– Hello Roger, I’m glad to ask you some questions for Differentgrooves.com
I’d say you’re 100% involved into art, apart from music you’re also into photography and painting. What does art mean for you? Can you imagine your life without these kinds of creativity and personal expression?
Art for me is a way of surrendering myself to something bigger. I don’t want to give this ‘something bigger’ a name, but it definitely can be a kind of mystical experience to create something that wasn’t there before. Being an artist is a life of service to me. I see myself as the facilitator for a creative force that wants to break through into what we call the material reality and express itself here and now. I think I’m also of service to the people who can enjoy the art forms that arise through me. So whenever I have a gig or a public appearance I try to keep in mind that I’m there as the facilitator and that I am of service to the people. It’s a good way to get that ego element out of the way, you know.
It’s hard for me to imagine my life being different as it is. Art for me is a way to communicate (ecstatic and deep) emotional experiences I’ve had. Art and especially music, is a direct experiential language, more direct and more aimed at someone’s emotional senses rather than his language centre. Spoken or written language simply fails to communicate these experiences, because it’s much less direct and more subject to interpretation and miscommunication.
– Do you like a certain painting technique? Did you learn that at some courses or did you learn from yourself?
Until now I have only experimented with Acrylics on canvas. Oil painting is always something that beckons, who knows what will happen in the near future? Acrylics are good for painting quick ideas, the drying times of oil are much longer and it’s really a more alchemical process of painting, drying, evaluating and responding to the outcome.
For a few years now I’ve had the luck to receive painting classes from one of the Netherlands’ top Abstract painters, Reinoud van Vught. He has been a big inspiration to me and he really is a genuinely nice guy.
– These days the Web is being dominated by social networks, what do you think about Tumblr? Does it cover an aggregation function for all the kinds of artists?
Social networks like Tumblr can ruin people’s lives I guess, but they can also serve as a way to communicate with people from around the world. I wouldn’t say that it ‘connects’ you to people, because that is a fallacy in my eyes. Many people nowadays are lonely and depressed, despite all the ways to ‘connect’ digitally. What I mean is that everything can be used as an instrument for good or for bad. Tumblr is nice and free and while I’m sure that, like other social networks, they also earn money from the amount of personal information you put on there, I sometimes get inspired through what I see on my Tumblr dashboard.
– Let’s switch to music related stuff. What can you tell us about your musical background and your first steps into the world of techno and house?
I don’t have any classical education in music and I am sometimes thankful for that. To me a composer like Vangelis for instance, who can’t even read notes, is a mastermind because he is self-taught, working outside of contemporary ideas and dogma.
Music has beckoned me when I was very young: at age 4 I was playing vinyl records on my mom’s turntable. The whole mechanism of the turntable, the pictures of the record sleeves, it was one big magical thing for me. I put on records by Deep Purple, Maria Callas and Bob Dylan. I guess from a very young age my focus was definitely aurally oriented.
Then when I was 9 I bought my first House CD, called “Turn Up The Bass House Party Vol. 1”. I saw the commercial for it and somehow it immensely fascinated me. The otherworldly sounds of the synthesizers, the video images of people in a club dancing ecstatically and the flashing lights all made me run to my mom asking her to buy me the CD. The marketing department of now defunct label Arcade did a very good job with that commercial I must say.
After that it was the start of my continuing love for electronic dance music. The music also functioned as a necessary energy output one needs when one reaches the age of adolescence. To elaborate on that, around that time I had a serious, but short affair with hardcore and gabber music…
When I reached the age of 16 I discovered Psychedelic/Goa and Trance music (the original good stuff). It was also the time I first got into clubs and experienced sets by DJ’s like Spider Willem, Marcello, Dimitri, Jamie Anderson and Vince Watson. Around 2003 I heard Sasha and Digweed and this pulled me into the world of Progressive and after an internship at Secret Cinema’s studio, I was introduced to the sounds of Techno.
