Artist Interviews: Martin X

We sat down with Martin X to discuss music, influences and goals read the full interview below.

1. How did you get started in music?
– I started the whole rapping idea back when I was about 14. My friends and I use to record on cassette tapes lol
It was a dope time. Then that died down after a bit and I revisited idea when I was about 22. I didnt do my research
on the game like I should have been doing. I was just making a song here or there, no real idea behind it all. That died
off after a while. Then when I was 26, my best friend/brother Zach Ciullo blessed me with the recording equipment and
from there I ran with it. People say you have to go through something in your life to really make the music better. It
just took me 26 years to go through enough to be able to do this thing for real now.
2. At what point in your progress did you realize that you were good enough or could be good enough to do this?
– Honestly, Ive always been the type to beleive in myself but even more courage and belief was given after rapping around
friends in college and they said I was talented. Many people have shown me tremendous support and since I really started pursuing
this dream for real, the support has just been coming out more and more from people around me. I think others are finally seeing
something in me haha
3. Who/what are some of your main non-musical influences? (movies,books,public figures, actors etc..)
 – My non-musical influences would be people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, my own grandfather and just everyday life.
I take into account every conversation I have with people, every thought that goes through my head, something I see online, something said\seen on TV.
I pull ideas from just about anything.


4. How do you feel their influence correlates to your music? And is their influences directly applicable to your music?
– I beleive the influence that correlates to my music is that I will not be silent in my speech. I’m here to make people feel comfortable about certain things
I may say because my aim is to make people think but also enjoy good music. The influence is seen easily in the things I chose to say in songs, and the mannerisms
I display in person. When people get to know me, they will see how I conduct myself and they can make a choice for themselves, as well.
5. What do you think music/art’s role is in the world and society and do you think it is fulfilling it’s purpose currently?
– Music is suppose to be a release for people, whether you make the music or just a fan of the music. I think music is fullifilling its purpose to a certain extent.
It gives certain people out there a way out of a struggle they were going through. Music can help people get through tough times or just give them that extra bounce
when they going out to have a good time. The emotions it creates can be amazing if you pay attention to it. The part I think that is not being fully fullfilled is the
idea of using music to truly make a difference. I’m hoping thats something that becomes a little more common with music as we move forward in life.
6. If you had to do one other art form besides music what would it be and why? And do you have any plans to ever implement this art form to your music if possible?
-If I had another form of art that I could use, I would definitely choose photography. I think there is a lot of beauty out there on this earth and thats a great way to
capture it. Photography and music almost go hand in hand so it will definitely be a part of my music.
7. Is there such thing as “bad” music?
– I dont believe there’s such a thing as bad music because music is someone expressing themself and to say the music is bad is to say that person and what they think is bad.
Now the song can sound bad, the lyrics can sound bad, but we have to separate the idea of it being bad music. Someone can promote positivity through every song which is good, but
it could sound bad cuz they may not convey it the best when recording.
8. If you had free reign to do what you wanted and complete creative control what would you do artistically? (if you could put on a certain stage show, film a documentary, perform at the super bowl etc..)
– Honestly, Id love to do a lot of different things. I just haven’t given it too much thought because I still have to put in the ground work before I can really make certains moves I’m looking to make. Everyone will see
in due time.


9. Where do you see your career going and what goals do you hope to attain?
– Im hoping my career goes beyond my expectations. Beyond just feeding my fam but giving them the ability to never have to worry about money ever again. My mom deserves it.
Whatever I attain beyond making sure my family is set, thats all a bonus and I’m not sure what it will be but I’m working hard to get there.
10. Finally the name Martin X holds a lot of weight, these are two of the civil rights most popular and polarizing figures, in what way do you feel they both have influenced you? Do you agree with their messages, and do you feel we as a people agree or even fully understand their messages?
– I see MLK and Malcolm X as innovators ,as well as, two people who preached slighty different ideas but same goal. I dont think either were wrong in the approach. There’s a time to sit and there’s a time to stand. We just have to find the proper balance.
They both have definitely influenced me from what they’ve said on different topics that seem to be relevant at this time in our lives. From watching MLK and Malcolm X Speeches and the various topics they spoke about, I truly admired and looked
up to the passion they conveyed with it, as well. They were two great men who chose to stand and fight for what they believed in. Yes, different approaches but still the same goal was wanted. True Freedom & True Equality. I think there are some people that understand the message and then there are
those who dont. Many haven’t heard the message themselves except from what a text book may have told them at some point in life. Maybe people need a refresher and I guess in my case, from a new face and new voice. Just hoping for the same outcome they both wanted. Peace & Prosperity for all at the
end of the day.
(also what can fans look forward to and where can they find you and your music.)
To the fans,
I have a lot more music coming. I have another performance coming up in January, so i’ll keep everyone informed about that.
I thank y’all for riding with me and I hope y’all continue to show that support. The movement is just beginning.
My music can found on my soundcloud – soundcloud.com/therealmartinx
You can also catch me on twitter – @TheRealMartinX & instagram –@TheRealMartinX

