DeeperSoul Interview - Martino
Well-respected composer, producer and keyboard musician, Martino Lozej is an unquestioned value in the house music industry. Besides his solo work, Martino is one half of the 83 West team (with Tyrone Solomon), one third of the Soul Intensions team (with Karizma and T. Solomon), one half of Eminence (with Suges), as well as an active session musician along side countless top notch producers.
Could you tell us how you got into djing / producing and about your early career?
I was studying jazz performance piano in a music college at the time. I had been into underground dance music for many years before that, but I was really focusing on jazz at the time. But then for some reason I really started getting the urge to make electronic music. I had a few friends that were deejays and I had started going to clubs again on a regular basis after taking a break from going dancing for about a year. I started messing around with my friend’s turntables, and then I bought the Emu esi-32 sampler, a 12-channel Mackie mixer, and a computer and then started learning how to make music with this equipment. My first productions were more sample-based and on a tracky tip. I was also messing around with drum n bass and hiphop beats. Back then I was making a conscious effort to make my electronic production very different from the live/acoustic style of music that I was making at the time.
What’s your music background? Which artists have influenced you the most?
I studied classical piano for 12 years through the conservatory. I studied jazz privately and then continued at a music college where I won a scholarship upon graduating. I then went on to study producing and engineering at an Institute in Toronto. The music that I became passionate about was: that of Miles Davis’ legendary quintet (with Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter); John Coltrane’s famous quartet on Impulse Records; I also collected most of those great records on CTI with Don Sebesky arranging huge string sections with jazz/funk rhythm sections; and also a lot of Jazz that came out in the 70’s on ECM records became a big influence.
You have worked with an impressive list of producers – Marlon D, Halo, Karizma, John Kumahara, John Cutler and others – playing keyboards. How grateful are these experiences for you?
I’m very lucky! Incidentally, if it wasn’t for the Internet, I probably wouldn’t have been able to work with a couple of those people. I’ve done a few of those sessions through instant Messenger/IChat (hence the title of the record that I did with Marlon D: "The Instant Message EP"). Everyone in that list works differently, and therefore every single session that I’ve had has been a learning experience for one reason or another. You learn a lot about your skills, because you have to adapt to someone else’s style, ears and conceptual approach to music. Some people just need a solo and some chord movement, and then they really produce and edit what you give them and make it sound totally their own. Other times, the keyboard session musician is pretty much a co-producer. Either way I’m very happy to have been asked to work with some of my favourite producers.
You are working solo too and you already have some records on prestigious labels like West End, Iwanai and NYSoul. Your solo work has a different concept from the other projects you are into?
Good question. Yes, there are different concepts and approaches from my solo work to my various collaboration teams. But, I tend to let instinct (or something very similar to instinct) take control at a certain point in all sessions.
I have noticed you are into deejaying too! Are deejaying and producing complementary activities to you?
Yes. Mainly because I’m a self-promoting whore and tend to play a lot of material that I have produced or helped produce.
Nowadays, we see Electro and 80's sound influencing many House Productions. Do you think that in order to move on in housemusic, producers have always to look back?
You have great questions. I believe that in order to be good at creating anything, you need to know where YOU come from as well as where the music that you’re making comes from. All art comes from a lineage. And the masters of any type of art all seem to have profound knowledge of the lineage. If you have no connection to 80’s electro, but go out and borrow your ideas from that generation of music, you will sound very derivative, weak and ultimately have zero impact on the current music that you are trying to make. Also, if you deny your strongest musical influences, then I believe that you are limiting the use of the language that you know best. So if you grew up on a steady diet of electro…go for it! All you have to do is look at all these great DJ’s that make great records. They have knowledge of the history of the music and they carry it forward into what they make. But there are other things out there that producers should be inspired by as well such as film, life experience, spirituality, other forms of music, and other forms of art. Which are things that I think many great producers have always been inspired by, because House is a relatively broad and unrestricted genre (to a degree). So as long as there is the right groove, you can do a lot on top of it.
4am in Mourning, Cultured Girl and Mars are my favourite, but all for different reasons.
Darrly D’Bonneau – The Spirit (83 West Remix)
Your favourite tracks of the moment?
Deodato, Bob James, John Barry, Quentin Harris, Blaze, Spinna, Mood2Swing and many more.
If you had the opportunity, with whom would you like to work with?
In my cars CD player you will always find Hiphop from the golden age (for me that’s 87-93), some aggressive drum n bass, the Elements of Life CD(1), disco classics, sound track music from various James Bond films, JDilla beat compilations, modern jazz, and of course there’s always various house mix sets of different styles.
Listen here some of his work:
sample1/sample2 > Mars [Iwanai Music]
sample1/sample2 > Higher Marxx [NYSoul Records]
sample1/sample2 > Do What Feels Right [WestEnd Records]
sample1/sample2 > Cultured Girl [Iwanai Music]
Co-Productions, Remixes & Session Work
sample > Stephanie Cooke - A New Day (83 West original mix)
sample > Suges & Martino pres. Eminence feat. Syreeta Neal - Slave to the Poison
sample > John Legend - Ordinary People (83 West remix)
sample > DJ Romain feat Darryl D'Bonneau - It's The Spirit (83 West remix)
sample1/sample2 > Darryl D' Bonneau - A Better Way (83 West Remixes)
sample1/sample2 > Franck Roger & O.P. feat. Chris W. - Me Myself & I (Jon Cutler Mixes)
sample1/sample2 > Faze Action pres. Orto feat. Vanessa F. - Waiting Is Over (83 West Mixes)