The West is becoming increasingly divided along political lines. Discussions of administrations dominate dinner tables and school campuses, and everyone has an opinion about how to change the status quo. Canadian producer Stickybuds—also known as Tyler Martens—is no exception.
With more than 10 years’ worth of glitchy electro-funk releases in the bank, the producer has written a number of tracks that broach controversial political topics. None, however, has come close to expressing an opinion as overt as his latest release, “Crooked Politicians”.
“I watch a lot of independent journalists, and I’m pretty in tune with the political spectrum,” he tells the Straight on the line from his home in Calgary. “I think that song just came out of the frustration that I feel for where the world’s at right now.
“Over the past eight years, I’ve been interested in learning about geopolitics and how the financial system works,” he continues. “Thankfully, I’m an independent musician, and I have a decent amount of time to listen to lectures and read things. I can take parts that are important and put them into the music I make. When I’m old and grey and sitting on a porch somewhere with some great-grandkids, I want to be able to say, ‘This is how it was back then.’ ”
Despite the song’s message and Martens’s history of remixing tracks with ecologically minded lyrics, though, the artist makes it clear that he’s not trying to turn his feel-good, party-funk brand into a political one. Aiming to counterweigh his tracks’ heavier content with upbeat songwriting, he places as much focus on the music as the words.
“I’m not trying to force politics on anyone,” he says. “I’m not trying to turn my shows into political rallies. The message is probably the most important thing in that song, but it’s a balancing act. The landscape of politics and the social consciousness is very intense right now. People are firing on all cylinders and it’s really full-on.”
The producer’s party reputation got a boost last year when his track “Clap Ya Hands Now”—a modern take on the Meters’ classic “Hand Clapping Song”—was selected by Sony Pictures to soundtrack the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The achievement crowned a new era for Martens. Eschewing samples in favour of session musicians, and licensing the track from the original band, the producer integrated his electronic production with recorded instruments.
“I have an album coming out over the summer,” he says. “I’m pushing myself to do more challenging things, like hiring guitar players, singers, and horn players. The record is full of electronic funk music, and electronic reggae. It’s been a great learning experience, working with artists that I respect and making music with them, and working with all these different session musicians.
“There’s definitely some more politics on the record, though,” he continues. “I’m trying to make music that’s not totally disposable, like some club banger that’s played for three months and everyone moves on. My next single is called ‘The Firestarter’. It’s one of the more banging ones, full-on drum and bass, and it’s about profiting off war and the corruption behind it. You can play that at peak time in the club, but the message is still there too. I hope that it resonates with people.”
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