If you’ve ever seen The Martinez Brothers spin, you know that what separates Chris and Steve Martinez from the rest of the pack isn’t just their skills, but their seemingly limitless energy, not just party-rocking stamina (though they’ve got that too) – but an unmistakable positivity…
Sure, their skills are considerable. You don’t get to play at global events such as Sonar (Barcelona), Movement (Detroit and Torino), Kazantip (Ukraine) or BPM (Mexico), nor clubs like DC10 (Ibiza), Panorama Bar (Berlin), Fabric (London), Space terrace (Miami) or Stereo (Montreal) (where they have been know known to throw down for twelve hour marathons) without skills, skills which were honed before they were old enough to get into clubs and had to get specially signed permission in order for them to play… Watch them behind the decks, born to move they’re practically climbing over each other as records flow together, one brother cueing up a track, the other EQing, the headphones passed back and forth, forearms intertwined, heads bobbing in unison. It’s amazing to watch, it’s even more amazing to hear; their musical style portraits a curiosity that builds bridges between New York’s house music history and a globalized deep house revival. What separates them from their European counterparts? In a word, rhythm
Born in the Bronx, The Martinez Brothers were raised immersed in music. From an early age they learnt to play instruments, playing in different bands in churches of local boroughs. “Our main thing is percussion—drums, congas. We also play keyboards, bass, stuff like that.” Their father was a veteran of the disco era, of New York clubs like the Paradise Garage and The Loft, and growing up, the kids and their father would listen to Timmy Regisford’s radio shows on Kiss FM. And what found its way to the stereo usually found its way into the boys’ own diverse musical language.
The brothers found a home at the legendary New York club Shelter—the global capital of soulful house, with resident Timmy Regisford at the helm. “He had such a major influence on us. We were like the youngest kids to go to Shelter ever. He’s a big part of what we do because we would go there just to study and learn. As far as DJ technique and selection, everything we learned there… Anybody who went to the Shelter knows, we would just stand in the booth and watch.” But as anyone could tell you, standing and watching isn’t enough, to become DJs, Chris and Steve had to figure it out on their own. “We got into it really backwards… We started doing it on the computer, just messing around, then we got a CD set, and then we started playing vinyl.”
It was around then that they met up with the DJ Victor Rosado, who spent time behind the decks with Larry Levan. “We’d listen to him online and it turns out he was a friend of our dad’s from back in the day.” The boys’ dad had an idea: throw a party with Victor “under one condition: his sons open up”. So that’s how that started.
From New York to London to Paris, and beyond, The Martinez Brothers have kicked many dancefloors into touch since. Evolving their style from their disco and soulful roots, which they fully pay homage to, and finding their own natural path into techno, house and all lines in between. “You have to get influences from everywhere… House, Techno, electro, whatever, the key is not to be afraid to reinvent yourself”
The list of their prestigious events also includes the legendary DC10 in Ibiza, where they were residents in 2012 and will be again in 2013. “We first started playing for them when they invited us to play a Life and Death party at Sonar in 2011… We were supposed to do another residency in Ibiza that summer but it didn’t come through, so we thought ‘freak it’ lets go to Ibiza anyway. We ended up going to Circo Loco every Monday and they gave us a shot inside in August. Everybody loved it and next month we got a great slot on the Terrace… Last year we were residents and we literally couldn’t believe it; DC10 was the place we always wanted to play but never expected to. Since we’ve been touring loads with Circo Loco – Brazil, Mexico, Italy, UK… We’re starting to go around with them a lot.”
In 2011 they also started to do special back-to-back sets with Soul Clap, playing their first party at KaterHolzig in Berlin and naming the collaboration ‘Soul Bros’. Together they play anything and everything – from house to soul to RnB to disco, winding back to techno, drawing inspirations from all areas of their musical collections.
They also started tag team sessions with Seth Troxler in 2012, playing the first set together at Movement Torino and more recently at the Circo Loco party at BPM festival in Mexico. These sets deliver a more straight up house and techno flavour, with a few curveballs thrown in.
Release wise, they kicked off a new chapter in 2007, when Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity imprint released their first EP ‘My Rendition’, a powerhouse of a record which won the boys fans far beyond their initial boundaries of the soulful house scene, allowing them to step into a more modern, emerging deep house scene. They went on to produce their ironically named follow-up ‘Debbie Downer’ out in January 2009, with Berlin based Greek producer Argy and ‘Where’s Mr. Brown?’ a hissing, techno track. In 2011 they released ‘The Causeway / Issshhh’ on Objektivity and in 2012 they released ‘H 2 Da Izzo’ on France’s Real Tone Records – a synth heavy, sexy and serious record all in one. In 2013, after an NYC studio lock-in “making beats” they already have two remixes slated: Santos Resiak ‘A Better Light’ (TMB’s Cuttin’ Headz Remix), released on Subb Ann’s One Records and Burnski’s ‘Lost In The Zoo’ (The Martinez Brothers Bronx Zoo Remix) out on Nic Fanciulli’s Saved Records.
At the forefront of a musical generation looking beyond boundaries – new, old, house, techno, disco… whatever moves them – it’s hard not to be drawn to the Martinez Brothers. Observing their infinite and innocent energy mixed with serious musical skills and knowledge, you can only watch and do just as they do, go with the flow…