The Frankfurt born, Berlin-based DJ & Producer Martin Roth, and the man behind An Analog Guy in a Digital World, first arrived in the spotlight of global dance music when, alongside Eric Prydz and Deadmau5, he was named a Beatport Star of 2009 as a result of topping their sales chart no less than 5 times that year, achieving an incredible 16 Top 10 positions, and receiving 3 nominations at the Beatport Annual Awards for his productions and remixes. Since those heady days and a string of releases on labels including Anjunadeep, Perspectives Digital, and Armada Music, Martin has gone from strength to strength cementing his reputation as one of the brightest stars of the underground dance scene.
I grabbed a few moments to sit and talk with Martin Roth about his music, future releases and the music scene as a whole. When we spoke with Martin he was back in his hometown of Frankfurt… “It is a Saturday afternoon today and I am spending it in my hometown in Frankfurt (Main) as we are visiting my parents with my little family driving down from our adopted city Berlin to bring our dog here for the next few weeks, as I am touring a lot and he will have a bit more fun and attention at their place. So finally some quality time to speak to you guys…” and it is time I very much appreciate from Martin.
I began my chat with Martin by asking him what was it that first got him into the electronic music scene… “while I was playing the piano I got excited about these electronic pianos and synthesizers and once a friend showed me how you are able to control them (at least a little those days) with a sequencer, this brought my interest for music, and making music to a whole new level. Around the same time, my interest for the early techno and house music grew especially in terms of going out, first clubs, first raves, and that Frankfurt Sound – this was around the mid/late 90s”. Moving forward to today, and it is clear that Martin has developed a very strong relationship with Jody Wisternoff, and his Anjunadeep label over recent years. I asked Martin about how it all began? “James (the actual founder of Anjunadeep) and I met in Buenos Aires in 2008 for a big festival where he was managing his brothers Above & Beyond. At dinner, he asked me if I am up for doing some stuff on his new Anjunadeep label and the rest is history. Since then we are quite close, and exchange ourselves about music and work together in many ways”.
Martin recently released his ‘Organic Cold Brewed Hipster Funk’ EP on Anjunadeep. I asked him to talk a little about the releases and where the name came from (I love the name by the way)… “I actually wrote this EP in mid/end 2018 where this so-called more “organic” sound was popular and I was playing around for this EP mainly with sample-based instruments and samples. It has a more experimental “organic” approach with acoustic elements. The rest of the name is a little fun-making of the last years’ hipster movements which has been carried into some further contemporary scene. Nothing really new for 2019 but I “invented” the track and its name already in 2018 as a little excuse”. Well, we won’t hold it against you Martin, and anyone that has a little dig at hipsters is good in my eyes…
I went on to ask Martin about what new projects he has on the horizon and was rather forthcoming with some rather exciting news about his live show… “Many projects, I will keep being unforeseeable techno and house-ish, and the other project is that the “Analog Guy” will get a bit more attention with a live show and album at a new home soon”. All very exciting and very good news about the Analog Guy work to come…
As an artist who is clearly busy and a man in demand at present, I asked Martin if he is a man who likes to work on the road or lock himself away in the studio… “I would love to work more on the road and I always plan to do it but honestly most of the time end up in relaxing or just doing nothing and look into the blue skies with a Gin and Tonic in my hands. So yeah – studio or couch at home is my working place where most of the stuff happens”. This is something I simply cannot argue with! If Martin continues delivering his high level of work we have to allow him time to have a gin or two surely?! I went on to ask Martin what some of his favourite studio gear is? “Always changing… always using something else. Trying to limit myself is the key! Currently, the piano is my favourite.”
The fear many producers have is the dreaded writer’s block. I asked Martin if this is something he ever suffers from and how he overcomes it? Always the worst but I managed, finally, to understand what it is and how to deal with it: when it comes I understand that this is just temporary, it goes away, might be just some bad mood, the next hour, day or week is another hour, day or week”.
