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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Friday, February 14, 2020

Exclusive Interview: Freestyle's Soavé Martinez Celebrates Thirty Years of Live Performances While Putting the Finishing Touches on Brand New Music

(Soave Martinez- Official Facebook)

Some songs just stay with you no matter how many years have passed since the first time that you remember hearing them on the radio, four seconds in and you recognize it as your jam. Sure, there might be a handful of songs that you can classify that way, but when one of them starts to play it's still always YOUR jam. Soave’s “Crying Over You" has always registered as one of mine. It was just the right song at the right time for me, one that to this day leaves me dancing. It has worked that same kind of magic on a lot of people and I challenge anyone that is under the impression that freestyle music died off twenty-plus years ago, to reconsider. I say that because on any given weekend, in various locations across the U.S. you’ll find thousands of freestyle fans packing venues to embrace not only the music but also the bit of nostalgia that those dance floor classics conjure up. 

I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Jeffrey “Soave” Martinez a bit and I now really understand that in order to consistently perform nearly every week for the last three decades (as he has), it takes passion, devotion to the music and a deep gratitude for all that freestyle has brought to his life. The fans play a huge part in his ability to keep performing because without demand there is no supply, but it’s his gut-level devotion to music that has Soave now working on the biggest passion project of his life. The need to grow has led him back into the studio to create brand new music, completely on his own terms.  

In a recent interview, Soave revisited his earliest days in the music industry and brought me up to speed on all that he has in the works for this year. Check it out below. 

(Soave Martinez- Official Facebook)

Soave Martinez on his first brush with the freestyle music world: 

"My girlfriend and I had just broken up and I found out that she was going to be at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, so I figured my friend and I could go and we would run into her. I had never been to this parade before, so I had no idea just how massive it was. I was thinking it would be just a couple of blocks and I'd run into her when really it was hundreds of thousands of people (laughing). So we went and it didn't take me long to figure out that I was never going to run into her so we decided to just enjoy the moment. As we were walking my buddy was taking flyers from everyone that was handing them out. He had a stack of flyers in his hands and I looked at the last one that was handed to him and it was little pictures of about 25 different acts all in a big square. It was for a Puerto Rican Day Parade after-party at Club Broadway 96.  

I was a fan of freestyle first before I ever even considered performing it. I really liked established acts like Noel, TKA and Trilogy. They weren't on the flyer, but my father was the head of security at Club Broadway 96, so I knew that even though we were underage we would be able to get in because he would hook us up. We headed down to the club, had dinner and then we ended up backstage so I got to meet all of the artists as they were coming through. Since I was broken up with my girlfriend, I took autographed photos from each of the acts and I decided that I was going to mail them all to her on Monday, hoping that would get her back (laughing). 

I was there for hours either backstage or watching everyone from the side of the stage and by the fourth or fifth act I was thinking, 'I could do that, I could be out there'. In my college days, I wanted to go to school for both acting and singing, so I figured whichever one I got an opportunity to do first, that would be the one that I focused on. As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to sing because I was at that show that night." 


(Soave Martinez- Official Facebook)

Soave on how that one night turned into a golden opportunity: 

"Well, on Monday I did take my pile of autographs to the post office (laughing) and as the lady at the counter was wrapping it up with love, I realized I had to get something from out of the pile. The person I had spent the most time with was Johnny O and I needed to get his manager's phone number from inside that envelope. The guys' name was George Vasconez, he owned Sparkle Management and at the time, he was THE guy. So I got the number and called it a few times that day asking to speak with Johnny O. When I realized I was actually speaking with George I told him that I wanted to be a singer and he just started laughing his head off (laughing). He must have thought that I was a complete kook, but he explained that first I needed to be discovered. If I wasn't discovered then I needed a complete demo tape and I had no clue where to go to make one. All that I could think of was that booth in Macy's with the Karaoke that let you record and gave you a tape on your way out (laughing). George told me when he was going to be at the same club that I had met Johnny O at and he told me to introduce myself to him and that he would help me figure out the demo tape. 

