As one of the West Coast’s most notable and sought after old-school DJs in the festival scene, Dragonfly drops deep selections of electronic music’s traditional and emerging genres. From future/deep tech/cudder house, glitch, trap and global bass, expect the unexpected; you’ll never hear the same set twice!
As a consummate crate-digger, his days are spent down the rabbit-holes of sound, constantly discovering emerging talent and the hidden gems of sonic possibility. With an ear for the exotic and a background in movement arts, his approach is through the emotive keyhole of the psyche, while unlocking the heart of the dancefloor community. As a percussionist who’s adventured extensively throughout the near and far east, his mixes span all tempos and all genres of electronic dance music. His selections are drenched in global idioms, accented with tribal motifs, and interwoven with relentlessly intoxicating rhythm and groove.
Martin has been an amazing conduit for artists the world over to play at festivals in the USA, such as Symbiosis, Enchanted Forest, Earthdance, Harmony Festival, Beloved Festival and Envision Festival (Costa Rica). With his eagle ears and eyes capturing what’s cutting edge, he’s connected rising musicians such as Beats Antique, Rising Appalachia, Opiuo, Phaeleh, Kalya Scintilla, Kaminanda, and Gladkill to the festival masses. His passion for music and our culture is true, and a gift to us all.
Unfortunately, Martin has been battling Stage 3 cancer, and is halfway through chemotherapy treatment. This has meant months of illness, meaning large medical bills and loss of income. To assist in this trying time, his DJ friend Becca Dakini created a GoFundMe campaign, which has been garnering worldwide support and has already raised over $45K in funds, testifying to the power of music and community to support in personal and collective healing.
Keyframe caught up with DJ Dragonfly to discuss music inspirations, the crowdfunding campaign and insights.
What motivated you to pursue a career in music?
It was simple and complicated. First, I loved throwing parties. I used to live in Marin County, in Mill Valley, in the 90’s. The house that friends and I rented was once owned by numerous rock stars from the 60’s. For living and throwing parties, it was the perfect location: ten acres, surrounded by 10k acres at the base of Mount Tamalpais. I’ve always loved bringing people together, and I was always fascinated by the thought that where lives intersect, lives could change. The parties evolved over the years and ended up morphing into much bigger productions. They moved to various larger Bay Area venues, and had bigger sound systems and star DJs. But the premise was always inspired by the Anaïs Nin quote:
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
I never sought out a career in music; I didn’t choose it, it chose me. Eventually, I listened and responded to the calling when bills were being successfully paid and I was having an amazing time serving the deep need for community gatherings. The feedback was simple: Keep going!
What producers inspired you in the past? Which inspire you now?
That’s a big question. As a DJ, I am constantly, incessantly looking for that unfound sound, that place where composition, texture, sound design, rhythm and emotion all come together as a unique voice, or narrative. So, it’s the song I am seeking, not the producer.
Not all, but most producers sound very “samey” after the fourth track into their set. There is so much in producer-as-DJ sets that becomes predictable. In a sense, that’s okay if you are the producer. After all, you have a sound that needs to be “gotten” and songs that the public wants to hear. I am not invested in the music since I do not produce it. I am invested in the dance floor as a place of sonic adventure. As such, I love poly-genre sets. My hope is that by the end of my set you have had the music and emotion find movement in every muscle and bone in your body!
Here is an example of one of today’s discoveries in the unfound sound category: A whimsical, charming trip-hop meets-trap tune that I’d easily drop in a late night chilltrap set. A perfect example of narrative. And, it’s produced by a talented artist with under 1k followers on Soundcloud.
Your good friend Becca Dakini offered, created and launched the GofundMe crowdfunding campaign. Tell us about your connection to her?
Becca is a velvet hammer, a gilded tour-de force. She lives for music. She is music. We met at the solar eclipse festival in the Australian outback in 2012. She struck me as a solid, truth-speaking woman with a heart of gold, who lets it all rip in her DJ sets. To that: she’s a damn fine DJ too. The GoFund me campaign has been a jaw- dropping experience. It hit me anew again when the first major bill came in from the hospital this morning. It bowled me over…
Martin Dragonfly’s Road to Recovery: https://www.gofundme.com/martindragonfly
“It has been so inspiring to see the community rally behind Martin at this time, and just shows how amazing our community really is, and how it is just that – a powerful community. A rare thing in today’s age of separation – a unique jewel of a phenomenon where people are truly connected like they were back in the days of Village living. What a gift it is to be a part of this global community. The connections are tangible, and the support unquestionable. It’s been so inspiring to witness everyone rally behind Martin – and has restored my faith in humanity in a way. It just goes to show 2 main things in my mind – that we can achieve great things when we respond to difficulty together as a united front, and the utmost importance of being there for individuals in our community when hardship arises. It’s a game changer – just as this campaign has been. I just hope that the outpouring of energetic & financial support, and all the love & well wishes that have been sent – have created a field of amplified healing & support for Martin to relax into, to speed up his healing process. I believe this to be what we have all created together for him. That is the greatest gift we could have given this man, who has supported so many and who is a backbone for our culture in so many ways. I’ve just been a conduit to make this happen, and am glad I could be in service to Martin, who I treasure as a dear friend & colleague. I look forward to seeing his full recovery, and many more adventures together in the future!” ~ Becca Dakini
You’re set to play at the upcoming Enchanted Forest festival. What are you most looking forward to at the festival?
Enchanted is near and dear to my heart and since I booked most of the line up for that event. I am looking forward to people being blown away by the production, the talent, and the delicious connectivity that so easily and randomly happens at that event.
How has your changing health affected your music endeavors? Or what are you doing differently to address these changes?
Music is my healing, my happy place, my shelter and my escape. DJing now is even more important to me than ever before! DJing I can do, but grinding out a stage till the wee hours into sunrise? Well… maybe in a year.
Anything else you’d like to share? Insights? Breakthroughs? Advice? Shout outs?
Insights: With suffering comes wisdom, comes compassion. The experience of being diagnosed with cancer has been amazing. Even when it sucks – and it does suck – I have learned so much, and am hyper aware of this gift of life and gift of consciousness. And while I would return all the money raised in heartbeat for the tumors to magically disappear, I would not trade in the experience. My advice (and apply this to any situation, physical or emotional): “Don’t take on the diagnosis”!
Finally, my wife, daughter, friends and community are my pillars – without them, I’d truly be lost.
To view, donate and share the campaign, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/martindragonfly
Stay in touch with DJ Dragonfly: