Interview // How To Be Awesome & Other Life Lessons With Justin Martin

The Magic Mountain Tour makes it’s next stop TONIGHT at the GLC in Whistler, with Smalltown DJs, Justin Martin & Christian Martin. Kora got on the phone with Justin to catch up on life, love and to find suggestions on the best pizza in Canada. Comment with your fave spots people! But for real this man has so many beautiful and interesting things to say, find out his fav Canadian music festivals, his advice for those seeking a career as an artist, and whether or not he believes in magic.

Photo Cred: LA Exchange

Soooooooo, how was the boat party in Fiji?! It looks HELLA FUN!

It was great! It was my second time doing that festival, and I am HOOKED! It’s one the most beautiful places. It’s also a really small intimate festival on a small island with about 600 people and it’s just super fun. By the end of the week you pretty much know everyone and you’re just basically immersed in a paradise community for a week – it’s epic. There are a few festivals that I fall in love with instantly and then beg to come back, year after year, even though most festivals won’t book people more than once. Another one is Shambhala. Holly Ship is another one where I just have to come back every year if I can ‘cause it’s just so much fun!

That brings me to my next question. What is your favourite Canadian music festival and why?

l love both Shambhala and Bass Coast for different reasons. Bass Coast has a little bit more of an intimate vibe and it’s always amazing because of the friendship factor. Every single one of my Canadian friends goes to that festival and it’s just surrounded by love. I feel the same way about Shambhala. It’s one of the most unique festivals I’ve ever been to. Playing on the Pagoda Stage and looking out at that crowd is one of the pinnacles of my DJ career for sure. It’s such a cool experience. I would say the thing that relates all these festivals that are on my top list is that it’s a place that I want to be hanging out it’s not just like a gig where I go and I play and I’m backstage in the green room. You actually want to immerse yourself because it’s so fun and the vibes are right and it’s such a beautiful atmosphere that it’s not a job anymore, you’re there completely immersed in the fun.

Photo Cred: Xavier Walker

As a dedicated pizza lover, have you found your favorite spot in Canada yet?

You know – I haven’t. I honestly haven’t been to many pizza places in Canada yet. For some reason, I don’t know why I’ve never really immersed myself in the pizza scene out there. My tour schedule is usually pretty crazy and doesn’t leave much time in between. I am 100% down for recommendations though!

Photo Cred: LA Exchange

We will have to put a call out to our readers for Pizza parlor suggestions for you! I wanted to ask you about The remix album for Hello Clouds. It dropped a few weeks ago, what has the response been like so far?

Oh man it’s been so crazy! In three days it went to the top release in Beatport and I think today it’s now hit number one. The tracks are just killing it! I feel really really blessed to say that all these people that we chose to put on the remix project are all either friends of mine or people that I really look up to and respect. So the fact that we put together this package for me really is the dream team!

One of the coolest things for me when I did my first album Ghettos and Gardens, was doing the remix album. You have all these new versions of these songs that people want to hear from your album but it brings a whole new breath of fresh air into the project. I really have since then kind of used that as a standard for this one and I was like – alright, this has to be it least as good or if not better. Particularly with Hello Clouds I made it more the listening album than singles that are going to be peak time bangers in my tracks. So I really wanted to get some good remixes from some of my favorite artists to just have new versions of these songs that really bang on the dance floor. I had the pleasure of having these tracks for a good probably 6 months before they come out – so I go to road test them. I have been SO excited for the moment for it all to come out because I knew based on the reactions on the dance floor that people were just gonna love it. It’s been awesome, I’m just super, super stoked about it.

Hell ya! That’s so awesome! You mentioned that everyone you collaborated with on Hello Clouds are people that inspired you or that you look up to. Is that generally the premise you base your choices off of?

Ya totally, I mean, I’m very picky with my music so I basically when approaching this project I just wrote down a list of all my favorite artist at the moment. I’m happy to say that most of them I could reach out to personally and I would say it’s kind of testament to the Dirtybird family. A lot of the artists that have released music on Dirtybird have a cool vibe and are people that besides their music I look up to outside of the music scene. So for me I kind of just put together a friend list. You know people call people up and say “hey what do you think about remixing this track or that track.” And then just sit back and patiently, or not so patiently rather, and wait to see what they come up with. As each remix rolled in it I kept thinking to myself – alright we’ve got something really special here. Everybody really went above and beyond and killed it and I’m really grateful for that.

I’ve personally been really really enjoying it by the way! Also loving the tour diaries.

Thank you… thank you! There’s going to be a few more segments so keep your eyes open. Once those are released that’s the end of this 4-year whirlwind experience of creating Hello Clouds. Since I started the project to now everything has just flown by! The amount of memories and special moments has just been completely priceless for me.

It sounds like it’s been an incredible process for you! This also brings me to my next question, what has been that one of the biggest “holy shit” moments of your career? A moment where you’ve felt really proud, excited, and inspired about yourself as an artist?

