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As fellow Dalston-born, global-reaching neighbour NTS continues its takeover of our Store Mix series, who better to turn the dial than one of its earliest residents? As London longingly looks at the calendar and collectively countdowns to post-lockdown nightlife, forever raver Martelo reminds us just how much we’ve all missed the dancefloor.
Hey Martelo, how are you, where are you and what have these questions interrupted you from?
Hey, LN-CC I’m doing okay, taking each day as it comes! I’m in south London, just working on this mix and my next NTS show, putting tunes together etc.
Could you introduce us to you and your world. Who is Martelo and why do you do what you do?
Martelo is me. I imagine my story is probably similar to a lot of DJs, just a love for music that eventually leant itself to becoming a career / job – neither of those words feel right but I guess that’s what it is really, isn’t it? I was the kid who listened to music at school with my headphones up the sleeve of my blazer and my head resting on my hand. I eventually sold mixtapes in school and was DJing in clubs at 16, 17. My house was the hangout house so me playing music to my friends for hours on end and me playing music to strangers for hours on end in nightclubs isn’t a huge leap to me. I do it because I love it. I’m a raver at heart so I just feel like I’m on the floor with everyone, playing them my favourite tunes.
You are a career raver, ha! Did you ever experience a music-as-career epiphany? When was the moment that you realised that you could be a record maker, player and mixer?
It was always what I was gonna do, i didn’t care about GCSEs or university etc because I knew i was going to work in music in some capacity and was convinced they weren’t necessary (probably a bit dumb in hindsight!). The actual moment i realised i could probably live off DJing was one night when i was playing at Fabric, i remember walking up to the office with A-trak and maybe DJ Mehdi after our sets and just realising i couldn’t go in to work the next day. So I didn’t.
This year LN-CC turns 10. What were you like aged 10? What were you like aged 10? What were you listening to? Are we right in saying that you grew up to the sounds of Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Paul Simon?
Aged 10 I was listening to whatever was on at home like the soul stuff you mentioned plus tapes I’d get from my cousin of stuff like Nirvana, Jungle, The Prodigy, Cypress Hill etc. I was always stealing batteries from things for my Walkman so I was probably quite a pain in the arse too.
If you could go back and speak to 10-year-old you, what advice would you give them?
Carrots won’t kill you.
You’ve been an active member in the NTS community since its early days! What does NTS mean to you?
I’ve actually been there from the start, my first show was on the second day of broadcasting! NTS has been a constant outlet for me especially during the last year of no gigs. Being able to play music and share music with people on a regular basis is so important to me and NTS has allowed me the platform to reach people on a huge scale. I think NTS is a vital part of the London and UK music community... things would be a lot shitter without them. Something for everyone and that.
How has a lockdown-dominated year most impacted your work? What, if anything, has this period taught you or revealed to you?
I’ve not been able to do the thing I’m best at, the thing that brings me the most happiness and keeps a roof over my head. It’s taught me how easily everything can turn to shit and how much we really do need other people to stop us from losing our minds.
What excites you most about a future beyond lockdowns?
Standing in a pitch black club not being able to hear myself think because the bass is vibrating my insides, and carnival.
Beyond shopping at LN-CC, what would you like listeners to be doing to this mix?
Anything and everything, maybe it will be escapism and maybe it will make them miss the dancefloor.
What would you like listeners to take away when they press play?
That there’s light at the end of the tunnel and we will all be there soon enough coming together to the sound of music. but less cheesy.
Photography Dexter Lander