By Paul Rodgers
VANCOUVER — Steve and Chris Martinez are two brothers in their early twenties from the Bronx who have come to embody the very essence of house music. Named Mixmag’s DJs of the Year in 2014, their refined and sophisticated approach took root at a very early age. BeatRoute caught up with elder brother Steve to talk music, family, and life in Ibiza.
Their father, who was a pastor in their church, has been a key component in their musical integration since the very beginning, enrolling them in the church band and instilling a passion for salsa, Latin-Jazz, and hip-hop, which was then nurtured by the vibrant neighbourhood they grew up in.
Playing percussion in the church bands, the brothers were touring NYC before they even hit adolescence. When they discovered DJing, they took to it like fish to water, and their father again provided a leg-up for them, organizing his own party to get the brothers on stage.
Their early start and thorough knowledge translated into adept DJ skills and they soon were noticed by dance legend Dennis Ferrer, who mentored the young brothers and then signed them to Objektivity Records.
Another turning point in their career came in 2011 when they got their residency at the infamous DC10 club in Ibiza.
“It’s really special, DC10 is like our home and it was on fire this year. You can’t really compare it to anything, it has its own vibe for sure,” says Martinez. “DC10 is a staple. A lot of the guys that we admire came from that institution. Even before we were playing there it was helping our musical style and all that jazz, so to be able to rock out there with our peers is dope.”
Martinez expressed that while the summers are amazing, after six months, he was ready to return home to New York, where he and Chris would return to the studio.
The brothers have a captivating synergy both on and off the stage. In the studio, they bring their collective experience to the table, contributing their own instrumentation and insight.
“There’s not really rules, we just feed off each other on everything,” says Martinez regarding their studio dynamic.
The duo created their own record label called Cuttin’ Headz and co-founded Tuskegee Records with friend and techno boss Seth Troxler.
“I would say Cuttin’ Headz is a lot more pumpy and more about the fun aspect of it. On Tuskegee we like to go a little bit less; experiment a little bit,” explains Martinez. “As well as we want to start putting out a lot of our hero’s music out. [Tuskegee] has our own little vibe, it’s a lot more dirty, and Cuttin Headz is a lot more fun, clubby stuff.”
The two recently produced a track with the notorious Miss Kittin, and have a slew of new music on the cusp of release. They’ve aimed their sights high for the future. As well as delving further into the world of fashion (the brothers did the soundtrack for the Givenchy 2014/15 collections), they hope to get into scoring, doing other kinds of music such as hip-hop, and trying to get some of their heroes in the studio with them. And, like most siblings, also have their own share of sibling rivalry. “We wouldn’t be siblings if there was no rivalry, but I think that between us is kind of a healthy competition,” muses Martinez. “At the end of the day we want to be better than each other because it makes the whole better, the sum of the parts.”
Catch the Martinez Brothers on November 28 at MIA.BC, British Columbia, Martinez Brothers, MIA