Coming from Los Angeles, experimental artist THE AMBIENT LIGHT felt free to roam between various soundscapes and moods as he approached to work out his own identity. He took lessons from dream pop, post rock, shoegaze, with his latest offerings displaying an embrace of 90’s hip hop production and lo-fi beats! Following his previous work and new formed band PURE MIDS, Mr Steven Martinez one again pins down his diverse influences into a fine, coherent piece of spacey ambience that will stick with you for long weeks! Today, we’re giving you an exclusive first listen of this amazing song, along with in-depth interview with Steven, who offered an explanation of the touching tune, some details on his creative process, and a lot more!
Hey there Steven! I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since we first introduced THE AMBIENT LIGHT for our readers on IDIOTEQ. I must admit I lost track of the band after your 2015 record “I Want To Exist), but listening to your last year’s offering “Sun-drenched Vol. 1 (Her Summer Mixtape)”, I can already tell it was a terrible miss from my end. We’ll get into the details of this release, but first off, how what kept you busy and absorbed between 2015 and 2018?
In a way, I lost track of it as well. After the release of that album, I felt burnt out and uninspired from working on a full-length for two years. At the end of the year, I took a two week trip to Europe. When I came back I felt refreshed and ready to work on new music, but not necessarily for this project. I was just experimenting and collaborating with friends here at my home studio (Casa de TAL). That’s when the process began with my other project Pure Mids and during that time, I also worked as an audio engineer, mix engineer and co-producer on two EP’s released by my friends in Stations Creations. Somewhere in between that is where I started recording demos for what would eventually be Sun-drenched.
Sun-drenched Vol. 1 (Her Summer Mixtape) sounds really amazing! What were some of the inspirations to put together this trippy collection and how was that process and project different compared to your previous offerings?
I had the idea of making an indie/dream-pop album inspired by 90’s hip hop production and lo-fi beats. The theme behind it was based on a mixtape of demos I gave to my girlfriend during the Summer when we first started dating, hence “Her Summer Mixtape.” At the time, she described the demos as having a “dreamy, summer-time vibe” which was what I was going for, so Sun-drenched felt like the perfect name for the EP. I also liked the idea of making a mixtape where I didn’t have to worry about each song sounding cohesive. It was more about the overall tone and vibe. I tried to achieve this through sampling, using vintage gear and I even used old cassette tapes from the ’90s to photograph the single artwork.
Ok, so tell us more about your new project, what inspired you to start PURE MIDS, who’s involved and how does it differ from your work with THE AMBIENT LIGHT?
Pure Mids started after helping my friends Will Gonzalez and Daniel Jurado record an EP for their band Fine Minds. Will is a great songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who also has a solo project under the name Banana Cream. He presented some songs about self-skepticism and optimism that resonated with me. I knew that it was an album that I could help bring into fruition using production techniques I had spent so much time learning during the process of recording I Want to Exist.
The recording process with Pure Mids is different because Will is the main writer and I get to focus on the production side of creating music, which is something I’m really passionate about. Daniel is also an amazing drummer (who also played on I Want to Exist) so we’re always able to capture a performance that helps feed into the energy that is Pure Mids. I’m very proud of the sound we were all able to achieve on our album Optimistic-ism.
We’re honored to premiere this entrancing new single called “When I Fade Out”. Can you get us some details behind the song, its meaning, and themes you’ve decided to explore through the lyrics?
The song takes the perspective of someone in a deep, reflective thought-process where they contemplate being reunited with loved ones who have passed on. Not necessarily in a religious sense, but more of a spiritual idea. The words “fade out” could mean passing on in this life or they could mean falling asleep and entering a dream state. In a lucid dream, we’re able to revisit those who have passed on. It’s an amazing part of life that people don’t talk much about. In a way, the lyrics “See you when I fade out” acts as a mantra in this song. A way to induce the subject of your lucid dream.
Music-wise, where do you see THE AMBIENT LIGHT going? How do you feel this project evolved over the years? How has your composing changed and what new techniques and gear have you incorporated into your process?
For me, The Ambient Light has always been an outlet for creativity. I never really viewed it as a traditional band because it never operated that way. I was fortunate to have friends to collaborate with through the different renditions of the live show over years but even then, It’s been a way to exercise my love for music production, songwriting, photography and video editing. Having one moniker for all of that to exist under is a way to create a vast catalog over time. It’s very rewarding because I am always progressing and discovering new means of expression through visual and audio mediums. Especially with the ever-growing technological advances in music. It’s a very exciting time for any content creator.
What sort of influences or musical touchpoints did you have whilst writing your new tracks? How do you flex your head in order to stay sharp and be able to deliver fresh ideas for engaging soundscapes?
My home studio allows me to create anything I imagine. From Music to photography and video. It’s a creative hub as well as home. When it comes to creating new music, it usually starts with a guitar riff or some type of loop I made in Ableton Live. Anything that evokes emotion. There are times where I don’t feel inspired so I tend to take a walk or go for a swim. Other times I’ll suddenly enter a creative flow-state and finish a song quickly. I approach photography the same way. Sometimes I have an idea in mind and I have to scout a location to shoot it and other times the location can be the pool in my backyard, and I bring my idea to life using photo editing techniques. In so many ways, the process of creating music and creating visuals is similar.
Your dreamy tunes will be now distributed through Circulate Music label. Can you tell us more about this pairing, how you got hooked and where do you see these cooperations going?
My manager Josh East had the idea of creating an imprint label called Dreamtime Palace under his company Circulate Music. Pure Mids was the first to release music under this imprint label and we’ve since signed some amazingly talented acts from around the globe. One of the bands, Ping Pong Club is from Bandung, Indonesia and their single “She’s Your Trouble” landed on 9 different official Spotify playlists across Asia. Another aritst, Carter Vail, currently has over 600,000 plays on his single “Melatonin” and it also holds a spot on Spotify’s Dreampop playlist. We’re all excited to see how much the label has grown in such a short time. We have a lot of plans in store for the future but if anyone would like to keep up to date with the label and the great acts that have recently joined, they can visit: CirculateMusic.com
Thanks so much for your time Steven I wish you lots of continued success in your compositional career and please be sure to drop us a line as soon as you start plotting your new release. Thanks so much. The last words are yours.