In the run up to the unfortunate cancellation of his night at Wire, we caught up with Dutch producer and DJ Martyn to talk about future plans, going back to basics and political science.
In The Middle: Like most producers, you started off as a fan of the club/rave scene. Do you feel your success as an artist has affected your role within the scene as someone who attends events strictly as a spectator? Apart from the obvious time constraints that come with touring and being in the studio so much, have you distanced yourself from the scene at all in that sense?
MARTYN: It’s not necessarily the constraints of time and/or success that have caused me to distance myself. The reason to go out to raves or clubs for me was to be inspired by the music and the vibe. I think I still long for that, but have found out that there are many different things you can do and places to visit to be inspired. A place like Berghain [in Berlin] continues to inspire me though, both musically and vibe-wise.
ITM: Are there any musicians outside the realm of electronic music that you enjoy enough to have gone out of your way to see live recently?
M: It’s tough to see anything really, but as a mid-sized city, Washington DC has a pretty good “band scene”. Most bigger bands come through here on Tuesdays or Wednesdays after playing bigger cities like NYC on the weekend. Besides, DC has a famous heritage of punk rock bands and a few up and coming cold wave / synth / noise groups. I wish I had more time to check it all out but when I’m home after touring, I’d like to spend time in the studio!
ITM: You’ve recently talked a bit about how ‘Air Between Your Words’ signalled your shift towards a more stripped down, ‘back-to-basics’ approach to making music. It felt like another stage in the development and maturation of your sound, yet I’d describe you as having a very transient nature within the electronic music scene. Do you feel this change could be something more permanent, or do you see yourself returning to the more layered, hectic sounds of Ghost People, for example?
M: The “back to basics” approach of my last album had more to do with working methods (less digital processing and a quite simple analog setup) and trying to “sharpen” composition instead of adding more and more layers to my music. Sort of a less-is-more approach. I don’t really think the music sounds simpler because of it though. Another thing that’s important is your mental state when you’re writing the album. Ghost Peopletherefore sounds very different from The Air Between Words. A fourth album could sound like either, or neither!
ITM: You’ve traditionally been one to use your own name as an artist. That is of course, until your recent (and exciting) collaboration with Steffi under the Doms & Deykers alias. Was that done in order to make some kind of distinction between that and your previous work?
M: I like to use my own name as it feels like the ultimate quality control. Instead of releasing something “mediocre”, hiding behind an alias, I’d never do something I wasn’t 100% behind (at the time) and credit it with my own name. While working with Steffi for the release you’re mentioning, we liked the idea of using our surnames: “Doms & Deykers”. It sounds a little bit like a law firm.
ITM: Obviously you could say that music is what you were ‘destined’ to do (if you like to think like that), but do you foresee a time when you would have to give it up? Or even just an aspect of it – touring, for example. If you had to, what would you do instead?
M: Obviously, not everyone can DJ until they’re 60, and I think that’s for the better. But as long as you have something interesting to say with the music and the performance of it, I don’t see why you can’t find some way of doing so. Besides, what music has given me I’d like to pass on to other people. I’ve always been keen on trying to help out or inspire younger people, pass on the knowledge as well as the inspiration and drive. So that would be something I’d like to do more in the future.
ITM: A while ago I remember reading that you decided to take up a political science course at home in Washington D.C. How did that go in the end?
M: Oh that’s ongoing – it’s at least 4 years long but I’ll probably take much longer because of time constraints. It’s a very welcome distraction from the music world. The subject has always interested me and when I finished uni ages I was never really satisfied, and it left me desiring something else. Who knows, maybe one day I will find a way to combine the two worlds into something interesting.
ITM: This has been a decent year for 3024, with Leon Vynehall’s Music For the Uninvited LP arriving earlier this year. Have you got any new releases or freshly signed artists lined up for the label?
M: Yes, after a few years of releasing a wide variety of artists, I find it more satisfying to concentrate on a few that I really believe in. The Leon Vynehall mini LP was definitely a highlight because I love the music so much, and it was important to give everyone involved free range to make it exactly the way it was supposed to be. In that sense it was quite like how Great Lengths was made. I think MFTU made serious waves in a UK landscape that’s a little bit stale at the moment. For the near future there will be some more white label action including a reissue of the original and the Ben Klock remix of ‘Is This Insanity’ featuring Spaceape which was out of stock for years and some more Doms & Deykers action.