UFO could not have asked for a better warm-up to Snowball than a strong lecture from Marty Folb. Within minutes of pulling up into event parking, we ran over to find Marty Folb, a.k.a. MartyParty, straight chillin' in the lobby of the Christie Lodge, dropping knowledge on one interviewer after another. Not only was Marty one of the first people we encountered during the festival, but he also was the first full set we caught in the weekend. We thank Marty for quickly shaking us out of our work-week daze and bringing us directly to the frame of mind that we needed to survive a weekend of partying hearty.
UFO: So what’s good? How are you doing today?
Marty: I’m good man, this is like our fourteenth show in fifteen days. I keep saying it differently – fifteen shows in sixteen days, something like that. We’ve covered the whole East Coast, from New York to here. It’s been absolutely amazing, my first headlining tour, playing my music – my songs, my original production, my original synthesis – for everybody in the audience who’s a fan. It’s just been unbelievable, truly inspiring. All I want to do is make more music and play shows and do it. It’s really inspiring. I’m at an all-time high, and I’m 41 years old.
UFO: And you only picked up Ableton what, five years ago?
Marty: Six years ago, in 2006 technically. 2005, I went to Costa Rica, I had it on my computer as something to just toy with, to pass time on rainy nights. Around Christmas of 2005, so early 2006 I started getting into it and learning it, understanding what it was for. Like I wasn’t sure whether it was a tool to master music or what, I didn’t know what it was, someone just told me it was a really sick piece of software, ‘cuz I’m a software guy. And the minute I saw it and used it, I was like oh my god, this is such an incredible interface -- this is so smart, this is so powerful. What can I do? Oh my god, it’s so easy to do that! Oh shit, house music! I just made it in ten seconds! Oh my god, I just made a Tiesto track in one minute! What’s going on here?
That was the feeling, and I was like I’m going to change my life. I’m going to make better songs than I’ve heard on my own. And I started doing it, and it’s just been one step after the other from there. As an artist, what happens -- if you’ve never known you are an artist, when you realize you ARE an artist and you feel the joy of art, and you realize how you’ve wasted your time, it can be quite distracting. It’s a very emotional time, so I’ve had my ups and downs in the last four years that I’ve really been touring with regards to who you are. All of a sudden you have to have this voice, because people get to know this alter-ego, this music that they know and what they think it is. And you have to pick that voice: and whether you’re going to have lots of voices, or whether you’re going to be somebody with one voice, or whether the people you’re gonna talk to are this age group or this age group, or these people or the whole world. It’s taken four years, and I finally feel, right now, that I know.
Nice! I want to get back to that in a second, but first I want to ask, what were you doing in that time before you were producing music?
I was a software guy. I was doing the same thing that I’m doing now, but with software -- sitting in front of a computer, coding things, making a file that does something: these files make sound; those files made pop-up windows.
The quality was just as important; the creativity was just as expressive; the tools were just as amazing. The audience was just as big! But it’s different. I’m expressing my art in a different way, and that’s why it’s very inspiring to young people, because never have they heard that before. This person that they maybe admire, and the music they love, comes from somebody that really just went to college to learn computer science. You can change your life, and doors open for you when you least expect it. You have to just be positive and be yourself, and remember that not everyone is the same. We’re all different in every way.
That’s where I am right now, and that’s who I am. And it fits your website because my whole goal is to find the music, to find the secret answer in all this noise. As a producer I can sit down and make any music, any sound. [At this point, he annunciates each genre differently]: Heavy music… soft music… funky music… repetitive music. Melodic music, or dark, single-note music. You can pick it. It’s about finding where the sweet spot is, what makes people giggle. What makes people jump up and down, what makes people smile. Y’know, that’s what I’m seeking, I’m seeking the secret answer to what frequencies make people happy.
I really like what you said before about using a multitude of voices to construct this whole thing, and I’ve heard you describe this before as “purple opera.” Now I know what “purple” is, but what exactly do you mean by the “opera” part?
I’m not a DJ; if you’ve ever seen me DJ, it’s totally different word: perform. I don’t like the word “DJ.” When I perform my music, what I do is I have all my songs, and then I have a whole lot of little pieces of sounds or acapellas or special effects or snippets that I keep in banks. When I craft the whole show, I start from a blank slate pretty much – I mean I kinda know what sounds good from these hundreds of things. But it’s like mahjong; I play mahjong with myself. I start with them all, and I try to get through them all seamlessly, with one intention. Very calmly move the energies around through the various areas. Much like opera; that’s what opera what, it was movements.
So when people used to ask me “What do you do? What’s your set like?” I was like it’s not that. I’m not just playing songs, I’m not trying to mix, I’m not trying to be perfect. It’s just, [waves hands around] that’s the wrong… just, stop! I’m trying to make a story. And the closest thing in music to describe that is an opera.
So it’s a purple opera. It’s purple music – which is a cross between hip-hop and dubstep – put together in a show that comes off like an opera. It has a start, it has movements, and it has a finish.
And Six Shots of Jameson is now your second “purple” album?
I don’t know. Yeah, it’s my second whatever-the-industry-calls-an-album. For some reason, when someone has more than ten songs, it’s an album. If there’s three, it’s an EP. It’s all a con-flux [Marty then says “flux” multiple times like it is a curse word]. Nobody really knows that the fuck they’re talking about. So I went on tour and I wrote a lot of songs because I sketch on tour. I go back to the studio and put them together, I make songs and I release them, and I had twelve songs that I really liked that worked really well on my tour. So I went home and made them really cool, mastered them, put them in an album and picked a name. And that’s the second time I’ve done that, I guess. I’ve released 360 songs in my career.