Moving away from producing, for now, I asked Martin if he is a person that prefers the DJ side of performance or the more live approach? I also asked him about some of the pros and cons of both… “I like both with its pros and cons. Recently I found it a bit strange to celebrate myself to the crowd with records from somebody else (DJing) which would have been way more authentic to do it with your own stuff (Live Performance). On the other hand, DJing gives you way more options to react to each different crowd or mood in the venue and on the dance floor. Also, you can play way longer. So for the future, I will continue doing both and try to find a good solution for maybe doing both at the same time. I still like the idea of a band/duo/trio which might be the future for me”. Something to watch out for I feel!!!
Recently a number of artists have come out stating that social media is ruining the artwork that is DJing. I asked Martin his thoughts on this… “as I am quite old-school, I support these thoughts and have also my kinda “problem” with social media. Unfortunately, I have to follow a few of its rules as my key idea that music is the just and most important thing, in the end, is not working anymore.
“I have always believed that when the music’s good it speaks for itself and is enough – but unfortunately due to the mass of music, productions, and tools this is only applicable to a certain extent.”
Martin continued… “so as it is most of the time, it is not enough anymore to just play records (even if it is brilliantly selected for the right moment). Another aspect needs to be added even if it is just charisma like Sven Väth – he is the guy where playing records keeps simply being enough.”
I moved onto speak about the world of social media with Martin. A number of artists appear to now use Instagram over Facebook and I personally find it tends to get more interaction. I asked martin what he prefered to use and what his thoughts were on his preferred platform… “When I use Social Media it is almost exclusively Instagram I have to agree – the reason is that it is quite simple, fast, and still tends to get the most feedback and reaches the most people compared to the rest of the options… however, this is also slowly decreasing as they are same as Facebook, changing their algorithms switching over to earn money through ads and paid posts. It has all become just a show off-platform and it seems people are looking left and right for something new and interesting. To me, even Instagram’s popularity is slowly fading after everything has been done and repeated and repeated. So I cannot say I am taking a dip in any of the offered social media options too long”. Feelings I am sure are felt by many of you out there. Just a shame both platforms have become so ingrained in our everyday lives…
For those artists looking to break into the scene and get their name out there, I asked Martin for his advice on how to get yourself out there and on the lips of those that matter… “trying to be authentic and different? Do the opposite. Don’t watch too many tutorials, focus on ideas and melodies and hook lines, no one ever made it through a perfect EQed kick drum or finely tuned Bus-Compression or who avoided the ’20 most common mixing mistakes'”.
Moving back to Martin’s production work I asked him, is there anything you would love to work on whether it be soundtracks for movies or working alongside a full orchestra? Anything you dream of know that you might one day get to put into action?
“Absolutely! Since I discovered whole new grounds and a completely new and different fanbase with the Analog Guy in a Digital World project, I got so many requests for Film Score, Advertisement, Shows and Art Installations that I see my future totally there.”
This is certainly an area I love and look forward to seeing something kick off here… Martin went on to add, “A track I completed is featured as the main soundtrack for a Polish Motion Picture movie with a multi-million-pound budget which is coming out early 2020 and I am very excited for that”. Something to look forward to for all fans of Martin, I know I will be on the lookout for this.
With the number of producers now making music, I asked him if he felt this is positive for the music industry or if he feels the market is getting a little oversaturated at present? “As I mentioned before, I do feel it is a bit oversaturated as most of the young guys are just focussing on the perfect technique but forgetting the key element, the music. Discussion forums are full of mixing and mastering tutorials or debates but not how to achieve something new and exciting”.
Before I left Martin to the rest of his day I asked if he had anything else to add… a small remark in my own interest maybe; this week another Remix of mine is getting its release. It’s for my friends at Truesounds Music and I was quite happy with the result”. You can check out the release below:
I would like to thank Martin for his time on this interview and I (and the Decoded Magazine Team) wish him a good end to 2019 and a great 2020. God, we are nearly talking Christmas and New Year already! Crazy time. I hope you enjoyed the interview, and thank you to you for reading.