I’m standing outside of a Peruvian restaurant in the northern suburbs of Los Angeles and as far as I can see, car dealerships line the main thoroughfare, and as far as I can tell….the artist I am here today to interview is not. I check my watch to make sure I’m on time and find a seat outside as midday LA traffic crawls down the road. No sooner have I sat down –“Hey man, sorry I’m late. LA traffic.” I look up and am greeted with the face of a young man that looks not too far removed from the gauntlet that is high school and (strange for LA) a smile. Today’s artist has arrived: Brandon “Box of Beats” Martinez.
Introductions are made as we step inside. As a testament to his choice of restaurant he admits, “I’ve been coming here for 15 years. I could eat my body weight in the lunch rolls.” His tardiness is forgiven: We have vocal looping in common, but are also loyal to local eateries, and would eat our body weight in Latin food if we could get away with it. Somehow, I think we are off to a great start.
Time is short today as Brandon has an upcoming show at the Universal Walk outside the gates of Universal Studios. “I play in front of thousands of people a night from all around the world….and its 15 minutes from my house. I am a very lucky guy.” Call it luck, skill or perseverance, Martinez in his few short years as a professional musician, has gained considerable following through social media and has a songbook that ranges from the American Songbook, to Club Anthems and Pop.
“Seeing big name vocal loopers online was my introduction into what I do now. Bands, more so than individual artists influence my sound and direction I’m headed. For me, a song doesn’t have to be crazy complicated…its just has to be musical.” Brandon’s set-up reflects this simple philosophy. An Audix OM7 Microphone and a TC Helicon VoiceLive Play. “The Audix is a crazy responsive, crazy durable mic and the VoiceLive Play gives me a small canvas to paint on.” I inquire about the effects side of his approach to music, “Outside a bit of reverb and a harmonizer every now and then, it’s pretty organic.”
Our food comes. I have steak and rice that looks like it has sat under the heat lamp for ten minutes and his is a vegetable-steak-rice creation that is vibrant and colorful and smells as good as it looks. I now have lunch envy. “I think being in choir (low tenor) made me appreciate the lyrical side of music more than having to have all of the latest toys or bells and whistles for my set up. What bands like The Lumineers, and Mumford do with less, really impresses me. The lyrics are the strongest bell and whistle in their music.”
I’m sawing through my tougher-than-LA-traffic steak with a knife that needs to retire, when our conversation comes to both the blessing and bane of artists worldwide: Self reflection. “Vocal health is paramount to a good show man. A good warm up. Tea, honey, ginger slices…all of that helps me do street shows two or three nights a week. A killer app you should check out is called Activate Your Voice. There’s a lot of solid material in there to keep you on top of your game.” I’m fighting a losing battle with my steak and Brandon is king of the world with his culinary treat. “Still though, it’s important to move forward. I’m always practicing guitar, piano and trying to improve my voice.”
Our server takes our plates away and dessert is contemplated, but turned down. Downbeat for him is in an hour and LA traffic makes for a sliding scale when it comes to showing up on time. We step outside to say our goodbyes. Handshakes lead to hugs and hugs lead to talks of a few shows together. Brandon then disappears in the LA traffic and I head back to my car. Tonight The Box of Beats will be delivered to the gates of Universal Studios and a vocal looping songbook spanning four decades will capture the attention of thousands of people from around the world. The Box of Beats will drive home that night, happy and thankful that his own sound and organic approach to live music has found a home in Northern Los Angeles .
Brandon ‘Box Of Beats’ Martinez can be found on:
Just Alliance's Blog
Thoughts, ideas and musical musings from this Silver State Loop Artist.