Originally from Los Gatos, California, Martin started writing songs when he was 14 and was soon playing in bands and doing solo gigs up and down the West Coast. After a traumatic car accident in 2005, life took a dark turn and Martin found himself bouncing between jail and treatment. Realizing he needed a fresh start in order to turn his focus back to his music, he made his way to New York City. He soon found a band, and an audience, and recorded his excellent debut album, For All the Beautiful Losers. After gigging around NYC, touring all over the United States, engaging new fans, and becoming a father, Martin felt he was ready to make a record that reflected a new sense of hope and purpose.
His latest, Gimme Some Light is now available via High Moon Records. The first single, ‘Death of Love’, was released earlier this year, with a beautifully-shot video that blends French New Wave cinema with a classic Americana vibe.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Ryan about the new record.
ASoulfulSound: Your new album Gimme Some Light is now available. The record is deeply emotional and personal. How comfortable are you sharing and exposing yourself like this?
RM: It’s very comfortable for me. I get more nervous around small talk. But anything has to do the peoples struggles and complexities and fears and emotions is all just fine with me.
ASoulfulSound: You started gigging in your teens in California until an accident in 2005 sidetracked you for several years. Would you like to talk about that? How you specifically settled on NYC?
RM: Well, to be clear the accident happened when I was 18 and I did most of the traveling and shows and writing after that and after my turn in the clink for bit. I think it actually helped me in a lot of ways. I was exposed to another side of life that I had been sheltered from until then. It forced me to grow up quicker than some other kids at 19. I was living in LA at 21 and decided to drop everything and leave. It was one of those classic moments of walking out of a job, throwing the apron in the trash, buying a map, filling the car with oatmeal and then driving. Originally my friend and I wanted to go to Canada but they wouldn’t let us in, so New York was next on the list. I loved it so I just stayed. I lived in my car for a while and eventually got a job as a doorman on Bleecker Street. The city pulled me in.
ASoulfulSound: Can you describe how the music scene differs from California and NY? How is it the same?
RM: I’m not sure if I’m totally qualified to answer that question. I was pretty hesitant in CA. But from my experience I would say LA can be a tougher nut to crack. And maybe San Francisco. People are kind of settled into there groups and there kind of wary of outsiders. New York seemed to me to be much more receptive place to me at least. I’m sure there’s someone with the opposite story. After all, it has been “go west.” People like the sun all year. I like seasons.
ASoulfulSound: We LOVE the single, Death of Love, just LOVE IT. Can you tell us the inspiration for that song?
RM: Glad to hear you LOVE it! Thanks. I think that song comes from my frustration at how people seem to be so closed off from one another. It kind of goes back to how comfortable I am having a deeply personal conversation with a total stranger. I like connecting with people and I think most people should be trusted. I guess some people would call me “intense.” They seem scared of honesty. Well, how else are we going to get to the heart of the matter?
ASoulfulSound: On Adeline, we’re feeling a bit of a John Doe vibe, who are some artists that inspire you.
RM: Sure. Elliot Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Mark Kozelek, Jackson Browne, Townes Van Zandt, Mark Linkous, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell. I think that’s enough?
ASoulfulSound: In support of the new record, you are currently on tour. How’s it going? Do you have a favorite city or venue that you look forward to playing? A dream venue you’d like to play? (NOTE: We’re still eagerly anticipating a Philadelphia show!)
RM: So the tour will start next week on Monday in LA. I’m sure it will be everything tours promise to be. I’m really looking forward to traveling up the west coast. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I lived in Chico, CA once for about four months. That was a really beautiful time in my life and my memories from there are precious. I haven’t been back since I left about twelve years ago. I’m also looking forward to Seattle, I’ve never been there before. See you in August!
ASoulfulSound: It’s festival season…. tell us your DREAM Festival lineup. Anyone living or passed on.
RM: That’s a hard one. I think I’d just like to see Mark Kozelek play for like 10 hours. I would probably know every song.
ASoulfulSound: What’s next?
RM: I have a whole bunch of new songs. I would love to start another record soon. Maybe in the Fall. Also I would love to tour Europe. I’ve never been!
ASoulfulSound: Thanks so much Ryan. We wish you all the best with the new record and hope to catch a show soon.