After tours in Australia and Europe, sets at Glastonbury and Burning Man, and 25 releases later, Stickybuds now has a firm hold on the global music scene. The Canadian DJ and producer began his journey in music while balancing his career as a teacher. After graduating from the Kelowna Centre of Arts and Technology in 2006, Stickybuds (aka Tyler Martens) started teaching audio classes, working on his music production skills simultaneously. In 2008, he achieved his first release on Goodgroove Records and the rest, as they say, is history.
Stickybuds is a Shambhala veteran and has played at the festival since 2005. Last year marked 10 years of his legacy playing at The Fractal Forest stage. Part of what Martens wants to do is give back to the festival that gave him so much. "I want to make the best set I can, in order to make a lasting impression and release those sets online for people to download, too. The Fractal Forest is my home," says Martens. "I owe so much of my success to it."
Martens secured his first spot at Shambhala after winning a competition held by Rich-e Rich, the creator of the Fractal Forest stage and the director of Fractal Media. When Martens finished his set, Rich was so impressed that he offered Martens a permanent residency at the festival on the spot. Not too shabby for someone who had only learned how to DJ that same year.
Even as his reputation grew, Martens was able to balance teaching and touring, completing his first Australian tour during the school's "reading week." In fact, one of his very first audio students was Canada's dubstep party animal, Datsik. But in 2011, Martens was faced with a decision: to tour or to teach. As he was gearing up to start a new semester teaching, he was offered a chance to do a back-to-back tour in Europe and Australia. "It wasn't a hard choice really, I gave my resignation at the school and did the tours. That was the real start of me following my dreams," says Martens.
He describes his sound as a "melting pot of party music," which is a label that really does Stickybuds justice. He jumps from drum and bass to glitch-hop, to funk, yet still spins out acapella versions of Top 40 radio songs. Eventually, he started applying the sounds of artists he's long admired to his own productions. "Bassnectar brought a very creative, fucking awesome blend of hip-hop, breaks, weird bass, glitch and heaviness. It was like nothing anyone had heard before," he says. "As soon as I had the skills to produce, edit, and arrange music digitally, I wanted to start to push the boundaries of what I could do in DJ sets." To Martens, the importance isn't necessarily the mix, but the blend. "To blend the styles in the way that some of us in the scene do is definitely a unique technique that together we have championed."
Martens praises the camaraderie between bass artists and believes Shambhala is a good example of that same supportive, inclusive attitude. Although Shambhala is known for expanding bass culture with a diverse lineup artists and styles, one thing remains clear: it's the people of the West Coast at the helm of the cultures growth.
"Each year I've attended Shambhala, I've been in awe of the dedication and passion that the crew puts into their work and stages. Each takes care of their stages and have their own personal families who sculpt what you experience," says Martens. "Every crew wants to make their stage better than the last, so each year you see a steady improvement in the visuals, sound, layout, and artist roster. At the same time, the Shambhala office is busy improving the infrastructure of the festival. It basically becomes a competition among everyone. They always make sure that each year is better than the last."
And if it wasn't already glaringly apparent, the name Stickybuds is a homage to pot. "I was 19-years-old at the time and I was smoking copious amounts of weed. I was a stoner, a big one, and the name came from that." Although he's long over the day's of carefree tokes, he says the name means a little something more to him now. "It represents the most amazing, life changing plant on the planet. One that I hope we can start embracing once it's properly legalized."
With Shambhala around the corner, Martens life is one busy schedule. Despite ample time on the road, the on-the-go lifestyle is something he cherishes. "Sometimes it's a whirlwind on tour and it's easy to forget all of these amazing places, but every now and then my subconscious pulls up a memory and I reminisce," he says "I'm grateful to have so many of these memories."
David Gulliver is on SoundCloud.