Luke Martinez is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer living in Cabot House. They have a new album coming out December 8th, and you can check out their current music on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Bandcamp.

How would you describe your own music and who do you describe as your musical influences?

I would describe it, I think, as pop music—independent pop. I wouldn’t say indie pop, because I think that insinuates the use of certain instruments, which I kind of want to avoid. So independent pop is enough, because I use a lot of pop structure to the music that I create, but I don’t want to ascribe to any certain rhythmic or any certain instrumental usage, if you know what I mean. I don’t want to be just a guitar band or just be electronica. I’d like to do all of it, ideally.

So you use a lot of different instruments?

Yeah, I use piano, guitar, bass, vocals, and a bunch of electronic stuff, digital electronics as well as some analog stuff. I like to have that freedom to kind of do whatever feels right. So that’s why I try to avoid too much of a genre tag, but I enjoy the pop one. I like saying I’m a pop star.

Do you have any particular musical influences?

I study music, academically as well, so I try to consume as much music as I can. And I use the word consume because I think it’s different than listening. There’s a lot of different types of listening. Consumption for me, is when I’m listening to music, I think about how I can apply the things that I like in my own music. So it’s like eating—I really like eating music and then using the nutrients, like a specific guitar tone that I want to copy. Things like that. In terms of musical influence, I try to pull from everywhere. There’s just so many aspects of the music creation process that I value, of different parts of people I value. In terms of performance, I really love a pop star like Lady Gaga, or even performance artists like Marina Abramović. There’s a lot of local acts that I like–there’s a band called Model/Actriz. I really like the way that their lead singer moves, in particular. But I try to pull from everywhere. I think about performance inspirations; I think about musical inspirations–like where I’m pulling my sounds from. That’s like from My Bloody Valentine, and also from The Drums, and from 80s music like Phil Collins, and house as well. And punk artists–I’m trying to make this amalgamation of sound and find out where they all fit together. So I have like a million musical influences.

What are you working on right now?

PC: Isabel Haro

I actually have a new album coming out on December 8th.

How can one find it and listen to it?

It will hit Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud– all on the 8th. I have two singles out for that right now, which can be heard on Soundcloud and will be on iTunes and Spotify very soon.

Stay posted for Luke’s new album coming out December 8th!

You recently wrote a post about how you’re saying goodbye to Aztec, which was your musical name entering college. Do you want to say anything about that?

Yeah. Aztec was the name I used to make music under, but it didn’t really feel like me anymore, and I was having this crisis. I made that name in junior year of high school, and I didn’t think about it very much—I was like, this sounds nice, and I have some indigenous blood in me—but I don’t feel in touch enough to claim that name, either. So I was like, who am I? I went very far away from myself, but then I arrived back at where I started, at my own name. If I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do, which is to invent a whole new type of listening experience, or whole new musical genre, even, and I don’t know what that genre is, or what to call it, or even what it will sound like, then the only thing I have is my own name. If you hear a name, “Luke Martinez”, you’re like, “who is that?” I don’t know, you have to listen to it to figure it out. You can’t have any preconceived notions just based off my name. If there was a descriptor to my name, or something that could be connotated with something else, then I feel like it would limit the sounds I was able to do. And that would be boring–I don’t want to do that. I want to be able to change like that, like every minute.

How do you think music allows people to explore their identities, or in particular, how do you use music to explore your identity?

Music and identity is a strange thing. For me, my music is my identity. Everything that I put into my music is myself. My music isn’t all of myself, but my music is all myself. It’s interesting because you pick and choose the parts of yourself that you want to put on display, and those choices are important, because I personally am choosing to put a lot of weakness on display in this new album coming out. And that’s deliberate. The way to think about it is, when I’m making music I try to simplify everything down to the most pure emotion that I’m feeling. It’s very rarely just happy or just sad. For example, one of the songs on my album is about feeling very attached to someone. I kind of split myself into a rational and irrational side–it’s very Freudian. The irrational side is your carnal desires, the things you can’t control–the id. And the controlling side is the ego.

