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Fresh Kicks 146: Martyn Bootyspoon

Martyn Bootyspoon records a high-velocity mix of pounding club sounds, sweaty drum workouts and dizzying melodies for the Fresh Kicks series

“The idea that political commentary has to be solemn is just so lame,” says the memeable face of Martyn Bootyspoon, beaming in from Montréal on a November afternoon. “If someone is trying to say, ‘I’m a political artist so I can only make 170bpm hard house’, I’m like, sure – you’re making tracks that are like heart-attack music. But it lacks imagination.”

Jason Voltaire is of the school of thought that listeners can work it out for themselves. His Bootyspoon alter ego — possibly only lightly exaggerated — is a puckish composite of steezy VIPs, sleazy MCs and absurdist memelords. Imagine a smooth-talking nerd asking to “go through your browser history” while peering over his inch-high sunglasses, as on his rackety cybersex anthem ‘The Grid’. But while Bootyspoon himself couldn’t manage a single night in lockdown, the human behind the outsized persona has spent his 2020 booze-fasting, music-making, and perfecting his tennis serve. 

“Honestly, I really needed a break,” says Voltaire, who was touring with his buddy Jacques Greene when the pandemic hit. “Then it was like, damn — I’ve released this very bangerific EP and I can’t tour it or celebrate it.”

In July, which feels about a decade ago, he put out ‘Lickety Split’, an EP that fires up every component in the Bootyspoon engine at once: pounding ghettotech and filthy Chicago trax via DJ Assault, Ron Hardy and Steve Poindexter; sleazed-up house and electro in tribute to Green Velvet and Tiga; 8-bar grime influenced by Rinse FM and the default settings on FL Studio. Between full-throttle drum workouts and sub-zero electro-sleaze (‘Ice Cream Mane’ is a standout), it’s one of the most memorable club releases of 2020 — despite the lack of clubs. 

Dig deeper and the Bootyspoon project feels as politically charged as any padlock-wearing industrial gabber DJ heralding the end-times. On ‘KEYGEN 2 MI H34RT’, Voltaire whips up a bare- bones club jam from pitch-bent trance stabs, sending up the idea that Black artists “are not allowed to appreciate trance”. He frequently puts Bootyspoon’s face and body in the frame on social media and on record sleeves, sometimes au naturel. “Putting myself half-naked on my album cover to address the erasure of Black people in dance music — that’s a political choice,” he says.

An art school education (he studied intermedia cyber arts at Concordia University) encouraged Voltaire to present his music as a total aesthetic project, taking cues from performance and video artists like Marina Abramovic ́ and Ryan Trecartin (“the godfather of TikTok”) as much as other musicians: “I love reading into subtext, I love psychoanalysis of other people’s work. I’m super turned off when people say that things just happen in a vacuum.”

His combination of “eroticism and whimsy”, as one reviewer put it, harks back to a whole lineage of sexually and politically daring artists from Prince to disco icon Sylvester, “whose catalogue is extremely political, and it’s the funnest, most euphoric music on the planet.”

In a year of industry rupture, from nightclub shutdowns to industry reckonings with racial injustice and sexual harassment, he thinks it’s no wonder the dance community is “in a state of aggression” right now: “There’s a myriad of reasons why, but I could definitely attribute it, in part, to not having a weekend to decompress.” He’s as keen to get back out there as the rest of us — a bout of clean living and twice-weekly tennis matches can’t make up for the lack of floortime. “Every week, I’m like, I need to go dance. I would like to be back on the floor. And fucking doing a backflip.” 


Off The Meds - Wanting
Dance System & Lauren Flax - Beat Them
Armand Van Helden - Koochy (Bootyspoon's Ass-Dial Caller-IDit)
Michael E - Give Me Vision
Unknown Mobile - Tired
Slick Rick Da' Master / Geto DJ'Z INC - Have Myself A Ball
Markus Mann - Self Snitching
Hysterics ft Kristian Hamilton - Liked You
Wookie x Scratchclart x Jon B - Lately
B.Ames - Walk The Catwalk (Drippin Remix)
Martyn Bootyspoon - Lickety Split
Scratchclart - X
Lil Silva - Get Down
Hagan - Ultra
Modulaw & Xzavier Stone - Optics
Miss Kitten & The Hacker - Life On MTV
DJMC - Break
Feadz - The 50$ Sack Pyramid
Jacques Greene - Distance
Arca - Watch (feat. ShyGirl)
Kyle Edwards & DJ Smallz 732, DJ Bake, DJ Shodd - Sexy Can I (Jersey Club) [feat. DJ Bake & DJ Shodd]
LSDXOXO - Dick Like Crack
Grown Folk - Freak Dis
Regular Fantasy & DJ Chrysalis - We Like To Party
Maara - Der She Goes
AceMoMA - Rave Cache
DSG - Developer
Overmono - Clipper (Another 5 Years)
DMX Krew - You Can't Hide Your Love (Aphex Twin Mix)