Words by Chinua Green
In 2007, Chris and Steve Martinez, at 15 and 18 years old, released their debut single My Rendition EP on mentor Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity. It was an underground hit: Dance magazine cover articles, Miami parties with Diddy (along with Claude VonStroke, who we interviewed at EZ 2010), and more EPs followed. Four years later, fresh off their set at Made Event’s 2011 Electric Zoo Festival in New York City, Airdrop’s Chinua Green catches up with the two brothers and talk touring, paving their own path while respecting their New York musical roots, and Hip-Hop supergroups.
Chinua Green: I was really impressed with the turnout. I think alot of people came to see you- did you get that impression?
Steve Martinez: Honestly, we were just glad that there was a full crowd. We were scared that it was probably going to be empty by the time we played, because 12:30 is so early. We’re glad that everybody came out early and had a good time.
Chris Martinez: It was just dope just playing at home, you know what I’m saying? It was dope to see all the DJs on the lineup in our hometown, so we just had alot of fun, and you know what? Everybody came out, the weather’s incredible, and we just had fun.
CG: Of all the gigs that you play, about what percentage of them are in the States versus abroad?
SM: I would say that about 70-80% of our gigs are abroad. We don’t play in the States as much as we would like to. The market in Europe is so big that we tend to be there alot. Dance music is so popular out there, but hopefully we’ll start playing in the U.S. more often. Maybe. [Laughs]
CG: Do you get more support in the U.S. or in Europe?
SM: Like I said before, the market for our type of music is so much bigger in Europe, especially for younger kids. They’re really into the underground, Tech-House sound. As for the U.S., they’re starting to get to know it more, but the market is so much bigger in Europe that we’re always there.
CM: But, in the U.S. we definitely have a nice chunk of support, you know,… the more we play in the States, it’s just going to grow that fan base even more and more and more, just like the way it is in Europe. It’s gonna happen, slowly but surely, it’ll happen soon.
CG: Do you guys have any releases coming up?
SM: We actually just finished a few tracks that we’re shopping around. We [also] finished an EP that came out on Objektivity a couple of months ago called the Issshhh! EP. Right now, we just spent two months in Ibiza, so we haven’t really been focusing on production…
CM: … like literally just got home, like what, two days ago, and we have to be back out [there] tomorrow, so we’ve just got to find a length of time. We’re hoping for another release before the year ends. But we have some stuff in store, so we’re definitely not worried.
CG: Although you love representing New York and being American DJs, you don’t seem to want to be stuck with the labels “the Nephews of Dennis Ferrer,” or “the next Masters at Work”. How far do you think you’ve come in terms of carving out your own identity?
SM: I think we’ve come really far. I think the fact that we started travelling so young and we’ve experienced so many aspects of dance music [has] helped us alot. We incorporated everything, we took in everything, and made our own style from it.
CM: [Laughs] I was thinking of what I was going to say, and Steve said exactly what I was going to say… exactly what Steve said. Exaclty.
CG: Exactly. I saw you did a workshop at Dubspot. How was that?
SM: Dude, honestly, that place is dope. I mean, I even said it at the tutorial, I wish they had that place when I was [learning] DJing because it would have made my life so much easier. We kind of had to learn on our own. But it’s good, man, like the more DJs that get into the music, that get into the DJing, the better.
CM: Nobody knows this, but during that [tutorial], if you look at the video, I was going through it that day. I had the swine flu.
CM: Nobody knew. And the funny thing was that we had to do two sessions, right? The first session I was like [imitates heavy breathing] “Oh my God, am I going to make it?” And then the second one comes… I’m so glad I made it! All jokes aside, Dubspot is an amazing place to learn, they have so much to offer, we were even talking about going there, now, like, when we get back from Europe, we want to learn more things, we’d just go there, you know? I think anybody can go there and learn alot of new stuff, because they really teach you everything and they teach it well, and they have amazing teachers, and they all just want to help, so check that out.
CG: You heard it here first! Chris Martinez had swine flu throughout the tutorial.
CM: Look at the video– I was going through it, trust me! If you look really [closely], I’m not in a good place.
CG: Right now, do you have a preference when it comes to doing remixes versus original productions?
CM: It’s dope to just take somebody’s idea and then just incorporate it into your thing, because you can hear something that they did, and then you can just turn it into something. That little part, you can just turn it into something new, something that they didn’t hear, but you caught. Original productions are dope, too, because then at that point, you’re just doing literally whatever you want, you know? At this point it’s like whatever comes through, we’ll do it. So if we have to do a remix, we’ll do a remix, if we have to do an original, we’ll do an original, it’s one in the same.
CG: Have you guys checked out the Watch The Throne? What do you think of it?
SM: Me and my brother… talk about it all the time. I was a fan of Jay-Z when he did the Dynasty album, The Blueprint, you know. That was when I really started getting into Jay-Z, and then we started getting into the older stuff, like “Dead Presidents” and whatever, that’s what I knew as Jay-Z. Today, what Jay-Z does, I’m not really crazy about. I think his flow is so different from how it used to be, even his swag I think is so different. The album’s okay-
CM: BUT… Legends, both of them.
SM: Yeah, they’re both legends, so you can’t take that away from them. But, I’ve heard better.
CM: I’m not saying the album’s trash, I’m just not too crazy about it. At the end of the day, what are you going to do: It’s Jay-Z and Kanye West’s album, that album broke records, so good for them, man, God bless them. They’re amazing, the talent’s there, they’re awesome, they’re legends and everything, but, I mean, just my personal opinion- I’m not too crazy about [Watch The Throne], but all the other stuff is like… wowww.
SM: Graduation?!… I mean, c’mon man!
CM: They got classics… not this one! [Laughter]
CG: Have you guys been in touch with Kyle Hall? I was wondering about that, because he’s a younger DJ as well.
SM: Kyle Hall is our boy, we run with same management company. He’s a super-talented guy, we actually hang with him every once in a while- we always end up meeting somewhere in the world.
CM: We always chill with Kyle Hall, because we [often play the same parties]. He’s young, he’s good, he’s talented, and he’s doing it up right now, so congrats to Kyle Hall, man.
SM: Whaddup, Kyyyle! [Laughter]
CG: Are there any other younger DJ/producers that are on your radar, perhaps from the New York Area, that you want to mention?
SM: Right now, of the people who are into our sound, into the more underground, Tech-House stuff, I would definitely say pay attention to the Romanian dudes. I think Romania’s gonna be the next capital of Tech-House. Like, the way Berlin was, 5-6 years ago, I think Romania’s going towards that, so I would definitely pay attention to Romania. There are so many young dudes doing it out there-
CM: -There are so many… that even I don’t know about, you know what I’m saying? There’s so much talent out there, it’s crazy.
SM: It’s poppin’ off right now. Yeah, for sure. Pay attention to that.
Big thanks to Chris & Steve for taking the time to do the interview!