The West Coast was a shining beacon for American dance music. It was where Kaskade, Miguel Migs, Mark Farina, DJ Dan, Doc Martin, Donald Glaude, Marques Wyatt, Hardkiss and so many others fostered a special sound.

While this is still the place to be for massive festivals like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival, the West Coast sound is a thing of the past, absorbed by an international conspiracy to take electronic dance music mainstream.

There are still stalwarts, however, and San Francisco's cantankerous, funk-loving house music label dirtybird is chief among them. Its first release seven years ago was by a guy named Justin Martin and, after blowing the roof off Miami's annual DJs' retreat with “Sad Piano,” he's become a marquee name in clubland. Tonight Avalon celebrates the release of his forthcoming dirtybird album Ghettos & Gardens, a pie made from the dough of well-worked dubstep bass lines and a sublime sauce of urban melodics. We caught up with Martin to ask him a few questions:

On Ghettos & Gardens you tap into some twisted, dubstep bass without going full dubstep. Will that be dubstep's contribution to dance music — production techniques?

Martin: Actually, to be quite honest … it was more inspired by drum and bass than anything. People forget that drum and bass has been around forever in the midst of the recent massive popularity explosion of dubstep. That being said I definitely don't mind if I turn the heads of some dubstep peeps. One of the goals of my music has always been to blur lines between genres. There is no denying the power of dubstep in EDM at the moment and there are some really talented producers out there but I wasn't trying to make a dubstep track. I just really like nasty twisted bass.

They used to say breaks were hard to dance to, so DJs gave them up even though they liked them. Is it hard for you to play breaks at a club, or do people embrace them?

Haha … I am definitely not a breakbeat DJ. We refer to it as booty bass … And I usually find that people embrace it … However there is a time and a place for everything. I'll only venture away from 4/4 territory when it feels right.

“Sad Piano”! All-time track.


You're one of a handful of American producers who gets buzz in this scene. Is that changing for the better or for the worse?

I really don't know … I have just been doing my own thing from the beginning … trying to be unique and creative … and I just feel blessed that I have been noticed and gotten this far.

Do you care to weigh in on the Steve Angello-vs.-DJ Sneak debate about what is real house?

Not really… Respect to Sneak though… he is a legend in my book.

Does the mainstreaming of electronic dance music via festivals and concerts change the way you produce or perform? Do you think it's good or bad for your career and music?

It hasn't changed the way that I perform … I thinks it's important to stay true to yourself and play the music that you love. I do think that it is amazing that electronic music has become so popular and I have a lot of respect for artists like Diplo and Skrillex who are at the forefront of the movement. It is always a great thing for everyone when a whole new generation of kids are opening their ears to electronic music.

How do L.A. club crowds compare to those in San Francisco?

Its all awesome … West Coast is the best coast and we love our California dirtybird friends and fans.

Justin Martin DJs tonight with Claude VonStroke at Control at Avalon. Info and tickets.

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.

LA Weekly