Missives is an indie/alt-electronic musical project based in Los Angeles. It is led by producer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Martinez, who is a native of the mountains of northern New Mexico, a place of wind and trees and echoes. Missives’ sound is lyrical, atmospheric and rhythmic, and informed by minimalist composers, and electronic/experimental music. The compositions feature slow harmonic rhythms, intricate beats, repeated melodic figures and pulsing synths, woven into songs that explore discovery, transformation, loss, acceptance, and the passage of time. Missives’ influences range from Thom Yorke and Steve Reich to FKA Twigs, James Blake and Sigur Ros.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I live in Los Angeles, CA. The music scene is wide and varied, but is a surprisingly small world. I’m always meeting musicians that know friends of mine or have played music with them. There is a lot of music to be heard on any given night and that is an exciting thing to be around.
How did you first start playing music?
There was a family heirloom upright piano in my house growing up. I started playing around with that as a child. I would sit and figure out melodies of songs I heard my parents listening to, and come up with my own ideas. Later, I started learning saxophone in school and by my teenage years, picked up the guitar and quickly got very serious about it.
What been happening recently?
I’m consistently working on new music for Missives, collaborative projects, and instrumental music. Looking forward to releasing my debut single Dissolve.
Your new single ‘Dissolve’ is about to be released from your debut EP, what influenced the sound and songwriting for Dissolve and the EP?
My influences span quite a far and wide spectrum. Since I first heard “Music for 18 Musicians” by Steve Reich, the idea of repetitive musical figures changing over time or staying constant while everything changes around them has been an important part of how I hear musical ideas. Moving harmony versus static figures, textures, and atmosphere inform a lot of my sound. My music is an amalgam of that minimalist influence and inspiration from artists like FKA Twigs, Thom Yorke, James Blake, and Bjork. The songwriting revolves around concepts of discovery, transformation, loss, acceptance, and the passage of time.
How did you go about writing Dissolve?
I had recently bought a Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08 synth. I was exploring the sounds it was capable of and stumbled into a bass line that felt like it was falling over itself. It turned into a fully realized song shortly after that once I added a beat, some synth pads for harmony and a vocal melody. Lyrically, the song is about experiencing loss and navigating the disorientation that comes along with it.
Where and when did you record and who with?
Dissolve and the other tracks on “Patterns of Us” (EP) were recorded in my studio over the course of the last couple years. I’ve worked as a composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist for years now and wrote, recorded, and mixed everything myself. I have two tracks with guest vocalists, very close friends of mine, Patrick Joseph and Eleanor Crane. I’m lucky to have close friends who are also incredibly talented artists in their own right.
How did you approach the recording process?
Recording and writing happen simultaneously. They are both the process of creation and flow back and forth between each other. I record one sound or instrument that then inspires an idea for another layer or texture, and so on and so on until a structure begins to emerge. This happens fairly quickly, so I often have place-holder takes of various parts or instruments. Once I have a solid song idea mapped out, I go back and refine individual instruments as needed. I definitely enjoy using recording as a way to explore different sounds, or altering instruments or objects to make them sound like something else.
What programs/instruments did you use to record?
I use Pro Tools for recording and mixing. I use some software synths, but the majority of the EP utilized hardware synths like the Prophet 08, Moog Sub37, and Mother 32. There is also a fair amount of guitar as that is my primary instrument. And a lot of guitar that doesn’t sound anything like a guitar. I use an Echoplex Digital Pro Plus looper to create atmospheric and ambient textures using the guitar. I also like using vocal loops to create textures and pads. There are percussive elements in the songs sourced from random objects like a paper wrapper, scratching on cloth, tapping on things, etc.
What do you like to do away from music?
I spend a lot of time camping, hiking, and being outside. Anywhere I can find mountains, water, and quiet. I read as much as I can, and watch movies and documentaries. I enjoy spending time with friends and family.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Thom Yorke’s latest album Anima has been in heavy rotation for me. As well as Bon Iver’s most recent album and Magdalene by FKA Twigs. Anything by Max Richter.
What’s planned for 2020?
I’ll be releasing my debut EP “Patterns of Us” and continuing to work on new music for Missives, possibly for another EP or a full length depending on how everything shapes up.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Pho or sushi (at least today). My favourite place to hangout is in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California or Northern New Mexico where I grew up. There is also a neighborhood bar here in LA that I go to fairly regularly with friends. It feels like it should be a bar in a random mountain town somewhere, but it sits in the middle of Eagle Rock, a north east LA neighborhood I’m quite fond of.
1. Patterns of Us
2. Something More
3. Long Gone (feat. Patrick Joseph)
4. Reach Inside (feat. Eleanor Crane)