My favorite stories are not about the newly-discovered underdog, but those of transformation. Change is a daunting thing to many people, and we often favor trudging the same road rather than taking that leap of faith.
For over 10 years Alex Peace has been a DJ, Producer, MC and radio personality and is considered one of the forefathers of the Chicago Hard House movement. He’s toured with Bad Boy Bill and has collaborated with artists such as Hatiras, Steve Smooth, JJ Flores and DJ Bam Bam.
I understand that in the last year or two you’ve gone through a kind of musical regeneration. In an interview it said that you were going through some conflicting times and losing faith in what was the current music climate. What were some of the things you wanted to change as “Alex Peace,” and then transformed as Martin EZ?
The truth is, I was struggling internally. I felt lost in a “dark box” and I had no idea how to get out so I literally removed myself in hopes that I could change my perspective.
I uprooted from Chicago and moved to San Antonio. I didn’t know it at the time but it would be the best thing I could ever do to better myself. While I was in San Antonio I did some serious soul searching, spent time with family and got closer with God.
There was a time in my career when I would make records just to pay bills and I vowed never to go back to that.
During that time I reached out to Brian Boncher and asked if he would like to collaborate on some unfinished projects I was working on. I wanted to change my focus to making music for the feeling and not for the false perceptions that have shaded the industry.
There was a time in my career when I would make records just to pay bills and I vowed never to go back to that. I want my music to be valued and timeless so I’m taking my time and sharing music when it’s ready, not because I need to post on social media. Going back and making music for the “feel” has opened up so many creative forces and I couldn’t be happier.
What is the significance of the new name?
I struggled with decision of producing under an alias for about a year and after consulting with some of my dear friends, it started to make sense. I could release new music under a new name so that my music would be digested without a preconceived opinion based on knowing who was really behind it. Alex Peace has always been an artist that has evolved ahead of the curve but it was important to me to start over out of respect to the artists that have been the mainstay and my inspiration to Chicago’s Underground culture.
Martin EZ comes from a split in my last name, Martinez, but it’s pronounced “Martin E-Z.”
Tell us about your Tru Musica label and the style that you are going for. Who are some of your artists? Is FADEDMUZIK still going to be a parent label that you will use?
Tru Musica was conceived about 6 years ago when my friend George from San Diego helped develop the logo. It started out as a nightlife concept with no direction and then the Tru logo began to make its mark after I put the logo on t-shirts that were sold online. Bad Boy Bill and Laidback Luke helped in building awareness when they wore the t-shirt on tour.
During the summer of 2014, “Martin EZ” and Brian Boncher began to release an array of House tracks for labels such as Moody Recordings, Hatrax Records and a remix on Solmatic Records. With the abundance of music being made, it was only a matter of time before we would need our own outlet. With the level of interest surrounding the Tru brand, we decided to launch Tru Musica.
We have a variety of music & artists on the label thanks to the release of two compilations. #CFA: Certified Free Agents (July 2015) and The Miami 2016 Compilation (March 2016). We also have some Chicago producers that have chosen us to feature some of their releases without any kind of exclusivity. Think of Tru Musica as more of a management label for younger producers wanting to learn the process. A man named Andy Adams aka DJ Attack gave me a shot back in the day and I’m gonna pay it forward in his honor. Some of our artists include Rubb Sound System, Def Dasm, Nevalu and of course Brian Boncher and myself. From House to Techno and everything in between, we are focused on the music that revolves around the “jack.” Tru Musica is owned and operated by Brian Boncher & myself and is a subsidiary of FADEDMUZIK.
How did you meet Brian Boncher and start working on music together?
I’ve know Brian since 1996 when I worked at Just Dance Records in Arlington Heights. He was a DJ at Paladrome and I was DJing at Toto’s. He would come in every week and buy records from me. I left Just Dance to work at the Hip House for about three years as my production career started to flourish as Dance Works! with the late Kevin Halstead. When the Hip House owners decided to focus on UC Music and sell the Hip House, I returned to work with Brian at the newly reformed Super Dance Records. That was one of the best periods in my life! We shared a couple of releases on Underground Construction and then as life tends to get in the way, we lost touch.
Fast forward to 2014, we began to share Ableton sessions when I lived in San Antonio just prior to returning to Chicago. Our chemistry felt good. More importantly, we shared the same creative and musical idealogy. The rest is history in the making.
I see that you’ve been spinning around Chicago quite a bit and the Trap House party and afterparty has been a great breeding ground for you to test new music. Are there any restrictions as to what you can play given that it’s a much younger audience?
I LOVE playing on Tuesdays for the Trap House Afterparty at Evil Olive. For me, it’s therapy because I don’t have to play for the room like my other residencies. (Truth be told, I enjoy playing open format.) I coined it the #BackRoomBoogie because that’s exactly what it is. The audience is younger but they are really receptive to everything and the party jumps off! As far as music, there are no restrictions other than “Don’t fuck up” and “Don’t be that DJ that clears the room.” Three out of the four weeks I’m the opening DJ which gives “Martin EZ” a chance to play deeper tunes and test out new works in progress.
Do you still do the last Tuesday of the month called “Tru Friends” for networking? How does that work?
Yes, the last Tuesday of the month allows me to close the room and bring more of that “Alex Peace” energy. Plus I get to book an opening DJ for that night which I reserve for music producers/DJs. Some people spend so much time in the lab that they don’t get out enough to network. And because I’m in the same boat, I try to open the decks to those studio rats.
Tuesdays have really become a great place for music. George and Charles of the Trap House really care about the music we present at the after party and anyone who plays the after party understands their role for the night.
It’s always inspiring to see artists have a second coming of sorts. I’m sure many producers and DJs have gone through slumps. What kind of advice would you give them?
This second coming has really being a life changing experience for me. I simply try to achieve happiness through family, music and GOD. I would advise anyone to not lose sight of what they’re trying to achieve as an artist and that it’s okay to step outside the box of perception to find the truth. Sometimes it’s right in front of you and other times you have to be ready to turn the corner to find it. Just don’t be afraid to leap. I’m spinning “open format” as Alex Peace so that I can fund my underground dreams as Martin EZ and the label.
I’ve literally lived half of my existence on this earth and I’m doing everything in my power to make a living and continue to make music because I want to, not because I have to. I’m not trying to get rich, I’m just trying to be happy with my life, my family, my choices and my music.
I don’t have a huge following like in years past so I’m just focusing on making credible music in hopes that it will allow me to travel. With that said, I am truly grateful to Chicago and many venues in this city and suburbs for their support over the past twenty-six years.
Most recently I’d like to thank Radek Hawryszczuk, Joey Swanson, Jonathan Reno, Charles Martinez and George Rizzo for understanding my value goes well beyond being a DJ/producer. These are the guys that have been holding me down and keeping me working so that I can continue to make music on my terms.
And lastly, to Brian Boncher, none of this is possible without you. THANK YOU!
Published first in 5 Mag Issue #129, featuring Mood II Swing, Martin EZ, Terry Hunger & Jon Pierce, a year hands-on with the Rane MP2015 and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music and save 60%!