DJ and producer Justin Martin has enjoyed a lot of success in the past 10 years spent rocking dance floors all over the world, but he knew he had officially made it last year after hearing one of his neighbours — someone he’d never met — blasting one of his party anthems at full volume.
“I was listening to the music coming through the floor and being like ‘Wait, that’s my track. They’re listening to my album, that’s crazy,’” said San Francisco’s Martin. “It was so random.”
Martin has been riding a wave of success in the often cluttered dance music world since the release of his debut LP in May, Ghettos & Gardens, playing at some of North America and Europe’s hottest clubs and having his booty bumpin’ tracks spun by some of the genre’s top DJs.
“The last year in particular has been crazy for me,” said Martin. “Releasing my first full length album and not really knowing what was gonna come out of it or what to expect, and then just seeing the response be so amazing, I just feel so blessed to be where I’m at right now.”
Martin has been musically inclined for as long as he can remember, taking piano and saxophone lessons from an early age before he “fell in love” with dance music as a teenager and began DJing as a hobby.
After graduating from the University of San Francisco, a 21-year-old Martin began producing his own tracks, and before long his single The Sad Piano caught the ear of some of electronic music’s biggest names like British producers Pete Tong and Ben Watt.
“That was definitely a super, super lucky break for me,” said Martin. “That was my first main release and I had just started producing music maybe a year earlier. I basically got super lucky that my music ended up in the right hands.”
Those hands belonged to Watt, one half of UK alternative band Everything but the Girl, and an iconic DJ and producer for over 20 years, who in 2003 signed Martin to a house and techno record label he was just starting up, called Buzzin’ Fly.
The experience was invaluable for Martin, who ended up co-founding his own label, dirtybird Records, in 2005. Since then, dirtybird’s reputation has grown and it’s now considered one of EDM’s (Electronic Dance Music) defining labels.
Martin’s sound tends to stray slightly from the rest of his bass-wobblin’ labelmates, adding a melodic touch to the typical dance floor packing club anthems that are characteristic of most EDM.
“A lot of people like the fact that (my music) is tender and tough at the same time,” said Martin. “I really like music that you can listen to in the headphones that has nice melodies, but also music that, at the same time you can play on the dance floor and it will be really heavy on the low end and shake some sound systems.”
Hopefully more than just sound systems will be shaking this summer, with Martin and the rest of his dirtybird crew heading to dance music’s mecca, Ibiza, Spain, for a 12-week residency at Sankeys Nightclub.
“We could not be more excited,” he said. “It’s probably one of the biggest opportunities we’ve ever had so we’re looking forward to that so much.”
Martin has got plenty more to look forward to this year as well, wrapping up an LP with one of house music’s fastest rising stars, Eats Everything, expected to drop in 2014. The pair just released their Feather Fight EP last week, which has garnered positive reviews from the EDM community. The producer also has a new single coming out in early March on dirtybird’s upcoming compilation album featuring the label’s full roster of talent.
Check out Justin Martin at the GLC Friday (Feb. 22). Tickets are $15 available at the venue. Doors are at 9:30 p.m.