Martin Solveig is a focused artist, hungry for experience. His first DJ sets (a few nights on the decks of the Palace club when he was 18) inspired a passion for electronic music and an ambition to make a career in this fascinating, elusive little world. As a student, he was successively resident DJ at Le Palace, Les Bains-Douches, L’Enfer and Le Queen. Assembling disco classics and “Guem” and “Carneiro” percussion, he soon learned to put together small, very simple pieces and produce his first samples.
Martin’s first production efforts were persistent but inconclusive. Then, with the backing of friend and mentor Claude Monnet, he set up his own label, “Mixture”, and finally made his name with “Heart Of Africa”. This piece of percussion enlivened by raging saxophone riffs won acclaim from influential electro players, such as Joe Clausell, Frankie Knuckles, and Bob Sinclar. Sinclar, who had just launched his “Africanism” project with DJ Gregory, asked Martin to join the team. The result was “Edony”, Martin’s first hit, which sold 40,000 copies in vinyl. A surprising track, telling the story of an Egyptian princess over a darbouka backing, it reached the number-one spot in the French, Italian and Greek club charts.
Now it was time to take the plunge and put together an album combining these tracks with others, providing a wider vision of Martin’s musical world. “Sur la Terre” (On Earth) was released in 2002. It included “Edony” and “Heart Of Africa”, as well as “I’m a good man” (a powerful, old-school soul track), the slightly melancholic “Someday”, and “Linda” (a jokey Afro nod to his masters, Fela and Serge Gainsbourg). This first album was a strong critical success, drawing unexpected reactions from all around the world. It enabled Martin to work with international producers such as Kenny Dope (Masters At Work), and DJ Spen (Basement Boys) and also brought him offers of ambitious remixes for Cunnie Williams, Soldiers of Twilight, and especially Salif Keita, for whom Martin wrote one of 2003’s great club anthems, “Madan”.
The story of the remix, “Madan” for Salif Keita was unremarkable, with exchanges between record companies, but when the lively, universal song was heard, things started to move. Martin re-orchestrated the track, turning it into an afro-disco whirlwind. Pleased with the result, he decided to release it on his “Mixture” label. For nearly a year, Tony Humphries, Louie Vega, David Morales, and others featured the remix in their sets. It was then aired by numerous radio stations in France, Italy, Portugal, Australia, and South Africa, a proud achievement for its creator. While sticking to Salif Keita’s traditional message, he secured the backing of top DJs and won over a broad, not necessarily specialist audience. “Madan” has now been compiled more than 150 times in 21 different countries. It is included on the remix album “Suite” (Continued), a compilation of many of Martin’s remixes and a few previously unreleased tracks, including “Rocking music”.
Martin realized that he had reached a turning point, that it was time to step back from African influences if he was to avoid getting stuck in a rut or acquiring the kind of label that always sticks a little too firmly to an artist behind their back. Another meeting with Jay Sebag brought the possibility of a rewarding partnership that would allow Martin to express his sometimes rather controlled (but uplifting) disco streak. “Rocking Music” was released in October 2004, greatly widening the artist’s audience and winning over the UK public for the first time. Backed by Mousse T, Pete Tong, and Erick Morillo, “Rocking Music” impacted the 2004 Winter Music Conference in Miami, then swept across Europe on the air and in clubs (BBC Radio 1 playlisted it with high rotation).
Martin never lets his producer’s cap get in the way of his DJ headgear. An artist endlessly roaming from venue to venue, he performs his music on the decks, touring clubs worldwide. The 2004 Rocking Music Tour took him to more than 20 countries. In Sydney, New York, Ibiza, Singapore, Barcelona, Zagreb, London, Lisbon, Dubai, and Paris, at events ranging from a private party for Karl Lagerfeld to the open-air festival of Carthage, Martin found unswervingly enthusiastic audiences, often displaying different sensibilities.