I tried to compete with cupcakKe‘s lusty Mamby On The Beach spectacle next door, while interviewing pluko fka Pluto, by shoving two iPhones in the 18-year-old’s baby face. Pluko’s Sam Martinsen is a small-town man with an ambitious plan. He hails from Hollidaysburg, the primary transfer point between the Pennsylvania Canal and Portage Railroad, a portal to western Pennsylvania. Martinsen’s humility and kaleidoscopic sound, along with his storytelling skills, have earned him a spot on Foreign Family Collective, Red Light Management and Paradigm Talent Agency‘s rosters. Releasing his debut record sixteen as well as entertaining the Capitol Hill Block Party and HARD Summer masses is next on the agenda.
How does performing at Mamby On The Beach in Chicago compare to opening A Moment Apart tour stop?
For the festival stuff, I do more DJ sets. I get to play harder stuff, which is another side of me that I really enjoy making and listening to. I go a little harder for the festivals, like more trappy stuff and stuff on my ‘outer thoughts‘ mixtapes. In my mind, trap and future bass go hand in hand.
People will appreciate the melodic, more emotional stuff. At the same time, they’re also going to want the high energy stuff, which is exactly how I think. It really just kind of works out and ends up turning out smoothly. It’s funny to see the audience headbanging. When I was at Coachella people were moshing to songs that really aren’t that hype, but it’s still cool to see the energy.
Who thought of getting rid of the t and adding the k, besides Disney?
There was probably a month with Foreign Family, the ODESZA boys and my managers coming up with ideas. Nothing really stuck with me. We just bounced around names for so long, and I thought of pluko. Everybody liked it. So many people knew me as Pluto. I felt if I changed it to something completely different, I would lose fans. The original idea for Pluto was the way it looked and sounded. It didn’t have any deep meaning. It felt right with the music, and pluko wasn’t much different than that.
What was the was an advantage of rebranding yourself?
There were actually a lot of advantages. At first, I was not too stoked about it. Gradually, I realized things were really falling into place. I was still going under Pluto, when I first changed the name. I was starting to transition the way my social media looked because it was super animated and there weren’t many pictures of me. I put more focus on being able to see me because you don’t always see a lot of producers. You just see their music and album covers. I started to bring the whole nature, along with the glitchy electric stuff as well, which you’ll see when the album comes out. It really worked out well. If you search Pluto, it would be the planet. Now, when you search pluko, it’s the first thing to come up.
When during the Red Rocks set did the stage fright fade away and the adrenaline kicked into high gear?
About two minutes into my set because I have a long intro. Then, I come out and play the drums. After that, it’s all fun from there. I was getting super stressed, super nervous right before because it’s Red Rocks. As soon as I played the first song “Love,” I felt great. It was amazing.
Why Foreign Family Collective, other than the positive vibes? Did your future bass sound have something to do with it?
I’ve always been listening to releases from Foreign Family. I’ve always looked up to ODESZA. I was sending around my album because it was almost done, and it really stuck with them. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a perfect fit to be connected with them and everybody else on there. At the same time, it’s not exactly the same as everybody else on there. It still has pieces of it that are super unique to me. Hopefully, it will stand out a lot more than the other stuff that’s out on SoundCloud. This is my first album, so I’m super excited to see how it goes. I can’t wait.
It’s called ‘sixteen’ because it’s super emotional to me. It really means everything to me. They [ODESZA] sent me the most ridiculously long email after listening to it, of each track and how they felt. They connected with it just how I wrote it and how it was meant to be. I was like “this is perfect.” If they are feeling that, they’re going to be just as excited about it as I am. To be honest, I really lucked out. The original idea of them listening to it was for them to put notes on structural changes, but then they’d throw in things about an emotional journey; that made me realize it’s sounding to other people how it sounds to me.
Nevve has worked with most dance music artists as a featured vocalist. How is “need ya” different than her other pieces?
I really wanted to try out a poppy track, which I’ve never really done before. It’s all just been super ambient, bangers or whatever. I never really touched the pop side of it, and I wanted to dive into that. Nevve had an original demo that was 30 seconds long. It was the first part that I really fell in love with and I started writing to it: writing the drums, writing everything and writing all the melodies. It started to build itself. We kept going back and forth. “Need ya” is less of a topline. It’s kind of like our track.
She is still a feature on it, the way it’s written and everything, but it highlights her voice. During the main sections, it highlights my parts of the track. I think it’s cool that it’s not just a topline over a future bass song. After the first drop, there’s a little section where it solos out her voice. It’s just the drums. Because I already had parts of her vocals to work with, I liked reacting to what they thought, rather than me writing an instrumental and them reacting to me. I like to have control. That’s why I like doing remixes with just the acapella. It’s my favorite thing.
How has your hometown’s scene or lack of fostered your talent?
It’s the reason why I have so much time to get better and explore my creativity. There are 8,000 people, nothing to do, so I started making music and fell in love with it. There have been times where I haven’t even left my house for an entire weekend. I’m perfectly content with that. I got my first copy of Ableton about three years ago. It happened really quickly because that’s all I was doing for that period of time. I wasn’t even doing my homework. I started with FL Studio for two months, and my friend who works at Ableton got me a copy of the suite for $50. That’s when I realized I needed to take it more seriously because I had this gift, $900 software to use for $50. I really took advantage of that opportunity.
The thing we do for fun is going to this gas station called Sheetz. We go to the parking lot and hang out. When people get hungry, we go in and get food. On the east coast, it’s huge. They have a million stores all over the place. That’s the most exciting part of our weekend.