Martin Rivas

12th Annual Adult Contemporary Song Vox Pop Winner

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Record Label: Self-Released

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Home Base: New York City

Genre: Somewhere in the ether between singer/songwriter, adult-contemporary, soul, and rock&roll

Categories Entered: Adult-Contemporary

Work Submitted: “Your Heart Will Be Broken Again”

Artists Featured: Me

Label: None, total DIY

Who are your influences?: I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Mom, The Beatles, Curtis Mayfield, Can, The Clash, FM3… there’s just way way too many…

Describe your nominated work: It’s a song with a twisted-yet-straightforward sentiment: caring about a loved one too much to share the blunt reality of a hurtful situation with their innocent heart, wishing it were as obvious to them as it is to you due to years of painful-but-necessary experience.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording?: Dave Eggar, who plays cello on the track (along with Marika Hughes), is an unusual man, if that qualifies. I love him to death. We’re all in a way unusual, aren’t we? At least I hope so. I also put masking tape over my guitar strings to make the instrument play in a bit more staccato fashion.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned?: The happiest of accidents occurred when producer Alex Wong and the über-talented Bess Rogers joined me to track the backing vocals on “Your Heart Will Be Broken Again.” We wrote the “la-la-la-laa-laa-laa” backing vocal part over some hot toddies and tracked it into one microphone on a particularly lovely late autumn night in Brooklyn.

How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses?: This was the first project of mine that my dear listeners funded via Kickstarter. We ended up raising the goal, and then 60% beyond the goal, so I recorded a second album of homespun cover songs with some of my favorite NYC-based singer/songwriters, and sent it only to Kickstarter backers as a thank-you gift. Coming up with some of the prizes was my favorite part of using Kickstarter to fund the album, but it sure is nerve-wracking wondering if you’re going to make your goal. I don’t know if I have the intestinal fortitude to ever do it again. As far as recouping expenses, Kickstarter helped immensely, but I don’t know when I would ever recoup all expenses. I don’t care, honestly. I love doing this too much to worry about profiting from it.

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 12th IMAs?: I’ve heard only great things about it from friends who have been nominated/have won, so I thought why not, although I didn’t expect to hear back.

What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?: The therapy that comes with deeply searching my soul on a consistent basis and converting what I find within myself to sonic and lyrical sentiment; the joy that comes with the recording process and with sharing music with anyone who may be interested in listening; the humbling happiness that comes when I hear from someone who relates to what they hear and in doing so takes possession of the song. They make it their own. There is no greater success than all of this.

How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals?: I’ll let folks know that I was nominated for an IMA, and they’ll smile, and perhaps they’ll comment on what good taste you guys have.

Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique?: There’s a very broad group sitting in my audience. The thing that I think binds us together is our awareness of how short our time here is, and how precious the ties we create with each other are.

What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour?: It’s not a close call I guess, but having the van cleaned out by lowly riffraff overnight while playing in Atlanta GA is a pretty hefty mishap. But the silver lining was learning yet again just how generous and selfless people are when someone is in need. Instruments and gas $ and love and support came out of the woodwork from many sources, especially unexpected sources. Thanks again, good people of Atlanta!

As far as a guilty pleasure, if maximum In-N-Out Burger visits while in California qualify, then count me guilty as sin.

Who are your musical heroes?: Anyone who has the guts to pick up an instrument and bare their soul to the point where fear and honesty and courage completely blur, be it just to themselves, or to a handful of people, or to a whole lot of people, those are my musical heroes.

Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why?: There are sooo many songs I wish that I wrote. I’ve got playlist on my iPod of songs I wish I wrote. It’s my favorite playlist. There are just moments within songs that can make me fall in love with a song for the rest of my life. I don’t even need to like the rest of the song. If it’s got that moment, boom, it goes onto that iPod playlist. Songs like “Sweet Blindness” by Laura Nyro, “Ooh Baby Baby” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” by The Beach Boys, “Hang On to Yourself” by David Bowie, “She’s Got Soul” by Nick Lowe… there’s a boatload of them for me.

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans?: I don’t know if I could surprise anyone who listens to my music, because I also host an iTunes podcast called All Reet Sonics on which I play my favorite recordings of all time. If you check it out, then you’ll know too!

How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming?: I just keep my ears open to what I hear anywhere, be it on the beach or at a friend’s house or over the radio or in someone’s car as they zip by. I absolutely buy music. Streaming just doesn’t feel legit to me. I want to support the artists, and I still want to feel as though I have possession of something that I purchased, like it used to be with 45s. That tactile feeling of putting on a record, staring into the album cover, the moldy smell of an old record jacket, watching the label spin as the music plays… Those feelings may no longer be in the mainstream, but for anyone who listened or listens to music that way, they know how strong that multi-sensory experience is. Streaming just feels cheap.

How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free?: Make pottery? Brew beer? Interior decorating? The fact is, they won’t. Music as a commodity is racing towards worthlessness. But I can’t imagine that that will stop anyone who makes music for the same reason that they breathe or go to the bathroom.

What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today?: Someone is profiting from all of this music that is seemingly everywhere nowadays, in more formats than ever. Downloads, streaming, placements, etc. In 98% of the cases, it isn’t the musicians. In order for your favorite underground musicians to remain musicians, they need your active support. Buy their music. Attend their show if they come around to your town. It is appreciated far more than you know.

Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future?: Both, I hope. If an artist has a vision that is more of a paragraph than a sentence, I hope that they will still have the means to produce a full album and take their listeners on something a bit more involved than just a one-song journey.

Finish this sentence: The music industry is…you. Dig deep and you’ll find artists whose music may speak to you with incredible depth. What labels present is merely a super-shiny and buffed tip of a wonderful sonic iceberg.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: My wife and I are expecting our first child any day now, so I’ll be bouncing this brand-new person on my knee until further notice. But I do plan on doing some regional shows this autumn and winter. As far as a new album, I’ve put out three in the past three years, so I think I’ll just kick back and wait for a new batch of songs to find their way to me.