Martha Dark is a Belfast-based artist who made her debut in July on theBasement Discos Records.
Welcome to Launch, a new feature from 5 Mag spotlighting new producers on the scene. In each episode we’ll be talking to emerging producers (of any age) about the making of their first tracks and sharing their stories and their music with the world.
Up next, 5 Mag meets Irish artist Martha Dark. After studying up on production during the pandemic, Martha made her debut with “Promise,” released on July 21st on Spanish label theBasement Discos. “Promise” is a “captivating homage to the timeless era of ’90s-style Chicago house, infused with euphoric disco.” Listen here, or via Beatport:
“I channel a lot of 90’s sounds – particularly 90’s Chicago House – and influences in my music as this is the music I grew up on and was inspired by,” Martha says. “For me, the most important thing was channeling some of my influences and honing a sound I could relate to. That definitely took some time and at many points I wasn’t sure if I could get there so having a track debut definitely feels like a milestone.”
Photo: Christopher Allen
What should we know about you before we start? Where are you from, what do you do, where might we have heard of you before?
I’m new to the world of producing House music having started in 2020 just as the pandemic broke. I was in a couple of bands prior to that. I’m from Belfast in N. Ireland and live in London currently. I’m actually returning to Belfast to live very soon which I am super excited about. The music scene there is great and I miss Irish people (and the “craic“).
How long were you working on music before your first was released? What, if any, training do you have?
I started producing at the beginning of the pandemic so have been doing it for three years. I’ve played guitar and sang since I was a kid. I also can play other instruments so I understand music theory having done grades but I am self-taught in production. For me, the most important thing was channeling some of my influences and honing a sound I could relate to. That definitely took some time and at many points I wasn’t sure if I could get there so having a track debut definitely feels like a milestone.
Walk us through the process, from the spark to the point where we’re pressing play on this track. Tell us about the idea behind it, the process of getting it down, the tools you use and finishing it up?
I channel a lot of ’90s sounds — particularly ’90s Chicago House — and influences in my music as this is the music I grew up on and was inspired by. I started making the intro synth stabs in “Promise” and then built the other elements around it. I love channeling Gospel music and choirs in my music. I sampled the vocals and chopped them using the Maschine MK3 which I love as a tool for re-working samples. I wrote the baseline and all other parts myself. There’s a lot of tiny details in it too which I try to do in every song. My DAW of choice is Logic.
When do you decide that it’s “finished,” done, there’s no more you can or want to do with this?
I feel like this is almost a philosophical question when it comes to making music this way as it’s generally about trusting your gut that it’s done and letting go of it. With this track, I finished it quicker than some of my others as it all came together quite naturally. Everything is about your workflow and process as a Producer but I think you just ‘know’ when it’s done.
Demo or self-release: how did you come to this decision? How did you wind up with this track on a V/A?
It’s being released on a Spanish House label, theBasement Discos. They showcase a lot of great Underground House talent.
What’s the hype? Who loves this record?
Amazing Radio (in the UK and US) have been hammering it pre-release and Four Four Magazine have said some very kinds words in the premiere. There’s some other support coming out for it too. My Mother also definitely loves it.
Who is the person that you hope most of all hears this?
I’d love for someone like Floorplan, Tokimonsta or The Blessed Madonna heard it that would be very cool. The track is about only surrounding yourself with people who value you so I hope it inspires anyone listening to it to promise to do that.