Bronx born and bred, the Martinez Brothers have become New York's most compelling international ambassadors of Big Apple house music. They're the latest artists to carry the flag for their hometown sound, continuing on a tradition that's included icons Todd Terry, David Morales, Masters at Work, Roger Sanchez and Dennis Ferrer. When they first emerged on the New York scene in 2007, their presence behind the decks was striking: how was it possible that these two teenagers could already be such accomplished performers, rocking dance floors packed with people twice their age? But Steve and Chris have proven themselves to be much more than just a talented pair of local youngsters, establishing themselves an important players on the international underground scene.
The Martinez Brothers have already starred in their own series of BlackBerry TV commercials, they're currently wrapping up their second summer as residents at Ibiza's infamous Circo Loco party, and they're getting set to launch their own label Cuttin' Headz. Their productions are embraced by DJs of all shades and stripes, and their travel schedule is packed with international dates. And on Friday, September 20th, they'll be making their triumphant return to their hometown, performing their second headlining set at Marquee New York.
We caught up with the Brothers to find out about their summer in Ibiza, their plans for their new label, and how they've absorbed all the attention they've received in their quick rise up the industry ranks.
Hey guys, how is everything going? Where are you at right now?
Everything is great, can't complain! Right now we're in ibiza enjoying the last few weeks of the season. Wondering where it all went.
You guys have been based in Europe for the majority of the summer. How was the experience for you?
It was a lot of fun, we got to travel a lot. But compared to last year, we didn't get as much chill Ibiza time, which was probably the only downer of the year. But it was really fun, we had a lot of laughs, and we played some amazing parties.
Did you have any really particularly amazing gigs? Anything that totally sucked?
We never remember the ones that suck, only the really fun ones. We had our best times in Circo Loco, and without a doubt Kazantip festival in the Ukraine, that was next-level stuff.
This summer you were residents at Circo Loco for the second straight year. How did you guys first connect with Circo Loco?
We first connected with Elliot [Shaw, booker at DC-10] who we had played a few parties for, not knowing he helped organize the party. He asked us to play an opening set one day three years ago, and now we're a part of the fam. Its amazing to say the least.
How did this summer's season there compare to last year?
This season party wise was really cool at DC-10, we had a lot of fun. But like we said before, we spent much more time outside Ibiza which was a bummer. The island is really changing a lot, so it's kind of interesting to see year by year the direction its going.
What's it been like coming in as newer residents at Circo Loco. Some of the other DJs have been residents there for a long time - is it competitive, is it more like a big family, what's the process been like for you?
For me its a big family, but even in families, even with us, there's competition, but that's what makes the party what it is. Besides the atmosphere of the people, the DJs always wanting to be on top of their game also adds to the craziness.
You guys got a lot of attention when you were first coming up, and a lot of it focused on how much younger you were than a lot of other people in the "house" scene. Did that bother you at all that everyone was like, "hey look, these guys are teenagers!"
It got us attention, and it was great because it just gave us a broad stage to showcase what we did DJing and otherwise. Trust us, we enjoyed it while it lasted.
These days there are a lot more younger artists bursting onto the scene, although not necessarily in the underground. Do you feel like you guys helped pave the way for these guys?
Nah, we were just doing us. We're glad that the youth are taking over the music, it only means longevity for the culture.
The campaign you did for Blackberry got you guys a ton of exposure. What was it like to go through that?
We didn't realize how much work actually went into a 30 second phone commercial. But we had fun doing it, and took the experience for what it was. We still get the Berry comments every now and then, so its more hilarious than anything.
Were there times when you'd be watching TV and all of a sudden your ad would be on? That must have been a trip.
That was definitely really weird, even more so for our parents and family members. It was hilarious, we laughed every time.
We recently did an interview with Dennis Ferrer, who helped put you guys on the map. He talked about how important it is to offer his expertise to younger artists. What kind of advice did he give to you guys when you were first getting started?
He always just enforced being ourselves and doing us. Always making sure quality was the main importance. He was no joke. If that track sucked, it sucked, and he would tell you, but we learned a lot because of that; he was honest and we needed that.
You're coming back to Marquee on September 20th, your first NYC gig in a few months. What's it going to be like for you to come home after being away for so many months?
Coming home is always amazing. Hopefully the weather isn't too cold when we arrive but we're going to have a great time. Marquee is a really fun place, so we're looking forward to partying with our fam.
This will be your second set at Marquee. What did you enjoy most about playing there April, and what can everyone expect from your set?
Just the good vibes and smiles all around are what stand out for us, and we hope to just repeat that this time around. Don't expect anything but to have a great time.
What's happening with your Cuttin'Headz label. I saw you guys are dong a vinyl only release coming up? Tell us about what you've got planned for this one.
We just wanna release quality music, period. There's some releases in the pipeline, both house, and tons of hip hop by us. We're really excited for this, we have a lot we need to get off of our chest musically and this is the perfect outlet for it.
Your remix of Green Velvet's "Bigger Than Prince" is blowing up. Talk about working on that track, what did you guys have in mind when you went into the studio for that one.
When they approached us about the mix, before even hearing the track, the fact that it was Green Velvet was already a green light. When we heard the vocals we were totally in. We wanted to just make a fun dance record. The vocals kind of reminded us of the old whacking 'Walk 4 Me" type records, so we wanted to kind of recreate that in a sense.
What else can we expect from you guys coming up?
Just much more music in the pipeline and more dates in a city near you. Look out for Cuttin Headz, it will be ILL...
The Martinez Brothers play Marquee New York on Friday September 20th.
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