After stepping back from the limelight for a short time, 3024 Records boss Martyn is back with a fresh perspective.
His much anticipated new album, ‘The Air Between Words’, has just been released via seminal UK label Ninja Tune and is easily one of Trap’s favourite LPs so far this year.
We caught up with the Dutch producer to ask him ten quick questions and explore his beginnings in drum & bass, what it’s like living and residing in Washington DC and working with Four Tet…
The World Cup has just kicked off. You’re a Dutchman living in the USA – who will you be supporting? Or do you hate football?
Oh no, I love football. I grew up with it; my father was a professional player for a long time, so everything in our household revolved around it. Living in the US, I’m a little bit detached though.
You’re able to follow most competitions here, but the fans are very England centred, and I never really had much interest in the Premier League. My team is PSV Eindhoven, and I support the Dutch team, but generally I support the team that plays the most attractive football.
Your new album ’The Air Between Words’ has just dropped – what’s the story behind the name?
I’ve been reading a lot about Eastern philosophy and that’s where the concept of the air between words comes from. The invisible force that binds us all together, like the space between words that is vital to make it a sentence.
“I felt that I was veering off in the wrong direction with my music and my career.”
And what was the main inspiration behind the album?
Well, the above, but also a more back-to-basics approach. I felt that I was veering off in the wrong direction with my music and my ‘career’, that I was doing things that were expected of me (by ‘the industry’), rather than doing the things I wanted to do.
Sometimes, you have to take a few steps back, centre yourself and start over. I started to DJ with mostly vinyl again, converted my studio into a more fun, inspiring, mainly analogue environment, and wrote the music that I felt I was good at, namely based on melodic ideas and with a strong house flavour.
You’ve been working with Four Tet a fair bit of late. How did that come about, and what does he bring to your production process?
Well, we both have widely different influences and backgrounds, so it’s a lot of fun to see what unexpected ideas he comes up with, or what I can bring to the table.
The collaboration started the way I think most collaborations start, by running into each other at gigs and talking about music. Collaborating is something I was never that fond of, but the last two years have taught me that with the right people, you can learn so much from working together and it can make you better.
The album is released on seminal UK label Ninja Tune, whereas your last one, ‘Ghost People’ was on Brainfeeder. Was there a reason for the switch?
It was actually quite a natural switch. The people at Ninja Tune have been working with Brainfeeder in Europe since its inception, so I knew them already from the last album. Ninja has a tremendous amount of experience since their work in the early 90s and in the last few years they’ve had a good amount of real interesting albums and artists.
What’s it like living in Washington DC? Have you ever seen Obama? Is life there more White House or The Wire for you?
Hahaha yeah we play golf! Seriously though, yes I went to a rally once in the run up to the 2012 election. There was a great energy in that room; so much enthusiasm.
Life here is neither White House nor The Wire for me at least. There are some areas in DC itself with big problems, but where I live it’s very suburban and quiet, even a little bit boring. But, to be honest, I prefer that – I can focus on my studio work and on resting up after tours.
What’s the deal with your label 3024 Records right now?
The label is going slow, but steady! I’ve done two releases by Leon Vynehall which have been received really well, by lots of people from interesting corners of the dance music spectrum – his mini LP ‘Music for the Uninvited’ is a great piece of work.
Besides that, I’m preparing some more white-label action like the Vancouver reissue that was backed with a very popular Shed/Head High remix, hopefully another Trevino release, and some collaborative 12s by myself and various other people.
And we’ve heard you’re a fan of of the show ‘Trigger Happy TV’?
Hahaha yeah, it’s a shame there aren’t more episodes! It was so random and funny, a bit dark too here and there. I love British comedy, especially the bizarre, theatrical kind like ‘The Mighty Boosh’, old ‘Alan Partridge’ and ‘The IT Crowd’.
You broke through as a D&B producer – do you still follow that sound?
I follow it through my friends who make it, like dBridge and Trevino/Marcus Intalex. But I must say that I think drum & bass is still very present in my music, and in many producers’ music that have had their start in that scene. It may not be at 170+ bpm, the elements and the vibe is still very much there.
Finally, what should watch out for from Martyn in 2014 and beyond?
I feel I’m in a good place musically. Collaborating with Inga Copeland, Four Tet and also my friend Steffi has been a lot of fun, so more of that will see daylight at the end of this year. And also – I’m going back to focusing on 3024, and developing a live PA with Inga for fall of 2014.
Martyn’s ‘The Air Between Words’ is out now on Ninja Tune.