Oh wow, let me think about that. I mean there’s been a lot —  not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn or anything like that. I just feel like I constantly have these moments where I basically have to pinch myself, where I’m like “holy shit is this reality?” I’ve kind of been in this slow upward climb since the beginning and every time I reach a new point of success I think, there’s no way that things can get better than this. Then somehow they just keep getting better. They get better with our fan base, Dirtybird keeps growing and the music that not just myself but my peers keep making just keeps blowing my mind again and again. It’s hard to answer this. I’m trying to think while rambling on here…” [haha]


I think the one that really pops into my heads would probably be our Dirtybird BBQ on Treasure Island in San Francisco on our home turf last fall where we sold it out. There were about 4,000 people there and I got too close the party. The sun was going down over the bay and there were these crazy pink clouds and I don’t know, it was a really emotional moment. I was playing Rufus Du Sol’s – “Innerbloom” track and it was just one of these goose bump moments. I had tears behind my sunglasses while I was DJing. I was just looking out at the crowd thinking “holy shit” we came from throwing these renegade parties here in the park where we had 20 of our friends, to this. It was one of those moments where I was proud and felt like we’ve really accomplished something and that I can now die happy!

Photo Cred: DJ Times

You’re making me tear up over here! That’s truly amazing, I can only imagine how incredible that must have felt – very cool.

One of the raddest parts of it too was that all the same people that were there in 2003 are still rocking out with us. We are still surrounded by friends but now that group of friends has grown into a community of thousands.

Photo Cred: Maxresdefault

That’s really special

I agree, totally.

Speaking of the Dirtybird family… as someone who is such an integral member of  Dirtybird Records I wanted to ask you what advice you might have for any fellow artists out there seeking to jump on board with an established record label?

Four things…

#1: Be Cool. And that means being humble and being kind to people – that is the number one thing. If you’re a dick then you’ve got no chance in the music industry in my opinion. There are obviously exceptions to this but they are not people that I look up to and admire by any means. I really think that’s been one of the keys to my success. Always making sure that no matter where you are in life you give people respect and time of day.

Amen to that!

#2: I think second would be to be creative. Don’t’ try to just follow any trends, if you hear a Dirtybird record that’s ‘the big hit record’ don’t just try to remake that record. Every year,  Claud as an A&R will get one or two big stand-out Dirtybird tracks and within six months all of the demos will sound like that track. By that time, Claud is already looking for the next thing and the next sound. I really think that creativity and just trying to not copy or emulate but do your own thing is so important.

#3: Have fun.

That’s an important one for sure. If you’re not having fun then why are you doing it?!

Exactly. It really is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. It’s also one of the hardest one’s to break through to. It’s easier said than done all these things but I don’t know… there’s probably five more things I would add on there.

#4 I would also say one last thing, as cliché as it sounds and let all of us be the perfect example… Claud Vonstroke started his career when he was 33 or 34 and now just last year he was voted the number one DJ in America. I won’t say how old he is now but we call him “Pappa VonStroke” for a reason. Anyways my point is if you’re really passionate about this and you work hard and never give up then you really can achieve it and it’s worth it, it’s worth the fight and the struggle, because it’s one of the most amazing jobs you could ever have. You’re basically making people smile and dance, those are two of the best things in life right there.

You’re getting me teary eyed all over again. I would have to agree those are certainly two of the best things in life.


Photo Cred: LA Exchange

What’s it like touring with your brother?

It’s honestly great. I don’t get to tour with him enough. One of the reasons I’m doing this is because of him. He’s the one who introduced dance music to me. He took me to my first rave when I was 16 years old and that’s where my love affair for dance music began. I started DJ-ing as a hobby right when I was still in high school and before he actually started DJ-ing as well. He was always the one helping me find music, secret weapons and those hidden gems. Now that he’s fully 100% made this his career as well, obviously, it has been for a while, it’s just awesome. When we get to travel together and play together it’s the best –  he’s family, he’s my best friend, there’s no words to really describe it – he is my brother. I would much rather be going through life doing this with him than anyone else. It’s hard because we only get to play together here and there. I’d actually like to get to a point in the next few years where we get back in the studio and do a project together. Have more time to spend with each other.

I’m super close with my siblings too and am always grateful for the time we get to spend together. That’s so special you guys get to share this and also help inspire each other in your careers.

We’re definitely lucky and it’s something I don’t take for granted.

Aright. Let’s talk about the Mountains Magic Tour… What’s the part you’re most excited about?

ALL OF IT! This will be my 3rd or 4th year doing it. I love the Smalltown guys they’re such great dudes. They’re always such positive vibes, there’s no other way to describe it. Every time I’ve ever hung out with them they are just non-stop jokes, smiles, and laughs. They are awesome artists as well. They’re so diverse in their musical tastes. It’s really cool to be on their home turf as a guest and also hitting the mountains. Really everything about it is just rad. You wake up in the morning and then drive to the next mountain. It’s just fucking cool as hell. It’s great. It’s one of those things that I’m on board for life and am stoked be a part of such a fun thing.


Photo cred: Wax Media Photo

I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with the Smalltown guys and they really are the best. Sooooo…. Do you believe in magic? Have you ever experienced magic?

When I was a kid I definitely believed in magic and actually really got into to the whole magic thing, I even studied how to do magic tricks! I guess you could say I had a “magic” phase in my life. But, you know what, I’ll say this: Magic does exist because there are still things out there that I can’t explain. Not that I’m the “all knowing” or anything but, I think anything that moves you in a certain type of way that you can’t explain – that is magic. That’s the definition of magic to me.

Great definition.

HUGE THANKS TO JUSTIN for taking the time to chat! If you are in Whistler tonight DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW! 



Check out more on Justin here:






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