Artist of the Week: Jonathan MartinNovember 20th, 2009
Age is nothing but a number. With a mere 15 years on the clock, he’s able to look back upon a DJ career of 8 years already and had his first original production, ‘Illuminous’, out on Coldharbour at the age of 13. Not exactly a bad start for Jonathan Martin. The American youngster, born in 1994, seems to be born with a melodic instinct and the groove flowing through his veins. With his new prog-trancer ‘Insidious’ coming up on AVA Recordings he’s ready to show the world what he’s capable of. Jonathan:” Music is up there on my priority list along with breathing!”
From Lego to beatmatching
Little Jonathan, aged 6, fell in love with EDM. It sounds like the start of a fairytale. But a little child’s imagination has nothing to do with this. Or does it? Either way, for Jonathan it was completely normal to be in touch with dance music at that age. His dad was a New York club DJ and as the natural result of that, the house he grew up in would be overflowing with the beats and catchy hooks of first class house music. Jonathan: “That’s how I grew up; the only music I appealed to as a child was House and Tribal because of my dad. Every day I would hear his music from the basement coming upstairs, so eventually I just caught on! Through my father teaching me how to learn my way around his studio, it got me curious on the style of music. It’s uplifting, and way better than the things they play on US radio. Who wouldn’t like it?”
Well, maybe a ‘normal’ six year old that usually has more interest in getting into no good and watching Sesame street? But Jonathan can’t exactly be described ‘a normal child’. In between playing football with his friends, his dad would teach him how to beat match. Jonathan:” I had lots of time on my hands, and my father pushed me toward being a productive child. While I was younger, I would mess with my father’s DJ equipment. Him being a 30 year resident DJ in New York, the amount of equipment he had was incredible. We both had lots of spare time on our hands, so he decided to teach me how to use his equipment in hopes I would know what I was doing and wouldn’t accidentally mess anything up! This taught me tons about music. I was basically practicing every day as a child, but I could balance my time between playing with Lego and playing with a Technic at 7!”
Under aged dj’ing
Within a year, Jonathan had gotten the hang of how to DJ properly. Practiced and practiced, till eventually, at the age of 7, he had his first gig. No backyard BBQ party at a friend’s place, but a gig at the Winter Music Conference in Miami. March 2002 was an unforgettable month to Jonathan, with a more than memorable first DJ set. Jonathan:”It was a nervous one! First time I was ever put on the spot in front of that many people depending on me to give them what they want to dance to, and watching my every move. It was a different experience and a lot to handle within a small time frame. Throughout the gig, I got used to it and just did my thing, same thing I would do at home while I practiced. The party manager was a bit skeptic at first but he took a chance by hiring me to this gig. People didn’t know if I would be playing Disney songs or club tracks! The DJ before me even got me a Disney’s Bambi soundtrack vinyl just in case!”
But no Bambi or Little Mermaid chanting for Jonathan. He gave them a clean cut, groovy house set. It would only be a matter of time before the word spread, and Jonathan received more bookings. A little weird, seeing a young boy behind the decks in a place where 18, or sometimes 21 even, is the legal clubbing age. Special rules had to make it possible for Jonathan to show the world his DJ tricks. Jonathan:” I was in the clubs as a performer. I could only be in the clubs while I performed, which would usually be for about 2-3 hours every time. My parents and a body guard had to be present and next to me the entire time I was inside of the clubs, and a waiver had to be signed by my parents to ensure no liability would be on the club if something were to happen to me. It was alright at the time and I just went along with it, but I wished that I could stay after and listen to the next DJ’s play! ”
Daddy DJ & head starts
Being the son of a club-DJ, gave Jonathan a bit of a head start to everyone else.
Jonathan:” Certainly, I have an immense amount of time ahead of me to improve my skills and release more tracks. Starting early has caused my lifestyle to be a bit focused to music more than anything else. Music is up there on my priority list along with breathing! Other producers later on in life may have a lot more responsibility and not enough time to work on their productions or their skills. At this age, responsibilities are not too grand, and they definitely weren’t grand at all when I began to DJ.”
No matter how you twist or turn it, fact is that a big part of your musical taste is influenced by your parents. With progressive house as his goodnight lullaby, Jonathan owes a thank you to his. And mainly his dad. Jonathan:” Definitely! My father is the main reason why I am an artist today and why I ever became a DJ. He was committed for 30 years as a DJ to pass on his talent to his son. I owe him lots for making me into the artist I am. Every day he would listen to me practice and assist me in improvement. It was a long task, but it ended up being worth it I’m sure.”
