Shambhala 2014 Mix Series 006: Joseph Martin

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Longtime Fractal Forest resident, and head honcho of seminal BC record label East Van Digital, Joseph Martin has put together this hour-long mix of funky house and disco beats in preparation for this year’s Caturday Morning Disco – his annual Fractal set in which he closes down the stage after its first night of action. In his interview he tells about his history with the festival, where his initial motivation to become a DJ and label owner arose, and even gives some tips to fellow producers and label heads that want to get into the music licensing game.

(SMF): Joseph, I gather you’ve been based in Vancouver for some time, were you born here on the coast? What was your first introduction to electronic music, and what inspired you to buy a set of turntables in the first place?

(Joseph Martin): I’ve spent most of my life in Western Canada, starting in Victoria, to the Okanagan Valley, Calgary, and of course, Vancouver, where I got my first real dose of electronic music. I was invited to a warehouse rave in ’96, and fondly remember DJ Czech throwing down a remix of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. Soon after followed a steady diet of Daft Punk, Underworld, The Orb, Prodigy. I’ve always been a serious music collector, but after witnessing the kind of magic a DJ can create in the right environment, I knew that turntables were the next step. I had a staggeringly archaic, mismatched pair of belt drives for years before I finally ponied up for some Tech 12s.

You’re probably best known for your work with your record label East Van Digital – how is it you got started running EVD? What have been some of your most fulfilling endeavours since starting your own label?

EVD originally came to mind as an outlet to release my own tunes, but as I was developing the concept, I soon realized that it needed to be much bigger than me. Looking around me, I saw a lot of artists in the same boat, with plenty of material, but no outlet for proper distribution. I wanted the label to be a musical representation of the neighbourhood I live in, so East Van Digital was born. For me, the most rewarding moments have been seeing our label’s releases in the indie radio charts alongside Ninja Tune, Astralwerks, Warp and other legendary labels. Nothing beats the feeling like seeing one of our artists hit #1 on a radio chart. [note: East Van Digital has released material from Shambhala mainstays such as Kytami, ill-esha, Self Evident, The Librarian, Yan Zombie & many more]

From what I understand you are quite savvy when it comes to licensing music from EVD’s releases out for movies, TV and advertising – what advice would you give budding producers that are considering breaking into this side of the industry?

We’ve had really great luck in this department because of the licensing agencies we work with around the world, who shop our songs to their clients. It is easier for a label, with a healthy, growing library to nail some of these deals because of the amount and variety of content we can bring to the table. Advertisers know what they like when they hear it. Trying to land a spot with a 4 track EP in hand as opposed to a library of 300+ tracks, really narrows your odds. Having a roster with 100+ artists to work with increases the depth of our catalog as well as our chances of landing a spot. It has always been my goal to grow the label outwards, showcasing our artists to the rest of the world.

Shambhala 2013 by Joseph Martin on Mixcloud

This year will mark a decade since you became a resident DJ at Shambhala, finding your home within the Fractal Forest. Was 2004 your first year attending as well? How did you first became aware of the festival, and how is it your invitation to perform initially came about?

My first Shambhala was the second year of the festival! I spent a few years as an attendee while living in Kelowna, and then one year Rich-E-Rich threw an event in Kelowna, and invited me to play. I knew that this would be my live “demo” for playing Shambhala, so yeah, I let loose with my funky disco house sound and the rest they say, is history! For me, it is an absolute honour to be one of the few DJs that gets to play house music in the Fractal. 

After performing for us for a ten consecutive years you must have some pretty outrageous tales of mid-morning debauchery – any entertaining anecdotes of Fractal Forest fiascos to leave us with?

Let me say, the Fractal Forest is always a wild place in the morning! A fun and interesting blend of those who have been up all night, those who are just waking up, and those who are just hitting their stride. The warmth of the sunrise and a love of house music brings them all together. Last year we kicked off the first official “Caturday Morning Disco“, it was quite a sight to see everyone dressed up & catty, we’re happy to be bringing it back again this year! Meow! 

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