It’s about when your id is lusting after someone or wanting them very badly, and it’s at the point where your ego sort of loses grip and also goes with it, and then suddenly you’re just an absolute mess, and you’re head over heels for that person. Your ego recognizes that that’s happening, and allows it to keep happening, because you’re trapped in it and you don’t want to pull out of it. Your ego is convinced. That song is about that internal struggle with myself, like I know that this is going to end poorly but I can’t stop. I think that a lot of people can relate to those kinds of moments. In that relatability, it gives you strength to be or identify with things that are outside the norm.

Which song is that?

That’s actually “Drown In.” That’s the one that I just released.

Do you have any specific opinions on rock music and how it inspires you?

I love rock and roll. And that’s not just fake—I really do love all kinds of music. I love the feeling of rock, and I love punk. I go to punk shows all the time and I cite punk as a large influence. There’s a new song that will be coming out, and it’s very rock—I hope you will enjoy that when it drops. It’s called November. It takes a lot of influence from rock, shoegaze, with these big washed-out guitars, and live drums, and stuff like that. I try to take influence from everywhere, but punk is so good.

Why music? Why is music important in life, for you, or for other people?

I just can’t see myself doing anything else. I hate that phrase, because it’s like settling- I’ve always wanted to do music, and I’ve always known that deep down, but I was afraid to do it for a long time. But once I committed, I was going to commit all the way–there’s no half-assing music, especially in this industry. So if I’m going to do it, I’m going to put all my effort into it, I’m going to put my entire soul into it, and it’ll be hard and tiring and stuff but the payoffs are better than anything else I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never had a closer feeling to pure ecstasy than listening to music. Nothing else.

What Song?

What’s a song that you loved in middle school but you still jam to today?

I love Panic! and the Disco still. They’re amazing. All of their old music holds up. For example, they are really good at melodic lines. Putting words to music is a tough skill, but they’ll twist things, and skip notes, and double up certain sixteenths to thirty-seconds just to get a phrase in, but it all sounds very natural. So, that has held up for sure under the light. If there’s one song, it’s just Panic! at the Disco’s  “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. That album is genius.

What is a guilty pleasure song—a really great song by an artist that you just can’t stand otherwise?

There’s two that come to mind. I hate Taylor Swift, deeply. I just don’t like her. I don’t like her attitude, I don’t like her style. But there’s that song, “Wildest Dreams.” It’s a great song, and I hate her.

The other one that comes to mind is not objectively a good song, but I think that the Chainsmokers have one of the best choruses in pop/EDM/whatever right now with “Something Just Like This.” That “like this” is a suspended four to three, and it just hits so perfectly, and that one hits when the four’s there and it acts like this beautiful suspension, which makes me so mad. Because the song is three chords. And it’s almost the same synthesizers that they use on “Closer,” just like barely edited differently, and almost the same drum patterns and everything. It’s the same exact pattern, but it’s executed so perfectly that it like makes me mad. It’s just like a dumb song, like objectively. But that one moment, that four to three, is just so nice! And it makes me really upset.

What song has your favorite beat?

There’s like two or three that come to mind immediately. One is this artist Baths, who has a new song called “Yeoman,” and it’s so good. The beat is just so interesting because it has this bouncy, bouncy baseline that doesn’t arpeggiate, but it jumps up and down and provides the rhythmic basis of the song, and then below it is just like a kick and snare. But that’s where all of the motion comes from. There’s another song called Pyramid by Alyss. The rest of the album is fine, but that opens with a very nice support structure that is very rhythmically interesting.

What’s your favorite non-love song?

Wow, do I even listen to music that’s not about love? One that comes to mind and one that’s stuck with me forever is Fleet Foxes’ “Blue Ridge Mountains.” I don’t think it’s about love–it’s kind of like a familial relationship. I guess that is a form of love. But in terms of romantic love- Blue Ridge Mountains is a beautiful song. It feels very existential and pensive, which is great. I like that.

What about a good song for a rainy day?

I know the perfect one. It’s a remix of Drake’s “Passion Fruit” by this amazing Korean artist named Yaeji. She has a beautiful light, melodic voice that sings over where Drake would be a little stronger. It’s really a good song. The production is amazing and she’s also just really cute. I like Yaeji a lot. That’s all I’ve been listening to today. Yaeji and another Korean artist named Yeseo. Both of them are great for rainy days.

Harvard Rock Review