From his misspent youth skateboarding the frontier towns of North Eastern England, Martin Iveson arrived into the UK’s Midland scene in the early nineties. Since then he has carved a solid reputation for his unmistakable studio sound and heartfelt DJ sets from the UK to South Africa. The Southport Weekender’s Gavin Kendrick caught up with Martin to talk about fatherhood, the South African influence and his exclusive guest mix for readers of this site.
How has becoming a father influenced your production?
It’s really made me want to do my music for me, I feel I’ve moved away from trying to please people and now I feel much more true to myself. I think the industry has accepted me too after many years, and that’s really helped me to relax a little in my sound. My son Aart is definitely my new inspiration, his big smiles make me melt and I get re-charged from his happiness.
What musical diet are you feeding him?
Well apart from the random silly songs his mother and I make up, he gets a healthy dose of Chris Philips in the morning and the rest is really what we listen to: a bit of house, hip-hop, Afrobeat, pretty much anything that is on the speakers or in the car we let him listen to, although we’re not pushing music upon him. It’s his choice!
I understand your name comes from A.T.Jazz, an enemy of the much loved cartoon Top Cat. Are there any other cartoons you enjoy? What cartoons will you be showing Aart?
I love the original Transformers. I’ve already showed him it on YouTube but he gets bored and starts pulling the hairs on my arms. I guess this is his way of saying, put the news back on (which is what he likes to watch in the mornings too!). As long as he’s not watching mindless rubbish he’s welcome to watch anything he likes, at TV time, not all the time!
How did you hook up with Jullian Gomes? What do you think of the music scene in South Africa?
Well, South Africa is the biggest place to party for sure at the moment. House music, and especially the deeper stuff, is pop music out there so there is no comparison at all. Jullian and I met via MySpace a while agom and I heard a bit of the G.Family stuff he was writing with his cousin Mike. Their sound for me was that bit different from what everyone else was doing and it stuck in my head. Jullian is working a lot on his own these days and we just decided to try something out and it worked. We’ve just finished a full length album together and we’re really looking forward to putting that one out. For the record, Jullian is an amazing DJ, his vibe is right up my street and his sound is lush and warm, so it’s a match of styles here for sure.
It was great to see you join us in Croatia again this year. What did you think of the move to the new SuncéBeat site?
I love it. I really loved the last site too, as people could just pop off in groups for dinner and drift back and forth, but this time there were taxi boats, and for me, that was very exciting. The beach stage is incredible and the sound system for me is the best I’ve played on. The people, the organisers and the whole family are just what you expect, it’s southport in the sun and it’s my favourite festival.
You brought your bass player this year for an impromptu jam on the boat party. Do you have any plans for a full live project?
Not really, My sound really relies on the production sound. It’s fun to take some elements out of the songs and play those missing bits live on the fly, I might bring a synth next time if I get a chance to play and see what happens. It’s a bit wibbly wobbly on the boat but it’s a momentary explosion that I feel we need from time to time, a bit of flare can be really nice.
How did the remix of Kerri Chandler’s ‘Rain’ come about? Was it commissioned?
I am one the biggest fans of that song. I have my original vinyl at home in pride of place and this song for me set a standard of jazz/house that really has never been equalled. I made the remix out of total respect for Kerri’s career, I felt there wasn’t a jazzy enough version out there and I’m not one for just remixing a song in a house fashion. It really has to be organic. I twisted someones arm for the vocal file and when it was done, I tried it out a few times and then sent it to Kerri. He loved it and I was happy. I’m glad to see it out on Nervous and I’m proud to have given Kerri something back for the years of inspiration he’s given me.
What’s the version of ‘Blackwater’ you’ve been playing? You played one version at SuncéBeat 2 and an even bigger version at Southport Weekender 48. Will it come out?
I’m not really sure if will see the light of day, the masters of the ‘100 Birds Remix’ are with Wave Music and I don’t bootleg so I’m trying to get them to listen and then to see if there is anything that can be done. I have to say though, tt’s nice to have my own disco bomb! And no, you can’t have it! Rahhhh!
Your version of The Muthafunkaz – ‘Oh I (Miss You)’ has become an underground hit since it dropped, how did that remix come about?
I just got a message from Spen about remixing something that had a very touching subject. He felt I could really do justice to the song and the vocal content so I set out on a journey. The remix only took a couple of days to make, it was a good flow. Then right towards the end I had a feeling like, what if I let loose and go soulful at the end here. Well, it seemed to work. To be honest it’s the fans and dancers that made this piece popular, I didn’t know what to make of it when it was made. Spen loved it, that was enough for me. It’s always amazing to see people play it out and it’s become a bit of an anthem. I’m just happy to be involved.
Has the widespread availability of music from both official and unofficial sources online helped or hindered the Atjazz Record Company?
Music to me is an essential product. Like food and like water some people really do need it to get through the day. I’ll keep this short: I wouldn’t go into a shop take food and give it to someone for free, so I don’t expect people to take my product and give it away for free. There’s a big difference between sharing music and uploading it to Megadownload.
You were talking about Pharaoh Sanders on Twitter last week, what’s your favourite piece by him? What is it about his sound that you dig?
I feel Pharoah has a lot to give the world of dance music as his sound can be very astral, very awakening and experimental. I just get inspired by his movements and phrases. The textures he uses are very interesting to my ears too. I have to say there is one song that stands out above the rest for me personally and that is ‘Astral Travelling‘. If anyone doesn’t know it, please have a listen, it’s very beautiful.
Your productions are all very song based. Who are your favourite current song writers? And who are some of your favourites of all time?
I love what Erykah does and also Georgia Anne Muldrow, for modern standards anyway. I don’t really have any favourite song writers as I seem to listen to the music a lot behind songs and I feel the whole package is what excites me. There are some greats: Quincy Jones, Leon Ware etc. that have done their work for the future generations, but overall it’s a sound thing for me. I love listening to Ella’s big band stuff, a lot of instrumental jazz too. I’m just an audio whore!
What was the idea behind the guest mix you’ve made for Southport Weekender?
I wanted to do something a little different and play some of the songs I never get to play on the dancefloor, some dubby stuff and some slightly more off kilter gear. It’s a mix and should be enjoyed as a mix, and I wanted to make it really tight for you too! It’s more of a long some experience than playing record after record. This is what I feel I do when playing live – I like to blend two songs together and bring elements in that people recognise so they get excited, but it’s not quite the song they know. I like to play around and make myself excited so I hope it’s ok for everyone. Please do enjoy.
01. Phil Asher – Juno – RSTLSS TRX
02. At One – African Healing Dance (Atjazz Astro Remix) – Atjazz Record Company
03. Pablo Fierro – Whistle (Atjazz Remix Demo) – Atjazz Record Company
04. Round One to Round Five – Found A Way – Main Street Records
05. Osunlade – Radar Do – Yoruba Soul
06. Marbert Rocel – Let’s Take Off (Osunlade Yoruba Soul Vocal) – Compost Black Label
07. Atjazz & Jullian Gomes – Overshadowed – Atjazz Record Company
08. Ron & Chez – The Choice – Prescription Records
09. Mizgir – Surya (Demo) – Atjazz Record Company
10. Mizgir – Ya-Rus (Demo) – Atjazz Record Company