From Shoveling Snow to Setting the "Mood," Zack Martino is EDM's Breakout Star
Zack Martino has arrived, and he’s going to make your summer that much cooler.
Back in April, the New York native Martino dropped the music video for “Mood” with Dyson. Since the video’s colorful release, “Mood” has placed on Billboard's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart, shuffling it’s way to up and finding itself on vibrant playlists across the globe. Lots of ears are interested in Martino’s work, and he’s comfortable with that. Buzzwords aren’t necessary when it comes to describing the young man—the producer from Staten Island is the real deal. He puts in the work, and is as humble as they come.
Martino recently spoke to Music & Mojitos in an exclusive interview. From modest beginnings to getting a taste of success, the DJ is on the cusp of achieving dance immortality. He’s gaining major momentum on the dance music circuit—the party monsters can’t help but keep his name in their mouths. That’s exactly what Martino strives for. What might surprise most people is that his overall interest in music developed from being a fan of glam rockers Kiss—a far cry from the masters of the electronica scene that he casually hangs out with now.
“Growing up, I've always been into music. Drumming. Art in general—drawing, in particular,” Martino reveals to Music & Mojitos. “Ever since I was four years old, I was taking drum lessons. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was in this toy store and I saw action figures for Kiss. And I was like, ‘Whoa, what is that? Who are they?’”
Naturally, like any rebellious youngster, Martino just had to learn more about what made Gene Simmons tick. The outrageous presentation of Kiss encouraged Martino to seek out a drum set. One thing led to another, and Martino’s wish was granted—under a certain condition.
“My mom said there was one rule,” Martino remembers. “‘If you're going to be banging on drums all day, I want you to go learn how to play, so it's not going to be just noise.’”
For about ten years, Martino would be in and out of drum school, developing his art form on Sundays. He would learn about the history of drumming, and what he could bring to the table. His drum set found itself a nice, cozy spot in his bedroom at home on the third floor.
Looking out for his mother, Martino was smart enough to practice within decent hours of the day. The aspiring drummer didn’t want any bad blood to develop between the woman that raised him and the neighbors, who might not be as fond of music as he is. His good behavior would be rewarded by attending a Kiss concert with his parents out on Long Island. Martino’s experience at the Kiss concert made him return home a changed young man. His passion increased, and he would go at the drums that much harder. Besides Kiss, Martino was a fan of bands like Slipknot and Metallica. EDM wasn’t on his radar—not yet, at least.
Martino’s sacred space would eventually turn into his current studio, where he would go on to create songs that would catch the attention of the Grammys. Wildly, the records that Martino puts out are all mixed through headphones. Talk about still following the ground rules his mother laid out all these years later (Mom knows best. Always).
Martino’ s love for EDM develped as a young teenager, when his friends wanted to hit the clubs and ball out as much as any tween possibly could. Martino would always find himself being the youngest one in the clubs, but he didn’t mind. The early bird catches the worm, and those experiences would groom Martino for the big leagues later on in his life. Right away, he saw how the DJs playing the teen clubs could control over 2,000 people at any given moment. It was love at first sight for Martino, and from that moment on, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He would study songs from David Guetta and Afrojack, furiously taking notes on the hit songs that would get the girls to pop their booties.
It wasn’t all about partying for the curious Martino, though. His vision to achieve music stardom came from hard work, the old fashioned way. Shoveling snow during massive snowstorms in the Staten Island area (with encouragement from his mother), Martino wound up purchasing turntables that would guide him along his path. When he turned 15-years-old, Martino wound up working for a couple of DJ companies. Originally hired as a roadie, it was a long and winding road for Martino to get a shot at being a DJ. Frustrated, he stopped working. Understandably, Martino wasn’t about that life.
Lady luck was on Martino’s side, however. A promoter approached him in high school, and Martino saw opportunity knocking on his door. He wanted to slide into the hot spots before other DJs knew about them. In order to play before his peers, he needed to to sell tickets.
“It was basically me asking my friends, ‘Hey, if I don’t sell 15 to 20 tickets, I don't get to play this event,” recalls Martino.
His loyal squad came through, and Martino received his golden ticket. He did well, and was asked to come back for repeat performances. Learning to adapt to a mainstream audience, Martino switched up his style a bit to appease the big boys on top. It was a transition for the DJ. Trying hard to commit to his vision, Martino sold his once beloved drum set at 16-years-old. The anxiety drove Martino to a sudden, dark place in his life.
“I was sleeping in school cause I would go to sleep at 5 AM. I was working all through the night trying to make music, trying to learn everything,” Martino shares with Music & Mojitos. “Tutorials. Everything, man. It was just like a really weird time, ‘cause I would sleep all day and work all night at 16-years-old.”
The lifestyle took its toll, and eventually led to Martino becoming home schooled. His mother checked in with him, and knew he needed to get back on track. She guided her son to find his passion once more. Martino realized it was time to get his act together and turn his life around. Doing a lot of work on himself, Martino’s rebirth led him to making friends with friends in powerful places, and the rest was history. Landing under Armada Music, Martino is building his empire at a rapid pace.
These days, the DJ plays established venues like Irving Plaza and Marquee. Young New Yorkers are considered to be a tough bunch, but they are taking to Martino. They are fascinated with his vibe and the story he’s still crafting. The producer’s passion helped him be considered for the 2019 “Best Dance Recording” Grammy for his song “Hold On To Me.” The track soared to #1 on USA’s Dance Radio Chart. It also placed #3 on the Billboard Dance Chart and was the #1 Record on Sirius XM’s Ch. 51 BPM for 6 weeks. If there were any more numbers involved in his budding achievements, Martino would’ve had to get a master’s degree in advanced mathematics.
Remixing mega hits from Galantis, the Chainsmokers, and Two Friends, Martino has his masterful fingers on the pulse of what makes people feel good. These days, that’s an art form that’s incredibly tough to come by, and he’s only getting started. Fresh off of a European tour, Martino is inspired to heat up the scene in the upcoming months.
“There’s a bunch of big collaborations in the works. A bunch of new remixes, singles, shows that are coming up,” Martino concludes.