You have a LOT of music up on your site right now.
On iTunes, there are about 100. I’ve given away about 260 so far, and I’ll just continue to do that. I’m not sure whether I’m gonna do EP’s or albums next. I really want to produce my own version of what the PantyRaid energy is, y’know, my slower side, my more chill vibe. The next thing I’m going to do is make a MartyParty collection that demonstrates that. I started doing that when I started making music and I love it too, and it’s another part of me that needs to be shared. And a lot of my diehard fans know those songs, because on the other releases there’s always one or two pretty ones and the whole Sauce album – you know about that, it’s all pretty music.
Expect a pretty album from me, man! Or at least ten to twelve songs will come out that will be of a certain vibe that isn’t necessarily a party. It will be before the party.
[Smiles] It’ll be purple. It’s always purple. The sounds I use in my drums, and tones and melodies… when I make sounds, I tend to go towards the R&B/hip-hop sounds. The chords, the melodies, the sounds, the tone of hip-hop. Instead of the tone of rock, or the tone of something else. That’s purple, the synthesized electronic music genre that is progressive hip-hop. Hip-hop beats that don’t have vocals, but other things that lead the song. Most of the time it’ll be a bass line, or it might be a traditional lead, or it might be a number of leads that come in and out. Or it might be chopped-up leads, glitchy; it doesn’t matter, it can do all of those things. But at the end of the day it’s got to feel like the essence of R&B and hip-hop.
What draws you specifically to R&B?
The chords, the progressions, the music, the math of R&B was truly spectacular to me. It’s the root of all hip-hop beats, a sample of R&B looped and the original R&B has never been exploited in electronic music, and that’s what I want to do.
I would disagree, I think that’s what definitely drives a lot of electronic music, especially today and within things like UK Garage.
It doesn’t come across to me as the same energy as R&B, it comes across with more of a UK energy which is a very electro energy, or a very intense, dark energy. It doesn’t come across as gospel music, which I think is where R&B fits to me. R&B is a plea. It’s gospel, it’s positive, it’s a “look at me now,” or “I want to go there,” or “look what’s become of me,” or “we can rise.” It’s not fuck-you-fuck-you-go-fuck-yourself. That’s the difference [laughs]. That’s the difference, it’s the intention.
So why purple then? Why not blue, why not black? Why not gold?
I smoke purple weed [everyone laughs]. I mean, I’ve used kush in my album, I try to bring it all through in my life. I just try to bring the words of my life through. It’s been a big theme of my adult life, I started smoking weed at a young age in South Africa and it’s been part of my life. It keeps me balanced, makes life possible, and my preference of weed is purple. And some of my friends call me Purple, and it describes the music. If I don’t smoke weed and make music, it’s totally different; I don’t like it, I usually delete it. [Laughs] I dunno, it’s always been; A$AP uses it a lot, Joker in the UK, there’s a certain artist in each culture, each area of the world, that expresses the certain message that I’ve been talking about and for some reason it’s called purple; coincidentally sometimes, sometimes on purpose, I don’t know. But it’s a vibe. It’s a color that fits between the other colors. It’s not a primary color. It’s a black sheep. It’s the black sheep of colors!
Well don’t worry, I don’t think you’ll have to explain your smoking habits to anyone in Boulder.
I don’t explain myself to anybody. I’m 41 years old. I’ve done it all. I know what I want to do. I know what’s possible. And marijuana has been a huge part of my life. Anybody who argues that and the power of marijuana is an idiot and brainwashed; y’know, is an [unintelligible, possibly something in Afrikaans].
How much Jameson have you drank since Six Shots came out?
I mean I told fans at the beginning of the tour that I want to try to drink a little bit less because my last time I drank a little bit more. Y’know, you’ll end up, the second or third gig in a row, you get really fucked up. [A fan walks by and wishes him luck].
I haven’t drank that much, I’ve had a shot or two before the show and then I drink beer the whole show, I go through six to eight to ten beers.
Jameson sent me a bottle [laughs] I thought that was a highlight. I mean, I had no intention of ever paralleling it with any branding thing, but one day there was this thing at my door, a bottle of Jameson from a PR company [laughs]. But we’ll see, I don’t know. Next time, it’ll be the Patron tour.
Or call it A Garage Full of Ferraris.
Yeah, right, Aston Martin music [laughs].
Okay, last question, please tell me a little bit more about your plan for today.
Just play my hits, one after the other and put it all together. It’s a festival set, only 60 minutes, and I normally do two and a half times that so it’s going to be intense and capture the essence of what I’m talking about. I won’t play anybody else’s tracks; I’ll only play MartyParty songs. Or PANTyRAID songs, or DeathStar. Me and Tigran made tracks together, I’ll play those. Either collaborations or MartyParty songs.
Both MiM0SA and Minnesota are here at Snowball, is there ANY chance we’ll see a collab this weekend?
I’m leaving Sunday, but I’ve been hanging out with Tigran in the room [points into hotel]. Christian's coming in later on Sunday. But we’re all friends, man, we’re all friends. If it’s gonna happen it’s gonna be this weekend, and I think the afterparty tonight has rumors of being a stinker, because that’s where we’re going to go and drink a little, y’know what I mean? The festival, you try to put on a good show, you don’t want to look like a jerk, but later on tonight when we’re in a dark little area, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of party action.