I first had the pleasure of peeping Trevor Martin in the DJ booth at Red Lounge on U and 14th and again at Wonderland Ballroom a few weeks later. The crowd was going a bit nuts with his old school beats booming everything from Naughty By Nature to Bell Biv DeVoe.
Obviously, I knew then that the man appreciates good music, but just learned he also appreciates good sound systems. “I can get a bit disgruntled when it comes to sound issues, so I almost would prefer a good sound system to a packed house,” he said during a recent interview session with DC This Week. He attributes Suicidal Tendencies as the artist that got him hooked on music as a kid when his skateboarding days dominated his free time.
Martin’s been throwing down with a local DC crew, Jerome Baker III and Stereo Faith for Sneakers in the Club and DJ Jackie O for events like $weat $hop, which recently moved from the Red Lounge to the 9:30 Club Back Bar.
You can check out $weat $hop at the 9:30 club every last Friday and Sneakers in the Club every 2nd Friday at Wonderland.
Trevor took the time to answer a few questions for DC This Week in the third round of “Welcome to the DJ Booth”. So sit back and step up to the turntables as he dishes you the goods on his DJing career.
JF: What are you currently listening to in your car/at home/ on your Ipod?
TM: Today at work I listened to some of the new Jim Jones and Gucci Mane albums, Cousin Cole Major Rager mix, Cam Jus the Blast 2 mix, The Stooges and the most recent Springsteen album. I got that Lil John RockBox mixtape the other day. I liked it.
Are there any upcoming albums that you can't wait to hear?
I cant lie. I’m looking forward to the new Depeche Mode album.
Who would you like to see release another album?
Probably not the coolest, but my favorite band of all time is the Psychedelic Furs. They are still a band and have been sitting on new music for years. I’ve only been able to hear it live because they never released any of it. That would be a good day for me if they did though.
You are always on the go, a real jet-setting DJ, what do you do in your free time?
My weekdays are pretty consistent. I go to the gym in the morning. Then to my office. I am a graphic designer during the day. My evenings are either spent working on music or checking out other parties if my friends are playing. I also watch the shit out of some UFC if its on.
Tell me more about your philanthropic endeavors or extracurricular activities.
I’m really into old cars. I recently bought a 1970 Cutlass 442 for my Dad. We spend time restoring it when I get the chance to go home on weekends. I grew up in a small town in
How did you learn to DJ?
I started collecting records when I was pretty young. Back in the day I sang for a band called What Lies Ahead. Our guitarist was getting into DJing and I used to watch him and play around on his tables after practice. I had an immediate interest in DJing so he showed me some things. I eventually purchased tables and practiced with some of my other friends who were already Djing. I am no stranger to hanging on coattails. It’s kinda my shit.
What is your heritage?
How has technology Impacted the equipment and the state of music?
I gotta be honest, Serato got me back into DJing. I did a few small parties years ago. Nothing really notable. I quit while I was in art school. I love records, but keeping up with it is awful. When Serato came out it changed everything. There’s pretty much no limitations with the software. I feel like since most of us use it, the bar has been raised so high. That’s why production is becoming so important. It’s really hard to get to the next level without stepping up your production game. That’s something I’ve been working on over this past year.
In order to be a successful DJ you have to be in tune to what the people are feeling. How do you stay in touch with what's hot and what's not?
I’m not sure I’m the most in touch DJ, but I try to hit the streets and check out as many DJ’s and parties as I can. DC is mad small, so if you are on the grind at all you know what’s good. There are also some good blogs I check out each week. I really like what Marcus Dowling is doing with his True Genius site.
Are there any companies, sponsors and/or labels that you are associated with?
Not really. I am one third of Sneakers in the Club if that counts. I should probably get some love from Hanes white T’s,
What is the most underrated/overated aspect of being a DJ?
Promoting your own parties is exhausting. I used to think it was fun to design and hand out flyers, post bulletins, etc. Sometimes it feels like a full time job. I still do it, but I’m not as big of a fan.
What is a common misconception about DJing?
That I am interested in Becky’s birthday.
What are your thoughts concerning DJ's and their role in the music
business? Do you think that your work supports or subverts most artist?
I’m not sure what my role in music is. I don’t really think about it. I just try to keep it fun and try new things as often as I can. Musically I’m into so much shit from Hip hop, Booty Bass, and Club to mainstream pop, new wave, and whatever else I think will be fun. I just try to put as much as I can into each set and hope it makes sense.
Who are your inspirations for your work?
I get inspired by other DJs often. Even if it is just something small that I notice and feel like I am either lacking or should incorporate more of in my set. I am constantly practicing and trying to evolve. This is sometimes a problem when I get excited and push out an idea before I’m comfortable with it, but that’s how you know if something’s hot. Sometimes I’ll work on something at home and think its john blaze. Then Ill try it in a club and no one feels it. Sometimes it’s the opposite and people go off to some random shit I took a chance on.
