The metaphorical group-hug might feel especially warm for Martyn, an outlier booked to perform smack in the middle of it all. “The [DJs] that I know in D.C. give off a really familial vibe, and I think that’s something I really need sometimes,” the 45-year-old says. “I’m part of so many different worlds.”
Disparate worlds, too. Martyn came up spinning delirious drum-and-bass tracks in his native Holland, and by 2005, he was producing his own. Then he fell in love, and in 2008, he became a husband and a resident of tranquil Loudoun County. In 2012, he became a U.S. citizen. In 2014, he became a father. And in 2017, he dodged death, collapsing in his home recording studio after suffering a heart attack related to a previously diagnosed heart condition. (A pacemaker that had been implanted a few years earlier literally brought him back from the other side.) “Having a kid changes your entire view on life,” Martyn says with a smile. “So does dying then not dying.”
Shortly after the episode, his hearing felt heightened — something he says he noticed while listening to the hyper-percussive jazz of Max Roach’s group M’Boom. “It was like I could hear more space in the music,” Martyn says. “It was almost 3-D hearing.”
The experience inspired the capacious richness of his next two recordings, his 2018 album “Voids” and this summer’s exquisite “Odds Against Us” EP. And if he wasn’t already prolific enough, Martyn plans to spend the rest of the year putting the finishing keystrokes into a book about Goldie’s legendary drum-and-bass album “Timeless,” which is set for publication next year.
So how does that all work? How does he manage to follow the intensity of his creative impulse without pushing his body too hard? “Doing what you love to do and pacing yourself — those two ideas are actually really close together,” Martyn says. “They’re only far apart when you think of pacing yourself as a limitation.”
From an artist who has spent so many years making such fast-moving music, that almost sounds like a philosophy. The meaning of life resides in how well we fill our time, not how quickly we race against it.
Festival: DC24 begins on Sept. 20 at 10 p.m. Martyn performs on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. The venue address will be announced to ticket holders on Friday. residentadvisor.net/events. $35.