If you don’t know nerdcore artist Martin, you soon will! This hot up-and-coming artist is one of the major creative forces behind the music for Team Red Pro/Quirktastic project Afro Samurai Champloo. Quirktastic had the chance to sit down and interview Nerdcore artist Martin to talk nerdy about music, fandom, and inspiration.
What kind of artist is Martin?
I’m the kind of artist who makes the music that I most want to listen to. Among other things, I try to reflect my experience and everything that’s going on inside my head in every song that I write. Whether it’s a song like “Splash” about embracing the positivity in life and finding the fun in everyday things or one like “Bento” that celebrates the experience of not fitting in with the crowd, I always try to bring the same amount of color, excitement, and vibrant energy to them all.
I’d describe my sound as that of lyrically dynamic, clever alternative hip-hop infused with the sounds of classic video game soundtracks and 8bit/chiptune textures with a modern twist.
Lyrically, I like to focus on building my world for the listener and inviting them to explore it.
My music draws inspiration from many different sources. Some of the artists that are most influential to me are Tyler, the Creator, Tobi Lou, Q-Tip, Kyle, and BROCKHAMPTON. My other influences include anime culture/soundtracks, classic video game soundscapes, and western 2D animation among others.
“PBOW” is an acronym for “PinkBlueOrangeWhite”. The EP is centered around my personal search for inner contentment set against the backdrop of a suburban dreamscape. Each of the four songs on the EP, “Splash” (Pink), “Blue Skies” (Blue), “Bento” (Orange), and “Usagi” (White) is it’s own vignette exploring one experience/feeling/emotion represented by one of the four colors. “Splash” is all about embracing the fun in everyday life, “Blue Skies” is about learning how to have a great time even when you’re by yourself, “Bento” is a fiery celebration of being different, and “Usagi” is about the freedom and joy that comes from confessing your feelings to someone special. I first developed this concept while reflecting on where I was in life and what things I most wanted to express through a new project that would help to illuminate that.
“Bento” might just be my favorite of the “PBOW” tracks. The concept is rather simple: not only is it okay not to fit in, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and makes life so much more interesting. Everyone’s familiar with Bento boxes. You got your sushi rolls, your rice, and even little compartments for your ginger and wasabi. “Bento” is a song all about my experience feeling outcasted, and how I turned being outside of the box into something to be proud of and something that gets me fired up.
Tell us a little about your recent projects and collabs.
I got involved with “Afro Samurai Champloo” when Lauren, one of the producers and a writer at Quirktastic who’d written about my “Akira” tribute, “Pill Jacket”, reached out to me about a sick live action crossover film between “Samurai Champloo” and “Afro Samurai”. Those are two of my all-time favorite anime so I was extremely excited to be involved with making music for the project. It also gave me an excellent excuse to schedule time in my days to rewatch both shows because I’d definitely been looking for one. Making “Dueling Blades”, my double-sided single including both songs that appeared in “Afro Samurai Champloo” was such a rewarding experience because I got to contribute to the legacy of two anime that shaped who I am as an artist and defined the birth of my love for anime.
With each song, I definitely tried to capture the feelings and experiences of Afro Samurai and Mugen, arguably the most memorable character from “Samurai Champloo.” “Slain in Vain” draws more lyrical inspiration from the story of Afro Samurai, with a clear focus on the isolation brought about by a quest for wrathful vengeance. I took a lot of inspiration from the Wu Tang Clan, specifically the RZA, in developing the overall feeling and emotional texture of that song. With “Get Back” I took a much more general approach, trying to capture the themes of the ronin samurai and the intensity/heat of battle that are so closely associated with both Mugen and Afro Samurai. Both songs could be described as my tributes to the genre of samurai anime as a whole, with special attention paid to the legacy of the fusion of hip-hop and anime culture that made both shows so iconic and meaningful to fans worldwide.
In the future, it would be amazing to collaborate with an artist like Tobi Lou, who presents a fresh, upbeat take on the r&b/hip-hop sound with amazing visuals to match. That said, there’s so much amazing creative output from so many different artists these days, so my list of dream collaborations is long…very long.
What does the future have in store for you?
Right now, I’m going all-in working on my debut album, which I plan to release as a double album. The “PBOW” EP was a little taste of what projects from me will look like but this one is gonna go even deeper and it’ll be much, much grander in scale. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but expect a lot of music…like a lot of it. In the meantime, I’ve got some collaborations on the horizon that I’m really excited about too.
What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring creators?
I think that I’d advise aspiring artists to make the music that speaks to them. For new artists it can sometimes be tempting to look at current trends and what other people are doing and think that you have to try to fit into a specific mold or category. Artists should try to focus on making what they would most enjoy to listen to and what reflects their passions, interests, and experiences, even if that’s not what seems like it’s in right now.
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Gamer, cat lady, nerd of all trades. Probably can beat you at trivia.