As a little girl, Edrina Martinez wanted to be an astronaut. She also wanted to be Gwen Stefani. She tied a ribbon around her acoustic guitar with some tape and sang along to Tragic Kingdom from her couch.
Ultimately, Martinez combined her dreams and became Astronautica, a cosmic traveler who isn’t afraid to show her feminine side. “I’m like an astronaut in my own way now,” she says.
But while Martinez celebrates her femininity, she wants the same respect given to male artists in L.A.’s beat scene. She recalls an incident years ago where a man in the music industry suggested that in addition to making music, she also start a fashion blog or YouTube channel. “You think men are receiving the same advice?” she exclaims.
Martinez doesn't look at the advice she received as “hardcore misogyny, just a casual dismissal.” Women in the industry are often made to feel that their music won’t sell on its own. They need to be sex objects, fashion bloggers, and social media gurus first — and only then can they succeed as artists. But Astronautica refuses to let this sort of ignorance derail her from her goals.
“I’m not trying to go backwards,” she says. “I started out as a musician … doing other things before I’ve accomplished all I wanted to in music would be a distraction, at least for me.”
Overall, she notes, being in the L.A. beat scene has been a very rewarding and inspiring experience. Martinez recalls meeting Daedelus very early on in her journey. “This was very, very early on. I didn’t even have a SoundCloud yet,” she remembers. “And I was just like, ‘Yeah! I’m making music,” and he was like ‘Yeah! Keep putting it out there.'”
That type of encouragement, along with kind words from Flying Lotus and Tokimonsta, has helped shape Martinez into the artist she is today. She recalls playing a show with Tokimonsta in San Francisco. “We were in the green room, and she was like, ‘I checked your album out. It was super cool.'”
Hearing this meant a lot for Martinez, as Tokimonsta was one of her biggest influences. Up until finding out about Tokimonsta through the YouTube suggestion sidebar, Martinez had only listened to male producers. So to see a woman making this type of music, she says, was very uplifting.
On Jan. 29, Astronautica will release her new solo album, Gemini, on Alpha Pup Records. Her music is like an abstract painting come to life, with colorful, dreamy and complex yet playful melodies.
Martinez wrote all the lyrics and sings on the album, which has been a scary yet freeing experience as she previously released only instrumentals or tracks with guest vocals. There are also no featured vocalists on the project, a decision she made on advice from Alpha Pup label boss Daddy Kev. “I had this conversation with Kev at the beginning stages, and he told me, ‘This should be an album highlighting you.’
Martinez also did her own own artwork for the album. “I do a lot of abstract painting,” she says. “And I feel like my paintings are very representative of my music.” A lot of this artwork was created while Martinez was making the album, so it was important for her to incorporate it into the project.
Martinez has been busy not only in her music career, but with other ventures as well. The 24-year-old artist has graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in broadcast journalism. While journalism is one of her deepest passions, and she has a lot of ideas for fusing that love with her love of music, she is totally focused on her music career right now. Martinez is also going back to school to study music business at UCLA Extension, and is already working on her next project.
She's also staying focused on all the amazing things female artists are doing for the scene. Her friend Kate Ellwanger aka Dot runs a female-focused label called Unspeakable Records and hosts events around Los Angeles, such as 808s and Heartbreaks, a new monthly night at the Ace Hotel that showcases female artists around L.A.'s beat scene. Astronautica just played the night's first event last weekend. “I think sometimes women don’t get as much recognition, so it’s cool to see females doing something about it.”