Synthesizing Success: The Martin Ikin Story
Oct 30, 2023
7 min read
Martin Ikin, a name synonymous with the ever-evolving landscape of electronic music, began his odyssey in 1991 and has since navigated the winding pathways of the industry with finesse and undeniable talent. From the pulsating beats of his Gold Disc track "Headnoise (Get Hype)" to the enchanting rhythms stemming from his classical jazz pianist background, Ikin's trajectory showcases a musical evolution marked by deepening sophistication and mastery.
This seasoned DJ and producer, who's had the honor of remixing legends like Mariah Carey and Jamiroquai, remains as relevant as ever by staying deeply rooted in the scene and embracing emerging talent. With a discography as diverse as the aliases he once wore, Martin's continued passion for the craft is palpable. As he enjoys the global appeal of electronic beats, from the fervor of Brazilian crowds to the energy of the USA, one message resonates clear: Martin Ikin's journey is a blend of relentless passion and transformative creativity.
In three words, tell us how your music production has elevated since your early days in 1991.
Smoother, Deeper, Louder
Your track "Headnoise (Get Hype)" achieved gold disc status. Can you describe the feeling of achieving this and how it should serve as inspiration to other aspiring artists who must have patience in the industry?
Yes, this is my first ever Gold Disc achievement, so it was like a huge bucket list tick for me, I was delighted. So, I guess the message is, never give up. It took me 30-plus years!
Given your background as a jazz pianist, how has classical training influenced your electronic productions?
Having some musical knowledge will always aid you if you’re making music for a living. So, I would urge anyone in the business to at least arm themselves with the basics, for example, knowing the basic scales and chord relationships.
This will help you with things like getting vocals in the right key. You don't have to be an amazing player for it to be useful to you. For me it comes into its own when I'm writing piano chords, I wouldn’t have been able to write tracks like "How I Feel" or "You" without having that theory background.
Over the years, you've taken on various musical personas. How do you decide when it’s time for a change or a new direction? Which alias was your favorite if you could choose one?
Yes, if I’m honest I’ve probably had too many aliases. I’d probably have stuck with one or two if I did it all again. I guess I changed names when I changed genres though. I started in ’91 so it was rave (hardcore) back then.
That moved into DnB and Jungle. After that period, I was doing a bit of UK garage and house, then onto soulful house, etc. So, the aliases changed with the scene and the genre. My favorite by a mile was my early DJ Mayhem days (91-93). That was an exciting, special time musically, with the birth of rave, hardcore, and DnB.
Working with renowned artists like Mariah Carey and Jamiroquai must have been thrilling. Any standout collaboration experiences you'd like to share?
Yes, they were official remixes I did, which was a massive honor of course. Unfortunately, I never got to meet them or be in the studio with them, that would have been insane! Another standout one for me was being asked to remix the legend AVH a few years ago.
How has the music scene and your interaction with it changed with the rise of streaming platforms and the decline of traditional record shops?
It's a completely different game now. Whether that’s good or bad is probably a discussion that could go on and on, but there are pros and cons to the changes. The pros are it's much more accessible now for people to put music out and to find new music.
In my opinion, one of the saddest changes was the death of record shops. That was a special environment, going to record shops like Black Market in Soho - London on a Saturday and standing there with 20 other people listening to all the new records, imports, white labels, double packs, and 10” specials that the guys in the shop would play.
And holding your hand up like an auction and shouting “I’ll have one of them”. And if you were a regular, they’d have a bag of the newest records waiting for you under the counter, which you could take to the side and listen on the turntables and headphones. It was thrilling and exciting. Something is lost now scrolling when through download sites. Having said that. Carrying a USB is much easier than two boxes of heavy vinyl! So, as I said its pros and cons.
Are there any emerging artists or producers you're currently excited about and feel we should be listening to?
There are so many young talented producers in the scene that now, it’s hard to keep up with them all. There are more and more emerging every week. And that can only be a good thing. We love exciting new talent in the scene, it keeps it fertile and fresh.
In today's rapidly changing electronic music landscape, how do you stay ahead and remain relevant?
It’s hard to stay relevant at any point in your career, and probably harder as you get older. I think it's important to keep yourself involved in the scene as much as possible. Going out and listening even if you’re not playing is very important, I would say.
What's your studio setup like, and do you have any essential pieces of equipment you can’t work without?
I’m a bit of a “gearhead”, I love spending my money on synths, new and old, so I have a room full of those batboys. However, you don’t need any of these to make good records. But the one thing I can’t do without is my Genelc monitors. I mix and master all my records so it is essential to have a quality monitoring system that you can trust if you’re doing the mixing or mastering.
Do you have a personal favorite track or remix from your extensive discography?
Probably Headnoise, just for the fact that so many labels turned it down, and now it's got a Gold Disc haha!
How do you navigate the challenges of balancing a busy touring schedule with studio time and personal life?
Haha, I'm not sure if the best at this balance, as I write this I'm currently (very) late delivering my next release. And when I say late, I mean I haven’t even started it yet. It's very tough, I like to work in my studio and not on the laptop so maybe I struggle more than most with this balance. It's a work in progress I would say.
Given the global reach of electronic music, are there any countries or venues you especially enjoy performing in?
The USA and Brazil are currently so vibey, the scenes and crowds there are thriving, I love it.
What's next for Martin Ikin? Any upcoming projects or collaborations we should be on the lookout for?
Yes, a few more cool collaborations are on the way after my release last week with Noizu on Insomniac Records.
What do you owe yourself?
A holiday haha.
Lastly, looking back on your journey so far, is there anything you'd do differently if given the chance?
I'm very grateful for my long journey and career in music and love it more than ever right now, so there’s not a lot I would change. Maybe less aliases in my early years though.