Mothers In Jazz (29): Andrea Motis

Mothers In Jazz” is a new series, started by vocalist Nicky Schrire. The initiative aims to create an online resource for working jazz musicians with children, those contemplating parenthood, and jazz industry figures who work with and hire musicians who are parents. The insight of the musicians interviewed for this series provides valuable emotional, philosophical and logistical information and support that is easily accessible to all. “Mothers In Jazz” shines a light on the very specific role of being both a mother and a performing jazz musician.

Andrea Motis is a trumpeter and vocalist from Spain. A graduate of Joan Chamorro’s brilliant youth jazz band “Sant Andreu Jazz Band”, she recorded her first album at the age of fourteen. Andrea made her major label debut on Impulse! In 2017, followed by a recording for Verve in 2019, which made her the first Spanish artist to release on both labels. She has collaborated with musicians including Quincy Jones, the WDR Big Band and Yo-Yo Ma. Andrea lives in Barcelona with her partner, violinist/guitarist Christoph Mallinger and their two year-old son.

Andrea Motis. Publicity photo by Clara Ruiz

LondonJazz News: What is the best advice you received about balancing/juggling motherhood and career?

Andrea Motis: You don’t actually need anything material. Nappies (cloth if possible) and some clothes for when it is cold and the rest you’ll figure out only when you start living with your baby. In the end, I didn’t need a bassinet, a breast pump, pacifier, or any kind of specific pillow. And I learned there’s a way to not use nappies! We avoided some nappy use with this method called Elimination Communication. I only mention this because it made me feel empowered knowing I’m just naturally prepared right away to have and raise a baby and have no need for anything else. The second best piece of advice I received was that instinct is 95% of parenting and the remaining 5% can be found by reading and knowing about things like safety and some pediatric science.

LJN: What information or advice do you wish you’d received but didn’t (and had to learn through trial and error or on the go)? 

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AM: That I’d need to DELEGATE and that means sometimes accepting that your child won’t get what you think is “ideal”. You will have different opinions to your partner’s, and after a while you should choose to let go and let him do it the way he wants, even if you think it is not the best choice. Trust your partner. He’ll need to build his own relationship with the baby through daily things and do it his own way.

LJN: Your top tip(s) for other mothers in jazz:

AM: Give yourself time to settle down after this big change. For about a year I didn’t feel as excited about playing and composing. But I wasn’t very worried. I had a lot of support to carry on with projects and after that phase I felt I was flourishing with a lot more ideas. Give it time and then you can relax and focus on the important things during that time.

LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring/gigging: 

AM: Children don’t need toys until they’re about two. Before this, they’ll entertain themselves with anything, especially when they’re in a different environment-it is so interesting for them. When you’re alone caring for a baby, I’ve found the best survival tip is to sleep whenever he sleeps, which means doing naps with him instead of working and relaxing while he’s asleep. It was more effective for me to sleep to charge and have more patience afterwards. I try to use the short times when he’s entertained playing to check work things or make calls.

LJN: Best general travel/gig/tour-with-child advice: 

AM: Do not play all your cards at the very first moment. Pace out any chance and idea of playing or spending time happily and you won’t need any screens or even toys. I promise!

LJN: What has surprised you about becoming a parent and remaining engaged with your professional activities and ambitions?

AM: That I cannot spend more than two nights without him still when he’s two years old and that he cannot spend one night alone with his father comfortably. Also, that I have been so focused on the baby and not on my career for such a long time that I thought I’d stay forever like this but now I feel so much more focused on and engaged with my career. I’d say even more than before, with a new perspective and perhaps more authenticity.

LJN: What boundaries have you set for yourself as a mother in jazz (could be related to travel/touring, riders, personal parameters, child care decisions, etc.)?

AM: I normally travel with my baby, or I’ll only spend one night without him. Otherwise I bring him and one companion.

Andrea Motis’s latest album LOOPHOLES combines jazz, hip hop and neo soul and was released in 2022. (Bandcamp)

LINKS: Artist website

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