Dirtybird is one of our favorite electronic music labels on the planet. That’s why we were thrilled to hear that one of the founders, Christian Martin, was heading to Philly this Friday to play a three-hour set at ROC & Bangarang’s ‘Sweet As F*ck’ party at Trilogy. We got on the horn with him to chat about the gig, the record label, his alter ego, and hypothetical cannibalism.
Independent Philly: What exactly makes the dirty bird so dirty? Are we talking a little bit of grime here, or full on ‘Gulf oil spill’ dirty bird?
Christian Martin: (laughs) I would say it’s somewhere in between. It’s a little less dangerous than a full Gulf oil spill, but definitely more than a little sand. I’m thinking one barrel of oil.
IP: Just one? Oil is so cheap these days. So, who exactly is Leroy Peppers and what separates him from Christian Martin?
CM: Leroy Peppers is my musical alter ego and it was a way for me to explore the other musical love of my life, which is Drum & Bass and Hip-Hop. I’m able to, I guess, go for a whole different genre, or several different genres, and it doesn’t interfere with the house music that Christian Martin has come to represent.
IP: What is your favorite food dish made with peppers?
CM: Let’s see, I’d say probably a cheese-steak with onions and peppers.
IP: Good answer. Mmmm, fantastic.
IP: The last time we saw you was when you played ROC’s ‘Dirty Turkey 2’ party back in November of 2012. What’s your favorite memory of a show you’ve done in Philly?
CM: I always look forward to seeing what kind of tricks Avi has up his sleeve. He usually dresses as some kind of crazy monster or cartoon character and he usually has some crazy props involved, so I am looking forward to seeing what he’s planning for this event.
IP: I’m sure it will be memorable.
CM: (laughs) I’m a little scared.
IP: What new music are you currently working on?
CM: I have a bunch of stuff that’s kind of in the pipe-line. I have a new track that’s coming out in late February on the upcoming Dirtybird ‘Bar-B-Que’ compilation. I’ve been focusing more on House and Techno these days, as far as production goes, but I’m always kind of on the hunt for amazing sounding music in all genres. I’m just kind of playing out a lot of original tracks and fine tuning them based on crowd response and how they sound on a big system.
IP: Being that you guys are from the record generation, are you guys [Dirtybird] still putting out releases on vinyl?
CM: I think vinyl is kind of a little more rare these days as far as the label goes. I think that Barclay’s [Claude VonStoke) ‘Urban Animal’ album came out on vinyl, and possibly the compilation will be, but I’m not sure on that. Lately we’ve been focusing a lot on the ‘Drip.FM’ channel, which is a subscription based service that gets all the new Dirtybird music out, in full .WAV quality, up to a few weeks before Beatport, or at least a few days, for all the releases. That’s a really cool way for us to connect with people who have really been down with Dirtybird. For example, J. Philp put out a ‘Birdhouse Only’ track to promote her last release, and has done a lot of video tutorials and other stuff that’s just kind of cool for people to explore, to see how we do what we do.
IP: How has your personal musical style changed over the past decade?
CM: That’s a good question. I’ve always kept my ear out for bass lines that are gonna bump on the low end and that’s never really changed. I really enjoy a lot of the the melodic stuff that say, Matthew Johnson is doing, and I think a lot of techno has really come to the forefront of my consciousness. I’ve kept that backbone of big bass and big kick drums and stuff that sounds great on big systems; that’s always been my goal, to find or make.
IP: Are there any fresh young producers that you’re looking to add to the label in 2014?
CM: I’m not really involved with the A&R but I know that Justin Jay just makes killer stuff all the time. Let’s see who else? All the stuff on this upcoming Dirtybird compilation is just ridiculous. I mean, I like Dirtybird music but this is head and shoulders above all the other stuff that we’ve done so far. I’m really excited for it to come out.
IP: When is it due out?
CM: Digitally, I think Birdhouse gets it on the 21st of February and then Beatport gets it on the 24th or 25th.
IP: If you were putting together a ‘Monsters of House Music’ tour, what five DJs, aside from yourself and your label-mates, would have to be on it for you?
CM: (laughs) Let’s see. I’d say probably Doc Martin, Dennis Ferrer, Terry Lee Brown Jr., Marco Carola, and Tanner Ross.
IP: Good list. You’ll be playing a three-hour set here in Philly this Friday, what can people expect from a live Leroy Peppers set if they’ve never seen you in person before?
CM: I’ll take the BPM all over the place, in a smooth way of course. I have so much amazing Drum & Bass, and Footwork, and Juke, and I have all of these kind of, connector tracks so that I can kind of go back and forth between House speed and Drum & Bass speed…but probably only once or twice over the course of the set. I’m going to play a lot of bassy stuff that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to play either during shorter sets or Christian Martin sets.
IP: Do you have any thoughts on the current state of electronic music? In our opinion it’s gotten pretty watered down since it became so mainstream.
CM: I think that with the expansion you’re going to run into a bit of that ‘watering down’. Some guys did a really funny two-minute mash-up of all of these Top-100 Beatport tracks and it was like one long synth. But, I think that the underground is thriving and anything that helps the underground, and house music and techno in general, is a good thing. If it’s going to be watered down so that more people can get into it, then so be it. I don’t think it’s worth fighting for or trying to keep the underground, underground. I think the more attention that electronic music gets, the better.
We dug up a Beatport Top-100 Mash-Up that illustrates the point below:
1. Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike – Wakanda (Original Mix) [Intro] 2. Alvaro & Moti – NaNaNa (Original Mix) 3. Pyero – Genesis (Original Mix) 4. Chuckie, Dzeko & Torres – Down To This (Original Mix) 5. Makj – Springen (Original Mix) 6. Sini – Razz (Original Mix) 7. Pelari – Cango (Original Mix) 8. Krewella – Alive (Hardwell Remix) 9. Shermanology – The Only Way (Original Mix) 10. W&W – Thunder (Original Mix) 11. Gta, Henrix & Digital Lab – Hit It! (Original Mix) 12. Sultan, Ned Shepard, Fedde Le Grand – No Good (Extended Mix) 13. Henrix, Wayne & Woods – Jumangee (Original Mix) [Tiesto Club Life Rip] 14. Alvaro & Mercer feat. Lil Jon – Welcome To The Jungle (Original Mix) 15. Klauss Goulart & Mark Sixma – Rio (Original Mix) 16. Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike – Wakanda (Original Mix) [Outro]
IP: You, your brother [Justin Martin], and Claude VonStroke are stranded on a life raft without any food. Which one of you are the other two going to eat first?
CM: (laughs) That’s funny. I think that me and my brother would probably have to eat Claude VonStroke first.
IP: Family first…
IP: Finally, can you tell us something about yourself that would surprise, or even shock, our readers…
CM: Let’s see. I think everyone knows by this point that I love cheesesteaks, so that’s not really a surprise. (laughs) I’m kind of an open book. Hmmm, I’ve never played [a DJ set] in my home state of Connecticut.
We can’t wait to experience Leroy Peppers for the first time, this Friday. We hope you’ll join us as we pop our Peppers cherry (which is vastly different than a cherry pepper) at Trilogy. One lucky winner and their guest will have the chance to come party with us until 3:30am for FREE. To enter, fill out the form below (all fields must be completed for entry to be valid) and write us a short poem with ‘Dirtybird’ as your inspiration. We will notify the winner by email on Thursday, February 6th. Because the event is 21+, the winner and their guest must be 21 years of age or older. The winner will be able to claim their tickets at will-call at the venue.