Home Interview Pedro Martins: “The quantity does not represent quality”

Pedro Martins: “The quantity does not represent quality”


Pedro Martins is the DJ and producer who has been connecting the dots between the flourishing notes of the synthesizers, the thunderous drums and the promotion of the arpeggios to a clear precision. Its incredible music and its Karakter Records label, launch a breath of fresh air to the underground electronic music panorama, and we love that. Soon he will be at the Sinchi Collective party with Sascha Funke, Hary Shanthi Feat. Mame N’Diack Thiam, on August 31, in Noorderlicht (Amsterdam).

Hi Pedro Martins, I would like to thank you for your time! First of all, I want to know how are you feeling at this moment and where are you playing these days or weeks?

Hi, and you are welcome, its a pleasure. At the moment I am feeling and spending more days in the studio than playing. Its all for the greater good. We just had our Sinchi Showcase last weekend at the Klunkerkranich in Berlin and my next gig will be again with Sinchi at the end of August in the Noorderlicht, Amsterdam.

How did your encounter with the Sinchi Collective happen?

I already knew Sinchi as a follower. Later we started to premiere some of Karakter releases with them as well, but after meeting Tom Wheeler one thing to another and I was invited to join the collective. I obviously accepted and since then we meet regularly as we share music, ideas and feedback on unreleased music among other interests.

What do you like most about the label?

For me, the fact of being a non-profit label together with the combination of artists on each release.

What can you tell us about your next performance, on August 31, at the Sinchi party of Noorderlicht Café (Amsterdam) with Sascha Funke? What are your expectations?

This is going to be a night to dance from beginning till the end, from my side I will warm up for Sascha but I want to have everybody dancing and properly hyped before handing over the decks. My expectations are great, I think we will have a great night, Amsterdam needs more of these type of events.

Do you like Noorderlicht Café to play?

In all these years living in Amsterdam, I never played in the Noorderlicht.  Funny, right? The closest I played was at the Into the Woods Festival ADE- Edition which was right in front of Noorderlicht.

How did this fantastic adventure start for you?

It all started at a young age, whit me making some basic music with a Commodore Amiga and buying records to play.  Although I have to say before that I was in a punk rock band which never took off. On those days I was an Arts student and I think, for me, the whole process was always related to arts and culture if that makes any sense.

How have things developed since you started?

At first, I was only playing records and taking my time to get into producing electronic music properly.  Around the mid-90s its wasn’t that affordable to buy instruments and computers, at least in Portugal.  So, I kept playing records and as time passed I moved to CD’s until I came to Amsterdam to study Sound Engineering. After my finishing my studies I went away for 4 to 5 years and during those years I started to develop my first proper productions, to mix other artists of other music genres and to develop my production skills in general.

Around 2012, I return to Amsterdam and I remember to think my music sounded just like any other track,  good production but no soul or personality in it. So I stop making music and went through a period of almost 2 years trying to figure a way to come back to production and in a way I could express my thoughts an feelings rather than just writing that specific template of a certain style. In the meantime, Karakter started and I was obviously more focused on the label then actually making music until this last year my friend Marco Antão aka Switchdance became my partner in the label.  Now, after all this, I get more time for my music, to be more effective and most important I can implement my creative process while in the studio, the time for being part of the Sinchi Collective but most importantly a good balance.

How did you discover electronic music?

I discovered electronic music at the beginning of the ’90s in Portugal.

I was already busy with music as previously told I come from a punk/rock band with some local friends. That band did not go anywhere, and about the time the band was over, I stepped into the electronic music.

Do you think that the growing number of people producing music has a positive effect on music quality?

Not necessarily. I think we are a bi off balance in those terms.  There is obviously better access to technology compared to 1998 for example but in my opinion, quality is not quantity. There are also much more “genres” to produce on which to people “zoom in” and live exclusively during years and years without even noticing what else is happening outside in the real world.  At the same time, there are of also amazing producers appearing and reinventing styles or ways of present music. Hopefully, the balance will be restored.

How would you describe your sound?

I often get this question and I always end up saying the same thing; alternative electronic music. At the end of the day, it is electronic and it’s also alternative when compared to all the predictable classic styles formulas, it’s also danceable and it can actually be considered music.

What music has influenced you? Are there any that could surprise you? Are there any musical guideposts or influences that led you to have the sound you make?

Took me a few years to understand the music that my mother brought from Africa and played during my childhood had a great influence on me and the next biggest influence is all the music my cousins had in the 80s when I was a little rascal running around them.  I was definitely surprised by re-discovering music I remember my mother played when I was young, Afrobeat, Angolan folklore Brazilian music from the ’50s. Those influences from my mother’s side are mostly translated in rhythmic parts of some of my music.  All the rest from the 80s is much more present in my sound I would say.  Not only in sound design but also in mixing techniques and types of effects used in some of my productions.

How did you first break into Djing? One of the main features of your approach as a DJ is to both entertain and educate any audience.

This was many thanks to a friend who sold me his record players in the 90s and as a consequence, I started exploring several styles and buying records anytime I had a chance.  The first idea about educating and entertainment became a secondary motive. With time and practice, the idea of education became more and more attached to authenticity and personality in the music that I discover.

What in your opinion makes an artist great, besides talent and dedication?

Personality and authenticity.  Not only on a personal level but also in your music.

How did the Karakter label come about, do you have a specific aim for it and why did you decide to connect with the artists on it?

It comes from an idea of 5 years ago but the label started in December 2016 and its based in Amsterdam where I live at the moment. Karakter assumes itself as label and cult for devoted followers of alternative electronic music and the concept is to release music we truly believe in. The connection with some of our released artists was just natural and mainly because of their music.  For example, I already knew most of the artists we released. I was also connected with most of them, so to connect with the remaining was a logic step.

Do you, in contrast to yourself, represent a specific sound with the label?

No, not at all.  I don’t think I represent one specific sound, in fact, I don’t even want to do that.  If I would be representing something,  I would ratter to represent and mix of different musical moods and ideas. The sum of all knowledge gathered properly combined, in constant motion and open for further development. Otherwise is boring.

What is the process when it comes to identifying artists and the label’s output? What are you mainly looking for and hoping to achieve with each release?

Most of the times we go to the artist, either close friends or then artists we really like and feel their work is related to what we do. Each release is different and we mainly aim to deliver music with some uniqueness and to please our fans obviously. In our days we are receiving more unsolicited demos but honestly, the quantity does not represent quality. So and because now this is done together Switchdance we share the task and together we have a bigger network of friends to approach.

What do you find most fulfilling about your work?

Those moments of connection with the audience, that feedback loop of energy and music, feeling the audience enjoying and open and exposed to the music on its purest state. I really like long sets because of these moments, it allows you to explore and create so much more.

What can you both tell us about the clubs, labels, releases that inspired your interests in dance music?

Clubs that inspired and some keep on inspiring were:  Alcantara-Mar, Lisboa (closed); Lux Frágil, Lisboa; Trouw, Amsterdam (closed); The Block, Tel Aviv; Sisyphos, Berlin

Can you shed some light on some of the artists you’re listening to at the moment? Any artist(s) you feel are more worthy of recognition?

I am always listening and discovering new music, but I will mention Pletnev and Fabio Fabio.

What can we expect to hear from you in 2019/2020?

There are 3 releases agreed and they should be out before the end of 2019.

I will not disclose the labels names for now. All I can say is none of them is Karakter.

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