Having been ploughing his own unique path in the world of house and bass since being picked up by Buzzin’ Fly’s mastermind Ben Watt back in 2003 for his debut release ‘The Sad Piano’ (now an out and out anthem for the deep house set), Justin Martin has been a fixture on worldwide dance floors for the best part of a decade.
Having been mentored by Claude Von Stroke (then known simply as Barclay Crenshaw) throughout the noughties, Martin has been a solid member of the Dirtybird clan since day dot, having released a slew of tracks both alone and as part of the Martin Brothers with his younger sibling Christian, as well remixing top flight acts like Radiohead, Marshall Jefferson and CVS himself.
With his upcoming 3 hour set at the launch of Hidden’s FOUND series coming up on September 29, we caught up with the San Franciscan beat man to talk over his roots in music, his work with Dirtybird, and his love for the booty bass.
According to your to-the-point biography your music career began on the pots and pans when you were 2. Have you always been musically inclined?
Hehe… yes, thank to my parents. They had me and my brother taking music lessons from a very very
young age [and I] I played the piano and saxophone growing up as a kid.
You had a very dramatic entrance into music back in 2003, a huge success from the very beginning – was it difficult to keep your feet on the ground?
You know, I just felt really lucky from the beginning… blessed to catch a break from an artist like Ben
Watt who I already had a tremendous amount of respect for musically. But it was my goal from the very beginning to try and be successful doing what I loved, and what I loved most was music, so I think I was mentally prepared for it all.
To be honest I got a little bit too comfortable with the small amount of initial success I found and it wasn’t until a few years later that I really started working my butt off again like I did in the beginning. You have to try and stay hungry and humble no matter what because with hard work and the right attitude you can achieve pretty much anything.
It’s very important to you to that the music you produce gets people up and dancing on a dance floor, but can also be enjoyed whilst sitting at home – do you have a particular recipe/procedure XX that you follow to achieve this?
There is not specific recipe or procedure other than just trying to be different and creative. I mean, it’s pretty obvious I like to make bass heavy tunes… but every song I try to make something new and fresh sounding, and I find my inspiration in so many different forms. When I have a fun idea I just go with it, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Having Claude Von Stroke receive you so well early on in your career must have been a big confidence boost for you – how did it feel?
I’ve known Barclay long before he was ‘Claude’, so at the time we met he took me under his wing but in a different way – he believed in the music I was making and the drive I had to be successful and decided to help manage my career. After he started to see some of our hard work paying off, he realised becoming a successful dj/ producer wasn’t an impossible goal and began his own career as ‘Claude Von Stroke’. However, having a friend and a mentor like him by my side is a big reason for my success and I am forever thankful that he believed in me from the start.
Any rituals before playing a gig?
I usually use the time before each show to reburn all the messed up cds from the last show – sometimes I open my cd wallet and it looks like it was hit by a beer tornado!
Tell us about the bass elements that you’ve started incorporating into your sets…
I like big booty bass – it feels good and sounds amazing. But I don’t think this is anything new, I have
always said that the sound of an 808 bass hit is my favorite sound ever. I just think nowadays more and more producers like French Fries, Eats Everything, Julio Bashmore, and Pearson Sound are really using the 808 to a devastating effect in their tracks. While I love playing many forms of electronic music, their stuff is just the music that I am drawn to most.
You’ve released many seminal mixes, in your eyes what was your finest moment?
Without a doubt I was the most honored to be asked to do an essential mix. I really poured my heart into that one.
What’s the best thing about being a part of the Dirtybird family?
There are so many amazing perks to being part of the dirtybird family: getting all the freshest tracks to test out first, the amazing outdoor bbq’s and club nights we get to do together, the amazing fans we have in San Francisco and around the world… But the best part of it is that they are a crew of awesome people and they really are family to me. To be able to do what I love with the people I love is a dream come true.
Radiohead – ‘Nude (Justin Martin Remix)’
Electronic music is obviously flourishing at the moment, who are you particularly feeling?
French Fries, Catz and Dogz, Pearson Sound and his many alias’s, Eats Everything, and Pillow Talk just to name a few, and of course the Dirtybird crew is still killing it with some of the most original and fun cuts as always.
Tell us about your 3 hour set for our FOUND launch.. what can you do in 3 hours that you can’t in 1?
I get to play all of the music I really really really like. We are gonna have some serious fun.
You can catch Justin Martin play a 3 hour set alongside Instra:mental, T. Williams and Nightwave at the launch of FOUND at Hidden, on Friday Spetember 30. More info and advance tickets available here.
Interview: Josh Thomas