DJ Dossier: Sol Martinez
Did y'all know at 17 what you wanted to be when you grew up? Not many people do, fumbling around different career paths until they decided (or settle) on a job.
Sol Martinez was not one of those types.
A year before he became legal to vote, Martinez decided he wanted to be a knob-twisting, level-adjusting mixmaster and took whatever steps were necessary to make that happen. And it's worked out pretty well for the dood. Considered by many to be one of the best house jocks this 'berg has to offer, the 28-year-old has plenty of skills when it comes to the beat-mixing biz. He even won our annual DJ Spin Off two year ago and earned a trip to Florida and a gig at the annual Winter Music Conference in Miami.
These days he runs the weekly FUSE Fridays fete at Bar Smith in downtown Phoenix, where he spins alongside such Valley EDM veterans as Mara and Substation. Read on for his opinions on how the local scene has changed over the past decade.
Name: Dominic Martinez
AKA: DJ Sol Martinez
Current club night(s): FUSE Friday at Bar Smith is my main night right now. I'm gonna be opening up at Cream Stereo Lounge for Giant Wednesdays starting next week on the 21st.
How did you get your start? When I was in high school, I first got introduced to house music. There was these all ages events during those years in the summertime where they'd bring in house DJs from LA and Chicago, like Bad boy Bill. I saw all these DJs spinning and influencing what people were doing on the dance floor and having a great time. It wasn't like something I'd seen with a guitar beat or a band or anything else.
So I decided, wow, that's really cool, I want to do that. So I saved up and bought some turn tables and a mixer, practiced with my friends, mixed tapes, and finally gave one DJ Shy who was running that all ages club. And he said, "You know what, I like your tape, you can play the 9 p.m. slot." From then she ran a house music radio show on Power and so I got to spin after hours with him, from 1 to 3 a.m. on Saturday Nights and it just took off from there.
Where have you spun in the past: You name it. I used to play at Myst, I used to play more at Solstice. Almost any club in Scottsdale and Phoenix. My most successful night is what's going on right now. I've had more time in the past couple of years to dedicate to the game, to push towards it and get my own events started. Before I was just a guest DJ at Myst or at Six. Now I like starting something on my own. And this past year I have been able to get things going and make it something special.
Preferred genre(s): I really play all types of dance music. On Fridays, it's a lot more on the edge, it's the electro type of dance: dirty, heavy, and bass-driven. I would like to be able to take it from end to the other as far as being able to play some tracks that are a little more deep at times, or maybe a little progressive. But anything that's dance music related, I've been collecting and doing this for 10 years. At the same time, I've always not been one who likes to be pigeonholed into one genre. Whatever's good dance music is what I like to play.
You've DJ'd for more than a decade now. Ever get bored with it? No, actually I haven't. The music is always changing. I don't know if I would ever get bored. I think you can get bored if you let yourself get stale but I'm always trying to challenge myself as far as staying up with what's new with the trends. I always want to make sure that I'm not just sitting behind the booth, just listening to song B, that's when I think that it can get boring. But if I'm always trying to challenge myself to be better the next week and to try something new and insert something exciting, and to get the crowd excited, that's what keeps it fresh. There's so much room to grow, there is so much more that I want to do.
How has the house music scene changed over the years in Phoenix? It's definitely gone up and down. There were a few years when it would be hard to find a quality dance night, but right now it's been just exploding these past couple of years. There are multiple nights that go on throughout the week and that are doing well.
The New Times sent you to the Winter Music Conference in 2007. What was that like?
It was awesome, the fact that I was there. The experience was quite amazing. It was very refreshing because it was probably during a time when dancing in Arizona was at a little bit of a low. And I was able to go out to Miami and play at an event for thousands of people and it was so rejuvenating to see that dance music was alive and strong. It was such a passionate crowd that I came back just refreshed and ready to help Arizona get back that kind of feel.
Best thing about the local music scene: There's so much talent here. It's truly amazing. There's a lot of the bands and DJs here. People are surprise at the amount of talent that's in Phoenix. It's evidenced by the amount talent that's already been successful, like the Markus Schulz's and Sandra Collins' and the Eddie Amador's. People that are from here that have been so successful.
And what's the worst thing: People aren't necessarily competitive, but maybe are a little stingy in thinking that it's too small a city for multiple nights to do well. Because I think that if you were in any other big city like Chicago, LA, New York, there's all kinds of things where DJs are supporting each other and their scenes are really growing. I think if more people had that kind of mentality, people were able to work together better and then everything would grow. We would all be helping each other grow instead of keeping some things back.
What sites and blogs do you use for music: Beatport and Traxsource is where it's at when you're buying music. Hype Machine, that's a web site where that will help you sort through all the blogs that are out there. I'm constantly checking and going through that site to take a listen to what's going on, what's hot, and download as much as I can and sort through it later. Some of the real gems come from the producers that I have had out to Phoenix and have become friends with.
Song that's currently stuck in your head: Stuff is popping through my head all the time. Lately it's a track called "Yes Ma'am by Visti & Meyland. It's a Trent Mallor remix.