Martyn: Beyond London Dubstep
- Words: Cameron Macdonald
Martijn Deykers has a hit in a genre that, up until this year, he knew little about. “Broken” melded a hammered dub rhythm–a sound like railroad tracks crackling beneath passing subway trains–with iridescent synth chords; it was heralded by many in the dance scene as dubstep’s single of the year. “[It was] kind of strange to me, because I didn’t really know that much about dubstep at that time at all,” recalls Deykers, who is spiritual kin to cerebral bass artists Burial and Kode9. “Now all of a sudden I’m a dubstep artist,” he says, chuckling.
The man the dubstep scene has come to know simply as Martyn has been a drum & bass DJ in his native Holland for more than a decade (he even recently collaborated with Mancunian D&B king Marcus Intalex). Deykers grew up in Eindhoven, but eventually settled in Rotterdam (his record label, 3024, is named after his old zip code there), and his fingerprints are all over the Red Zone D&B club nights that were held throughout the country.
Martyn’s recent slew of 12-inch singles take dubstep into the wilderness far outside London, often crossing over with the likes of Flying Lotus, who gave his “Natural Selection” an icy cool-down mix, and taking on more danceable, ethereal qualities (rather than dubstep’s typically dark and foreboding sensibilities) on “Twenty Four” and “Vancouver.” “All I Have Is Memories” features haunting piano chords drifting in and out of a groove of pulsating two-step beat and layers of disembodied vocals, while “Velvet” spaces out with ringing, over-processed jazz-organ chords and snare hits that keep the blood flowing.
Dividing his time between DJ gigs in Europe and producing music at home in the DC suburbs (he recently made the move to the U.S. and is awaiting citizenship papers after marrying his American wife), Martyn frequently maintains a blog, a forum for news on his releases and his strong opinions, such as his dismay over Burial revealing his identity. He’s consistently outspoken about the idea of dubstep spreading beyond its South London roots, and is pleased to see artists outside of the U.K. taking the genre into their own hands.
“That’s only good for the sound because everyone just brings their own influences to the table as well,” he states. “That makes the music even more exciting than it already was.” To that effect, he’s doing what he can to make dubstep his own by blending in plenty of hip-hop and four-to-the-floor sounds on his upcoming album. “It’s going to be a mixture of sounds and we’ll see where it ends up,” Deykers says. “I’m not sure myself.”
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