… this burgeoning ‘molly’ generation of raves and festivals.” Martin offers. “But while the drug is supposed to make you happy, it is often accompanied by this sinister, dark music and I just never understood how those two went together. So I wanted to create something a little more happy and bubblegum-like, but still something that people could rock out to and dance to.”
Growing up in an ultra-violent, drug-filled neighborhood on the southside of Chicago under the guidance of his Italian mother and black father, Martin was limited in his musical listening selections. Wanting to shield their son from the growing gangsta rap and hip-hop movements, they instead impressed upon him the nostalgic sounds of the 50s & 60s, particularly Motown and doo-wop. Even as Martin grew older and began to venture into more contemporary genres, he couldn’t shake those foundational sounds; the shades of the oldies always breaking through, contributing largely to the development of his unique sound.
And while the power of the music is clearly pivotal for Martin, what is equally important to him is that listeners peer through his catchy melodies and sarcastic satire to see the music for what it is: a wake up call. A self-described “angry old man in a young man’s body,” Martin has drawn inspiration from controversial headlines such as the Ariel Castro kidnappings and the Santa Barbara shootings, seeking to paint the picture of a “very pornified, very hyper-sexual, synthetic environment” that needs a bit of old-fashioned reform.
“What I’m trying to show,” Martin emphasizes, “is that all of this 21st century madness is being spurred on by a ‘porn mindset’, if you will. I am not speaking of pornography itself necessarily, but simply the synthesizing and commoditizing of love and sex in general. Divorce rates are at 50%, sexual assault and rape cases are skyrocketing, everyone needs to take a pill to get up or go down. It feels like nobody cares about anything authentic anymore. Everything is plastic. Everything is porn.”
Martin’s answer to this dilemma comes with his début record, Pornotopia, which takes a reactionary stance against what he sees as the death of sex and love in modern society, spurred on by liberal excesses and the digital age. It presents a dystopian, sex-crazed, Gotham-like slum embroiled in a proverbial gender war for control over one another. And of course, Martin sees himself as the savior, sent to “bring penis and vagina together again, to be one.”
It’s a daunting task that faces the soon-to-be Stanford graduate, but he is quick to point out the silver lining, both to his hopes and his approach. “I don’t hate people. I don’t hate society, and I’m not saying it’s hopeless. Quite the opposite: I believe it is our destiny to crawl out of this plastic muck, this proverbial Dark Ages of culture and lifestyle that we are mired in today.”
And if Martin can get his message across while you dance to his timeless melodies, then all the better.