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For Adam Martinez, Music Surpasses Language

Written by on March 1, 2023

Chicago Latin pop artist Adam Martinez sat down with Vocalo afternoon host Nudia Hernandez to talk about making music, falling in love and a new project that’s in the works.

Adam Martinez is a triple-threat singer, songwriter and producer who uses his skills to express his own unique sound while also lending a hand in others’ creative processes. Growing up as the youngest of four brothers with four distinct music tastes, Martinez has always been surrounded by all kinds of music. He shared with Nudia that his Spotify library today holds everything from reggaeton to rock, but pop music is at the center of it all. 

Adam Martinez released his latest single “Momentos” at the end of January. Fusing all his influences the track made its way onto Vocalo’s February “In Rotation” playlist. He feels this single — and his upcoming project Sol —  is more representative of his sound as an artist than his past releases.

“I’m so excited for it,” Martinez expressed. “I finally found a sound that I truly love, the Spanglish pop, kind of reggaeton [with] some of the songs. I’m really proud of it.” 

Adam Martinez and Nudia Hernandez outside the Vocalo studios on Feb. 21. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio.

Being a Latin artist, Martinez stays true to his roots by making music in both English and Spanish. Although he doesn’t speak Spanish often, he is aware of the impact it has on his listeners and his family. 

“I’m actually not the best Spanish speaker… I struggle a lot,” Martinez explained. “There’s a lot of people in my family who only speak Spanish… I love to communicate with them through the way that I know, which is music.” 

After his single was added to Vocalo’s on-air rotation for February, Martinez stopped by the Vocalo studios to sit down with afternoon host Nudia Hernandez. The two discussed his biggest musical influences, finding love through his music and his new project set to release this summer.

Nudia Hernandez: I got a bone to pick with you, okay?

Because I’m trying to get ready for hot girl summer, and I cannot get ready for hot girl summer when you drop songs like the one that is in our “In Rotation” playlist right now, okay? It got me my feelings! I’m trying to catch flights, not feelings. And this makes me want to be all boo’d up! This got me in my feelings. I was literally here in the Vocalo studio, and the song came on. I was like, “Who is this?” It sounded amazing. And I love the song and the beat, it just has you falling in love. And I was like, “I need to get out of here!” But I love this song, we’re playing it right now. It’s featured in our “In Rotation” playlist, “Momentos.” I do have [the artist] Adam Martinez in studio with us. Hello!

Adam Martinez: Hi, hi. Thank you so much for the kind words, by the way. I appreciate it.

NH: So, have you done a lot of music in Spanish? I mean, because I was looking, and you’ve been featured a couple of times. I think the last time we had you in here was 2021, with Abel. And, you know, I think that collaboration on “Peligrosa.” Have you, yourself personally, made a lot of Spanish music?

AM: Yeah… I dabbled in it, because I cover a lot of Spanish songs, because my family would just love to hear me sing in Spanish. I’m actually not the best Spanish speaker, conversationally. I struggle a lot. 

RELATED: Adam Martinez & Abel See Music As A Collaborative Art

NH: It’s okay. Right? Because look at Selena… 

AM: Exactly! Selena is one of my biggest inspirations. That’s only one of the reasons. 

NH: Yeah, and she couldn’t speak Spanish! 

AM: Exactly, 100%. She learned through music. And there’s a lot of people in my family who only speak Spanish. And so… I love to communicate with them through the way that I know, which is music. And so, you know, I used to cover like Marc Anthony, just a lot of classics.

NH: I love that. And also, I mean, this is just what you hear, everyone’s voice always sounds prettier in Spanish, right? It’s the way you enunciate. 

AM: Definitely.

NH: And so, everyone actually, that’s a life hack, y’all. You actually sound like you could sing if you can’t [when you sing] in Spanish, okay? You could throw down some bars. 

AM: Yeah, I just think the language in general is just so beautiful. And you could say the simplest thing and it just sounds way more romantic and meaningful than it does in English. 

NH: Okay, and I was gonna say, you look way too young to be having fallen in love and out of love all these many times! I was listening to your music, and I was like, “He looks way too young to be all up in love like this!”

AM: Yeah, I have a baby face, which is a plus the older I get. I’m about to be 27 in April. So it’s been… I’m not too old, but not too young, either, you know? Mid-twenties.

NH: You are a songwriter and a producer and a singer, which, I mean, I feel like nowadays, you kind of have to [be]… That gives you an edge to everyone else, if you’re able to do those things. Because you’re able to create so many things just on your own… 

AM: Definitely.

NH: …then, if anyone comes in, it’s just an addition. Right?

AM: Yeah. 100% I would say I got really good at producing before I was even good at — I used to suck at singing, honestly. I was pretty bad. When I first-first started.

