten this habit of always looking to the next thing. 5 (49m 29s): And so like, as a kid, you're like, it's either the next game. Or like, you know, you're looking forward to Christmas or you're looking forward to this vacation or like, so you like, like we just get like cloned almost to feeling like this next thing is gonna make us happy. And then when you older, those things just become different. It's like this success will make me a different, or this thing will make me happier. This amount of money will make me happier. I'll be happy when I'm this successful. So I, we were just talking about that and it was kind of the idea of like, why can't I just be like happy now? You know? Like with like, I've got so much to be grateful for, but it's so hard to be happy just without those other things being like telling you that those are what's gonna make you happy. 5 (50m 15s): So that was kind of the way the song started. And then we just wrote it on a guitar and I think I had like a voice memo on my phone for like a couple months and had no idea what I wanted, wanted it to sound like. And then he just came over one day and we just, I think we did the whole thing in like, in like a day it was pretty quick cuz the song was already written and then I just kind of just went with my gut and then just, it just kind of flowed out. 3 (50m 41s): Wow. It's a great song. I I really, really, really like, I mean all this, the songs you've you've released are awesome. Especially the most recent three, which I hope are gonna be all on that, that new album you have coming out. So cool. And you just did a tour, a big, you just got off tour, right? Was thunder bodies? 5 (51m 0s): Yep. Just got off tour six weeks. It was about blast. It was my first, it was my first tour ever like with Mota, the Mota project. 3 (51m 11s): Oh really? 5 (51m 12s): Yeah. First one ever. 3 (51m 14s): Wow. What was that like? I mean, so you obviously have, you know, a fan base and a ton of streams. And was it cool to kind of see away from the digital aspect of your career people in, in person? Oh, 5 (51m 25s): It was, it was, I think it was like kind of life changing for me as far as like my artist project, just because I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if anybody was gonna come because like again, all these things that I'm seeing are all digital, you know? Right. As far as, you know, messages on Instagram are one thing, but you don't see the person, you know, you're not like physically like with them. And so it was such a great way of seeing all these people that like listen to my music, but like meeting them, like in the flesh, it was just like, I feel like it was so inspiring because it made me realize that like, well actually people actually listen to my music. 5 (52m 7s): It's so funny to say that because like, I can see the numbers, but I don't people. So seeing, like putting faces on these, like people that like have messaged me for years or whatever, and that have come actually come out to the show. Yeah. It, it was dude, it was the game changer. I, I, I had no idea what to expect. And then I was like, maybe I might hate this. I don't know. Or like what if no one shows up, 3 (52m 32s): Right? Yeah. You don't know. Right. I mean it's all digital. Yeah. You're seeing 17 million plays on a song, but what is, does that mean anyone? Yeah. I could see exactly where you're coming from. I've talked to a lot of artists that have had that same, almost like an imposter syndrome. Like yeah. There's all these plays, but is this like real? Is this really happening? 5 (52m 52s): Yeah. I felt like it really solidified like, like what, like what I've done so far. And it also just inspired me to keep going because there's just so many days where it's just like, because without that like real interaction, it can just feel like does anybody care? You know? And even though I know people do, like you said, like that, that idea of like feeling like, I just feel like this is all random or like I don't, I don't know where the, like maybe this is all like algorithm based and that's just like, no one actually cares about my music. And so yeah, those conversations that I had with people, like after shows and like hearing people's stories, like those solidified everything to me that I feel like that I was insecure about. 