Justin Martin Talks Renegade Parties, Dirtybird, and Ghetto Booty

If you ain't a Justin Martin fan, then you ain't living.

The San Francisco wunderkind is easily one of the most beloved DJ-producers on the international scene. There's no party he can't get started with his energetic, fun-loving approach to dance music.

And as co-owner of the esteemed Dirtybird imprint with Claude VonStroke, Martin is also a different kind of tastemaker. The label specializes in sleazetastic bass-heavy floor bombs.

In fact, the last time we partied with Martin at the Electric Pickle he literally made the floor shake and the bodies bounce like rubber.

Crossfade: When did you first start producing and how has your creative process evolved over the years?

Justin Martin: I first started producing nine years ago, in 2002. I saved up some money after college and bought my first computer. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing in the studio at first -- I just knew what I wanted my music to sound like sonically. So I really dove into it all head-first and put some serious time in to learn how I could get my songs to sound how I imagined they could sound. Lots of knob tweaking those first few years.

What can you tell us about the scene in San Francisco? Did living and working there during your formative years shape your style and sound?

The scene in San Francisco has always been very inspiring for me. When I first started off the people that I looked up to were all very supportive. And even though we were creating music that wasn't super popular at the time, the people making up the dance music scene were all very open-minded and eager to hear new things. This definitely gave me the confidence to become the artist that I am today.

How did you first hook up with Claude VonStroke and how did Dirtybird come about?

I first met Barclay [Crenshaw] long before he was ever Claude VonStroke, through my brother Christian. They were working on a house music documentary together and I was just a bedroom DJ at the time. I really loved playing records and wanted to take it to the next level, and Barclay was making this documentary where he interviewed all these famous DJs who told their stories of how they got where they were. Barclay wanted to see if the lessons being taught in this documentary actually worked in the real world, so he took me on as a project in exchange of some of my music for his film. As things started to really work out for me we decided to start a crew in SF so we didn't have to play for other people's parties -- we just wanted to start our own thing. My brother bought a sound system and we just started doing our own renegade outdoor parties in the park. We needed a name for the crew and one night after a quite few cocktails the name "dirtybird" was born. Shortly after that Barclay started the record label.

The label has the unique distinction of having a recognizable sound -- that "Dirtybird sound". What is your criteria for selecting new material for release?

Bass-heavy and fun.

Your own sound is very distinctive as well, an amalgamation of house, techno, dub, booty bass, etc. Where do you see your sound in five to ten years' time?

I really have no idea. I am constantly exploring new directions. I just love so many different kinds of music and there are infinite possibilities in the studio so it is really hard to say. I just love making music that is different, whether it be different from the current trends or just different from the last thing I made.

Your brother Christian is a frequent studio partner of yours. What's it like collaborating with a sibling? Is the chemistry different than working with a non-relative?

It's cool, he brings lots of different ideas into the studio that I wouldn't normally even think of. The chemistry is great.

This year you played the Movement Festival in Detroit for the first time. How was the experience? 

I love the Movement Festival and it was a dream come true to play at it! I think it's great that the US has these events like Movement and WMC because they are educating the next generation of partiers. It brings me hope to see that younger generation rocking out on the dancefloor.

Your touring schedule has been pretty crazy lately. What is life like on the road for you and how do you stay motivated to travel so much?

I love my job. The traveling can get a bit tough sometimes, especially when you add in the occasional hangover, but there is nothing else I would rather be doing then traveling the world and playing my music for people to dance to.

What do you have going on for the rest of the year? Any new forthcoming projects or releases we should keep an eye out for?

Yes, I am currently working hard on my debut album Ghettos and Gardens, which is going to be coming out on Dirtybird. Also, I have a new single coming out in August that I did with my buddy Ardalan called "LEZGO". Real ghetto booty shit. LEZZZZGO!

Justin Martin. Friday, July 22. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and cover costs $10. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.

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