NH: I heard you say that before! Okay, hold on, give the people hope. ‘Cause, look, there’s a reason I talk on the radio and I don’t sing on the radio, okay? And that’s because I cannot sing. But a lot of people in my family sing. And they say, like, “No, if you practice, your voice is the instrument.” I’m like, “I don’t know, y’all. I don’t know if this instrument’s ever gonna be tuned, okay?”

AM: I’m a genuine believer in that if you just dedicate your time to anything in life, that you could learn to do it. Anything. 

NH: So you started off with production.

AM: Yeah, so I was… I mean, I wasn’t that good at it, either. But it was way easier to… get GarageBand on my Mac, and just mess around and learn. But yeah, I started out making my own beats. And then I started just writing, and it honestly just came from a place of curiosity and fun. Like, it was just so much fun to make whatever I wanted to. And so it started off just messing around, and then eventually I learned guitar, and then that’s when I kind of started singing more and songwriting. Yeah, I just, I love doing it all. I love writing for other people, as well, producing for other people… They’re all a similar passion to me.

Adam Martinez and Nudia Hernandez in the studio on Feb. 21, discussing Martinez’s new single “Momentos” — and how he and his girlfriend met on set for its music video. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio.

NH: And I mean, a lot of artists that we see now, you’ll never know that they are behind some of the songs. And that’s not only in pop music, but even in rap music, too… Songwriting is such a strong skill that you could  low-key be a part of a bunch of projects. So I love that, and I do think it is important to learn as many aspects of your industry as you can… If you could be your own machine, that’s always going to be way better. And I was really excited to have you in, because… I was looking, and you’ve been involved in so many Latin music festivals, like Mas Flow and the Michelada Fest and stuff… What is it like being a Latino artist in Chicago?

AM: It feels small, honestly, in a way that I just feel like there’s not a lot of Latino artists out there. That’s one of the reasons I love to collaborate with Abel so much, like, you mentioned him. I have another collaborator, Alex Ponce, who actually lives in Ecuador. I’ve never even met him. But I just feel like… pop music and Latin music in Chicago is so, it’s such a small group that when you do find people who do it well, we all just kind of stick together. And so there’s sort of a community aspect to it that I really love. Like, we all kind of know each other in Chicago. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Lester Rey, for example.

NH: No, I’m pretty new. I actually just moved here. 

AM: Oh, really? 

NH: Yeah. I moved here like less than a year ago. 

AM: Oh, wow! So you’re really fresh.

NH: Yeah, no I’m like a little baby. I’m learning everything, you know?

AM: I saw Morgan [Ciocca, Vocalo digital producer,] nod her head, she’s familiar with Lester. There’s a lot of Latin artists, and we’re all just kind of on the same page. And it’s beautiful, because I have a lot of roots here in Chicago as well. My dad was a musician here, back in the ’70s. And so, to be continuing that legacy of creating Spanish music in Chicago, it’s awesome. It feels great.

NH: I was gonna say I was… of course, very excited, because I love the song, and… seeing things that you’ve done in the past, but it’s also just such a beautiful time, right now in music, to be Latino… I know, for me… I’m sure you watched the Grammys. I almost got emotional at Bad Bunny’s opening performance, and the fact that it was historic, because it’s been the first Spanish album being nominated for Album of the Year. And it’s like, you can’t help but be proud. So proud, right now,

AM: Yeah, Latin music is as big as it’s ever been. And it’s beautiful, because even people who don’t know the language, love it. And that’s the beauty of music, is you don’t necessarily have to understand what’s being said. If you like the rhythm, if you like the melodies, that’s all that matters. And Bad Bunny, especially, has just taken over the world. And it was inspirational, for sure, to see him speak Spanish on — I don’t know what news network that is, but a completely American, English news network. And, I don’t know. It’s beautiful… it keeps that culture alive. And it’s bigger than it’s ever been.

NH: Yeah. And that’s such a good feeling. Because I think, a lot of times… I know we had Channel Tres in here. And he’s from Compton, and he’s a house DJ, and he makes house music. And so I asked him, “What is it like, trying to bring a genre of music that isn’t popular where you’re from? Compton’s known for rap and you’re trying to be different… how was it being in that world?” And I guess it’s kind of the same for you, because Chicago does have amazing R&B and hip-hop artists, that you’re kind of just like, “Okay, guys. But hold on — here’s me and my guitar, listen to some chords really quick!”

AM: Yeah, it is tough. It’s kind of — you have an edge, because there’s not a lot. But then… there’s a tough aspect to it, as well, because I don’t know that there’s as big of a market as there should be in Chicago for that. But luckily… we’re in the era of social media, you don’t necessarily have to have that… I could post a TikTok, and it blows up. And I don’t know.