Interview With Pittsburgh MC Reason

  1. How did you get started in music?

 

My obsession with Hip Hop started around 7th grade. I had always been talented at writing, but I never really did anything with it on my own time. Around freshman year of high school, I began writing lyrics. My first pieces were similar to slam poetry, and nearly all of them were about my teachers — the ones that I did not respect. I shared some of these “battle poems” with a few friends of mine. One girl really enjoyed them and encouraged me to keep doing it. Within a couple years, I started writing raps. They were mostly random, braggadocious punchlines, without any song structure or focus. I stopped writing for a couple of years while in college, but around 2008, I started going to a weekly freestyle cypher/jam session called Throwdown Thursday, which was hosted by a local DJ duo called Tracksploitation. Before that, I had never tried freestyling. I developed relationships with some of my closest friends, mentors and collaborators there. Around the same time, I got on stage for the first time at an open mic at a place called the Shadow Lounge. There was always a diverse array of inspiring artists at Shadow. I was terrified to get on stage, but I made myself do it. I performed a verse I had written that was refrigerator-themed. Surprisingly, the crowd was extremely supportive. From then on, I wrote and rehearsed songs to perform at the Shadow Lounge. I got in freestyle cyphers at Throwdown and performed at the open mic every week for a few years, until Shadow closed and Throwdown eventually stopped happening.

 

  1. At what point in your progress did you realize that you were good enough or could be good enough to do this?

 

Like I said before, the other artists and people at Shadow Lounge were very supportive. They were always encouraging me and giving me positive feedback. Ezra, a local spoken word artist who was the host at the time, also said that he enjoyed my performances. The support that I received from him and the rest of the community there gave me the confidence to pursue the craft more seriously.

LEFTFIELD band photo

 

  1. Who/what are some of your main non-musical influences? (movies,books,public figures, actors etc..)

 

In college, I studied fiction writing, so my writing is heavily influenced by what I learned in those courses: the process of revision, getting feedback from others, and creating stories within songs. Kurt Vonnegut was one of my favorite writers for a while, and Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers. I find their subversive, yet humorous style very compelling. I’m also a big Louis C.K. fan. The way that comedians use punchlines with calculated timing is closely related to emceeing.

 

  1. How do you feel their influence correlates to your music? And is their influences directly applicable to your music?

 

The process of revision that I practiced directly correlates to my songwriting. I edit my lyrics a lot. Sometimes I’ll go back and add words or take away ones that are unnecessary. All of my writing classes were workshops, and I always appreciated getting feedback from others about what they thought worked about the story and what they thought could work better. I usually share new songs with people who I know will give me honest and constructive feedback, and sometimes I’ll go back and change things based on what they say, unless I strongly disagree.

 

  1. What do you think music/art’s role is in the world and society and do you think it is fulfilling it’s purpose currently?

 

Music and art serve multiple roles: entertainment, diversion from the mundane and inspiration are the main ones that come to mind. Hacks always exist, but I feel like that role is always being fulfilled by artists who push the boundaries and consistently create powerful work, regardless of whether the majority is paying attention to it or not.

 

  1. If you had to do one other art form besides music what would it be and why? And do you have any plans to ever implement this art form to your music if possible?

 

The cat’s already out of the bag. I’d definitely be writing. That could be writing stories, screenplays, etc., or it could be blogging and promoting. It’s much easier to promote your own art and music with the internet and social media now, and I often enjoy doing that. Sometimes it does feel like a distraction, but I’ve realized that I have to promote my own music and events, because I can’t afford to pay someone else to do it, yet. I make a strong effort to promote other local artists as well.

