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Stereo Martini Q&A

Stereo Martini. One part soul, two parts house, served 100% dirty, you'll want to sip this one slowly
If you're looking for a dose of pure "organic electronica," Alonso Mendez, one part of this dynamic duo, provided us with an exclusive interview from his home in Toronto, Canada. Nekeia Boone reports.

Quite an original name you've chosen! What's the inspiration behind it?

Our definition - Stereo = Sound, Martini = Party. It came to us naturally when deciding what it is that we stand for musically. I had a dream about the word "stereo," and as I was telling Gerard over the phone, he saw the word "martini" on a billboard and it became clear; our name had to be Stereo Martini.

Stereo Martini consists of yourself and partner in crime, Gerard Briz. How do each of you contribute to the SM sound?

We pretty much have the same taste in music. We love ALL music. Aside from an affinity to soulful melodies and lyrics, we LOVE down and dirty beats. Between the two of us we write, compose, perform, arrange, produce, and engineer music together. Our sound evolves organically, and our own separate influences and experiences merge to create it. Stereo Martini could not be Stereo Martini without BOTH of our creative influences.

Before becoming an artist, how did you spend your "9 to 5?" And how did you transition into the business?

I've been DJ'ing full-time and worked with Toronto nightclubs for over 10 years. I've gotten to know the ins and outs of the industry - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and started with music production by doing my own bootlegs for my mixed tapes/CD's back then. On the flip side, Gerard's background ranges all the way from writer and arranger to sound engineer and jazz training. We haven't just transitioned into the business; we both have been breathing it and sweating it for a very long time. What we do now is a result of our own evolution as artists and destiny putting us here today, as well as our love for the music.

One of the things I love most about house music is that it's constantly evolving and infuses sounds from multiple genres. And so naturally, it caught my attention when I read that you describe your sound as "organic electronica." Tell me more about that...

Ha ha!!... we are taking all the credit for that one! Well it turns out that we've coined the term to describe the Stereo Martini sound. House music is made through a natural transition of analogue sounds, processed to the point of generating a pattern, which is the foundation where lyrics and melodies are laid on. It's not a sound that gets generated by a computer. There's a difference. We generate it, and then process it in the computer. We write our own melodies, as opposed to generating them by using an arpeggiator. For example, if we play the drums on the keyboard, even though we are not drummers, we will prefer to play them so that they sound as if a live drummer was playing them; providing an organic groove, a human groove and feel if you will. The same will apply to all the other layers on our tracks, especially vocals.

Your latest tracks are on fire! Any plans to release an album, and do you have an update on when it would drop?

Thank you so much! We truly appreciate the feedback and love it when we hear people like our music. These first singles are just exclusive advances that we have been forwarding to DJ's at radio and nightclubs worldwide. There is no title for the album just yet and we're holding out for a solid release date. We're in talks with a few labels, but we are being very cautious about how we will release this album. We want it to reach the most amount of people. At the end of the day it has been a five year process, and the last thing we want is for a label to pick it up and archive the album that we've worked so hard on; even if they pay us. We'd rather release it ourselves if we decide that's the best way to share this album with people.

Your remix of Matt Dusk's "FeelsGood" is on repeat on my playlist, and according to your website this one's getting a lot of hype across the board. What made you decide to select this track to sample?

It's just such a cool track! The original version is featured on Matt Dusk's last album. It's also featured on his new PBS Special, "Live from Las Vegas," which will be released in March 2011. We were at his concert and heard people chant "Feels gooooood!, Feels goooood!" We loved that interaction and knew right away we had to sample it and give it a Stereo Martini taste. It was refreshing and encouraging for a jazz artist such as Matt Dusk to be completely open to exploring a new avenue, especially knowing that the treatment we were planning was house music. Thus the "organic electronica" recipe comes full circle; by blending natural instruments from jazz with "shaken" house beats.

In addition to spinning, it looks like you also dabble in writing, arranging, and producing tracks for other artists. What current projects are you involved with?

Several. We have written a full album for America Olivo, currently in its final production stages. America is formerly of Latin/cross-over pop sensation Soluna, and has been featured on the cover of Playboy. She was also one of the lead actors in the cult classic movie, "Bitch Slap" amongst other films. Currently she's performing on Broadway in the Spider Man musical written by Bono and The Edge of U2. We are also writing tracks for Matt Dusk's follow up album, which has us dabbling into the jazz/big band sound.

We've recently finished a remix for Grammy winner Maurice Joshua's label. We also plan to continue to work with our friend Oscar P. from Open Bar Music. We're writing a pop album with Teria Morada, an L.A. based singer/dancer/songwriter and also working on singles with Marko Bongo, Tony Bishop, and Mathieu James. In addition to all this, there are some major surprises coming up for 2011. We've just been signed on to produce other releases of some big dance tunes from the 90's, but with a 2011 Stereo Martini shaken flavor, which we are very excited about!

Can you share with us how it all goes down in the studio? Do you have a certain process in place for producing your tracks?

Well thankfully, we have hard drives full of ideas that go years back!... ha ha. The first thing is typically understanding the direction in which we want to take a tune. Our multiple musical influences allows us to fuse, blend, or combine sounds in ways that may have not been done before. We prefer to build everything from scratch and base it all around that acapella. When writing, it typically starts with an EP (electric piano) to lay down the chord progressions and melody, then we build the track upon that most basic lead, one sound or layer at a time, until it's time to set the groove. Then we go crazy with ideas and experiment with beats. Sometimes it works, sometimes we have to go back to the drawing board, like any other artist. Sometimes it happens the other way around where we have lyrics or a melody in our heads. Ultimately, we let the music flow, then we twist it through the mixing board, stir it up in mastering, and voilà!

You mention on your site that there are plans in 2011 for a few "live performances." How do you go about bringing the studio sound to the stage?

To us, live performances are not just beat matching two records. Everyone can do that today with the right software. People love the live element, and the reactions from the crowd will feed the DJ's who will be taking them on a trip. We're all there to have a good time, and part of our performances mean dropping live instruments or sounds where appropriate in the set, and a lot of crowd interaction. Eventually we plan on implementing the visual aspects to the performance and make sure that people are having a great time.

What are some of your favorite events to take part in? And will we be seeing you at this year's Winter Music Conference in Miami?

We are aiming at playing some of the large outdoor festivals this summer. Really there are so many events, as long as people are there for the music and to have a good time, the rest is history. We are debating whether or not we are going to hit up Miami for the 2011 WMC. We really have quite the hectic recording schedule over the next few months, so who knows, we might surprise you guys with some performances there. Nothing is set in stone just yet...

With such a bright future ahead of you, what's next for Stereo Martini?

As we complete the many projects we have on the go, behind the mixing board we'll be expanding into additional genres. We'll be producing and writing tracks and pumping them out as fast as the market can handle it. Needless to say, we won't rush anything until it's 100% to our satisfaction. Quality above quantity for us, it's what we believe in, is our motto. We would also love to eventually get involved in musical scoring.

I gotta ask...your favorite martini - Dirty? Classic? Shaken or stirred?

Check out our website for the "Stereo Martini" recipe. A mixologist friend of ours made one just for us, and wooooo... it's all we drink in the studio these days. So definitely a "Stereo Martini", as biased as that might sound. It's a good Martini, and it's dirty, that's for sure.

 

Written by Nekeia Boone

Experience Media - 2010 Telly Award Winner

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