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Return of the Real: Theo Martins Goes Global (Exclusive Interview)

Posted by ThroatChopU on 06/20/11 | Filed under Top Stories, Features, Return of the Real, Theo Martins
Return of the Real

I don’t sing. I don’t rhyme. I can’t produce tracks. I’m often the only non-rapper in a room. But I’ve always had an ear for good music and because of that, folks have respected my honest opinion. I don’t hold back. I’m also a fan of music. I actually remember when that meant something. RefinedHype has given me the opportunity to showcase a dope artist weekly, someone who is on the rise that has caught my ear and that you should definitely check out. This is "Return of The Real". Chea!

You probably already know Theo Martins. If you don’t, soon you will. Or at least you should.

Theo is the globe-trotting second generation Nigerian-American, born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. From such a small state, he packs such a big sound in his music with a worldwide audience. When I reached out to him for this interview, he was actually on tour in Asia, which came together through the power of the Internet.

“I collaborated with Malaysian Star Mizz Nina on a song called Get It, the response was so much that I was invited out to play a festival with her,” Theo said. “We have a #1 record out there right now with Get It.”

I first discovered Theo’s music just around the time he was putting out "You Can't Do That on Television". "He can't be a rapper wearing boat shoes..." was a line from that project that resonated with me. I rock boat shoes and so I identified with Theo immediately and have continued to become a fan of his work.


His latest project, "Sincerely Yours, The Dance Floor" takes you into a slightly different direction. Some artists might have been scared to step outside the box the way Theo did on Sincerely Yours but I’ve come to appreciate that a genre of music doesn’t define his style.

Theo has experimented with electro, dub-step and more. He’s dope and his sound is unique. As an artist he’s just having fun and creating the music that he truly enjoys. With such an impressive body of work, Theo didn’t start rhyming seriously until his junior year of college but has always been a performer.

“My sister still has a collection of our cassette tape demo's,” Theo said. “Embarrassing.”

But from those cassettes come the sound created by Theo. And he continues to push forward with his eye on delivering more music and more collaboration.

“I’m interested in reaching out to more and more artists out there,” Theo said. “I love Toro Y Moi's music, I think he's got a swanky sound. I may drop him a line.”

Theo is incredibly talented and makes music you can feel, connect with, and even dance to. In our recent interview we talked about his sound, upcoming project and more. Check it out.

ThroatChop: For a first time listener, how would you describe your sound to someone?

Theo Martins: I would describe it at progressive. It's natural, it's high energy. It makes you want to have a great time, sometimes jumping around dancing and other times driving fast in your car screaming the words as if you're in front of millions of fans. It's great.

ThroatChop: And perhaps that’s why I dig your music. As an artist it seems like you've laid out a very non traditional blueprint of your own. What inspired your sound, which seems so different?

Theo Martins: Thank you. I'm just inspired by telling my story. I'm interested in pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I look at it like, how do I know what I enjoy if I don't try it. When I was in Asia I went to this highly touted seafood restaurant in Kota Kinabalu, with the spot right on the beach. I had a bunch seafood dinner, and for the first time I tried Prawn and it was good. I wouldn’t have known I liked it if I didn't try it.

ThroatChop: I first discovered your music when you released "You Can't Do That on Television". Andrew Martins over at Potholes put me on to it. Then you released Sincerely Yours, The DanceFloor. Both completely different projects. Where you concerned that you'd lose some of your fans that love the style of "You Can't Do That on Television"? What was the thought process that went into the concept behind Sincerely Yours?

Theo Martins: (Laughs) My guy Andrew. What a cool fellow. To answer your question: no, I didn't worry much about it only because I kept the same fire going. This music thing is an expression of a place, time and moment. YCDTOTV was a moment in time and SYTDF was also another. I kept the same fire without compromising a bit of integrity. Sincerely Yours was inspired by my trip to Africa. I had the opportunity to travel to another country and impact the lives of others, it was an amazing time. Seeing the culture, the people, hearing the sounds I was motivated to make better music. I performed in Asia and watched a crowd of 3,000 people jump and scream when Just Can't Get Enough came on. I see kids, parents and youth alike say how my music has inspired them and that's such a humbling feeling. I can't get that global audience with local thinking.

ThroatChop: That’s really dope. Your music obviously tells a story and I think you do an incredible job with sequencing. "The Letter" sets the stage for You Can't Do That on Television. Then "Turn It Up" sets the stage for Sincerely Yours, The Dance Floor. Theo, if you look at your music. What's the one track that speaks to who you are as a person?

Theo Martins: Hmmm, good question. I'd say this song I have titled 'Prom King' that I haven't released yet. It speaks on my upbringing, my lifestyle and the experiences I've had maturing. But as far as music that I've released I would say Kirby's Airwalk. I love the jam and it speaks so much on the climate of dreamers and those who are afraid to dream. It's like, "Why so serious"? you know? I had the chance to meet some great folks around the world because of a dream.


ThroatChop: What about the one track that speaks to who you are as an artist?

Theo Martins: "Theo Til Infinity" off of my debut, The Birth, is that song. I have a job to do as an artist. I have a responsibility. I was blessed with a gift and it would be a foolish sin to limit my gifts because of fear.

ThroatChop: I stumbled upon this incredible project you did with Jesse Boykins III, Mara Hruby, Joekenneth Museau, Joshua Bennett, Melo – X and Rinaldy Alvarez. Can you tell me a little bit about working with such talented folks and how that all came together?

Theo Martins: Yea. The great folks at Street Etiquette had the idea of covering Andre 3000's magical tune by putting together a bunch of artists they enjoy. It was a privilege to record with those guys - and girl. We spent two days in the studio creating the music from scratch. The aura was amazing, the energy in that studio was unmatched - it was just so much fun to build something with a league of people who are just as passionate about their craft as you are.

ThroatChop: Ok. So, when you look back on your work five years from now, what would you have wanted to accomplish?

Theo Martins: To know that I didn't lose any bit of passion, integrity in creating. If those elements are all in place then my life is great, I have no worries.

ThroatChop: We've talked a lot about your music. So, what are you listening to on your iPod/MP3 player?

Theo Martins: Right now I'm jammin Donald Glover's Culdesac, Sleigh Bells, Deitrick Haddon's 7 Days Album and a lot of Dubstep jams. Benga, Doctor P, Joker. My iPod is pretty awesome, you might wanna get in tune with the aforementioned artists, they're great.

ThroatChop Word. I definitely might have to look into those folks I’m unfamiliar with. So, Theo last but not least, a question I ask everyone featured on Return of The Real, what's next for you?

Theo Martins: Well I'm in Amsterdam right now, I'll be here taking in the city and all it has to offer for bit before heading back to the States. On my return I'll be preparing the release of my new video Take You There (directed by Rex Arrow Films) which is going to be a monster! We're wrapping up a new project ready to drop for the Summer time as well as preparing to head back out of the country for another International Tour. All of this being done independently, no label backing, no nada. God has surely been favoring me. I'm just trying to do as much as I can and take all that life has to offer.

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Play Theo Martins - The Spotlight

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