NH: I was gonna say, that’s one thing I noticed. Because… we followed each other last night, before this interview, and I was looking at your social media. And I was like, “This is so important… this right here.” Because, not only foreign artists doing covers of popular songs is so important, because kids will be attracted to that… you’ll get more listens and more follows for that. But also, the funny stuff, you do a lot of skits, you do a lot of funny stuff. And I was just like, this is what an artist is supposed to do… Like, yes, take your music seriously. But… also have fun, because social media is fun. And that’s how you’re gonna get engagement, is being funny. Showing your personality. I feel like you definitely show your personality.

AM: Thank you so much. That means a lot, because… that’s kind of how you market — I mean, “market” yourself, if you want to break it down in terms like that. But I really think it’s important to just be yourself. Like, maybe you’re not funny. Maybe you take your music really seriously. And like, that’s totally cool, too… I think what’s important is, if you’re just authentically yourself, and just true to what you want to do, and if that involves a funny skit about getting chased by the police… 

NH: Yeah, that’s the one I saw! 

AM: Like, it’s funny, and it promotes the song and it gets the laugh.

NH: A lot of times, I feel like you kind of have to look at yourself, be like, “Why would people care about this…? Why would anyone care about this song? Why would anyone want to watch this video?” By the way, I loved the “Momentos” music video. I love it so much! I’m telling you, it’s too many feels. It’s way too many feelings. Like, you and — I don’t know who is the the model in the music video?

AM: Oh, her name’s Giselle. That’s my girlfriend now, but we met that day on the video shoot. 

NH: Okay, because I was gonna say you could see in the music video! I was like, either one, they’re doing some real good acting… or there’s something happening here. So I was wondering that, I was like, “Oh, is that like his girl? I don’t know!” But it was so cute. 

AM: Thank you so much.

NH: That music video, and the way you guys were connecting in it.

AM: Yeah, no that day… I mean, the music video, I loved, but the fact that — I mean, we’ve been dating for five months, as of today. So still really fresh, but we are so in love and it’s just crazy, because it never would have happened if I just would’ve… I just DM’d her on Instagram, like “Hey, do you want to be in my music video?” I always thought she was pretty, I was following her on Instagram. 

NH: Okay, slide in the DMs!

AM: And she was great. And we got along so well on set. And what you’re seeing on camera is definitely some acting, but a lot of it’s also just genuine…

NH: The sparks naturally happening. Yeah, and I could see that, too. I was like, “Do they know each other?” I was like… 

AM: We met that day! We met that day, I swear.

NH: Because, for those of you that haven’t watched the music video, go watch it, for sure. But it’s kind of like this ’90s photo booth. You know, those mall pictures everyone used to take! 

AM: Yep, the cheesy backgrounds.

NH: Yes, which I love, because all that nostalgia is so in right now.

AM: And it’s just fun! Everyone knows what it is when they see it. 

NH: Yes! It was so cute. And it’s also kind of like a nod to the Chicano era… because that was also very in, in LA, in that scene at the time. So I kind of, I loved it. And so, you guys met that day. And then, this is also kind of like a key for any artists listening. If you want to shoot your shot at a girl, ask her to be in your music video! How are you gonna say no? Morgan, are you gonna say no, as a woman? 

Morgan Ciocca: I wouldn’t say no!

NH: No. Like… if someone’s like, “Will you be in my music video?” You’re like, “Yeah! Oh my gosh. Of course I’ll be in your music video.” 

AM: Right. It’s fun, it’s fun. No, definitely. It’s funny, though… I never really did that. I usually like to keep it professional, and like, whoever I asked, I would just thank them, and we’d remain friends after the shoot. But there was something here where, I don’t know, it felt like a genuine connection. And we started texting afterwards. And it happened very organically. It wasn’t even my intention… I mean, a little bit, it was. I can’t lie, a little bit.

Adam Martinez and Nudia Hernandez outside the Vocalo studios on Feb. 21. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio.

NH: Look, you aren’t gonna play a player, okay? You are not gonna play a player right now. I see right through it! I give you a nod, it was very, very smart. But also… I could see that you were genuine. And that’s the best way to start a relationship… You build that friendship, you get to know each other. I know nowadays, people just jump in too quick, too fast.

AM: 100%. And for the wrong reasons, too… But yeah, I don’t know. It was just really special. And it’s it’s probably one of my favorite videos to date, that song, and just the way it all came together was amazing.

NH: I love the video, I watched it like three times. 

AM: Thank you so much. That means a lot. 

NH: I was like, “This is so cute!”

AM: We shot it in like a garage, and it was my manager’s idea to do this photoshoot kind of thing. And we just kept building it, like, “What if we do the airbrushed t-shirts?”

