Unapologetically blunt and confident, Ellis Martin is an artist who has captured our attention. His signature sound finds its groove in classic Motown soul while being amplified in the modern melodic vibrations of EDM.
“Growing up, my parents played everything under the sun. Puccini, Sam Cooke, Debussy, Led Zeppelin, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, Santana, the Beatles. I would sit on the floor in front of the speakers and just listen for hours. It would throw me into another world. When I started creating music, I drew inspiration from every genre and style imaginable. That is why it is difficult to put my music under a particular category,” Ellis said.
We were all too excited to sit down with the man behind the sound to discuss the details of his seductive and bold EP titled “Pornotopia” produced and co-written by Jidenna and hear his honest opinion about the current state of music.
What is your take on music now in this era?
My take on music in this era is that it is not music. It is senseless noise; trash; a cacophony of electronic madness. Musicians used to be good at music. Now, they’re good at Instagram. I find myself on the verge of tears whenever I go to a club and hear some techno or dubstep song that literally has no melody, no chords and no consistent rhythm. And, to the detriment of all culture, it is being considered “music”. In the 60s and 70s, there were literally hundreds of legendary artists. Since 2000, I can pretty much count them on one hand. That is a crisis of epic proportions. Music is dying, and it needs salvation.
What inspired you to write/create your latest single “Pornotopia?”
Pornotopia, both the song and as an EP, emerged less from inspiration and more from frustration; a sort of anti-inspiration, if you will. Just leaving my house and walking around the streets, looking at billboards, watching commercials, flipping on the radio. Pornotopia was everywhere, and I could not escape it. So I figured I had two choices: commit suicide, or write a song about it. And I’m happy to say that I chose the latter. The Pornotopia EP is not a statement against porn. It’s not even about porn. It’s about the act of pornification, which I define as the cheapening and degradation of something sacred in order to make a quick buck. And in 21st century America, pornification is happening everywhere and always.
Who was your inspiration growing up?
I grew up idolizing Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. They were fearless leaders committed to an unwavering cause, and capable of inspiring the highest devotion and faith in their followers. I’ve always felt a deep responsibility to lead, to speak my mind without hesitation and to take upon myself the greatest risks possible in order to inspire others to take up the cause. These feelings began at a very early age, long before I became a musician, and are due in large part to the impact that Malcolm and Martin had on me.
What was it like growing up on the south side of Chicago?
Well, I’m a Cubs fan, so many southsiders would consider me a traitor. But aside from that, it was a blessing to be born and raised in the greatest city in America. In the 1990s, the south side was not the best place to be. I grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood, which was a major heroin spot. Gang violence was always prevalent, so my parents did the best they could to shield me and my brother from that. But they were careful not to insulate us so much that we were in a bubble of comfort. I lived in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country, but went to one of the best schools in the country. I’m fortunate to have experienced both.
Was music always something you wanted to do?
I always loved to create music, and was born with a natural gift for hearing melodies. But I did not consider being a musician until I was in high school. I never wanted to be a pop star or celebrity. Not that I am against it. I just never had it as a goal. What was most important to me was creating great music, and proving to the world that great music and pop music are not mutually exclusive.
Who/what inspired your music?
Growing up, my parents played everything under the sun. Puccini, Sam Cooke, Debussy, Led Zeppelin, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, Santana, the Beatles. I would sit on the floor in front of the speakers and just listen for hours. It would throw me into another world. When I started creating music, I drew inspiration from every genre and style imaginable. That is why it is difficult to put my music under a particular category. For example, Just Like a Baby is a blend of pop, doo-wop, reggae, hip-hop and hard rock, whereas “Pornotopia” draws heavily from Chicago soul, country, Sinatra-esque crooning and even opera. Whatever gives me goosebumps becomes immediate inspiration.
According to your biography, you are a traditional man. What are your thoughts on love/relationships/marriage in this era?
I am a traditional man in many ways. I’ve always wanted to be with, and love one woman. There is something powerful and meaningful about companionship. But media likes to glorify the idea of a single man having sex with a lot of beautiful women. At the same time, media encourages girls to find their perfect Prince Charming who will treat them like a queen until the end of time. Men and women are being fed polar opposite ideals, and this inevitably leads to relationship issues. And with divorce rates in America rising above 50 percent, I think we can clearly see the negative impact of these competing desires. Marriage has become nothing more than a fun opportunity to have an expensive wedding. When people get even slightly tired of each other, they immediately bail and find someone new. It’s really a shame.
Are you married/in a relationship?
Yes, I’m in a relationship with a smart and beautiful woman. We’ve been together for about 2 years. We’ve had our fair share of fights, but they’ve gotten more rare because we are determined to figure out, and solve the underlying problems. In order for a relationship to work, you have to work on your relationship. And it’s hard work sometimes, but definitely worth it in my opinion. Love is the purpose of life.
What artists do you have in mind to collab with or already plan to collab with?
I’d love to collaborate with Leon Bridges. He’s an amazing artist and brilliant songwriter. It would be a dream come true to work alongside him in the studio. I’m also a fan of Meghan Trainor, both the quality of her music and what she represents. She’s extremely creative in how she brings together doo wop, reggae and soul to create her own sound. She’s had an important influence over the development of my style.
Any hobbies you like to get into when you some down time?
I’m a pretty, damn good chess player. I love strategy and competition, and there is no greater game in my opinion. But I rarely find myself with any down time, so unfortunately, I’ve been playing less and less over the years. When I get old, I plan to switch to Bingo.
What do you want the world to get from your music?
I want the world to wake up and realize that they live in the new dark ages, in a place called Pornotopia. Everything is for sale. Nothing has value anymore. Americans only live to make money, and all the while, they absorb talentless trash that some dare to call “art”. I want the world to know that I’ve been sent to destroy Pornotopia. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I think of nothing else. It’s time for someone to say, “Enough!” And I will proudly be that someone. Because the world deserves a culture they can be proud of.
FINISH THIS STATEMENT: “I AM WORTHY BECAUSE__________________”
I am worthy because I create my own destiny.
Have a listen