California or Texas?


Texas or California

Texas or California???
David Martinez
I have had this question raised numerous times over the past few years.
Why do you promote yourself as a Texas artist but everything you do focuses on California?
It seems like you want to have nothing to do with Texas. Do you?
I’ve heard it all and I’ll set the record straight on this one. First off being a Texan is something that I am proud of and hold dear to my heart.  Anytime I have played elsewhere whether it be Upstate New York or Seattle, there is this pride that glows when you say you are from Texas.  Texas has produced some of the greatest musicians in the history of music and being from Texas is definitely something to be proud of. 
California happened by accident, I embarked on an independent tour back in 2006 with two awesome songwriters.  Our goal was to take the music elsewhere and harness what we could find to grow the music.  Yes this was unconventional but then again was it? What is ever conventional? I had recorded a demo of songs I wrote in Austin, Texas back in the Spring of 2006. I had been a huge fan of Leroy Miller’s music and I happened to be doing a show at The Cat Club in Los Angeles during the tour.  I contacted Leroy months earlier via Myspace and he responded.  It was cool to talk to him and when I arrived in LA, we all had lunch at Jerry’s Famous Deli.  He gave me a CD of his new material and I was amazed, we kept that CD in for like 2 days straight during our drive to San Francisco.  
One thing an artist always wants is their own sound and I wanted that more than anything.  I asked Leroy who recorded and produced his stuff and he told me, “I do”! I thought, this guy can help me achieve the sound I’ve always wanted.  We worked out a small budget to record two songs and one of them was a song I wrote called “Can’t Find You” .  It was a pretty amazing experience but it was also challenging because most people work their way up to this level of recording.  I walked in the studio the next day and asked “How’s the demo sounding”, Leroy turns to me and says “I don’t make demos, I make records”.  At that point I got and I was like, I’m making a record with this guy. I had no idea how I was going to because my budget to make the record in Texas was cheaper but at the end of the day, we worked out a budget and brought in awesome musicians to help with the project.   On May 31, 2007 I packed my bags, got in my car, and drove to Los Angeles.  I was tired and jaded from the drive, then the work began and I knew why I was here.  

We recorded my debut album at a simple pace in June of 2007 and we worked every detail out to make it right. It was not an easy process but when is it ever? I also got to work with photographer/actress Kelly Mullis for the first time too.  I’ll never forget this; she said “I’m going to make you look like a star”.  The photo shoot took place in various parts of West Hollywood and Runyan Canyon.  Her pictures were used for promo shots as well as the album cover for my debut album.  I don’t know what it was or how I was lead to the West because I always figured I’d start in Texas and then eventually go West like most other musicians.  I think it was God’s hand and fate that lead me there because the thought never crossed my mind, only as a teenager when me and my cousin said we were moving to California to be stars. 
My next stop in California was in July of 2010, I played shows in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. I had played in Santa Barbara during my debut album sessions in 2007 and opened for SB greats Claude Hopper.  The shows were awesome and I made new friends and learned more about myself as an artist.  Musician Dave Booda put me up for a few days in San Diego and set me up with a couple of gigs and we also had a late night jam as well.  Great times! Next stop was The Viper Room in Los Angeles and again I met up with Leroy Miller who was moving to Nashville.  We talked about a new record and figured we would eventually work together again.  My last stop was at a place called ROY in Santa Barbara and again, another amazing experience.  I kept trying to get away from California but for some reason I kept getting sucked in.  Later in the Fall of 2010, I flew to Nashville and recorded a song called “Hey Mary” with Leroy Miller producing and co writing.  This song had developed into something very different from the sound I had on my debut record.  It still had the vibe and it was very much me.  
I continued to write in 2011 and in July of 2012 I returned to Los Angeles to work on my second album. During pre production, I recorded demos and talked about them with Leroy via email and the phone.  The goal for this batch of songs was to give them their own identity. I didn’t want to make my debut album again, I am extremely proud of that work but as an artist, you must push the envelope and step into the unknown.  I had talked to other producers around Texas but the vision and the budget weren't working. All that told me is that the time wasn’t right this time around.  After we recorded this batch of songs, I knew I made the right decision to work in Los Angeles again.  
Working in Southern California doesn’t make me less of a Texas artist, I think it brings more out of me and when I’m there I am representing Texas.  Everything about me is Texas, I’m just doing my own version of Texas Music and adding my spin.  When you look at it, it all comes down to the sound you want and like I’ve said many times, I wanted my own sound and voice.  I think people like Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and countless others have taken their influences and created their own unique sound.  It all blends into this beautiful batch that makes Texas Music a unique and beautiful thing. That is my goal and I will continue to search for that sound and add to it as I move along.  I love Texas, it’s in my heart, and I will always call this place home!     

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