Why Programmers Make Great Rock Stars: An Interview with MartyParty

Posted by Ben Weiss on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 @ 14:12 PM

Flanked by beautiful dancers under bright, neon lights, electronic music producer MartyParty’s stage presence elicits far more imagery of “rock star” than it does “computer scientist.”

However, while some see the South African native only for his rage-inducing party beats, the tools and strategies that power his performances were born from more than a decade of professional work in the enterprise tech world.

And that’s a message Marty wants to spread.

“You wouldn't believe how many stars used to code,” he says. “It’s where we come from.”

With that sentiment in mind, Marty was kind enough to chat with Infusive’s marketing strategist Ben Weiss about the hard tech behind his soundscapes to inspire others in IT to express themselves through music.

Let’s talk nerdy.

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Would you believe this guy used to code PHP with Deadmau5 in a cubicle?

Infusive: Can you describe your Computer Science background?

MartyParty: I have a Bachelor of Computer Science from University Of Cape Town in South Africa. I majored in CompSci - Math - Physics and Applied Math.

Infusive: When/how did you realize your skills as a programmer could feed your interest in music production?

MartyParty: It was the reverse - I worked in software for 12 years … started writing code at 15 then went from a junior coder in Java and C++, through Object Orientation, through application architecture and eventually Chief Technical Officer.

Only once I left my technology career did I get into Ableton Live - which I was turned onto as it is an unreal piece of code. I soon realized all my skills from coding, pattern recognition, and procedural discipline all came into effect.

Modern EDM production is a total software experience and the process of starting/maturing a project and then iterating over several projects to create a set of projects or an album takes lots of 12 hour sessions in front of the computer. It is truly revenge of the nerds.

Infusive: What concepts from your CS experience are alive in your music?

MartyParty: Iterative design and reuse are cornerstones for track development. The development of these patterns, using musical theory, when reapplied to a new seed melody or chord progression, can transform into a full track using the process and the process is always evolving. 

Infusive: Can you comment on the transition from what many consider a ‘nerdy’ or introverted discipline with your CS focus to ultimately using those same skills as a live performer?

MartyParty: Absolutely - in order to be a "DJ" in 2013, you have to produce original electronic music. This requires learning how to use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) tool - like Logic, Ableton, Cubase, and designing custom sounds, arranging beat patterns and mixing and compressing audio to create competitive sounding, original tracks.

martyimage 2Even the act of performing music involves custom technical setups and use of controllers, filters, effects and patterns to mix the music live. The entire discipline of being an EDM performer requires a love and deep connection with the computer and the software. Obviously there is a dose of talent needed to create original and interesting music and perform it with a sense of personality and flare so as to garnish a fan base and develop a following but the disciplines are straight computer geek.

If you read my Thump column [powered by VICE Media], you’ll see I’m slowly trying to educate people on the reality that engineers are coding this music and learning to perform like rock stars, kind of a cross over skill which has never existed before and is never spoken about. Literally every DJ in the circuit now is a total nerd by day. But their public and online avatar is a rock star. It’s crazy.

Infusive: If for any reason music was no longer an option (tragic as that would be), what “day job” in the tech industry would be your next choice?

MartyParty: I’d love to help design the next DAWs, the next soft synths and the next plugins, all which would draw on my real world experience and represent the evolution of digital audio tooling. That would be cool. I’d also love to create a startup in the EDM social network/music release and distribution market. I have tons of ideas for new ways to deliver music and show information to the fan base in a fresh way through a new piece web technology, similar to the "drip" paradigm, but more like the follow/unfollow freedom of the Twitter model. Watch out.

About Infusive Solutions:
Infusive Solutions is a specialized software development recruitment firm in New York City facilitating Microsoft, Open Source and PHP development careers in New York City.
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