Joy Electric is a one-man band consisting of Ronnie Martin. Joy Electric songs are synthesizer-filled, ultra-sweet electronic bubblegum pop tunes that sound nothing like anything else currently on the market. A master tunesmith and remarkable composer, Ronnie has created a unique sound and style that is all his own. Now 25, Ronnie was born and raised in the Los Angeles area along with his younger brother Jason Martin (Jason fronts an amazing rock/pop band called Starflyer 59). When he's not recording electronic masterpieces, Ronnie works at his father's trucking company handling administrative as well as driving tasks.
Ronnie currently records for the Seattle's Tooth & Nail record label, and he will have a new full-length Joy Electric CD out early 1996. We were fortunate enough to be able to hook up with him via a taped phone conversation to learn more about the way his mind works.
What would you prefer to be doing most of the time?
Most of the time I'd prefer to be riding my bike or reading a book because I like to read a lot. It's a way to relax for me and lets me escape. It gets me away from the music thing. I just like riding my bike for exercise. It's the same thing...just kinda gets me away and gets me off on my own frame of mind. It's kind of a peaceful thing for me to do...
What do you think is the biggest problem in the world?
The biggest problem in the world, I would say, is that the world doesn't have Jesus in their lives.
If you only had one hour left to live, how would you spend that hour?
Well, I don't know if I'd do anything different. I would probably just call my family, call my loved ones and just let them know about what was going to be happening. I would just give them the truth of the gospel. That's what I would do personally...and make sure whatever I could get in order in my life that wasn't in order already, I would do it in that hour, you know. That would be about it, really.
What sort of hobbies do you have?
I ride bicycles and I ride motorcycles and that's really all I have for hobbies. I'm kind of a real boring guy, kind of a just a homebody. I don't really get out. I'm not really a night life person. I don't enjoy clubs at all. I like shopping and I like going to old towns. Me and my wife like to look at old antiques. We buy old antiques and stuff. So that's what we do to unwind to a certain degree.
Is television a good thing or a bad thing?
I think television in itself is not really a bad thing. It's like anything else. It's like, music isn't a bad thing. It's what is being put across television that, in my opinion, can be a really bad thing...the overall messages that you get from the media through all kinds of talk shows and even sitcomes and stuff...doesn't really to anything to build up the morals of society in the nineties. I think T.V. could be a great thing if you were getting some good stuff out of it, but most of the stuff on T.V. is just such trash in my opinion...
Do you generally like or dislike people?
I would say I generally like them. Everybody has certain kinds of people that get on their nerves and they can't stand but I guess you've just got to deal with everybody as they come as an individual. It's tough, though. I generally like people, but every once in a while you meet someone and you're just like, "Oh man, I want to like this person but I'm having such a hard time."
Describe what you would like your life to be like.
Gosh. That's a tough question. I don't know... I guess I'd like my life to be like it is right now, for lack of a way to even comprehend the question. Just being at home with my wife and kid...eating popcorn in front of the fire and knowing that the last song I wrote is better than any other song I've written before. That's what makes me feel at peace and stuff on an hour by hour basis...
Do you remember your dreams?
I remember dreams in the morning when I'm half awake...you know, that in-between where you're asleep but you're conscious of what's going on and you dream those kind of dreams that feel so real..and then I wake up and I immediately remember everything that happened. Sometimes you wake up and you're so disappointed 'cause you thought it was real...you know, you're sort of just laying there going "Oh boy..." I go through stages where for a couple of weeks I'll have all these dreams, and then it seems like I don't have any dreams for a month or so. But it's fun to dream, especially if they're good dreams.
Name someone that has been very influential to you and explain how or why.
There have been so many different people. It's really hard to say... I've had a couple of best friends at times that I really looked up to. I really got a lot from them and really respected what they were doing and where they were going...but I really don't have any friends any more. You ask some good questions... I look up to my wife a lot. I guess I would say I look up to her more than anyone else because she has so many qualities about her that I wish I had...how nice and kind and giving she is and stuff. I wish I was more like that consistently. I guess right now that would be the person.