Maybe a little back2back session is a good way to thank him? Jonathan:”At the moment he no longer works as a DJ, although he does play at events and clubs on occasion. I think after 30 years, a person would be a bit exhausted of a club atmosphere. But with passion for music that doesn’t really matter. Good question though, my father and I will most likely do a back to back show in the future. One was planned a couple of months back, but unfortunately it never happened.”
Plenty of time left to plan another night to remember, Jonathan.
Even though he started off with house and tribal, it were the progressive and trance sounds that began to play a big part in his musical career later on. Three years after his first gig, Jonathan made the switch to prog-trance. Jonathan:” My uncle played a part in this one. Around the time I was 10, my uncle and I became close and he was very into classic trance. He would always play some in the car or at home and show me his classics. Later on when I was 11, a friend of mine sent me a link to an online radio station which was playing ‘Cygnus X – The Orange Theme (Bervoets & De Goeij Mix)’, and from then on that has been my favorite trance track of all time. The melodies appealed to me more than the melodies which are in house and the vocals were outstanding and powerful in tunes like ‘Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes’.”
Another discovery, about 2 years later, was all about producing. Fed up with just listening to other people’s stuff and filled with ideas to make his own, Jonathan would go for producing.
Jonathan:”Around the age of 12, I had enough of just listening to trance. I decided I had ideas, and I wanted to learn how I could put these ideas into an mp3 file. Some of the first artists I met via Windows Live were Wardt van der Harst of W&W and Bas van Essen. These two guys introduced me to Reason, and showed me basic functioning of it. Over 3 months of experimenting with it, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t use any separate synthesizers other than the ones that came with Reason. Armin van Buuren was my favorite DJ because of his inspiring ASOT radio show, and when I discovered he used Ableton Live on his sets, I wanted to give it a try. I had also heard it could be used to produce so I gave that a try too. After messing with Ableton for a few months I got the hang of it, and at 13 years old I released my first remix on Banshee Worx, and it was for Saint Rush’s ‘Burning Red Skies’. A few months after that, I finished up a track of mine which I titled ‘Illuminous’ and I felt this one had a deep progressive vibe, similar to the likes of Markus Schulz. So, I decided to send him it to see what he thought. He asked me if it was available for signing and in no time, I had my first original production signed with Armada Music!”
But before we head off to more release talk, let’s get back to business first. Like every 15-year old, Jonathan has to go to school. It does make us wonder how he’s going to combine it with music. Jonathan:”School, of course, is a priority in my life as it is for any other High School student, but music is also one in mine making things a bit stressful at times. School comes first, though, and my parents like to make sure that’s the way things are. They are extremely supportive and positive toward my music career but are determined to have a son that can get into a respected university. I hope to keep expanding myself as an artist by improving my skills and learning a bit more about how music is made. As great as it would be to work fulltime as a producer, it’s not the most common occurrence. I will probably study for a field in music, but for now, trance is a hobby!”
On November 23rd, AVA Recordings will release Jonathan’s second original track ever, ‘Insidious’. Crystal clear sparks, silvery strings, warm melodic spins and a first-class beat define this strong AVA release. What else can Jonathan tell us about this beauty?
Jonathan:”‘Insidious’ was made over the duration of 6 months. Might seem like a while, but I produce like a turtle! Quality over quantity is what I say. It was inspired mainly by my likes toward The Blizzard’s style, along with Omnia and Boom Jinx. They’re some of my favorite artists and have the main impact on my own style. Andy Moor was also a bit of inspiration toward my style with the vocal chops and choppy bass lines. He basically made that mainstream!”
When it comes to the future, it’s looking more than bright to this young talent. And it’s sure to bring new, tasteful goodies. Jonathan:”You can expect to see some goodies releasing from my end, two new tracks are on the way and they’re titled ‘Envision’ and ‘Repeat’. ‘Repeat’ has a very clubby big room atmosphere. It’s completely different from what I’m making lately. ‘Envision’ is a track similarly styled to Insidious with an insanely uplifting melody. They’ll surely be releasing in the near future and will be a great addition to my discography.”
With a fantastic kickoff such as ‘Insidious’ and Jonathan’s determination to keep learning and developing, we trust this youngster to grow up to a high-class, cutting edge, grown-up producer in no time.
More info on Jonathan Martin, check www.jonathanmartinmusic.com