Martyn’s unique strand of bass defies easy categorisation. Yet no matter the genre, tempo or drum pattern, there always remains that immersive, intricately detailed and rhythmically precise sound: to his fans and admirers, it’s known simply as ‘Martyn Music’. A unique character that’s become emblematic for all that’s forward thinking in dubstep and techno, a defiant out-of-the-box mentality is pushed into his every artistic venture, side-stepping convention and continually stepping forward towards what’s new. Or, more often than not, what’s next.
Throughout the many turns and layers of his winding career, the Holland native (and now Washington DC resident) Martijn Deijkers has always stood in a scene of his own. Never a complete outsider but never one to fit in, each of his releases is a progression on from where he left off, and an evolution into where the electronic world is likely to move in the near future. His first releases in 2005 (on Play:Musik and Marcus Intalex’s Revolve:r imprint) indicated a tendency towards the dub end of the spectrum. Drawing on his roots in techno and house, as much as a still fertile dubstep scene, his Broken EP on Revolve:r in ’07 blurred the lines entirely. And though his releases that followed on Tempa, Applepips and Hessle Audio (including his scene-altering remix of TRG’s "Broken Heart") made thorough rounds in dubstep circles, there was a distinct nod to future 4/4 explorations, and served as a tip-off that he was on his way to forming a new, uncharted genre altogether.
“I was always interested in the technology side of things - synthesizers and science fiction and lazers and transformers and robots...that was really my thing. I have been buying music for as long as I can remember, really; as soon as I got a weekly allowance I spent it on 7” singles and albums. When I was studying I went clubbing a lot, there were a couple of clubs that I used to frequent, and I just got drawn to the music, really. In the early 90s, I heard Chicago house and Detroit techno for the first time in a club; from then onwards that was kind of my thing, but I kept following bands as well, so for me not all music was electronic. I never thought I would play a role in music myself.”
Equal parts unpredictable and electric, as a DJ Martyn’s is a style that is equally as uncategorizable as his production style. His encyclopaedic knowledge of music and rarities is aptly matched with an ability to mix the most unlikely of sounds: a raw J Dilla cut gets paired with a rare Jamie Principle house edit one moment, New Wave vocals get thrown down with the percussive fills of Shed the next. His seamless sets have crossed countries and stages, playing iconic venues the globe over, including Berghain/Panoramabar, The Roxy in LA and DMZ at Mass. There’s also his all-inclusive festival circuit, which has included Sonar, Mutek, Airwaves, Decibel, Electric Zoo, Bestival, Lowlands, Pukkelpop, The Big Chill, Elevate in Austria and Unsound in Poland.
A regular at London’s clubbing institution Fabric from early in his career, towards the end of 2009 Martyn was approached to mix their landmark 50th mix CD. Released the following January on the fabric series (rather than the bass-heavy FABRICLIVE series), the mix set off 2010 with an audible buzz, sparking reviews that hailed the appearance of one of the finest mixes in the fabric collection’s long and illustrious history. Employing an adventurous tracklisting, and bringing back the old school vinyl feel of classic techno mixtapes, the CD added yet further to his reputation as a multifaceted artist.
As an artist, a sharp sense of integrity and imagination is thematic throughout Martyn’s every move. He opts to work with genre-crossing musicians that are as unorthodox and innovative as himself, as seen in his extensive remix work (for the likes of Flying Lotus, Maximo Park, Fever Ray, Tiga, Kode9 and Shed, among many others). His art-led mentality shines brightest through the output of his vibrant 3024 label. Launched in 2007, he teamed up with old friend Erosie (one of Europe’s most celebrated street artists) to create a visionary stack of releases, with a roster that keeps building from strength to strength: including the deep sounds of Mancunian Illum Sphere, the housier feel of Altered Natives and the rhythmically led 2562, and remix work from Ben Klock, Zomby, Flying Lotus, Redshape and Roska. Forthcoming releases in 2011 include an interesting mix of Martyn’s across-the-board taste, including Julio Bashmore, Addison Groove and Instra:mental. Released in April 2009 on his 3024 imprint, Martyn’s debut album cemented the path of his next expansion: Great Lengths set a new standard in the fragmenting dubstep scene (if not all of electronic music) for long players. Showcasing every distinct element of Martyn’s sound, the album’s refusal to sit with any identifiable genre resonated far beyond bass culture, repeatedly occupying top 10 spots in end-of-year polls (including #2 on Mixmag’s ‘Albums of the Year’ chart), and leading to releases on the experimental Aus Music and with Berlin’s 4/4 stalwarts Watergate Records and Ostgut Ton.
Intent on continually finding ways to merge different arts, in the summer of 2010, Martyn starred in a beautifully poignant and moving short film by Dutch director Ramon Gieling called Great Lengths. Soundtracked with 2 tracks off the album, the dream sequence is a duet between film and music: vimeo.com/14451792. "It was a great experience putting my music in a different context, and working with someone as creative and visionary as Ramon. It felt like the music and the images gelled together perfectly." Towards the end of 2008, Flying Lotus invited Martyn (alongside frequent DJ partner Kode 9) to the first Brainfeeder shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Ever since, he’s become a resident for the esteemed family, playing increasingly legendary sets for Brainfeeder events from NYC to Barcelona. With a close friendship and intuitive artistic alliance, in 2010 Flying Lotus asked Martyn to release his hugely anticipated second album, Ghost People, on Brainfeeder. In leading up to the release of Ghost People, starting in June 2011, Martyn began taking his performances - and his musical creations - to the next level, by merging his sounds and Erosie’s visuals into an extraordinary live show that has been touring the festival rounds. Martyn and Erosie additionally have a series of album launches planned, which will be a “full live manifestation of the album.”
With Ghost People, which will be released on Brainfeeder this autumn, Martyn takes his sound into astral heights, paving his way towards perhaps the most unexpected direction yet. Adjective-heavy journalists and genre-name creators be warned: that next sound is here.