Martyn on growing up sci-fi, learning to DJ, and why EDM is meant for stadiums instead of clubs

Martyn has spun his sumptuous electronic dance tracks all over this planet, but Thursday night at U Street Music Hall will be a bit of a first. It’s the Holland-born DJ and producer’s first Washington gig since moving to the area in 2009.


With about 70-out-of-town bookings to play each year, producer and disc jockey Martyn is quietly creating exquisite dance tracks in Northern Virginia. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

We chatted with Martyn in Tuesday’s Post and found out how his quiet life in the Virginia ‘burbs has influenced the rhythms he’s brought to nightclubs the world over. What we didn’t get to in our profile: his sci-fi childhood, his first drum-and-bass record, his take on the American EDM boom, and more. Below are some interview excerpts that didn’t make it into Tuesday’s paper.

On why he was drawn to making music with machines: “[Growing up], I was into stuff like science fiction and robots and that sort of stuff. Me and my brother would take apart old calculators and build control desks for spaceships. We’d build spaceships out of cardboard boxes. The whole machine thing for us was a lot more natural than playing guitar. Even when I was into bands, I never wanted to be a singer-songwriter.”

On listening to his first drum-and-bass record: “I bought a Photek record and played it at the wrong speed and thought, ‘Wow, what an amazing trip-hop record!’ Then a friend came over and he played it at the right speed. Click. ‘Oh.’”

On why young DJs should play plenty of warm-up sets: “I actually think warming up is probably more difficult than [headlining], when the crowd is pumping. It’s easy to play an hour of bangers and then get out.”

On aesthetic growth: “I felt restricted with drum-and-bass because of the tempos. It’s very specialist, and it was very inward looking at that time. It was inspired by reggae, and hip hop, and the drums were like jazz, but after a while, it became it’s own music and it became inbred. And that’s when the music starts dying.”

On the EDM explosion in America: “There’s a difference between club music and EDM. I was always inspired by underground house music and techno when it was in New York or Detroit or Chicago… I think the sound of dubstep and electro-house took hold of the U.S. and it didn’t evolve into club music. It evolved into stadium music. It sounds more like nu-metal. If you go to a rave, it’s not really a rave. It’s a metal concert. It’s not really electronic dance music that’s taking over, it’s just a replacement for Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine. And it’s the energy as well. It’s not hours and hours of dancing. It’s short bursts of craziness, two minutes of taking pictures of each other, then more bursts of craziness. But I don’t have any problems with it, now. It’s not what I do. It’s something else.”

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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