Kurt Martinez - MA Music Production, 2015
Kurt Martinez studied MA Music Production, graduating from Leeds Beckett in 2015.
From a young age, Kurt knew he wanted to work in music. “I took up the guitar at the age of nine. It’s always been a release for me, a way to destress, to express my creativity and to enjoy something that I’m not terrible at!
“I spent my teens in a band, writing our own music, recording, and playing shows anywhere that would have us. I think bringing ideas to life with a band was probably what got me in to production.”
Kurt went on to study music production at Leeds Beckett and credits the course for the experiences that led him to where he is now. “I found it really interesting to hear from people working in the industry. I worked with a great mix of people on my course as part of our modules. I was quite shy at approaching musicians outside of the course or even at gigs, so the industry connections I made on the course were invaluable.”
Alongside this, Kurt transitioned into a solo artist which allowed him to build up his creative side more. “I was a solo artist throughout my early twenties. I loved playing live, but I found it was different being on stage on your own compared to being part of a band and having the rest of the group to bounce off.
“During my twenties I also started to find the creative process of recording much more rewarding. In a live environment I’d play for half an hour and it was over, whereas with recording I had a product at the end that I could share.”
In 2015 Kurt graduated and made the move to London to pursue a career in music. “I sold my car to pay for a deposit and gave myself three months to find work. I spent every day researching studios in different areas of London. I’d go out day to day literally knocking on doors, handing out CVs and sending emails.”
At times Kurt found it deflating, however he managed to secure a position as a runner for an audio post-production studio in Soho specialising in sound design for adverts. “The hours were quite demanding and gave very little time to pursue my music. I was still trying to build a solid portfolio, so I was getting up at 5am most mornings to have a couple of hours mixing before I started my day. I worked my way up to Head Runner before moving to another post-production company, this time specialising in localisation and mastering for Hollywood film.”
This new role allowed Kurt to put more time into building a showreel to send to studios around London. “When I’d eventually built a showreel of work that I was happy with I began sharing it with studios and enquiring about assistant roles. I’d follow up every few months on the off chance that I might catch someone at the right time. It was by no means a quick process.”
Eventually Kurt secured a role at Blue Box Studios and began assisting there on his days off, until he decided to pursue engineering full time. “I’ve been fortunate that people I’ve met in sessions have been kind enough to recommend me to other studios for work which helped me to quickly progress from assisting to engineering.”
Now Kurt has five studios he works from regularly and enjoys working in an industry where no two days are the same. “I get to meet new and interesting people from all over the world. I find that I’m constantly learning because I’m always coming up against something new. I feel very lucky that I get to work with creative people and see different processes in action every day.”
When asked about his highlights during his career, Kurt explains: “The moment that I received my silver disc for Rain is something I’ll never forget. The fact that I’d been involved in a Top 10 single was something I’d always dreamed of, but the fact I have something to show for it is incredible - I can’t tell you what it means to have that hanging on my wall. I’m actually expecting my first gold disc any day now which is also quite surreal!”
Another highlight for Kurt was working with comedian Jack Whitehall in 2019 and going along to The O2 Arena on the guest list. “I recorded his vocal for the musical number featured in his Stood Up tour and Netflix special, Christmas With My Father.”
“It was quite a strange experience sitting in the private bar with faces I recognised from TV. Hearing something you’ve worked on play out in front of 16,000 people is the most bizarre feeling. I couldn’t help but analyse the mix as it played out though!”
When reflecting on his success, Kurt explains “I don’t think I’ve ever regarded success as fame and fortune when it comes to music production. It’s certainly there for other parts of the industry, but not from my perspective at least. For me I think success has always been the idea of being able to earn a living from doing something I enjoy. I had the opportunity to study a subject that I’m passionate about and now I’m lucky enough to get to work in that world.”
When asked what advice he would give young creatives starting out, Kurt said “First and foremost enjoy it! I’d say go along to all of the guest lectures that you can.”
“Experiment now while you can and work out the best processes for you. When you’re on a session that the label is paying for there’s very little room for experimentation. You have to have an idea in mind of how you’re going to approach something when the task us given to you. So do all of the experimenting now while you are still learning and have the chance. And keep at it when your course is over! There’s bound to be the odd set back or unfortunate situation that knocks your confidence. Dust yourself off and go at it again.”