Martyn Adds Strength In Numbers

Only three months in and it’s already been a busy start to the year for Numbers.

Feature by Colin Chapman | 25 Feb 2010

After merging their labels, Stuffrecords, Dress 2 Sweat and Wireblock to operate as one under the Numbers banner last November, the first releases under their consolidated guise; Deadboy’s ‘If U Want Me’ and ‘The Golden Handshake EP’ from Low Limit and Lando Kal (aka Lazersword), dropped last month.

They also hosted Fabric’s Room One in January, the line-up featuring Numbers DJs, Jackmaster, Spencer, Nelson and Goodhand, as well as live sets from Hudson Mohawke (his ‘Oops’ twelve was a collaborative Wireblock/Luckyme release) and former Stuffrecords, Dress 2 Sweat and Wireblock artist, Rustie, with Deadboy also making an appearance and Todd Edwards headlining.

“The records have gone down well, I'm really proud of them”, says Neil Morton, a member of the Numbers collective who’s Remote Location design studio provides artwork for the label and the club. “They’ve been getting radio airtime, played at parties and had print and online coverage. It's great to get new artists like Deadboy and Lazer Sword in front of new ears.”

”The Fabric gig was cool and totally bouncing until it closed at 6am”, he continues. “Everyone played great sets, but Hudson with Oliver Daysoul singing live was a standout and totally amazing. It was so good it actually encouraged a stage invasion and crowd surfing! March sees them take a further step toward making 2010 their own, thanks to the seriously heavyweight line-up they’re serving up for their first Sub Club party of the year.

Featuring native-Glaswegian, Kode9, who runs the very necessary Hyperdub label; Floating Points, an artist who’s responsible for productions that join the dots between 80’s synth-funk, deep house and UK bass music and finally, Martyn, who’s ‘Great Lengths’ album, 3024 label and DJ sets all blur the lines between dubstep, techno and house.

Originally hailing from Eindhoven but now based in Washington, Martyn’s entry into the world of dance music came in his teens when he began frequenting clubs and buying house and techno records. Acknowledging Detroit techno as a definite early influence, his taste evolved with age and by the mid-nineties, the fast emerging drum n’ bass scene had caught his attention, initially through the DJ sets of Grooverider and Randall.

“I suppose what attracted me to it were the forward thinking ideas, the urge to develop a style and a sound, with new progressions occurring almost on a weekly basis…that’s what makes music exciting,” Martyn explains. Indeed, he quickly developed a real passion for the style, particularly Metalheadz artists like Photek and Goldie.

“I visited London to check out the label’s night at The Blue Note, which had a real impact on me, as it was a hotbed for what was happening for the sound; everyone who was interested in it was there to hear and experience what was going on at the time, in a similar way to how DMZ and FWD>> later became the focus points for dubstep and its off-shoots.”

In fact, it was this trip which motivated him to start his Eindhoven drum n’ bass night, Redzone in 1996, which, over its eleven year existence featured guests from across the scene, including the likes of Goldie, Marcus Intalex, Klute and DJ Krust. Aside from DJing drum n’ bass, he produced a number of tracks in the mid-noughties, however, it was the influence of the emerging artists Kode9, Burial and the DMZ label that saw him begin to consider its high tempo as musically restrictive, ultimately prompting his shift to a slower paced style, both DJ and production-wise.

Since then, he’s cultivated a bass-heavy sound, merging elements of dub and techno and fusing them to both 2-step and 4-4 rhythms. There’s also often a definite feeling of melancholy about his tracks; a fact that seems to be confirmed by his myspace statement; “…making music to me is like a game between happiness and depression.”

“Well when you're feeling blue, there's an urge to get to a better place”, he expounds. “You want to do something about the situation you're in, and it's this motivation that makes me want to write music, to express this feeling. It's like writing something in a notepad, then closing the book and the feeling is gone. So I suppose it's of therapeutic value”.

Having moved from an urban setting to Northern Virginia, after marrying his American wife two years ago; does he feel the change in environment has impacted on his sound in any way? “It has, but not in the literal sense of the word. I think living in a certain place has an effect on your state of mind. Where I live now is much more remote and quieter than the Dutch cities I lived in. I’m definitely more focussed in the studio and I think over here my motivation has increased as a lot of people around me seem eager to make a real living for themselves.”

Earlier this year, he mixed the 50th edition of Fabric’s mix-CD series and with its combining of dubstep, house, techno, funky and broken beat somewhat of a departure from previous offerings, did he feel the club was trying to make some sort stylistic statement? “No I don't think so, but if they were they never informed me about it! From my perspective, I just wanted to record a reflection of my DJ sets of the last year; a summary of my favourite tracks, with a few new ones added too, mixed together into one coherent ‘story’. I really hope I succeeded!”

Also a talented re-mixer, it was actually his take on TRG’s ‘Broken Heart’ that broke him to a wider audience, resulting a flood of further remix offers, however, of late, Martyn has ventured beyond re-interpreting the tracks of his peers, instead working on those by the likes of Maximo Park, Detachments and Fever Ray.

“I've really enjoyed remixing ‘bands’ lately because it just gives you a different instrumentation to work with. Also, because they’re songs, they follow a different structure than those that are purely instrumental, electronic tracks. I think I've learned a thing or two about music outside my comfort zone, which I hope will be useful in the near future.”

Finally, after making a live appearance at a co-promoted Numbers/Electric Eliminators night just over a year ago, is he looking forward to returning, this time to play alongside Kode9 and Floating Points? “I’ve played with Kode9 many times; we really seem to complement each other musically. I also played at the Numbers stage at last year's Bloc Weekend which was a great experience - the whole crew is very open minded and have been in this for a while which is really cool too.”

Kode9, Martyn & Floating Points appear at Numbers at the Sub Club. 11pm - 3am, £10, 5 March.