Expect the Unexpected
Genre-defying Dutch electronic producer Martyn is setting out to catch fans off guard with his sophomore release.
“I always find it a bit strange the way people assume you will do what they already know of you. I wanted to make an album of music that fits with my sound right now, regardless of any expectations.”
Gearing up for the release of his second album, Ghost People, Dutch-producer Martyn appears ready to disappoint those who might be hungry for a Great Lengths mark II.
Tapping into his musical past and present as a DJ and producer, his full-length debut fused elements of house, techno, drum and bass and dubstep to create a bass-heavy sound which defied any genre-specific tag, helping it earn widespread critical acclaim and top ten spots in numerous end of year charts. While Martyn concedes that this success might have tempted him to stick to the same formula for his follow-up, he’s keen to move on from the moody, melancholic feel of Great Lengths, as he explains:
“That was my vibe then, things are different now. You evolve as you go through life. At each given moment you will have a different state of mind so all the music you make alongside life’s events will evolve too. It will always be a reflection of your state of mind; things have changed for me since my first album. I feel I’m a different person and I hope Ghost People will show this.”
Certainly, his more recent productions on Aus Music, Ostgut Ton and All City all seem to point to more of a consolidated focus on the 4/4 rhythms of house and techno, a fact further confirmed by the freshly released single ‘Masks’.
“That track is definitely house and techno-orientated, but it also has lots of dissonant synths and lasers that kind of overpower the rest of the music,” says Martyn. “As a whole, this album is darker than my first; it’s got more of an energetic, anxious vibe that’s quite unsettling. I moved in this direction because of all the boring music I had heard while touring as a DJ; I wanted to make something which tickled the brain a bit more.”
Aside from this change in atmosphere, Martyn has also decided to forego the collaborations of Great Lengths that saw Instra:mental’s dBridge and Kid Drama, as well long-time Kode9 collaborator, SpaceApe, add vocals to some of its tracks.
“Nowadays, it’s almost mandatory to have a few features on your album; it’s kind of expected of you. When I first started writing the album I kept thinking about who I would like to work with, then I decided to just stick to my own guns and write it completely on my own. This only changed right at the end of the process when I asked Spaceape to provide a spoken-word intro.”
Though he might have been expected to release Ghost People on his own 3024 label, in what perhaps seems like a surprising change of direction, he has chosen put it out on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. However, after Martyn explains the reasons behind this move, his motives become clearer:
“As I run 3024, I spent a good four or five months promoting Great Lengths, doing a lot of the production behind it, sorting out the artwork and this kept me away from working on new material. At the end of the process, I got a chance to reflect on how much time I’d wasted rather than focussing on my music. I decided that it would make more sense to put the responsibility for releasing my second album in the hands of someone more capable.”
Fortunately, his friendship with Flying Lotus meant he could take up his offer of help. The pair initially got to know one another through a mutual appreciation of each other’s music; they then swapped remixes before meeting face-to-face for the first time when Martyn was booked to play a Brainfeeder event in LA. Since then, he’s performed alongside Brainfeeder artists at Sonar in Barcelona and New York.
“It’s nice the way Brainfeeder is set-up,” Martyn comments. “There are just a few people who constantly work on the label even when FlyLo is touring. They’re really enthusiastic and on it 24 hours a day, so I definitely feel that I’m in good hands.”
“I also like Flylo’s philosophy,” he continues. “Brainfeeder’s too often put in this instrumental hip hop category but he’s actually keen to put out a wide-range of music; he released a jazz album recently and is working with an artist called Thundercat, who’s a bass player. He’s also re-issued a Mr Oizo album, so there’s a little bit of everything on the label now which is really exciting and helps give him the freedom he wants.”
Although two tracks from Ghost People, ‘Masks’ and ‘Viper’, have already been released on Brainfeeder as a single, Martyn confesses he has no specific long-term plan to remain with the label beyond this album.
“Hopefully, Flylo and I will do some video work together, organise a nice launch party in LA and arrange some remixes, but I’ve not really thought beyond this – to be honest.”
Indeed, he reveals that his main focus in the immediate future is to work on perfecting his live performances.
“It’s kind of a new direction for me. I decided that it would be good to get creative with my own music and put together some sort of live set. In the last two years I’ve DJ’d at a lot of festivals and I began to realise that once I finished my set, people would walk away not really knowing the type of music I make because I will usually just play other artists’ records. Aside from the creative aspect, I knew that if I played live my music would gain a lot more exposure and obviously festivals and larger events offer the best opportunities because a lot of the audience probably won’t have heard of you.”
Apart from forthcoming performances at the Flow, Outlook and Decibel Festivals, he’s also planning some special European events to celebrate the release of Ghost People, as he discloses:
“I’m working with my friend, Erosie, who does all the artwork for 3024. We’re planning something special that will help to manifest Ghost People visually. There’s events organised for Berlin and London and we’re in the process of arranging more dates.”
Words: Colin Chapman
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