Gimme Your Answers (Beyond the Stage): An Interview w/ Beth Martinez

Beth Martinez
Ever wonder what happens beyond the stage? Well we do. These roadies, managers, guitar techs, lighting directors, publicists (and even positions you may not have known about) make the music you love come alive! In a recent interview, A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with Beth Martinez — an extremely passionate person in the industry (who we’ve had the pleasure of working with) doing publicity for “hand-picked, high quality artists that appeal to the discerning music fan” at Danger Village. Read our interview below as we discussed Holychild, Hoodlem, and Low Roar; the best part about her job; life-changing albums; and something amazing she’s currently developing.

AMBY: Hey Beth, welcome to AMBY! How did you first get into your industry?

Beth Martinez: I first got into music through an organization at my university called Starcourse. We promoted about 3-4 big shows a year, like Ben Folds, John Mayer, The Vines, Wilco, etc. This was 2001-2004.  I started as a staff member in the hospitality division, where we took care of the band backstage. Eventually I became head of publicity with Shira Zisook, who now works at Billions in Chicago.  It was a great introduction to the live concert side of the music industry.  Throughout college I also interned at radio stations and record labels and eventually was hired at a label called Minty Fresh in Chicago.

AMBY: Please explain to our readers what you do.

Beth Martinez:I had a good friend in high school named Matt Drufke who would make these amazing mix tapes for his friends.  It’s where I first heard Built to Spill and The Flaming Lips- so many good bands.  Basically, I’ve made a career out of doing what Matt Drufke did. I seek out the cool new bands and tell people with similar tastes about them, and then those people tell their friends about it.  Some of those people happen to have blogs that have a big readership.

I shout about these bands through the megaphone of my company and get as many people to know about them as possible. Anyone who is into music discovery at one time or another has said “why don’t more people know about this band?”  What Danger Village does is solves that problem.

AMBY: What’s been one of the highlights you’ve had while working at Danger Village?

Beth Martinez: Something that is great about Danger Village is that it keeps getting better.  Each week is better than the last.  I’m able to do things this year that I didn’t even know were possible, so realizing that our opportunities are limitless has been a huge highlight.

Something I’m most proud of is the relationship I’ve had with HOLYCHILD. I believed in them and had to trust my gut to take a chance on supporting them when there wasn’t much to go on besides instinct.  The way their press campaign this fall panned out was a dream come true. We were able to get their music to the furthest corners of the music industry with no outside help.

AMBY: The company has an amazing roster who we’ve had the pleasure of working with! Which artist releases from Danger Village have you been enjoying lately?

Beth Martinez: Our latest release we’re working is from Low Roar, our first Icelandic Band. They’re playing Iceland Airwaves this fall so I think I may get to fulfill my lifelong dream of doing to Iceland for that!  Their music is ethereal and lovely.

Then I’m also very excited by Hoodlem. It’s an Australian duo who will be playing Canadian Music Week next month.  They make sexy-as-hell electronic neo-R&B that you can’t help but listen to on repeat.

AMBY: What is the best and worst thing about your gig?

Beth Martinez: The best part is being able to find a band before anyone else knows about them and seeing them develop over their career. I’m passionate about music discovery. When you see a band in a 200 person club, you know people are purely there for the music.  Once a band becomes bigger the shows get filled with people who are there to say they were there, or who go because they feel they should.  When it’s the beginning it’s just about feeling the vibe and connecting with a band’s energy in an intimate setting. I find it to be a more authentic experience.

The worst thing is that to find those amazing bands, you have to listen to many terrible bands and go to many awful shows. We’re getting better at getting through band submissions quicker, because we get a LOT.  Sometimes we have to listen to 100 band submissions in a week, which you have to be pretty dedicated to do.  We’ve actually created a “Hall of Fame” of the really terrible bands.

AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?

Beth Martinez: Weezer- “Pinkerton”. Weezer’s Blue Album was the first CD I bought with my own money. I remember going to Best Buy with my dad and buying it along with Green Day’s “Dookie.”  But my first year of college I was so into Pinkerton that I listened to it every day and eventually wore out my CD and had to go to that same Best Buy in Crystal Lake, IL and buy a new one on my lunch break over the summer.  I was so obsessed that I started something called Weezerfest, which now you’d probably call a “meetup.”  It became an international phenomenon.

Neutral Milk Hotel – “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”. In my junior year of college, I went to my friend Pete Rockers’ apartment and he burned me a bunch of CD’s like My Bloody Valentine and Built to Spill. I asked him where he found out about all this music and he told me about a website he went to called Pitchfork.  The one that stood out to me In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I don’t think I’d ever heard such a strange and beautiful take on music – yet it told such compelling stories.  This was my first real foray into “indie” rock.

The Beatles – “White Album”. I was in 7th grade when I started listening to my parents’ tapes and records. They didn’t go deep into music but for some reason they had a tape of the White Album that I uncovered and became obsessed with.  I hung Beatles posters around my room and stenciled ‘The Beatles’ on my binder with a Sharpie. I was made fun of and called a hippie for that.  But what strange, weird music this was. I think this was probably a window to a world outside the one I was living in that I had never dreamed of and it opened my little heart to the ideas of new possibilities that hadn’t been there before.

AMBY: What do you do for fun outside of loving music?

Beth Martinez: This is a hard one for music obsessives to answer. I have to try really really hard to get away from work and music.  Music is everywhere! I think it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s the soundtracks to our lives.

But I like to go on adventures. I go hiking and exploring around Southern California. And I read about one novel a week.  If I’m not working or working out, I’m probably reading something.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about you that nobody knows yet?

Beth Martinez: I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I’ve started developing a course series where I teach bands how to promote themselves. I wish I could sit down with every band that I hear from and give them personal advice, but that would be two more full time jobs. I think the best thing I can do is share my knowledge with people who are interested in hearing it.

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Thank you Beth Martinez, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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