Martin L. was born in Malaysia (Moved to Sydney since 2017) and grew up for much of his life in a small historical city, called Malacca. While attending school there, he decided to turn to music and, after going through a number of collaborations with various artists, he finally released his debut single “Can’t Wait No Longer” featuring his multi-talented sibling, Lavender Looi. Incidentally both siblings have perfect pitch, a rare auditory phenomenon that enables them to identify or recreate music, without a reference tone. The single made its way up to #7 on Pramborsfm’s Top 40 Chart, hitting over 50,000 sales since being released on January 2018 earning Martin L. the “Multi-Genre Producer” title.
Martin L. (19) is currently a bachelor student in Sydney while his elder sibling, Lavender (24) graduated in 2016 from the Berklee College of Music, where she majored in composition and music production. Lavender is now a composer and songwriter for a Malaysian-based record label, called Grand Theft Records. After receiving positive outcomes from his single “Can’t Wait No Longer”, Martin L. is feeling pretty pumped for his upcoming single that he will be releasing soon. The track features an artist whose name will not be revealed until the single’s release date.
- How long have you been playing and how did you get started with the electric violin the first place?
Martin L.: I first began playing the electric violin when I was 16, when I purchased an affordable one from an online store after years of being interested in its unique shape and sound. I love the instrument’s versatility and feel I can experiment with its technique and produce music that is different to every other piece I develop.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Martin L.: Amongst others, Jimi Hendrix, Dennis Lau, Richard Bona, Isley Brothers – just of the top of my head – were my strongest musical influences for as long as I can remember. Between them, the instrumentalists play lots of different styles that perked my interest and encouraged me to play and compose my own work. The Isley Brothers’ soul music resonated with me in my time in the US and inspired my search into this genre.
- What genres are you currently listening to?
Martin L.: I listen to almost anything – at the moment I’m focused on alternative, jazz, rock, RnB, reggae, and everything in between!
- What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music?
Martin L.: My compositions come from a place of my life that is honest and transparent – I find it deeply therapeutic to be able to explore with sound and send my work out there for others to listen to. Whether its by perking up their interest or resonating with them in the way that I did with Hendrix, Lau and Bona many years ago – I appreciate the opportunity, its exciting and enjoyable, and I look forward to continuing it.
- Do you write both the music and lyrics for your songs?
Martin L.: I wrote both the music and lyrics to “Can’t Wait No Longer”. My other tracks are a joint effort between myself and the artists I feature.
- Was there a special reason for choosing your sibling Lavender Looi to feature on the single? And what kind of a working relationship do the two of you have?
Martin L.: Lavender and I have both grown up as close friends would, and despite different musical influences we’ve always shared our passion and our devotion to our compositions. I wrote “Can’t Wait No Longer” when I had the chance to return to Malaysia briefly and spend studio time with Lavender. Her voice aligned with my demo by pure chance and we ran with it – the result was a track we felt represented both of us singularly and as siblings.
- I know this is only your first single, but what would you consider a successful, proud, or high point in your career so far?
Martin L.: As I experiment further with my music and meet more and more new industry professionals, I’m proud of our interactions and our work together. There are many more avenues I hope to explore in the future, and with each step onward I am humbled and grateful for each production and each track. Never would I have thought my track “Can’t Wait No Longer” would be aired on radio, or have people wanting to listen to it on Spotify or iTunes.
- What brand of Electric Violin do you currently play? And is there a specific model, other than the one you currently use that you would like to own?
Martin L.: I currently play a Wood Violins 6-string Viper – it’s versatile in its sound, and features a self-supporting system which enables me to multi-task on stage without restricting my movements. They also have the Stingray and Sabre models, which would be interesting to play. Still, I’m happy with my Viper at the moment – I guess it’s the most versatile electric violin on the market right now.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Martin L.: I enjoy being an independent artist because it grants me the flexibility of exploring different styles of music without being restricted to a record label. It can also be a struggle self-marketing your work and that’s often challenging.
- How do you record, produce and market your music? Do you have a team behind you, who takes care of things or do you run everything by yourself?
Martin L.: I have a team of close friends who market, do videography, recruit, form dance teams, and serve as moral support all-in-one!
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Martin L.: Generally my sound and style is largely influenced by the artist with whom I collaborate.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Martin L.: Facebook, Instagram, Spotify – to name a few – allow me to market and share my music further and to a wider audience than I would be able to singlehandedly. With Shazam, those that hear my tracks can discover my music on-the-go. All of these reach out to a digital audience that is accessible and approachable only through these mediums, and I think it’s a great opportunity for my expansion.
- What are your thoughts on formal music training? Do you think people still need to study music, considering that 16 year old kids are winning Grammy’s and producing multi-platinum selling records from their bedrooms with a simple laptop and no theoretical knowledge of music whatsoever?
Martin L.: I grew up with formal music training, which definitely influenced and informed my compositions. Knowing my theoretical knowledge of music enabled me to use a wider range of techniques that I may not have known of otherwise. Reading notations earlier in my life guided my exploration of genres and sounds.
- What is your relationship with visual media? Do enjoy doing videos, and do you think it adds something to your artistic package or do you use it purely for promotional purposes?
Martin L.: I enjoy visual media because it illustrates the messages behind my work. Being deeply personal, my compositions are better understood by my audience when I feel I can harness it with imagery that describes its origins and its themes.
- How would you define ‘success’ regarding your craft? And what do you feel you would still have to achieve to consider yourself ‘successful’ in the music business?
Martin L.: I’ve always approached my work with an unwavering work ethic, devotion and honesty – success so far and in the future is always the silver lining! I’d like to develop my skills and explore cultural varieties of genre to incorporate into my compositions.
- What do you think of a possible crossover into the western market?
Martin L.: I am very much influenced by the western market and of course to show that someone from Asia is able to break into the western market is awesome. That is part of my vision and hopefully when the opportunity comes, I’ll grab it.
- Do you think you’ll make a go of it in the next 5 to 10 years?
Martin L.: Few years ago, I never imagined I’d be sitting in a studio with industry professionals making tracks. It’s hard to say so I’ll just go with the flow.
- When you tour abroad, which Malaysian food do you miss the most?
Martin L.: Amongst others, Nasi Lemak, Ikan Bakar and definitely mom’s cooking!
- Are you still single and what qualities do you look for in a significant other?
Martin L.: I had been dating my high-school mate, Magdalene for almost 4 years now and still counting. Her personality and interests are compatible with mine. She’s a classical trained pianist and double bassist. I guess having similar interests is the way to a musician’s heart.
- What can we expect to see from you next?
Martin L.: A new track released by mid-April 2018, featuring an artist from an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea.