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Roger Martinez: Music is the most direct reflection of my being

Roger Martinez: Music is the most direct reflection of my being

Trance inducing DJ-sets, unique electronic music productions, sound healing meditations, interdisciplinary art-projects and mind-manifesting workshops. These apparent worlds apart all converge in sound-artist Roger Martinez.

Roger views a club night or festival as a shamanic ceremony where people gather and have profound experiences through music, dance and human connection. During his live performances he surrenders himself to creative flow and its musical transmissions. Drawing inspiration from anything between shamanic ceremonies, mountain treks and gardening, his DJ-sets tend to be pan-spectral, transcending genre and style.

His music has found its way onto labels like Lost & Found, Armadillo, Sudbeat, Plattenbank, Tronic and GEM Records. Through his own imprint ”Higher States”  Roger manifests his musical transmissions and those of other unique electronic music producers.

Hello Roger. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. How are you?

Doing well. Feeling healthy, inspired and grateful to be alive.

 

Let’s start this conversation from the beginning of your career.
What were some of the main challenges when you were starting out as a DJ?

I had to ignore people who wanted to distract me from my path as an artist. But since what I was doing with music felt finally like something that my heart also agreed to, it was actually not that hard to keep my focus. I’ve always followed my bliss, to quote Joseph Campbell, to know where I needed to go in life. What also comes to mind is that whenever you’re young and getting good at something, it’s only a matter of time before money hungry and power-hungry people start to surround you. Mainly to leach on you financially or in some other way. Watch out for these types!

 

What were some of your early inspirations?

At age 9 I urged my mother to buy me the ‘House Party Vol. 1’ CD. This was my first real step into the sonic world of House Music. Instrumental to my sonic education were the legendary early Dance Department shows, back then hosted by Wessel van Diepen (Vengaboys) on Radio 538 in the Netherlands. This show was my gateway into party land and house music before I was old enough to get into clubs.

Many Saturday nights were spent glued to the radio and having that tape recorder and later mini disc record mode ready. Furthermore, Sasha for his music, Sasha & John Digweed for their DJ sets and Carl Cox for his style of 4-deck mixing.

Photo by Jason Setzer

Do you prefer the small and intimate gigs or the bigger club and festival gigs?

I don’t have a real preference. When the sound system and the vibe is right, I am happy.

 

We had the opportunity to host you and listen to you for the first time in Serbia (Turija) in August last year, at the 2nd edition of our ‘Avanturija’ festival. Can you briefly describe us that weekend and your first impressions?

Beautiful location, super sound system, absolutely excellent local food, impressive weather (!) and a lovely crew.

You’ve come a long way with plenty of releases and different projects up your sleeve. How did it all start out for you, when we speak about music production, and how did you evolve in sound, technology, etc?

Back in 2004, I met a girl who directed me towards a new experimental 4-year course on music production on an art school in the Netherlands. I am still so grateful to have met her back then. She was the essential link in guiding me towards one of the happiest periods of my life. Following and graduating from this course really cemented my self-esteem as an artist and music producer. And as the icing on that cake: with my Ambient 5.1 graduation project ‘Horizontal Excursions’ I was awarded the Jacques de Leeuw prize of € 10.000.

I can only say that my sound evolves with me as a human being. Music is the most direct reflection of my Being, so it is guaranteed to change with time. Technology-wise I have always preferred a simple set-up, what is most important to me is a good and cozy studio environment, a powerful computer and high-quality monitor speakers, the rest can just become a distraction from what is really important: your own audial sensitivity.

 

You’ve created your own label ‘Higher States’. What was the main idea behind it and how does the music selection come about?

To finally have the freedom of releasing music that I like, both my own and other people’s music. Whenever I hear good music, I either approach the producer or I get sent music. For people wanting to get their music considered for release on HS: send your music to [email protected]

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

It is a direct sort of proto language, no need for dictionaries or analytics. It can speak directly to the soul of a person. Since we all are a different perspective of the universe experiencing itself subjectively, music can have a wide variety of meaning to each of us.

 

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

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Short answer: Cannabis. Great for the creative initial part of music making. It is thanks to this plant that I am still making music. However, at a later stage it’s good to also have the sober perspective on the music piece: to make decisions in arrangement and to organize a song mainly. Distractions are always coming from the same place: my own mind. Keeping the mind in check can guarantee a high quality of life in general.

How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?

It is necessary for each artist to experience his work in the public space, I feel. Whenever I play and hear the music on a large sound system and see the crowd response, it can really inspire to make new works. It is something you cannot recreate in the studio. Often, I need that dance party environment to be reminded of what making music is all about. Without that you can loose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place.

photo by Mili Villamil

Does the progressive house music have a clear message for you or is it just an endless story? What do you want to tell people through your releases?

Progressive for me is not so much a defined genre as it is more a style of playing electronic music. I came up in the electronic music scene through the end of the ’90s and beginning of the 2000s. The scene and the DJs around that time that I liked, played everything from Ambient, Deep House towards Techno. Most of them were labeled as Progressive House DJs. If I could describe in words what I wanted to tell through my music, I’d have become a writer. Listen to the music and you’ll know.

 

What are the craziest and most interesting things you do besides music? What does a non-working day of Roger look like?

Besides a Music Producer and DJ, I’ve actually become a farmer. I grow fruit trees, vegetables and what have you. A real non-working day doesn’t really exist, since I am always in some way in a musical process. But, whenever I’m not in the studio, I enjoy Being in Nature or catching up on (Art) History. Books are still my favorite way to further educate myself.

Can you tell us what we can expect from you in the coming period, any new projects you work on that you can share with us?

Just finished a new remix for Mango Alley and I am working on a remix for Paul Hamilton’s UV label. Further down the road of time more original releases on Higher States and a long awaited new Horizontal Excursions album.

 

Once again, big thanks for your time, Roger. We wish you all the best on your upcoming projects!

Thank you!

 

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