Photo by Nina Noel
Later this week, DJ/producer/purple pieman MartyParty will debut his new THUMP column, EDM 101, where he discusses the inner workings of dance music and decodes the secrets of EDM for those of you who are new to the business side of the game.
MartyParty wasn't always the life of the party—for years, he was a computer programmer in Silicon Valley. He ditched that life for the beach in Costa Rica, picked up Ableton Live in 2007, and soon started performing music on his own and as half of the duo PANTyRAiD with Josh "Ooah" Mayer of the Glitch Mob. Along the way he put his stamp on a sort of bombastic, West Coast-leaning Burning Man bass, and has since branched out from there to make electro, trap, and even stuff he calls "purple music," along with a ton of edits and remixes. Oh yeah, and he also lives in Brooklyn now.
Each year Marty releases a new full-length album and then tours it around the country—following last year's PillowTalk, he's now at work on one called Synthetic. "I love EDM and hip-hop and want to bridge the two through my music and shows," says Marty, who talks a mile a minute and has a boundless energy and enthusiasm for dance music, partying, and making beats that go bang in the night. Before EDM 101 launches, we thought we'd ask him a few questions about what makes him qualified to teach this class.
THUMP: How long have you lived in the States? What brought you here?
MartyParty: I moved to San Francisco from Johannesburg, South Africa in 1994 and worked in the dot-com software bubble as a programmer in Silicone Valley for 12 years. After that rollercoaster ride ended, I quit software and moved to Costa Rica and just pretty much surfed and hung on the beach. In the evenings, I started messing with Ableton and realized I had a knack for writing music. In 2007, I wrote my first album as MartyParty and my second as PANTyRAiD with Ooah, and started performing as both in 2008. The rest is history.
You DJ, produce, tour around. Why did you feel the need to write a column?
I've always loved writing and expressing my thoughts, knowledge, and ideas with others. It's just something I'm good at and love to do. I did it in the software industry when I was on top of that game, now I feel it's time to share some of the experiences, knowledge, and unique perspective with the EDM world. I've been through quite a lot in a short period of time due to my timing in the world of electronic music production and the rise of the electronic music performer. We also live in a world transformed by the internet and marketing hype and illusion. I feel I could shed some truth and light onto the underpinnings of the EDM game.
What is your column going to be about?
I'm going to talk about music production topics. I'll be technical at times and informative but at a level where anyone can understand. I'm also going to talk about life on the road as a touring producer/DJ/performer and the gossip, talk, humor, and reality around that.
EDM: dirty word or not?
Great word. The art of digital audio intended to make us dance. There is a blend for everyone and everyone loves a high-quality sound experience. It's the future of music. It just needs to be explained correctly.
What is one of your pet peeves about the electronic music scene?
The hype and marketing power—never before has art crossed over with the internet and social media to create such a hype machine. Sifting through the noise has never been harder and there has never been such opportunity in the music industry as there is now. It's definitely being affected by the corporate machines, but thats also part of why I find it so fascinating and a great game.
What is one thing you think is great about the electronic music scene?
The community. The sense of belonging to something the fans get to feel and live. It is the essence of music to share it with your friends and peers and to get down, express, and feel joy through dance and shared musical tastes. There is something for everyone but at the end of the day it's a big umbrella covering all types of creativity and sounds. I believe we are only at the surface of whats possible with digital music and how we digest it.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career so far?
Working with great people. When I started working with Steve Goodgold at Windish Agency things took off. Now Im collaborating and working with great people in commercial music and hip-hop—it is really helping move my career into places I always wanted to be. It's all about continuing to stay relevant in production technique and tools and working with the best people.
What do you do when you're not feeling inspired?
Every now and then I need to rest my ears and sometimes I do feel mentally unable to create due to long spells on the road or in the studio. I usually go and spend quiet fishing days at my lake house and get away from sound completely. But it usually returns pretty fast. I never run out of ideas. It's a lab full of toys.
What is some of the best advice you've ever gotten?
Dont listen to haters. They are just other producers or performers or fans of other artists. Be yourself and find your own sound. That was all one bit of advice from an un-named artist friend...
What is something about you that your fans probably don't know?
A lot of people don't know I'm part of both PANTyRAiD and I'm MartyParty... and a lot of people don't know that I've only been doing this for six years. I'm a kid in the music world. People also don't know that I come from South Africa and that I have a BSc in Computer Science and this is my second career. These are all very important parts of who I am and the type of music I make and perform.
Tell me what your "Purple" movement is about. Is it related to UK artist Joker's purple dubstep thing?
The word "purple" when it describes music started for me when I saw Jimi Hendrix perform "Purple Haze" at Woodstock on a documentary. It was the first time I felt the power of expression through the use of a musical instrument the way he did it without words or vocals. It changed my life forever. It began my love affair with synthesized melodic music which I have been working on since day one. When the dubstep years came, I got to hear Joker and he absolutely nailed the purple sound; he's even got a track called "Purple City." I identify very strongly with him and others that strive to create emotional music with only melodic instrumentation. Through the years I have made purple hip-hop, purple dubstep, purple trap, and purple house—the common theme is elaborate use of melody and synthesis to deliver a very emotional and intense musical voyage. #purp
Tell me about your first time meeting Ooah.
When I was in Costa Rica, I was part of throwing a musical festival called Manifesto. After seeing Ooah at Burning Man back in 2008 I brought him down to Costa Rica to play the event. We hit it off, shared music, and the rest is history. We're just great friends with very similar musical tastes and ideas. I remember when Ooah came into the makeshift studio I had built inside a beach bodega (like a garage attached to my house). I played him "Worship The Sun" (I think it had a working title then of "Mayan Smoking Blend" or something funny) and we knew immediately we were going to do a project together and that was the start of PANTyRAiD right there. We started sharing music and composing together right after that trip.
Why did you decide to call your group PANTyRAiD and what was the concept behind it?
Ooah came up with the name right after he returned to the US. He saw the underwear store in Los Angeles with the same name and hit me up immediately. We knew it was exactly the name we were looking for for our sexy instrumental hip-hop.
What are your favorite kind of panties?
The kind laying on the floor...