NH: Yeah, she had the little airbrushed t-shirt and I loved the… close-ups of the photographer, and I was just like, “Oh, this is so cute!”

AM: Thank you so much. 

NH: And so what else is in the works for you? What are you working on next?

AM: So “Momentos” is a single off of my project coming out, it’s called ‘Sol.’ It’ll be coming out, hopefully, the next 45 days. We’re wrapping up the last song and artwork. 

NH: That’s quick! 

AM: Yeah, very much so. I’m so excited for it. I really feel like it’s the first body of work that… I mean, I’ve released two projects before this, and, as much love as I have for them, I feel like they don’t represent how I sound today. And I feel like this one will always represent that. I finally found a sound that I truly love, the Spanglish pop, kind of reggaeton, some of the songs. I’m really proud of it. And so yeah, “Momentos” is sort of like the first single of the year to promote that project, which is coming out really, really soon.

NH: Well, I love the song. So I’m excited to hear the rest of the project. And I think… before we turned the mics on, I was telling you that I was looking through some of your YouTube and stuff. And I saw your “I Could Fall In Love” by Selena cover, and I was just like… all these things come up, and I love that you’re saying that your previous — you loved working on your previous work, but you’re different now. And that’s kind of symbolic of life, right?

AM: 100%, yeah. It’s growth. And that was honestly… one of the inspirations behind the title of the album, kind of a motif visually of a sunflower. And sort of just the growth of that, and when you listen to the project, it starts off a little sad and then ends kind of on a romantic, “I found love” kind of note.

NH: Like your life! 

AM: Exactly! And it kind of symbolizes my journey as an artist… I feel like I’m blooming and I really found something that I’m going to stick to, in terms of the genre and feeling and the lyrical concepts that I want to talk about. And so yeah, I’m really proud of of where I am now, and I obviously have a bunch of music that is post-‘Sol’ project, and even that sounds different from ‘Sol,’ which is awesome. I’m just so excited about the genre as I continue to grow.

NH: I love it, because I know, personally, growing up loving pop music, and then being Latino and… maybe not being as attracted to hip-hop as much… because it was always more popular, I feel. But… I feel like you kind of lose yourself a little bit, you know? Because I grew up being such a big pop lover, that… when my grandma would pick me up playing bachata, I’d be like, “Turn it down! Oh my gosh, why do you always have to do that?” And then now I bust up Romeo Santos every time I can… now I’m putting that on to clean up. So I feel like it’s been such a beautiful journey. And I feel like the mainstream popularity has kind of helped that… not only musically, but also with myself. It’s really brought a lot to light. And so, because you said you kind of grew up being a pop lover, right?

AM: Yeah, well, that was definitely the main thing I listened to. I’m the youngest of four brothers. And they all listened to different things. So I sort of took it in, all of it. Like one brother was totally into R&B, one was a rapper. One was into nothing but like mariachi music. So I love just this wide spectrum of music. And, if you go through my Spotify, for example, you’re gonna hear a lot of different genres. It’s all — pop is really the center of it all. I want it to be catchy and no longer than like a four-minute thing. I like it to be concise, but I love to hop between genres. And I feel like a lot of artists do, nowadays. I don’t know that there’s one genre that’s more popular than everything. Everything has its own lane.

NH: Which I kind of love… I know this got a lot of Twitter hate, but I love that Drake made a house album…

AM: Me too!

NH: Who saw that coming? No one. No one saw it coming! And I bet that was a lot of fun for him.

AM: For sure. 

NH: Because he’s just like… “This is something I don’t get to do.”

AM: And that’s the beauty of music. I don’t know that we should box anybody in for any reason. If they genuinely love it, and it’s good… I think good music is good music, no matter. I love that. I love that so much.

NH: That’s true. So thank you so much, Adam, for being here with us. We’re talking about having you back soon! 

AM: Yes, please. 

NH: So hopefully we will. 

AM: I’d love to.

NH: And I’d love for you to introduce your song, and we could get right into it.

AM: Of course, yeah. This song’s called “Momentos.” Do you want me to tell, like, the story behind it, or?

NH: Yeah, it’s yours! The mic’s yours.

AM: One of my favorite R&B songs of all time is “Let Me Love You” by Mario. And I’ve always loved that aspect of like, “You leave your man and come with me,” like, “I can treat you better.” And so, I know that topic has been done a million times, but I wanted to give my spin on it. Pop, reggaeton, and give it like a sexy romantic feel. And so that was the inspiration for “Momentos.” I’m Adam Martinez, and this is “Momentos” on Vocalo Radio.

Keep up with Adam Martinez on Instagram and Twitter, and stream his music on Spotify below.

Interview, audio editing and production by Nudia Hernandez

Written introduction by Joshua X. Miller, Morgan Ciocca

Photography by Morgan Ciocca

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