3 (53m 35s): That's incredible. Cuz I've actually had conversations with people where the streaming thing has kind of done the, the opposite, not the opposite in the sense of like, you know, meeting people it's like, does this really turn into ticket sales? And sometimes it doesn't, if you have like a song that pops off on TikTok and then it go, people go to your Spotify and you have, you know, X million streams on a song and then you try to play a show. Maybe people show up. Maybe they don't because 5 (54m 1s): Absolutely. And I had heard all those stories too. So it was just like expecting that. 3 (54m 6s): Right. That's so killer to, I mean, you've had such a, a long career and, and continued success. I would've been shocked if you told me the other thing happened. It wasn't like, you're like, yeah, I put this song out and then on TikTok and then this one person shared it and add 10 billion impressions. And now I'm trying to tour the country and no one cares like 5 (54m 26s): Happens all the time. 3 (54m 27s): Right, right, right. But it's so that's so awesome that you're able to, you know, finally tour the, the project and everything and it, and it worked out. 5 (54m 34s): Yeah, absolutely. Man, it felt, it felt validating. It also, it also felt validating. Just, just, I think like I've tried to be consistent in putting out music in consistent and, and just like keeping going when it feels like no one cares. And I think that gave me more validation to just like, there's gonna be a point I'm sure where it feels like that again, where it's just, oh, I'm putting all this music. No one cares. But like I realize like people do care. So that's like an something I can point to in my own mind when it feels that way again. 3 (55m 5s): Sure. You're like people actually do care. They showed up. I watched, I saw them in person. Yeah. That's awesome. I have two questions. One quick, one about that piano that you have, have you had a chance to record on it at all yet? 5 (55m 18s): Dude, I haven't, but I'm so pumped to, so I, I got it basically like be only like a month before I left for tour. So I, I got it and then played the heck out of it and then had to leave for tour. And, but I haven't like, micd it up yet, but I'm like, it's it's happening. I'm actually like I'm I I've wanted to for years record like a piano, just like an instrumental, like I've cuz I write a lot of songs on piano that don't end up having lyrics. They're just more like piece they're literally like piano pieces. And so I've really wanted to put out something that's just piano. And that was one of the reasons I like justified myself getting this piano too. 5 (56m 1s): Cause I was like, I'm gonna put out like a piano project, just, just piano, like an instrumental kind of project. 3 (56m 7s): That's awesome. I love, I, I couldn't sit and listen to the piano forever. I think it's such a beautiful instrument. That's I, and I love hearing songs from people that aren't, you know, like more classically, totally just like compositions that are cool. There's a guy named black Bach who has a really rad record. That's just all piano. 5 (56m 26s): Oh sick. I need to check that out. I haven't heard that. 3 (56m 28s): Yeah. It's it's really cool. That's awesome. And especially if you recorded all on that, that, that new grand piano 5 (56m 34s): You have. Oh yeah. 3 (56m 37s): That's awesome. Well, my last question is if you have any advice for aspiring artists. 5 (56m 42s): Oh man. I would just, I would just say like the thing that's motivated me looking back is just, there can be so many times where it feels like no it's not working. And I think just pushing through man, like if you, if you love what you're doing, it's hard to see the end. But just like, I think I've had so many people that were more successful than me. Tell me just like consistency is the biggest thing. Be nice to people is huge. Be kind and be grateful and then just like find your thing and just go with it. Don't change your artist project just cuz like somebody else came out with a song that you're like jealous of.

John-Luke Carter Profile Photo

John-Luke Carter

In Kilivila, a language native to Papua New Guinea, Mokita roughly translates to “the truth we all know but don’t talk about.” What started as a compelling idea has evolved and taken on a more significant meaning for singer-songwriter and producer John-Luke Carter. “The phrase is about things people experience but don’t necessarily talk about and that’s a huge part of my music.”Based in Nashville, the musician has spent years writing and producing for other artists (Stephen Puth, Zac Brown Band, Matoma), and has collaborated with a diverse group of artists (R3HAB, Ella Vos, Slenderbodies). His breakout single, “Colorblind,” is an emotive, atmospheric single that opened, a vulnerable look at depression—a subject matter that’s been undeniably relatable to fansas the single has continues to build momentum. With a new label home (Nettwerk Records), John-Luke has been in the studio recording new music.

On this new body of work, Charlotte Sands is a featured vocalist.

Mokita is a singer, songwriter, vocalist, producer, pianist, guitarist and remixer. He has done remixes for Maggie Rogers, G-Eazy, Kane Brown, Blackbear, Cheat Codes, GRYFFIN, Lost Frequences, and Anson Seabra among others.