Unique hip-hop indie rock

Josh Martinez is a musician, record label executive and producer who created the “indie” label Camobear Records in the early 2000s.

Josh Martinez is a musician, record label executive and producer who created the “indie” label Camobear Records in the early 2000s.

His musical style is an incomparable force that intertwines comedic melodies with serious tones of surf rock, underground hip-hop, rural and urban blends of rhythms and a soulful balance of “bringing up the drums” that correlates the music from the beginning inspiration of “being human underneath it all.”

 “In `97 I loved hip-hop, then the commercial era hit and it sucked,” Martinez said about his influences and love for hip-hop. “People like Puff made the hip-hop life glamorized; I wanted to make music that represented the truth about what being a hip-hop artist is to me.”

Martinez is a Canadian national who came to Portland via New York.

“The Canadian government pays for half of what we do—we write up a grant and propose it, the government looks it over and they give us the funding,” Martinez said, “The government does this because they want artists like me to be able to compete and have recognition on a world stage.”

 Martinez has two offices, one located in Vancouver, B.C., with a staff of two, and the other in Portland, with a staff of three. The office in Portland has two studios, an art gallery, a t-shirt printing shop and a clothing store. As the executive, he believes that the best way to get something done is by “doing it yourself.”

Commenting on his “indie” label status, Martinez said, “Indie is a messed up term.”

Since the label was created in the early 2000s, Martinez has signed 78 titles and has produced dozens of cuts.

“It is really a long-term business and takes a team effort. At first the label was a catastrophe—we did not know what we were doing. It took a while to learn how to run this business, but once we did it turned into profit,” he said. “We are working with the PSU School of Business as an outreach, they are helping us out with a lot of things here.”

Martinez says that he is on tour 200 days out of the year, and performs both nationally and internationally. Through his massive fan base he has sold over 100,000 records independently. As an executive of his own label, Martinez says that digital music and the neutrality of the Web are a huge boost in distribution of content.

He says that keeping the label independent is the most important thing, because he gets to make all the decisions and stay connected to the music.

“I have had a lot of offers from people who want to buy the label, but I will not sell it until someone can prove that they will run it right. So far no one has,” Martinez said.

When asked where his style and ideas for his music come from, Martinez attributes his tastes to “telling your point of view, and being honest.”

He says that part of what he does is myth-making—taking an idea and transforming it into what he believes it should be. Martinez spoke about Hunter S. Thompson as a significant influence, saying that through his writing Thompson would create a character of himself in the stories he wrote, often placing himself as a central persona who drove the story he pursued. Martinez said that he does that with his own artistic pursuits, remarking that Josh Martinez is only a rap name, and that his actual name is Matt Kimber.

“Josh Martinez is a myth I created, a name I used for rapping and people began to actually think it was my real name. He’s a person I became to create music, he is a concept of my personality, and a meshing of Matt Kimber with what I am doing—the name just stuck,” he said.

Martinez’s music is punchy—often comedic—but wholeheartedly edgy, exposing real-life stories and myths. His verses and choruses illustrate that a silver tongue with buttery melodies, a beat and a quip use of vocabulary (endlessly mixed with different grammatical structures) creates a florous personality to his music.

 “I care about content most. If you relate to it, then I did my job,” he said.

Aside from his solo act, Martinez also performs with The Chicharones, which is named after the pork rind. The act has been around for seven years and is a collaboration with Sleep of Oldominion. Martinez also fronts The Pissed Off Wild (P.O.W.), which is a punk rock, hip-hop humor band that blends an eclectic variety of genres, and it draws from an arsenal of musical talent.

The Chicharones is the most successful act in Martinez’s opinion. It has a new record called Swine Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which dropped this spring.

A venue that Martinez frequents is the South By Southwest Musical Festival in Austin, Texas. A veteran of 11 years, he mentions the festival as a tremendous place to make connections in the music industry. Martinez goes on to say that he has collaborated with many different musicians through chance meetings.

“The guy pissing next to you in the bathroom could be anyone…” Martinez said.

Martinez said about his goals, “People listen to the lyrics, but not the melody, melody…melody. I like to pursue a style that focuses on what the music sounds like, not just what I am saying. It is about life content, gateway drugs, you don’t know how fucked up it is, my times, my generation. I am going to represent for the guys.”

 Martinez’s music, merchandise, and contact information can be found at www.camobeardigital.com.

 Martinez’s personal website is www.joshmartinez.ca.

  Camobear Records is located at 2718 Southwest Kelly Avenue, Portland, Ore.