US beat-maker MARTIN $KY has always been shrouded in mystery. I knew about his music for a while, but it was his 2020 Radio Juicy release In Real Time that really opened my eyes to the mindful world of his beats. He excels at bringing both the Dilla bass vibe with the rather lofi / ambient side of chillhop that has been gaining popularity in recent years. I'm beyond happy to be able to talk to him and if I can give you one piece of advice - play the mix, lay down on the floor, and forget about the world.
Septober & SCayos - kombucha
Jamie Henwood - ☁
imagiro & tapei - early hope
Aso - Home
Philanthrope & mommy - throwback port
Santpoort - Standed
Oatmello - Goodnight
luvwn - Sleep Static
Kurt Stewart - Belong
coldbrew - a vibration
HM Surf - Coping With The Heat
Hi Martin, where do we find you today?
I'm currently in Chicago. Born and raised.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm just a man who makes beats and hangs out with his dog to be honest. I play video games, make music here and there, get outside, and just chill most of the time. I'm really introverted and I love instrumental music. A lot of beats and meditation. :)
When and why did you start creating music?
I got into music 10+ years ago when a friend showed me FL Studio. I haven't put it down since. My mission has always been to just be there for the listener and let them know that they're not alone in the world no matter what they think. Hoping my music just eases people from all the noise at this point..
How would you describe your mix in a sentence?
Here are some of my favorite sleepy nostalgic beats. :)
Ahaha I literally just came up with it one day in high school while sitting in class. Nothing too deep. Just thought it sounded and looked cool next to my last name. People think it's my actual last name at this point, lmao.
Your 2020 LP In Real Time was such a breath of fresh air. Absolutely loved it. It dropped in May, so I assume the writing process was mostly pre-pandemic, but did the last year events affected the record in any way?
Yeah, most of it was pre-pandemic. I'd say covid along with all of the other craziness happening in America had me feeling overwhelmed and uninspired for a while. Luckily, I was mostly done with the album by this point. I went through a rough period where I just didn't feel like writing any music. Happy to be feeling inspired again though.
What's the message behind the LP?
So many things are happening around us and I just wanted to remind people to be present and worry less. The past and future aren't going anywhere, but the present moment is lost if you don't live in it. Take advantage of the opportunity to be here now. Don't create scenarios in your mind. Don't replay past events and actions you might regret. Don't compare yourself to others. No expectations. Just be.
I meditate often and try to be mindful of when I'm not fully present so a lot of the track titles are a play on that practice. I also try to leave it up to the listener's interpretation. The titles may resonate with people for different reasons.
Besides a wonderful sonic experience, I absolutely loved the visuals with it. You worked with illustrator Ioana Harasim's. What was the process like?
Yes, I love her work so much and I'm so grateful for her time and creativity. Radio Juicy connected us and curated the artwork so a huge shout out to them as well! We all communicated in a group chat about ideas and how to capture the album visually. Such an awesome experience to collaborate with her. Amazing artist!
Who are the producers that inspire you these days?
Hmm, I would say my friends that I collaborate with. I curate an instrumental playlist called Restful Beats and I'm really immersed in the instrumental hip hop scene, so the playlist is a good indicator of the things that inspire me. For a while, "lofi" started to get stale to me, but I'm starting to see more and more artists making refreshing instrumental music that I think will stand the test of time for sure. You can tell the difference in quality these days. But overall, I'm inspired by anybody doing anything that they're passionate about. I'm always listening for the next thing to get me excited.
If you could give younger self once piece of advice, what would that be?
Meditate. Reflect. Say less. Listen more.
What's the hardest thing you had to sacrifice in the name of making music?
Relationships. To this day I can't tell if I have few friends because I make music all day, or because I'm introverted, lol. Either way, I know how to enrich my mind and that plays a huge part in creativity being able to flow. You are the company you keep. Less is more for me. :)
What's the future of the beat scene in your opinion? I see more and more producers venturing out and exploring new sounds. Do you think they should evolve somehow and in what direction?
I never think about this as it doesn't really concern me. I just make music and put out what I like. There are so many genres of instrumental music so people can go make whatever they feel at any time and they should create their truth. It's not really anybody's place to say where any specific sound SHOULD go.
I do think the scene is full of ARTISTS with more potential to reach people and build a following than they think. I'd like to see more people think beyond the playlists and more about THEIR brand and longevity as an artist. Sucks seeing producers set ceilings for themselves. The industry does this as well. They lead many of the mainstream ears to believe producers are nothing without vocalists. Many producers adopt this mindset. :(
Thankfully we live in a time where this isn't the case. We have a platform to be heard thanks to playlist curators and DSP playlists. That being said, don't accept just being listened to passively. Reach out to your listeners. Connect with them. You'd be surprised how much of an impact a song you made in your bed can have on someone across the world.
How are you coping with the year of isolation?
Well, I've been pretty isolated since doing music full time so not much of a change. I will say it was weird seeing everybody freaking out about not being around people and stuff but I'm used to being by myself most of the time. That sounds depressing lol... I love my me time though, so I looked at it as an opportunity to better myself and work on internal things. Glad America is returning back to some type of normal though. However, once the pandemic is over I will still be an introvert. Not itching to be around people or in crowded spaces. Never have. Just a disclaimer to my friends ahhaha.
What's next for you in 2021?
I'm working on an EP right now. Really focused on getting better at writing music and curating my playlist. Having fun with it.
What's on your playlist right now?
My friends :)
Thanks for the interview! If you could ask yourself one question what would that be and what's the answer?
Not sure but if you're reading this, spread some love today. Do something that makes you happy. Treat yourself. Go for a walk. Enjoy the day. <3