We all know you as the Emperor of House Music, how did you come up with that name? How did you first get into this field of music –and who were some of your influences growing up?
Well, the Emperor of House Music came about through a review of one song, FMB by Darrin Johnson for Ruelon.com and when my cousin/producer Michael E. Williams, II, read it, he said,
- “you know what? You ought to use that”, and from there it is history.
I first got involved in the music business when I was 13 years old, I hosted a music video show called Video Control on public access channel 37, in Lansing, MI.
I produced, directed and hosted the show. Donnie Simpson was one of my childhood idols at the time and I wanted to be just like him interviewing celebrities about their lives and careers.
That period in my life was awesome, and I will tell you that it kept me very busy and out of trouble. If I ever meet him, I would have to thank him for being such a huge influence in my life.
Musically, I would have to say that Janet Jackson was/is a major influence on the type of music I want to sing and dance to. I will tell you that her music had been a life-saver for me. Whatever problem I was going through be-it school or matters of the heart she has always been there. Sometimes, I would just put on her music and just go off dancing anxiety away. Her music for me has always been escapism. I owe her a huge thank you if I ever get to meet her.
What kind of training have you had, if any?
Of course, I had the usual growing up in a Baptist church singing in the choir. Throughout the years, I was trained by several opera singers but for some reason - I did not take it seriously, mainly because I did not know what I wanted to be and or I lacked confidence. It was not until I got with Ms. Shelly my current vocal coach, that I really felt comfortable with singing and expanding my range. She made it fun and helped me to develop my brand and I will be forever grateful to her.
Although I still have more growing to do in that aspect I am satisfied with the final result of the project.
As for dance, I trained with Charlene Thomas for a period of time, I miss her. Recently, I trained with Zebretta Johnson before my auto-accident she is fierce and extremely talented.
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
Even with all the delays, I would have to say that the Erogenous Zone project may be my favourite one to work on, so far. Mainly because, I stepped out of my comfort zone and allowed others to co-write a couple of songs with me, and I decided to sing more as opposed to doing spoken word — with that, having background singers on one track called Splendid Thing with Ms. Shelly, and Clayton Morgan singing background.
You have a single coming out on May 31, 2019, called Love Out Loud, how did you come up with the concept and please tell our readers what the song is about?
For me, Love Out Loud is the type of song that I wished was playing on the radio while I was growing up. The concept is about living free and being who you are.
At the time I wrote the song I felt that I needed to do something with a positive message seeing how there was, and still is so much negativity in the world.
I wanted to do my part to combat that. I can still remember how alone I felt when I was a child struggling with who I was and coming to terms with myself.
With this song, I am saying — it is ok to be who you are.
What are some of the challenges that you face as an independent label and artist?
There is not enough time in the day for me to explain that to you (he laughs). But to answer your question, I would have to say is finding the right people to help bring your vision to life, there is weeding out the bullshit process going on here. Every day, I am inundated with requests to spend my money with companies and or individuals that may or may not be legitimate. I tend to rely on colleagues for leads to push my music in the right direction.
One other thing would be is getting friends or family members to listen to your work and really support it by buying it. Sometimes, that can be like banging your head against the wall, I have learned to stop asking certain individuals because they are not the audience I am trying to reach. Lastly, I would say is getting DJs to play your music in the club or radio station would be another challenge.
All in all, I remain optimistic because I know who my true supporters are. Honestly, they are the ones who come out to see me when I have a show. They buy my music on the first day of release because they want to see me have a great opening day. These people have my back, just like I have theirs and I am forever grateful for their support.
What has been one of the biggest highlights/achievements of your career?
Becoming a member of the Grammys and attending my very first award show in 2017, is definitely a career highlight.
Next, it would be completing my album Erogenous Zone which will be released on July 26, 2019, worldwide I consider being a personal achievement.
I say that because, of the hearing loss that has now been regained, an auto accident that caused injuries that had me push the release date out yet again.
Those are things that have happened to me but because I never give up on anything, I know how to persevere no matter what the circumstances are.
Lastly, having a top 5 single on the iTunes Electronic Dance Charts with Clayton Morgan’s Good Love which I was featured on was awesome.
If you had a chance to work alongside anybody who would that be?
There are a couple of people that I would love to work with. Janet Jackson would be one, I would love to do some spoken word on one of her songs.
Arnold Jarvis is another — I love his soulful house mixes and of course Clayton Morgan again.
What projects do you have coming up?
Right now, I am focused on Love Out Loud that comes out on May 31, 2019, worldwide which is keeping me very busy at the moment.
And of course, Erogenous Zone the album, the release date for that is scheduled for July 26, 2019.
Who or what is your inspiration?
Love and my husband are my inspiration. You will definitely hear that on Erogenous Zone.
Do you have any live performances scheduled to promote your singles and upcoming album?
Right now, I am still recovering from my injuries but I do hope to start rehearsals again no later than mid-July and once I get the ok from my doctors,
I will be going back at it hard. At the moment, I have a lot of pent up energy that I really need to release. But I would say, just say subscribe to
my website www.martoneonline.com for any tour dates.
Do you have any words of encouragement for an artist looking to get in the business?
Understand that there are people out there that want to separate you from your coins — do your research before signing up with any agency that
claims they can book you gigs and turn you into a star overnight. Know that success does not happen overnight, but when it does happen to be sure
to show gratitude for every opportunity that comes your way. Lastly, never give up and continue to believe in yourself no matter what the naysayers may say.