Micah Martin is the lead singer in the rock band, The Zealots, but EDM fans are probably more familiar with his work as a vocalist for producers like Brooks, Dirty Palm, Retrovision, Loris Cimino, Protohype, Spag Heddy, and Kayzo. He has stopped by to tell us how he first got into singing, performing with his rock band versus EDM festivals, and the process behind some of his most popular songs like "Oblivion" with Dirty Palm and "Hold it Down" with Brooks.
Where did your love for music come from and what inspired you to start creating your own?
My grandmother bought me a guitar for Christmas when I was twelve years old. I had no idea how to play it so my dad paid for some guitar lessons. After two sessions, my guitar teacher told my dad that I was unteachable and that I would never become a good musician. Hearing him say that inspired me to become a well rounded musician, so I taught myself how to play guitar, drums, bass, and piano by ear. Around that same time, my best friend and neighbor down the street, Ryan, got a guitar and so we started jamming and learning music together. His little brother was learning the drums at the time as well and one day, we made a promise that we would be in a famous band together. Fast forward several years later and here we all are still writing original music and playing shows together!
How did you first get involved with the EDM side of things?
It all started after I posted a cover of "Throne" by Bring Me the Horizon on YouTube. A few weeks later, I got a message from a Latvian producer, Urbanstep, who wanted to use my version to make a remix of the song. My vocals really meshed well with his style of music so we decided to release an EP together that ended up getting a lot of positive feedback. I added myself into some EDM production groups on Facebook and posted video mixes of me singing on some tracks I was working on. One video went viral in the group and I woke up to 150+ message requests from producers wanting to work with me. I had listened to electronic music before all of this but never really got into it personally. While my heart and soul bleeds for Rock and Roll, I saw this demand for my vocals as an opportunity to help fund my dream in to be in a famous band with my best friends. Some of my first EDM artists I worked with were Protohype and Brooks.
How does the process normally work when you work on collaborations?
When I get the instrumental from the producer, I first figure out the key and bpm of the song to see what I'm working with. After that, I just start playing around with possible melodies and recording them to see how they sound. When I'm trying to find a melody, I'll just make up some gibberish lyrics to fill in the notes but for some of the best songs I've done, the lyrics have just come so naturally in the heat of the moment. I never write down my lyrics so that I can fully explore the feel and vibe of the song. After I've finished a solid draft, I'll obsess over the track and listen to it over and over again to see if there's anything else that I can do to it. Once I feel like it's the best work I can do, I'll send the acapella off for the producer to mix it into the track.
What are some of the challenges you've had while working with producers?
It can be pretty frustrating when I write a song for somebody and they reject it right away or have a ton of changes they want me to make. I'm always open to criticism, but if the criticism is going to make the song sound terrible, then I'm not about it. I wouldn't have sent them anything other than what I felt was perfect for the song.
I also process the vocals myself but some producers don't like my vocal mix, which means I have to send them the dry stems for the songs. Sending the stems is always stressful for me because I never know how it's going to sound in the end since everyone mixes vocals differently. Honestly, I don't end up liking most of the vocal mixes for the songs where the producer used the stems but whatever, you can't win them all.
Now when it comes to our rock performances, there's a lot more setup and logistics involved like transporting, setting up, and testing our gear at the venue. Then for the shows themselves, it's a lot more difficult because you have to have to perform everything live and work off of the band to try to form a genuine connection with the audience. The crowds are usually smaller which is actually harder to control since you don't have that mob mentality of those massive EDM events. Then during and after the show, you have to go and try to build your fanbase and make sure that they'll come back for other shows, share our music, or buy our albums.
What're you hoping to accomplish in the future and what upcoming projects can you share with us?
My end game is definitely to have my music heard all around the world and help out people that have gone through similar things that I have in my life. A lot of my writing stems from my experiences with rejection and heartbreak in addition to events in my life, and so writing about those feelings help me process them and move forward. I want to be the voice that people turn to when they're feeling depressed and don't know how to deal with certain situations.
A huge thanks to Micah Martin for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to follow him and The Zealots on social media for all the latest tracks, shows, and updates!
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