I feel like Hip Hop Dan is good in this aspect. In my opinion he is one of the more inventive DJs right now. DJs can kill it all day long, but I feel like it starts to get pointless when you are playing the same set over and over. With Dan, he takes a lot chances and doesn’t mind losing the crowd temporarily to try something really creative. The response is almost always positive, but if not, you are still trying something new. That’s kinda what DJing is.
What do you think differentiates you from other DJ's?
I don’t know. I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than playing out, so I guess I’m pretty animated and in the moment. I mix in and out pretty quick and burn through so many tracks on a given night its almost absurd. I have some pretty ruthless A.D.D. so its hard for me to listen to more than a minute of anything. Usually it helps keep the crowd motivated but I’m sure it can be obnoxious at times as well.
I also sometimes wonder if I am the drunkest DJ in the district since Ikon moved. It would probably have to be me or Miguel. We should put that to the test one night.
What is your favorite piece of music? What are your favorite albums?
In no order…
- The Stooges “Raw Power”
- Wu Tang “36 Chambers”
- Catherine Wheel “Fermanent”
- Sinead O’Connor “The Lion and the Cobra” (yup)
- N.W.A. “Straight Outta Compton”
- Gorilla Biscuits “Start Today”
- Slow Dive “Souvlaki”
- The Cure “Head on the Door”
- Hum “downward is heavenward”
- Psychedelic Furs “Talk Talk Talk”
- Sheer Terror “Just cant hate enough”
- Notorious B.I.G. “Ready to Die”
…obviously these are my favorites at home. The majority of stuff I listen to is completely different than what I play at clubs but I like everything for different reasons. When I am out I just want to wile out and have fun, but I cant be listening to Project Pat or Splack Pack on a Tuesday morning.
What are some of your favorite places to unwind in D.C. and around D.C.?
I like all the obvious spots…Black Cat, DC9, Sticky Rice, Napoleon, Big Hunt, but my guilty pleasure once it gets warmer is the Georgetown waterfront. Only during the day though. I grew up around water and boats and shit, so it reminds me of home a little.
What is your Favorite Global Venue to Spin at?
Whats a global venue? I’m not sure any place I’ve played qualifies for that.
What is your advice to up-and-coming DJ's?
I’m not the best person to be giving advice but I can say when you are fresh on the scene, that’s when people pay the most attention to you. Get your game tight before trying to bring it to the club. At least the basics you know? People can be unforgiving so you don’t want to be off at the jump. You learn a lot by playing live, but if you have the basics down and you can kill it or at least sound official early on, you will have a much better chance of people taking you seriously.
What is your favorite genre of music and why?
Hands down, Baltimore club and Classic Bass are my favorite genres to play. Unfortunately many of the places I play the crowd is not always receptive of it, so I save it for the end of the night if I play it at all. Usually the more drunk and ignorant I get towards the end of the night, the more drunk and ignorant my set gets. I guess that’s what I meant by “being in the moment”.
Are there any national/international artists you have performed with?
Gene Loves Jezebelle and Lil Mama. Not together obviously.
Other than being a DJ what talent would you most like to possess?
Breathing under water. Laser beam eyes. Flight. The ability to drink and not become an asshole. The ability to fix my own car. There are many.
Was it difficult to get into the DJing scene? Were you taken seriously?
I came from the Hardcore/punk scene so I did some parties early on with Dave Nada and Stereofaith. I was also able to get booked at some of the bars/clubs that my band used to play at, so it helped.
Wax, CD or MP3/CPU?
Started on Vinyl, but now I use Serato.
So what's the deal with your music production?
It’s something I work on often. I just started playing some tracks live. I’m new to production so I’ve been keeping it pretty minimal. Mostly just making blends that I think will work well at certain parties I do. I haven’t really shared anything yet, but I have a Three Six Mafia remix that I will most likely be sending around shortly.
What kind of preparation do you do before playing a set?
It depends. Sometimes I build party specific crates, sometimes I just smear lipstick on my chest and gently cry. It really depends where I am playing.
What made you decide to be based in the DC Area?
I moved here for school. I lived in Laurel for a few years before moving to DC. My friends lived in a group house near Columbia Heights so I stayed there for 2 years before moving to Dupont. I may die in the apartment I’m in now. I can literally walk anywhere. I love DC.
If you could spin for anyone, who would this be and why?
If I was 100% sure my girl friend would not read this I would probably say someone like Alexis Texas. Since I do not have that guarantee I’ll say I enjoy playing for anyone who comes out to dance and have fun. Some of my best shows have been at the most random locations. I do have some quasi-heroes though. Not sure If I care to spin for them. I’m a big David Cross fan. Is that too random?