Do you keep up with the news?
Not too much. We have a T.V. but we just have it for Disney movies...videos and stuff. As far as the news goes, I was never really big on watching the news and all that kind of stuff. I'm current on certain issues but as a whole, a lot of it I don't understand because I guess I've never had a lot of interest in the news.
Do you think staying abreast of what's happening is important?
Yeah, I do think it's important. I think it's one of the things that I sort of neglected, which is to my fault really. I think I should get a little more aware... I'm so lost when it comes to a lot of stuff...
What is the biggest thing you've killed?
The biggest thing I've killed? Jeez...um... You mean something to kill, like an animal kind of a thing? I guess a big spider, because it was on the wall and I hate spiders...and if you don't kill 'em, they'll just keep popping up, I think...
Were you a happy child?
Yeah, pretty much. I had a good childhood...my parents are still together. No trauma, no problems really my whole life growing up, actually.
What is your biggest problem at this time?
My biggest problem? There are so many...where do I start? I guess for me, my biggest problem is, being that I do have a relationship with God, I don't trust him enough. That is the core of my life, and the fact that I don't trust his words and I don't trust what he's saying to give me the peace in my life. Talking about being so obsessive and stuff, those are my downfalls because I lack a lot of peace in my life, actually, because of my lack of trust.
Do you take anything seriously?
Yeah, I'm one of those kind of people that takes everything seriously. It ties in with a lot of the other stuff we've been saying. I probably take myself too seriously. I mean, I take a lot of things seriously and then I don't take a lot of things seriously... In other words, I take my music really seriously but then if we're going to turn over the coin, it's just stupid three-minute pop songs. At certain times, it's good to be serious and say, "Well...this is serious because we want it to be like this and we want this to happen." But then, you've always gotta be able to turn over the coin and go, "Come on." As far as music goes, playing with all these stupid little keyboards making these dumb sounds, trying to write a melody. It's not building mountains or anything, although sometimes I'd like to believe it in my small mind...
You're describing my basic philosophy on everything, which is that everything is really important but at the same time everything just doesn't matter at all.
I think you've gotta be able to grab each side when you need it. When you're talking about your music or whatever, you are serious about it but at the same time I don't want to sound like Billy Corrigan either. What I do is completely pretentious and it's meant to be, because I'm into what I'm doing. But at least I'm aware that it's like that...
Your stuff comes across sounding very sincere to me.
Oh, it is completely sincere, if not sincerely pretentious. When you write about the kind of stuff that I write about and do the kind of stuff I'm doing... You seem to have a really good understanding of it but, to most people it's like, you know, "This guy's a fairy"...
What bothers you?
Nothing bothers me more than me bothers me.
What makes you feel good?
What makes me feel good is knowing that I'm progressing in all the different areas in my life, whether it be music or whether it be as a husband, or a father, or a Christian, or whatever it may be... Just that I'm moving forward and not being stagnant or actually regressing or taking steps back. That I'm learning from my mistakes, you know, and that I'm pushing forward...trying to be better.
What's the difference between common sense and intelligence?
I would say that if you were to have one, it would be better to have common sense any day over intelligence. Intelligence is highly overrated these days. To me, common sense is how you realize your goals, whereas intelligence is what keeps you walking back and forth...not moving towards anything, you know, because there are too many philosophies that tell you "Maybe I should go here, well no. Maybe I should do this"...whereas common sense just says, "Well, I'm gonna tie my shoes and I'm gonna run out the door and do it."
Are all people equal?
Yes, all people are equal, I believe. Do you want me to expound on that?
Actually, that sounded good just like that.
Ronnie Martin is extremely articulate and seems passionate about his music...and with good reason. He's treading in a musical territory that is completely out of whack with what's going on in pop music today. Rather than try to cash in on a fad or create something to satisfy other folks' demands, however, Mr. Martin is following his own muse...following what's in his heart...and isn't that what the very best music has always been about??? Joy Electric is a pure musical escape for both Ronnie and his listeners...
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