The first time that the Martinez Brothers played at New York’s legendary club Shelter, they were given an odd slot. “We actually had to go at like 4 in the morning when they stopped serving liquor—when we could actually be legally there,” says older sibling Steven.
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The memory underscored just how young the DJ duo were as upstarts trying to make it in the music back in the mid-2000s. The two admit they were no stranger to not being taken seriously. “People were definitely looking at us like we were a gimmick,” shares younger brother Chris in an interview with Peter Tong at Ibiza Music Summit. “But they don’t realize that we’ve been traveling since even younger than 13 years old being in a church band.”
Steven and Chris were introduced to music by their father, Steve Martinez Sr., who was a longtime patron of the big apple’s club scene. Steve Sr. encouraged his kids to pursue their dreams, buying them their equipment and supporting their choice of a career.
“In 2005, we were just dreaming of all this, of being in the scene, traveling world, and making music,” shares Steven, who says that they met Shelter’s Dennis Ferrer around that time. “My brother hit him up on MySpace and we became really good friends with him, and basically family. He basically took us under his wing. It was basically the start of everything.”
Six years later, the two were set to spin at Ibiza’s club Ushuaia with Ferrer, but the gig fell through at the last minute. They instead got in touch with DC10 booker Elliot Shaw, who followed through with a residency.
“We love really playing DC10. It’s good for our personal growth. Our family is there,” Steven says. “It’s like playing in your living room.” Apart from touring around the world and launching their own label Cuttin’ Headz, the brothers have maintained a residency at Spain’s party central since.
Big Apple roots
The Martinez Brothers are part of the DKNY’s fall collection this year, joining musical artist Halsey. In a campaign photographed by Amy Troost and styled by Carlos Nazario, all three are depicted as graphic, powerful portraits. During New York Fashion Week this month, the label will host a blockbuster party with a DJ set by The Martinez Brothers and a performance by Halsey.
This is not the first time that the brothers have collaborated with a fashion brand. Five years ago, they partnered with Givenchy’s Riccard Tisci to create a soundtrack for the label’s Fall/Winter and Spring collections.
This time, the two are the ones sporting the pieces for a brand that is celebrating its 30th year. The men’s collection features fresh tailoring, classic outerwear, and easy essentials, and stands out in the black and white photos that is reminiscent of their heritage campaigns in the 1990s.
But, of course, the brothers do not let collaborative projects like these hamper them from living out their music dreams. Steven says that they always look back to their beginnings in Shelter, and even to the time when they were still passionate kids buying Louie Vega CDs and waiting up for Timmy Regisford. “Timmy would be on the radio every Saturday, like 11pm, 12am until like 6am, live at the Shelter,” he says.
The older brother says that there was a lot of work that went into craft, starting with studying their genre’s heritage. “We studied our forefathers. We were deep into Timmy Regisford, Larry Levan, we were listening to their mixes all the time. I think it’s important that if you’re a new DJ coming up, you should listen to the past, how these DJs are mixing records.”
“Just to develop your craft and your sound. You just have to go out there and study, man,” Chris adds, saying there are endless things you can learn. “Just study everything you like and then make it your own,” advises Steven.
For more information about the campaign, visit ssilife.com.ph.