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On The Road With Justin Martin And Buckets Of Cheap Beer

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2012 is treating dirtybird records right. One of the reason why is this guy right here, the grand champion of modern-booty techno, Justin Martin. His debut album Ghettos & Gardens dropped at the end of May (buy via Beatport here) and perfectly encapsulates the tough-but-tender ethos he’s become known. In celebration of said release, there’s a “Ghettos & Gardens” album tour kicking off on June 23 in Miami at Electric Pickle and will run until September 3 when he finishes things off in Montreal at Piknic Electronik. We tossed out a few questions to the man to get a sense of what life is like on the road.


I must admit, actually travelling from city to city is the only part of my job that I consider work. It gets harder too when you are travelling with a hangover and zero hours of sleep.

Any cities or nights you’re looking forward to playing most on this trip?

Yes! I am playing more than 40 cities, so there is a lot to look forward to for me in the upcoming months. If I had to narrow it down to a few that I am most looking forward to I would say for the US it’s Uhall in DC because of the massive sound system, Electric Pickle in Miami because I always get to play a nice long set there and of course Monarch on SF because nothing beats my hometown crowd. For Europe I am very excited about my Ibiza gigs, Bestival and the Secret Garden Festival. It’s looking like it just might be my best summer ever.

Lots of travel, do you have any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom that the average person might enjoy reading?

I must admit, actually travelling from city to city is the only part of my job that I consider work. It gets harder too when you are travelling with a hangover and zero hours of sleep. But for the most part I just load up my iPhone with tons of good music and my iPad with some good movies and the hard part zips on by. I try my hardest not to complain about the bad parts, and enjoy the good parts to the fullest. A whining DJ is not a good look.


Is being on the road conducive to your creative process?

It’s conducive in that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m on the road. I actually find a lot of inspiration from travelling, meeting new people, hearing new music, and just generally having a good late-night laugh. However, I usually have to write down a lot of these ideas so I can remember them the next day or later when I am actually in the studio. That all being said, I suck at working on music while on the road. I can do things like special edits and mixes in the headphones, but for new tracks I need a studio. When I’m travelling for more than a week I’ll try and work with a friend on my off days, but for the most part it’s not until I get back home into my studio that I get to really make my ideas into tracks.

How much of your set changes from gig to gig?

I try and mix it up for my own sanity as much as I possibly can. Every night is a new night and every crowd is different. There are definitely certain tracks I will play every show, but if I don’t keep it fresh I will get bored… and the dancefloor can tell when you are bored and lacking true energy and enthusiasm. My ideal show is where I can play a little bit of everything I love, everything from bassy dirtybird stuff to techno to deep house.

Do you travel with anyone specific? Do you have an entourage?

No, I travel alone but it would be nice to have a travel companion and someone to look after me. Maybe I wouldn’t lose my phone as much.

What’s on your Rider?

It’s pretty simple… I gotta play on some working equipment (preferably Pioneer CDJs and mixer) and I need a bucket of cheap beer.

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If you were the biggest musician in the world, what would be on your Rider?

Probably the same! Haha.

Drink of choice?

Ice cold cheap beer! Corona, High Life and PBR are my top three.

First class or coach?

I usually sit in the back with the riff raff. I will try and get upgraded whenever possible, but I’m no rock star and it’s not always possible. As long as I have a window seat and some toons I’m ok for the long haul.

What the first thing you do when you wake up?

On a good day I usually get out of bed, stretch, drink some water (or coconut water if I got it) and take a vitamin. But on a typical day I get stuck in bed for an extra hour just checking my email, Facebook and Twitter.

What the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

Turn off the TV.

If you were to describe your sound as a scent, a signature fragrance as it were, what would it be called?

It would be called “The Garden In The Ghetto” and it would smell like flowers with maybe a strange hint of leftover pizza.

If it were to have a tagline what would it be?

Make It Happen!

How do you like to spend your free time/days off on the road?

Days off on the road are the best because I don’t feel guilty I am not in the studio working… however sometimes you can get a bit carried away and sucked into vacation land. Once after what was supposed to just be a weekend playing on an island in the Philippines I ended up changing my flight again and again and again and staying for almost 10 days. I was in paradise so it was hard to go back home.

Do you have an adventurous palette?

I will try just about anything once. I remember going to sushi in Tokyo with a group of girls at like 8 in the morning after a gig and telling them I would eat anything they ordered for me. They would just point to pictures on the menu and I would have to eat it. I think it’s probably better that the memory is blurry because I’m pretty sure I ate some really “adventurous” things that morning.

What do you look forward to most when the tour is over?

Coming home to my beautiful girlfriend.

Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?

I think it was probably my first time DJing at the Top in San Francisco back in 2001. The Top was a legendary DJ bar that has since been shut down. It was the first and biggest gig off my life up until that point, and I must have spent two weeks straight preparing for that set but it definitely paid off because shortly after I was offered a residency at the club.

Justin Martin Tour Dates:

06/23 in Miami @ Electric Pickle
06/24 in Charlotte @ Dharma Lounge
06/29 in Atlanta @ Masquerade
06/30 in New Orleans @ Antipop
07/01 in Toronto @ Keating Pub
07/06 in San Francisco @ Monarch
07/13 in Kuaii @ TBD
07/14 in Honolulu @ Asylum
07/20 in open date for Europe
07/21 in Ibiza @ Sankeys
07/27 in Denver @ City Hall
07/28 in NYC @ Verboten
08/03 in San Francisco @ dirtybird
08/04 in Los Angeles @ Hard Summer
08/05 in Squamish, BC @ Basscoast
09/01 in Rouyn-Noranda @ Emerging Music Festival
09/03 in Montreal @ Piknic Electronic

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