 

  1. Is there such thing as “bad” music?

 

The short answer is… yes. The long answer is complicated. Some music is more about the vibe (e.g. having fun) and less about the message. I get that, but I feel like there’s a way to make that kind of music, and it can still have value musically or emotionally. On the other hand, I feel like there is a lot of music that is poorly produced, uncreative, unauthentic, poorly mixed, and can actually be a bad influence on young people, if it’s not balanced with a wider perspective. Music is definitely subjective, so what I call “wack” may sound like a masterpiece to another person. However, I do feel like artists should have some respect for the craft of being a musician/songwriter, and whatever kind of music they choose to make, they should try to make it as good as they can. I also feel like every person is unique and embodies their own character and story. Being an artist allows you to express that, and if you are just recycling instead of exploring and uncovering anything new, then you are wasting your potential.

 

  1. If you had free reign to do what you wanted and complete creative control what would you do artistically? (if you could put on a certain stage show, film a documentary, perform at the super bowl etc..)

 

I want to tour other countries. From what I’ve heard, many other countries have a greater appreciation for “real” Hip Hop (*cringe) and creativity than we do in the U.S. I also just want to travel to other countries, because I haven’t done that yet. As far as an elaborate stage show, I’ve had this idea to create some sort of performance that incorporated elements of the theatre for a while. I also host and direct a monthly, open freestyle cypher called Track Meet. We’ve been experimenting with different formats, so I would probably go crazy with that if I had enough funding and the perfect space to hold the event. Dancers, live musicians, producers, DJs, visual artists… you get the idea. One huge, all-inclusive cypher/jam session — that would be dope.

 

  1. Where do you see your career going and what goals do you hope to attain?

 

Finish my first two projects! I have a group project that is close to being finished, and then my solo album is on the way after that. In the next few years, I’d like to tour nationally and overseas, and really just find a way to make my lifestyle as a musician and event organizer sustainable. I want to take Track Meet to other cities and expand that network. I’m also a teacher, so I’d like to participate in or develop some Hip Hop education programming. Right now, my focus is on finishing these first two projects and continuing to develop Track Meet. We’ve been doing it for almost a year now, and it’s been growing. I’m not concerned with accumulating a massive fortune, but I want to be able to thrive as an artist and continue to grow, without having to constantly be concerned with how I’m going to pay my bills.

 

  1. Final thoughts? (also what can fans look forward to and where can they find you and your music.)

 

I feel like I’ve already said a lot. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point that I’m at now. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing catch-up, because I’m already 28 years old and haven’t released an official project yet. However, I know that my experiences have led me to where I am now, and I am extremely grateful for what I’ve learned so far. I spent the majority of my life being unsure about what I wanted to do, lacking confidence, and not applying my talents wholeheartedly. I’ve been getting better at those things gradually, and I made a strong commitment at the beginning of this year to go as hard as I can. (cue inspirational music) I know that this is something that I am supposed to be doing, and I’m not going to give or let up. If things don’t pan out quite as well as I want them to, I can at least say that I did everything that I could to make it happen.

 

I’m ½ of the group LEFTFIELD, alongside producer DOC LVLY. We recently released our first music video for a song called “Support Real Pizza.” I wrote it as a joke, but when we reviewed it, we decided it was actually pretty dope, so we decided to run with it. Then a friend of ours offered to help us do a video, and he did a great job on it:

 

LEFTFIELD (Reason & DOC LVLY) – Support Real Pizza:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HPssrDheX0

 

We want to finish the LEFTFIELD project by the end of this summer. Hopefully that happens. We’re part of a Hip Hop collective called Surface Level Records:

 

Surface Level Records:

http://www.surfacelevelrecords.com/leftfield.html

 

LEFTFIELD (Reason & DOC LVLY):

https://www.instagram.com/leftfield_4_president/

https://twitter.com/leftfield4prez

https://www.facebook.com/leftfieldpgh/

https://soundcloud.com/leftfield_pgh

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCORnOQY7UlxUFSELEdln0fw

 

The Reason solo album will be released near the beginning of 2017

 

Reason:
https://www.instagram.com/reason_pgh/

https://twitter.com/reason_pgh

https://www.facebook.com/reasonpgh

https://soundcloud.com/reason-pgh

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPZPoXlE7OmtwFMT1dWFgJQ

 

We hold our cypher events once a month, typically, and Scripted Minds Media films most of them. You can check some our videos on our YouTube channel, and if we come to your city, you can come out and get in the cypher!

 

Track Meet:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrWmnIf15iT0tV2t3vHnvrw

https://www.instagram.com/track_meet/

https://twitter.com/TrackMeetCypher

https://www.facebook.com/TrackMeetCypher/

 

 

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