Motion Cntrl infuses every anthem with optimism and unity
When Allyce Engelson and Luke Mertz began working together musically, they knew they needed to do something different yet meaningful. Under the moniker Motion Cntrl, they did just that.
Thinking logically about how to embrace who they are as individuals while attempting to break the norms of society, the electronic duo have used their music as a safe space for those of different beliefs, identities and genders.
This was important to both Engelson and Mertz who have been fighting stereotypes their entire life. Through Motion Cntrl, the two have learned to be compassionate for others who may be feeling different, as it’s something they can relate to, with Engelson being half-Mexican and gay while Mertz was raised by a mother who also identifies as gay.
They found solace in creating music, releasing a new EP titled Envision earlier this month. Full of dark, intergalactic synths and shared vocal duties, Envision tells narratives that may be unexpected as it explores the dynamics of relationships in a way the duo felt was open and relatable.
Motion Cntrl spoke with us to give us an inside look as to how the band came to be, themes that can found through Envision, how they’ve been able to embrace their true selves, and how they’ve been able to help others along the way.
How did you guys meet and how did Motion Cntrl form? Also I have to ask, where did the band name come from?
Allyce: We met while working at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Luke mentioned working on music and we started talking about musical inspirations. When I heard his project I thought, “Wow, this is really great,” and we definitely have the same taste. Once we started working together, we realized it was turning into a collaboration, with a distinct sound, and decided to go for it. But we tried about a million ideas and still couldn’t come up with a name. So we are making music, and we even schedule a video shoot, but still no name. By chance, when we were shooting video by the train tracks downtown, we saw the words “motion control” next to the shocks of the train, and knew that was it. Plus, it had a connection to Joy Division, which we both love.
You guys have just released your new EP, Envision. What type of themes can be found on the release?
Allyce: Envision has been a fun way to express a totally optimistic view of humankind. It’s fantasy, but so necessary. “Across the Divide” is an anthem of unity. It’s about getting past divisions and embracing the idea that we can evolve to recognize we’re all part of the same creation.
Luke: Ultimately, we are one. This might be hard to accept in our physical world, where the divisions between people, especially now, are so pronounced. But I’m confident that over the coming generations, the imaginary things that divide us will fall away. Our music strives to inspire that kind of optimism.
Is there a song that is personal or more meaningful to you? If so, can you tell us about it?
Allyce: “Across the Divide” is an anthem of unity. It’s about getting past divisions and embracing the idea that we can evolve to recognize we’re all apart of the same creation.
You both have very interesting and not-so-stereotypical childhoods. Can you share with us what your upbringing was like? Did you find that you were easily accepted when you were younger or did you face many struggles because of who you are and who your parents are?
Luke: My mom came out to me when I was 7. From then on, I was marching in the annual Pride Parade, playing the drums. We were fortunate that my friends were always supportive. It was always a non-issue in my community.
Allyce: For myself, growing up, I knew I was queer, but never felt super comfortable in my skin. My mom was awesome and let me dress how I wanted and always supported how I expressed myself. But I definitely felt like I had to be a chameleon at times. I had no idea if I was going to be accepted. But once I started being open about who I was, everyone who mattered truly accepted me for who I was. As I grew up, I was blessed to meet and befriend all types of people with all types of identities, and from then on, have always remembered I’m not so alone in the world.
Did you ever go through a period of time where you found it difficult to accept yourself? How do you think you’ve grown since then?
Allyce: It was really hard telling my mom I was queer. Like so many kids, I was 16 years old and contemplating suicide over it. I was so overwhelmed with the what ifs: what if I lose my friends? what if I lose my family? In my teen logic, at the time, it honestly felt like an easier choice than telling the truth. I’m super close with my mom, and she just so happened to ask me what was going on the night I’d decided to do it. And I did it. I told her. And she completely and totally accepted me with love. And I have never looked back.
Luke: As a straight white man, I’ve really only faced the struggles I’ve imposed on myself. And there are plenty of those.
With your upbringings and being accepted for who you are, do you find that you learned to be more compassionate for others?
Allyce: Feeling different has affected me in two ways, mainly: its made me feel more connected others who have been marginalized and stereotyped. And more importantly, it’s made me reflect and look inwards at my own short-sighted ways of thinking.
Luke: My mom was director of the Gay and Lesbian Health Project in my hometown. This was at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and in a small southern town, there was a dramatic lack of acceptance in the greater community. Since childhood, I’ve been stunned some people’s’ inability to feel empathy for those who are suffering. I’ve never had an issue feeling compassion for others, due to the environment I was raised in. My mother never hesitated in exposing me to the real world, to the wide variety of people who live outside of the mainstream.
If you could give words of advice to your younger self, what would they be?
You may not know it now, but we live in a world full of diverse, smart, interesting people ready to accept and celebrate who you are. If you are not fortunate enough to have family or community by your side, take the chance and move to a more diverse community and find your chosen family. Our Creator made you just the way you are and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, being true to yourself is the biggest gift you can give yourself and the people around you.