Martin Badder on breaking through – “even the guys at the top were once trying to make it”
The rising house DJ imparts his most valuable pieces of advice and talks about his journey upward.
Quickly rising through the ranks of DJ stardom, Martin Badder has fast built a reputation for releasing top quality house music. Catching the attention of huge labels like Defected, Armada, Toolroom, Bunny Tiger and many more along the way, he’s now a regular in the Beatport Top 100 charts. You’ll find his signature style of soulful, deep and groovy house crossing over from the sunshine terrace sets of the White Isle to the late-night sessions in any major nightclub. A busy 2019 looks set to end with an even busier release and tour schedule in 2020.
It could seem like your profile has blown up quite quickly, but you’ve been DJing and producing for a long time, tell us about your journey into the music industry and how that break into the house scene with respected labels came about…
I started writing music at a very young age which resulted in signing my first major record deal as a teenager with London Records. This was with a rock band I formed at school. As a keyboard player, electronic music was my real passion and even back then I was writing house music as a side project. After spending years in bands I decided to take a more streamlined approach and focus on my own production. Sharam Jey signed my first track to Bunny Tiger and it’s kind of just rolled from there.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get their break in the industry?
For me, having a classically trained background in piano has certainly helped. A good understanding of music theory will also hold you in good stead, however, that’s just my experience. Listening to new music is something I would strongly advise. I listen to at least ten hours of completely new music every week. Don’t be afraid of asking people for help, even the guys at the top were once trying to make it. Most will relate and will be happy to help.
What’s your studio set up?
I use Logic Pro. I write tracks initially with a real piano, Fender Rhodes and my analogue synths before even starting the Logic session. Once the idea is established I then use my Nord Lead, Nord Wave, Nord Electro, Roland SH-09 and Roland TR-09 drum machine to develop the track. I use Adam monitor speakers and pride myself on not having hundreds of extra plug-ins. For me, a reverb is a reverb – I don’t want to get caught up in tweaking specific sonics for too long, I’d rather keep creating.
Does the classically trained aspect of your background play an important role when you make club music, or can that knowledge be dangerous and distracting?
It’s a double-edged sword. It makes the process of writing easier I terms of knowing chords, cadences and progressions. However, I do find that musicians I work with that are not classically trained sometimes come up with those chords that are perhaps not correct from a theoretical point of view, but they sound great. I suppose musical knowledge is valuable but sometimes it’s true that when you forget about it then the magic flows.
Are there any processes that you learnt that change the way you mix or create ideas now?
Simply dipping a bass part out of the way of the kick drum was a game-changer for me. I achieve this by sidechaining the kick to a compressor and using this as a trigger to dip the level on the bass note. I always make sure everything has its own space in terms of EQ. I’m really strict with this in my productions. I’m constantly stripping out sounds that don’t need to be there. If they’re not doing anything important in the track, they go.
Who inspires you and who are the producers that you think are making killer tracks right now?
There’s a few. Illyus & Barrientos, Kerri Chandler (obviously!), Jansons. I’m very fond of all these guys and the way they write. I take a lot of inspiration from these producers.
What’s on your DJ rider?
Good coffee, fruit and water. I try to keep it clean on the road.
What’s coming up for you?
I have a new track out on Steve Lawler’s techno label iVAV which I can’t wait to drop and also a collaboration with my good friends Mizbee and Mark Jenkyns (Hot Creations) out soon on DVINE Sounds. Plus, there’s my FaderPro production course where I share some music production techniques and tips which is out now. Also, my brand new artist sample pack which you can grab all the loops from for free at bandlab.com or by downloading BandLab Assistant!
2020 is already looking like a busy year for me and I can’t wait!
Listen to the latest Martin Badder release, Extra, below.
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