Opinionated and outspoken with an open mind — Ellis Martin lives this way, and it’s evident in his music that he’s more than ready for the world to hear. His music, style and his brand as a whole are dope, and the creativity is like no other. He took his time to hone his artistry, musicianship and brand for them to become one and what it is now, that is Ellis Martin.
NS!: Visuals are important; they almost draw you to the core. How did all three of those components evolve into your complete package?
Ellis: Bringing these three separate elements – artist, music and brand – together into a single entity was the most important, and difficult part of becoming an artist. I believe in a single brand, a single message and a single mission. When people hear my name, I want them to think of everything I represent and stand for. Even if someone thinks my music sucks, they will at least be aware of my brand.
I refused to release any of my music until I had this brand set in stone. And so, it took about four years to get it right. In the end, Ellis Martin became exactly who I am, day-in and day-out: A cynical, frustrated, jaded, world-weary troublemaker who has absolutely no hesitation speaking his mind. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I sometimes feel I belong in a different time and place, with different values and beliefs. And so my music and message reflect this cynicism.
The doo-wop sound of my music harkens back to earlier times, as do my ideas and beliefs. My suits, my photos, my website, my live shows, my music videos, my social media efforts all reflect this hopeful nostalgia and a rejection of modern society. I’m a simple man with clear opinions, and I believe this resonates deeply with my fans. They can sense that I speak directly from the heart.
NS!: How has your life experiences influenced your music and all that you stand for currently?
Ellis: In terms to what I write about and represent, I don’t feel my experiences are any different than the next person. I just respond to them differently. Everyone hears the terrible music on the radio and sees talentless charlatans on TV. Everyone knows politicians are beyond corrupt and that America is losing its positive influence on the world. But for most people, this frustration usually doesn’t go beyond a conversation or rant. For me, it shaped my whole being. I can’t ignore it even if I wanted to.
NS!: As we enter into the entitled EP, Pornotopia, you’re illuminating us with your observations about the world we live in, which is Pornotopia. It’s not what some people would believe it to mean. In your own words, could you explain what Pornotopia is?
Ellis: Pornotopia is a world in which everything has a price, but nothing has value. It is a world in which true beauty is dying, and talent is nowhere to be found. It is a world so devoid of meaning and purpose that money has become the new God. In Pornotopia, Kim Kardashian is on the cover of Rolling Stone, a music magazine. In Pornotopia, a candidate named “Deez Nuts” can run for President, and no one riots in the streets. It is hell on earth, but no one can tell because it smells and looks like some over-sexualized, hyper-stimulated “heaven”. Pornotopia is the world in which we live, and it must be destroyed.
NS!: What was it like working with the “Classic Man”, Jidenna on this EP? Would you say that it was easy working with him in the studio? Were there any creative commonalities?
Ellis: Working together with Jidenna was a true blessing, and I don’t say that lightly. The man is a genius in so many ways. His skills as a producer, singer, songwriter and rapper are complete and unparalleled, in my opinion. I knew he would be famous a long time ago, simply because of the power of his personality and the strength of his music.
It was unbelievably easy working with him in the studio. He could adapt to any style and introduce ideas that don’t even resemble his own craft. We each had a deep appreciation for each other’s music, and we worked tirelessly to make our individual sounds and brands uniquely powerful.
But our music always differed. We listened to different artists and were drawn to different styles, but we used this to our advantage when we worked together. The “Pornotopia” EP has so much of Jidenna’s unique production and writing style, that it is difficult to call it an Ellis Martin project entirely. Similarly, his upcoming single “Some Kind of Way”, which I wrote and co-produced, has a lot of my style in it, and he wanted to keep it that way for just this reason.
NS!: Right now you’re touring, blessing the audiences with your artistry. Once you take hiatus from shows, what’s your next project after “Pornotopia” - what can we expect? What’s the inspiration for your next album?
Ellis: I’ll be releasing “Pornotopia Pt. II” in March of 2016 to finish out the entire LP. There’s more that needs to be said about it, so I’ve been locking myself up in the studio to finish this project. I have to say I’m proud of the new songs I’m releasing. They’re darker and funkier, so I think a lot of my friends will appreciate the new direction.
NS!: All of your music videos are worth watching. The visions allow the listeners to pay even more attention to the messages. I pretty much analyzed the “Maximilian” video, for example. Your album cover also tells a story. Other than music, do you have any other areas you’d like to express your talents, getting your messages across?
Ellis: Yeah, I’d like to be President honestly. I know that seems like a joke, but I’m dead ass serious. This country needs new leadership. The people are hungry for a leader who sincerely cares about them, has good ideas and is willing to give his or her life for the cause. No one else wants to stand up and say what needs to be said, so I’ve always felt an obligation to put myself in the line of fire and lead the charge.
NS!: If you weren’t pursuing music, what would you be doing?
Ellis: I would probably be one of those crazy dudes on the NYC subway yelling about the end of the world. So, thank God for music.
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