From Holland To The Usa: Martyn Talks
“I could use some sleep” are the first words that Martyn says to me over a dodgy Skype connection from the hotel he’s in. He’s just arrived in Belfast following an overnight flight from his adopted home in Washington DC. Twitch is his destination for the night’s proceedings before he travels to Dublin for a set on Sunday. The Dutch producer has been active for many years now, having first been active in the Drum and Bass scene before venturing into Dubstep and then progressing into more techno influenced areas.
This May sees Martyn play Peckham Rye festival, alongside a stellar lineup that includes the likes of Kode9, an artist that he has worked with before. He recalls with a certain level of fondness the b2b sets that they used to play, “they were always a fun challenge, I would pull different stuff from what he would be playing”. The real, tangible relationship though comes from their collaborations with the late, great Spaceape, “that really bonded us forever”, he laments. Although their paths have taken them in broadly different directions since then, he is still keen to point out that Kode9 was the first act that jumped out at him on the bill, citing a level of excitement about playing with him again.
Peckham is a place that Martyn holds dear. When he first began to get ‘in to’ Drum and Bass he struggled to buy any records in his native Holland, so he and his mates used to make trips over to London where they’d spend the weekend “finding as many raves as possible and then going record shopping in the daytime”. They used to stay at a friends house, just around the corner from Peckham Rye station, “Peckham is the first place in London that I ever got know quite well”. It was his “gateway into inner-city London”.
Martyn is a self confessed “nerd” when it comes to record shopping, he speaks in detail about his interest in the philosophy behind the layout of a record shop. “I spoke to a few record shop owners, just asking how they present them, sort them or organise them”. The decision process behind how a shop feels is something of great intrigue, whether records are displayed on the wall or left in crates for people to dig through or how various genres are laid out next to each other. “It says a lot about the owner of the shop”, it’s an insight into their mind and how they view music.
Records are, quite clearly, something that Martyn has been avidly collecting for a long time. When talking about London he’s incredibly enthusiastic about the shops on offer in the capital city, from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ to Islington’s ‘Flashback’ and Croydon’s ‘DNR Records’. Each have their own merits but he loves them all.
“I was always really protective of my own music, I felt that I had my own ideas and I just wanted to keep them mine”
The past couple of years have scene Martyn embark on a few collaboration projects, including work with Steffi as ‘Doms and Deykers’ and co-producing last year’s Virginia LP on Ostgut Ton. He had to get over a bit of a hurdle before doing so though. Making music had always been a solo adventure for him, “I had to learn to open up a bit, and accept that if I had good ideas to bring to the table then I would get good ideas back”. It’s been a revelation for him, “with Steffi the way we work together is so fast and intuitive that we make music faster than I do on my own”. As such he hasn’t had much time to work on his solo endeavours, but he’s now working on his fourth album which is taking up most of his time.
Often when producers release music from a different genre than they’re associated with they’ll use a different alias, Martyn however has a massively broad reaching back catalogue and has retained the same name throughout. Rather than be pigeon holed he’d rather just make what he “feels like making at the time” and then reflect on what his influences could’ve been later on. His music does have a “signature sound” to it, he hopes that “most people can listen to it and know that it’s me”.
His label, 3024 has been graced by a plethora of industry heavyweights, including Leon Vynehall, Mosca, Addison Groove and Ben Klock as well as Martyn himself. He has an interesting approach to the way he schedules releases, never planning too far in advance. “If I hear something I like I can just jump on it and release it within a couple of months”.
After a while the conversation gradually transitions into the inevitable, Martyn has a keen interest in politics and is living in the USA, it was going to happen at some point…
He laughs as we get on to the topic, “every time I come to Europe I’m like the reporter from the states who has to explain what’s going on there”.
“A lot of people feel threatened, especially in club culture where there’s obviously minorities and a lot of people who aren’t white, straight and from the middle of the country”.
Dance music is intrinsically linked to the minorities within western society, and under the current Trump led republican government there is a growing sense of fear within the community. The problem, Martyn explains, is not necessarily just to do with the president or the government however, “there’s always people that voted for this and they feel more emboldened to speak their minds more, maybe harass people or even commit acts of violence”. He paints a scary picture of how people are behaving, referencing rocks being thrown through the window of a house with LGBT occupants in DC itself.
He does see a positive side to the current political climate though, “Americans don’t like to have people walk all over them, and as a result we’re seeing so much more activism now than before the election”. People are bonding over the position they find themselves in, they’re getting out there and applying real pressure rather than merely venting their views over social media. “It’s actually quite encouraging”, Martyn has joined a nationwide pressure group called ‘Indivisible’ that’s working to hold people accountable and bring things to light. This kind of direct influence on politics is not something he really witnessed during the 8 years of Obama’s tenure and he views that as a massive positive.
Martyn plays Peckham Rye Festival on Saturday 13th May, tickets available HERE. Photos by Tonje Thilesen.