THE MARTINEZ BROTHERS with DENNIS FERRER and ANDY ROBERTS at Gossip (50 Prince Edward Island), Saturday (April 28). $20 advance, $25 at the door. www.mixedsignals.ca Rating: NNNNN
Bronx-based deep house DJ/producers Stevie and Chris Martinez have racked up high-profile gigs at institutions like the Shelter, Danny Krivit's 718 Sessions and Pacha, along with a slew of European appearances and well-received releases on Dennis Ferrer's Objektivity label. They've managed to amass impressive street cred in a relatively short time, but before they return overseas to maintain their growing profile, they have to take care of more pressing matters like studying for exams and finishing the school year.
Although they operate within a subgenre of dance music sometimes made by those with greying hair, the Martinez Brothers are still in high school. Their music draws much of its inspiration from legendary clubs that closed before they were born. Their youth works both for and against them: it's a good hook that gets people interested, but some dismiss them as a gimmick, at least until they hear them play.
But as Stevie explains, they're not the only younger heads discovering this side of dance music.
"Yesterday, before going to the Shelter, I went to a party at a dance studio where people were even younger than me. It's not that people our age don't like this music, but more that they haven't been exposed to it. It's not just house - they don't know jazz or African or Latin."
He and his younger sibling have been making music together since they were children. They started even before their dad brought home a few mix CDs of the sounds that thrilled him when he danced at the Paradise Garage in the 80s. Something about the sound resonated with them, and both Martinez boys dove right into it, connecting with heavyweights like Ferrer over MySpace and making a name for themselves with startling speed.
It might just be the optimism of youth, but Martinez feels like this kind of traditionalist soulful house music could be back on the upswing, ripe to be discovered by listeners his own age. Even if North American mainstream radio is pretty much oblivious to underground dance music, he sees elements of it sneaking into the greater consciousness.
"A lot of the new R&B tracks are getting really fast. Some even have that four-on-the-floor beat. Even a song like SexyBack - it's almost a house track."