– When did you come across GEM Recordings and how do you feel about getting your music released on this important label?
As I said, I did an internship at Secret Cinema’s studio and that’s where our whole connection got started. We clicked not only musically, but we could also just hang out and have good conversations with each other. So I was there from the beginning and after my sound had evolved into a more Techno sound, I started releasing on GEM. I feel grateful to be in this kind of family where everyone supports and inspires each other. I always say to people that if you want to be an artist you need people around you that support you and grant you something. It is not a solo journey.
– When and how did the idea behind the two tracks on the “Menthol Raga EP” get born? Why did you and Secret Cinema choose Guy J’s Lost & Found label to release this EP?
The story behind “Menthol Raga” is a very funny one.
One day Secret Cinema visited me for a studio day and after a kind of slow start I decided to retire into the garden. In the garden there was a wooden cabin in which I always chilled out and played CD’s on the stereo there.
So, after a few minutes Jeroen (Secret Cinema) also came downstairs into the garden, but the music in my studio bedroom was still banging. Remember, this was summer, so my windows where fully opened. I asked him why the hell he had let the music play on to which he responded: ,,There’s no one home, right?”. I laughed out loud, because I thought it was kind of asocial towards my neighbours.
So I was sitting in the wood cabin listening to classical Indian music, that are called Ragas and I was enjoying an Ayurvedic smoke called “Nirdosh Menthol cigarettes”. Suddenly the idea came to my mind to mix the bangin’ beats still playing upstairs with the Indian classical music playing in the cabin. A marriage of opposites you could say!
After meeting Guy J during the Amsterdam Dance event in 2011 we stayed in touch with each other and at one point I had sent him a whole lot of my unreleased tracks. He really liked the vibe of the two tracks “Menthol Raga” and “Interstellar” and we were of course glad to have found a high quality outlet for our works.
– You also produce ambient and down-tempo stuff under the “Horizontal Excursion” alias. What can you tell us about this project?
The project originated from my 5.1 Ambient graduation project that I did for the Music Production Course at the Rockacademy, here in the Netherlands. Around that time I was gripped by the music of Markus Guentner and I wanted to do something different compared to the 4 years I’ve studied there making dance music. I did a 5.1 Audiovisual project together with a video artist. At the grand premiere I filled up a club with Fatboys and let people lie in them for 60 minutes, their senses being stimulated by omnipresent 5.1 Ambient music and video images. I was very fortunate to receive the Jacques de Leeuw Prize for my Horizontal Excursions project that took away a lot of financial worries after my study.
I have released my first Horizontal Excursions album myself at my Bandcamp shop (http://rogermartinez.bandcamp.com) in 2011. Actually my second album is planned for release June 1st of this year. Ambient music to me is real head music whereas dance music is a more bodily way of getting into an ecstatic, emotional state. I like to serve both ends of the spectrum I guess.
– What do you expect from the summer of 2013?
To start with: Peace and love for all. Furthermore, I’m really looking forward to June of this year when I will venture to the rugged mountains of Switzerland for two weeks. In a place called Val Sinestra I will be doing musical meditations for groups of people. I’ve become a big lover of classic stringed instruments and all sorts of percussion instruments. I’ve become especially fond of a classic Indian instrument called a Santoor and a Zither, called Autoharp. With these I take people on a journey through sound and relaxation.
Also, I’m currently working with the guys of Unisol, creating dance music around the sounds of these instruments.
– Is anything new forthcoming in the next months you want to tell us about?
Apart from my 2nd HE album, there will be a release in June 2013 on Dutch label Sticky Green, that’ll be a two track EP with a remix by Dosem. I’ve just finished a remix for Pig & Dan for GEM Records and I finished a remix for Luke Mandala that will be appearing on Innerflight Music.
– Thank you for having spent the time to let our readers know more about your music and thoughts!
De nada, thank you!
Interview by Matteo Pitton