Michele is a West Coast native, whose love of vinyl has been engrained in her from a young age. Like a lot of us out there, the rebirth of vinyl allowed for a full circle moment as others began rediscovering their love for the medium, and we found our way into a career with it, as was the case for her.
Meet Michele Motta, hailing from Costa Mesa, California who moved to Portland Oregon in 1994 for the cities laid back lifestyle and music scene a short drive from Seattle. She played guitar in a few bands around town, and booked for the now-defunct Club 21. In 2011, she decided to try her hand at Dj-ing local bars and clubs after previously working for college radio station KUCI, in Irvine CA. As of last year, she’s joined the ranks of Cascade Record Pressing where she works in assembly, and supplements her income with several DJ spots a month as DJ Mottavader.
Her free time is spent with a hobby but also a job Dj-ing! “I love it.” Michele also enjoy going to see live music, reading SciFi cyberpunk novels, cooking vegetarian food, walking around Portland on summer days, and playing her guitar. Her partner is a tattooist in town, so she also enjoy getting tattooed.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Luckily, both of my parents were vinyl collectors when I was a kid. My mom was always blasting rock and roll in our house, and bought me tons of records all throughout my youth. I had my own crappy little compact record player in my room as a kid, and I loved to escape into my own little world and play records all day.
My love of vinyl helped drive me to work in a few different Tower Records locations in California. It was a blast working at a record store in the late 80s/early 90s! However, when I moved up to the PNW (Pacific Northwest) I ended up cooking in restaurants for a living until just a few years ago. I knew I wanted to get back into working in the music industry and had several friends who worked at Cascade Record Pressing. It was perfect timing when a position opened up in the Assembly Department in early 2022, and I’ve been working here ever since!
It’s so rewarding to come full-circle; from an avid vinyl-lover, to record store employee, to someone who gets a chance to work behind the scenes at a record pressing plant! Bonus points for working with tons of rad folks, including many fabulous ladies!
What is a day in the life like?
We really try our best to ensure that people get the best-sounding / looking records at the pressing plant. My job consists mainly of doing some cursory quality control on the product after the main people in the QC department pass them along to us. Then we assemble and pack up the LPs and 7″ for pick-up and delivery. We have a great crew, and it’s a fun place to work! Many of us also play music in bands or DJ around town. We all share one thing and it’s our love of the medium!
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
It’s been really fun to assemble and package music for local Portland bands and labels. Some well-known bands like Poison Idea and Dead Moon, and also local labels like Mississippi Records and our owner Mark Rainey’s label, TKO Records. It feels good to be a part of something that makes people happy!
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
It’s definitely a physical job. My pandemic-living-room-yoga practice really comes in handy when we need to move stuff around. It also takes some time and practice to learn how to spot imperfections, but it’s important to ensure that we are sending people the very best product that we can!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Well, as far as Dj-ing goes, I would suggest looking into any local college or independent radio stations nearby. Many smaller stations give hands-on classes or let you came volunteer in order to learn how to DJ.
If you already feel comfortable spinning records and want to share your music, hit up those local bars and see if you can throw your hat in the ring, or maybe even play some tunes for a friend’s band as an opener! Get your own equipment and set up in a park! Really, the possibilities are endless.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am 100% a vinyl collector! However, I will open that mint-condition ultra-rare release and play the hell out of it. My records get used, played, loved, and occasionally destroyed (DJ-ing an outdoor skate-contest can be hazardous!). I believe in only buying records that I will actually play; I don’t collect just to hang ’em on my wall.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I am always excited to see more young people buying music in the vinyl format. When I was working at Tower Records in the late 80’s, everyone thought that LPs were on their way out and that CDs were going to replace them. I’m so glad that vinyl production is ramping up around the globe, and more and more people are interested in it as a whole.
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
There are so many amazing women here DJ-ing around town: DJ Bad Wizard, our Project Manager Beth AKA DJ Kitty McKlaine, as well as countless other ladies here in Portland every night of the week. It’s awesome.
Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to:
I just wanted to thank you for inviting me to share my story. I feel blessed to live in a time and place where there are so many women working in the industry. It feels good to be a part of something that brings so much joy, both individually and as a shared experience.
It’s very hard to say what my favorite genre is, but lately I’ve been into collecting my version of oldies which is all the alternative new wave / post punk / alternative stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. Also, I will always have a soft spot for 60’s garage rock, OG punk rock, stoner rock.