teen djs evolve into incredible talents
In the beginning, people came to hear house-music prodigies the Martinez Brothers because they were cute teenage DJs. A short time later, the fans rolled in because the DJ duo was known to be great. Now, the boys are all (or almost) grown up: Steve Jr. is 23 and Christian is 20 (practically club legal!). The DJs are world travelers with dance floor "cred" and a national Blackberry ad campaign under their belts — the two even are producing other artists. The Martinez Brothers have infectious smiles, and their sets are filled with youthful enthusiasm grounded in an old-school respect of traditional house music.
While much of the world has developed an almost religious fervor for electronic dance music, TMB — as they often are referred to — embrace everything. Led by their father’s deep devotion to house music, the boys were weaned on the sounds and traditions of legends like Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan. I caught up with Steve Jr. in between flights to discuss the early years, their inspiration and their future.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): When last we spoke, the two of you were, for lack of a better expression, the new kids on the block. Many saw you as a novelty. How have you grown?
Steve Martinez Jr.: We started doing this for real when we were about 18 and 15; we're 23 and 20 now, and boy we have definitely grown a lot! We've definitely gained a lot more experience in the DJ department and we've really come into our own now, which goes the same for us as people.
NCC: You have has a different teenage experience than most of your schoolmates. How do you balance friends, an education and a huge career?
Steve Jr.: When we were in school, it was definitely difficult, traveling on the weekend and going to school during the week. But we've since put all our energy and time into our careers, so it’s a lot easier now. Wouldn't say there's a balancing act of having friends our own age — we've always had friends of all ages, actually mostly older than us.
NCC: Where have you been, what have you seen and what do you want to see?
Steve Jr.: We definitely couldn't list you all the places we've been — it’s pretty crazy. But, there's also tons of places we haven't been to yet, and can't wait to go: Haven't been to Australia yet, a lot of places in South America, Africa... definitely looking forward to the new adventures!
NCC: How has your music changed? Is electronic dance music the one true path?
Steve Jr.: We're definitely staying true to our house roots these days. The underground scene has seen this resurgence of deep house, which is perfect for us because that's where we come from. But house and electronic music is just one aspect of our taste — we like EVERYTHING!
NCC: Are you and Christian glued at the hip, or will you explore solo gigs? How do you work in the booth?
Steve Jr.: We're definitely ridiculously close, and the thought of solo gigs just sounds — and by experience it is — boring! What we do in the DJ booth is just one big improvisation; we don't speak much, except for when we're cracking jokes, which is all the time.
NCC: How has your father been an inspiration to your career?
Steve Jr.: He's the one that got us into this music; if it wasn't for him, I don't know what we'd be doing now. He was amazingly supportive with the whole DJ thing, more than I think any parent would be. He would take us to the record stores all the time, take us to look at new gear — we even went to the club with him back in the early days. There's no "Martinez Brothers" without Pop, that's for sure.
NCC: Are you still learning from other DJs? Do you think of your time in the booth as work or fun?
Steve Jr.: We're ALWAYS listening and learning, from other DJs as well as producers and from just listening to all types of music, which is definitely important to us — it keeps us on our toes. And for us, this has been nothing but fun; the day that it stops being that might be the day we venture into something else (doubt that'll happen though).