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The debut album Ghettos & Gardens by Justin Martin, core member of San Francisco bass-loving label dirtybird, has been causing an online stir since singles started appearing around Easter of this year. With its high production values and mixture of club chuggers and day-time dancefloor fillers; it’s come just at the right time, ready for a summer full of street-parties and raves. We caught up with the in-demand man of the moment to have a somewhat silly chat about each track on what is sure to be the most listened to artist album this season…

HOOD RICH: For the benefit of our British readers who might not be as au fait with the term “hood rich” as our American ones, could you please describe what your life (specifically yours, San Francisco, Dirtybird an’ all) would be like if you were hood rich?

To fully help you fully understand the term “hood rich” I would like to explain my inspiration behind the song. When I wrote the orchestral intro to “Hood Rich” it conjured up a montage of opulent images. First I imagined being picked up from the airport after landing in a private jet. As the door opens it is obvious from my tan that I am coming from tropical destination. An expensive stretch limo is waiting for my arrival, and my driver (dressed in a tuxedo) walks me from the jet to the limo under an umbrella to shield me from the harsh sun. As I enter the limo, waiting inside for me is expensive champagne, caviar, and my beautiful girlfriend. On the way to our destination, my driver stops at various designer clothing outlets, and I walk out of each store with bags filled with expensive clothes and jewellery for me and my companion. Eventually, we arrive at my destination, which is not at all what you would expect after seeing me indulge in the finest things that money can buy. We arrive at my crappy little apartment back in the hood.  That’s ‘hood rich’. It’s living a lifestyle of opposite extremes; indulging in the finer things in life while still residing in the ghetto… and that’s what I imagine when I listen to the opening track on my album.


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DON’T GO: This is a beautiful track and the female vocals on it are lovely. But that’s not what we’re going to ask about. As an international jetsetter you DJ all around the world… but where don’t you go?

There are not too many places I won’t go at least once. However I do try to stay away from afterparties with no booze and way too many dudes. Also I don’t go sticking my nose into trouble, or other people’s business. Other than that I am always down for a fun adventure! LEZGO!


GHETTOS AND GARDENS: Tell us where the best ghetto is and the worst garden (or park to give you a bit of leeway)

I can’t think of any bad gardens… when I think of gardens only pleasant images come to my mind, especially “beer gardens”… (Mmmmmmm… Beeeeer!!!) The best ghetto is definitely my Fillmore hood in SF. You see something new and whacky every day. There are hoopties [https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hooptie] with blinged out rims, a park filled with noisy bums, and dudes smoking weed right in front of the police station. We even have a corner store on my block called “Third World Market”.  However, despite being pretty ghetto, everyone on the street is usually in quite a chipper mood, and it’s my home sweet home so I love it.



BUTTERFLIES: When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?

When I heard Thugfucker drop that Pachanga Boys’ track “Time” [ 

GOLDIE – KEMISTRY (JUSTIN MARTIN REMAKE): Goldie is a proper badman but do you think you could take him in a fight? You can have weapons.

Heck no! Are you crazy? Fighting Goldie would be a deathwish! I don’t care what weapons you gave me; I would still run for the hills! I bet you Goldie could knock even Chuck Norris on his ass! Anyway, I am a lover and not a fighter. I would much rather settle any differences I have with someone over a nice slice of pizza pie.


FRENCH KISSES: This is such a cute little skit about two French guys wanting to remix your work. In your opinion are the French better at kissing or remixing?

HAHA! It’s a close one but I would have to say kissing.  I have definitely enjoyed more “French kisses” than “French remixes” in my lifetime… and that is in no way dissing the French as remixers.

RUFF STUFF: Great track, really low-down and filthy but it does sound an awful lot like someone blowing raspberries all the way through it or maybe using a duck whistle… We have to ask, what’s the thought behind it?

Haha! I assume you are talking about the flatulent sounding bass drop? It’s actually a whoopee cushion deflating, pitched down a few octaves… Just kidding!  Seriously though, I just wanted to make a club banger with emotional chords that swept you away right into the middle of some farty, earth shattering bass drops. I would say that this is the most “dirtybird” sounding track on the album and it’s been working a treat on the dancefloor.


MOLONKINI: The sample at the end of this about motherly advice is so sweet! What’s the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. My mom has this thing called “mom’s wow” which stands for “mom’s words of wisdom”. She always would send me emails or leave me notes with little inspirational sayings and she has taught be a lot in my lifetime… but I think the best advice has to be to set yourself goals and work hard to achieve them… and to stay out of jail.


LEZGO: WE LOVE the video for this track. What’s your favourite video game? Preferably a retro side-scroller please…

Thank you! I My favorite game as a kid was definitely Spyhunter! That game was amazing but I could never get past the helicopter!


THE GURNER: Pillow Talk are amazing, and your work with Sammy D has been inspiration to many. This track has such a great narrative with lyrics like “staying out late, getting high…” Tell us the best gurning story you ever heard…

As a DJ I see all the time what we like to refer to as the “hypergurn”. It’s when someone looks like they are literally trying to chew their own face off. Imagine someone’s mouth moving like they are repeating word “poo” over and over while dancing right in front of the DJ booth… Its not attractive people… get it together!


jmartin ghettos gardens

RIDING SPACESHIPS: It has been said that this track sounds like the musical equivalent of ketamine. Spaceships and space battles are far cooler though so what’s your favourite sci-fi film and why?

I know it has nothing to do with spaceships, but Clockwork Orange is my favourite sci-fi movie of all time! I actually wrote a thesis about this film in college. I love the juxtaposition between light and dark, beauty and evil. This is one bass-ass film! I guess my favourite movie with spaceships though would have to be Spaceballs, only because it is so funny and ridiculous.

LADYBUG: The album ends on such a beautiful note with Ladybug and it’s quite different to the rest of the tracks. It hints of Prefuse 73 where it takes hip hop as a starting point and teases it in all kinds of electronic directions. What hip hop tracks or artists would you say influenced this track?

I am definitely a Prefuse 73 fan, but this particular song was more influenced by trippy downtempo artists like Tosca, Kruder and Dorfmiester, and DJ Shadow. It’s lazy Sunday afternoon music… music you throw on when you are sitting out on your porch enjoying the sunshine on your face.


Justin Martin’s album Ghettos & Gardens is out now on dirtybird.

By Rachael Williams