For electronic DJs, there’s no bigger stage than the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, long considered the world’s dance music mecca.
So when ‘Frisco DJ and producer Justin Martin arrived at the Spanish vacation destination for a 12-week residency last summer with fellow Dirtybird Records artists, the label he co-founded, he knew he could finally experience the sweet smell of success.
Except for that odour smelled a lot like rotten eggs.
“We had a villa that definitely was not the most wonderful place on Earth,” Martin said, fresh off his recent tour of Asia. “From the moment we walked in, the entire place smelled like rotting eggs. There was no fresh water in the villa as well — the sinks, shower and pool was all seawater, so you had to kind of learn how to wash yourself again.
“It was definitely not the lavish DJ lifestyle that some people imagine you’d have spending a summer in Ibiza.”
In spite of Martin’s less than hospitable accommodations, the opportunity to showcase his talents and boutique label to thousands of discerning electronic dance music (EDM) fans in the genre’s most iconic hotspot was the chance of a lifetime. While he admitted the trip wasn’t without its challenges, Martin called the three months “the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done.”
It’s important to note that Martin rarely uses the word “I” even when discussing his own individual accomplishments; it’s clear he cares about the success of the tastemaking label he co-founded with Bay Area techno and house producer Claude VonStroke as much, if not more, than his own.
“We’ve been really lucky with Dirtybird to have our little niche in there; we’re kind of sitting on the outskirts doing our underground thing, but a lot of these festivals have been giving us our own Dirtybird stages and really embracing our sound,” he said.
These days, the tech funk label is one of the genre’s most respected innovators, with its stable of genre-defying artists earning accolades around the world and feeding North Americans’ burgeoning appetite for EDM. Just like Martin — who is often distinguished from his dance-floor-packing peers by the deft mixture of teeth rattling bass and soft melodies he imbues into his tracks — Dirtybird Records has always done things a little differently.
“We never really went into it saying we wanted to make a whole new movement, but we just wanted to make some music that stood out from the pack and blurred the lines between genres,” he said. “Our sound has grown over time and we’re still constantly evolving. Looking back, it’s kind of cool to be a part of such an awesome body of work that this label has created.”
With his label’s increasing clout, his debut LP Ghettos & Gardens released in May 2012 earning critical fanfare and his touring schedule as busy as ever, Martin said 2013 has easily been “the best year of my life and definitely of my career.”
Next year is shaping up to be more of the same for Martin, with a pair of double-sided singles coming out with breakthrough U.K. producer Eats Everything and plans to hit the studio for his anticipated second full-length album.
“This is kind of my year to say yes to everything and all the opportunities that come my way,” he said.
Following up on one of GLC’s biggest shows of the year, Martin returns to the resort Thursday (Dec. 19) for the bar’s popular Smirnoff House Party. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. The first 100 tickets, available at the GLC, are $15 and $25 thereafter.