Ireland’s Calibre—one of the most revered producers in drum ‘n’ bass—is responsible for producing simply wicked tracks. On his latest album, he’s exorcised more than a few demons.
Working in drum ‘n’ bass, a medium brimming with crafty programmers, Belfast-based Calibre (aka Dominick Martin) is a bonafide producer in the classic sense. He’s prolific and fathoms that he’s produced over 1,000. The tracks he’s released—such as the deep, rolling anthem “It’s Over”—have destroyed dance floors worldwide, while bringing innovation to the often conservative genre he toils within.
Martin recently released his third album, Overflow, a breathtaking double-disc that isn’t rooted in a my-breakbeat-is-better-than-yours ethos. Instead, Overflow finds Martin playing live drums, singing on several songs, and illustrating the album’s artwork. Although making music brings him happiness and contentment, the album is the byproduct of a tumultuous period in his life.
“I had just come out of a seven-year relationship, and I was drinking too heavily and traveling too much,” he shares. “All of these things were a constant in writing this album. I was trying to get away from that and do my own thing.” Compounding the matter were unexplained panic attacks complicated by four-day drinking benders. “Everything was going wrong.”
Knowing he needed to make some changes, Martin picked himself up and focused on his music. A fine arts student at college, he began drawing again to ease his stress. He quit drinking (he’s been sober for a year) and sought influence in the writings of Bukowski and Hemingway. Though he’s dabbled with singing on past releases, the challenge to bring his voice to the forefront inspired the essence of the entire album.
“I had just come out of a seven-year relationship, and I was drinking too heavily and traveling too much,” he shares. “All of these things were a constant in writing this album. I was trying to get away from that and do my own thing.”
“You can only repeat the same loops for so long,” Martin says. “Singing invokes a part of yourself that you have to show. I’ve been showing bits and pieces for a long time, like a slow tease. I always tried to hide it because I’ve been so embarrassed about it, because I don’t have any belief in my voice. But once people started to be okay with it that gave me the confidence” As for his artwork, “it’s another process of creativity. Whenever you can express yourself, why not?”
Once on the verge of “going crazy,” Martin is now on a solid ground. He’s in the midst of working on his next album, which he says will contain elements of psychedlia, jazz and dub. “Drum ‘n’ bass is a simple format. I have to make it more complicated.”
As he continues to DJ and plot his own terrain, leading a simpler life has opened up a window of possibilities. “I ride a lonely path. I stick to my guns in what I do, and I have a separation from the music industry. It’s been an interesting time for me. I want to be able to continue spreading my wings.”
Words: Darren Ressler
as featured in Issue 23