I was so excited! I went to that club in jeans and a jean jacket with no shirt under it, I don't know what the hell I was thinking (laughing), but it was kind of the style back then. So I introduced myself to him at the club looking like this and he looked me up and down and said, 'kid, I'm going to put you on stage and the girls are going to go crazy'. I couldn't believe it! He introduced me to Judy Torres and a few other people and then basically took me under his arm. Every Wednesday night I stayed at his house in the city, because that was the night of the week that all of the artists performed. He took me to different functions and shows so that I could watch and learn how all of the other artists did things. He took me to The Palladium and Studio 54, clubs like that and everywhere that we went he was known as the manager so those velvet ropes went up. It was like school for me and I lived for those Wednesdays. It was so exciting and I really couldn't believe that this was my life. 

After seven or eight months of this, I really wanted to get started on my career. I was around all of these other artists but no one had ever heard me sing and I just wanted to sing. George told me he had gotten me an audition for a song on Micmac Records, which I thought was crazy because I still didn't have a demo tape. I asked him how I could audition without it and he reminded me of all the times I was in the car with him, singing. He thought I was talented and I had no idea that he was helping me to improve and just watching me grow for all of those months. I was really just a clueless kid (laughing)."  

Soave on that one audition that changed his life: 

"I was just dying for that audition to come and when it finally did, I was put right in the vocal booth and handed words to a poem written by someone's ex-girlfriend, called "Crying Over You". He wanted me to sing it in a very monotone style that resembled another song that was already on the radio. So, I did exactly what I was told and then after the third or fourth time I asked if I could sing it differently, the way that I would really want to sing it and he said yes. I made it my own and he said, 'all right, all right that's good, come out!', and I thought I blew it. 

 I'm thinking that I should have just kept my mouth shut rather than trying to be creative over here (laughing), and so I came out of the booth. I was expecting the worst and instead, he told me I got the song and he welcomed me to the team.

We recorded the song and back then it took forever for a song to come out. If you recorded in January it would take until October or November for them to release it because they had to master it and then do edits, which took forever. So, when it finally came out they first gave it to the record pools as kind of a test market. I remember KTU radio (in NYC) had a Hot or Not segment and my song was like 97% hot. Then it went to the test press to get a feel for how the song might do, which would help to set the release date. This song went from the test press right to the radio stations before the label had a feel for how the market was, and it went into regular rotation. I went from doing shows for free to making six or seven thousand dollars on a weekend, literally overnight. I didn't understand at the time how rare that really was. I thought it was a Micmac thing and that if your song came out on their label then you'd automatically be played on the radio. I quit my day job and two weeks later I had my first pay from singing, a check for seven thousand dollars and then a bag with another seven thousand in cash (laughing). I was scared because I had all this money and I remember trying to get home as fast as I could with it.  

I pushed them to put out another song really fast and the label insisted we ride that wave created by "Crying Over You". I actually wrote the lyrics to the next song, "If You Want Me", on the back of a vomit bag while flying back from a show, on Eastern Airlines (laughing). It was before I had any kind of recording device so I kept writing the lyrics and singing them so that I would remember them. I recorded it and it took them forever to release it, but when they finally did it actually did much better than "Crying Over You", because people were waiting for a follow-up song." 

(Soave Martinez- Official Facebook)

Soave on the importance of having full control over his new music: 

"I started this project six years ago when I was making a lot more money and had the ability to spend more money on the studio. For a few years, it was harder coming up with the funds to cover all the costs that go with recording an album, but now I'm back in the studio every week again. It's nice to actually be in control and it's probably taking longer because I am in control. It's my money now that's invested so they can't tell me what to do. It has to be perfect. I've waited so long for this chance that it just has to be perfect. I'll do an entire song and then go back over it with a fine-tooth comb looking for one sentence or one little riff that I don't like, and then I'll fix it. I'm also one of those guys that's really annoying to producers (laughing) because I actually care about how it's going to sound. They understand me though and know that I work fast, but I'll always go back and fix stuff. To me, that's how you become a good artist." 

 Soave on his musical passion project: 

"The name of the album is 'Silky Sheets and Smooth Covers' and the silky sheets are my original songs, while smooth covers are cover songs. Those are songs that I've always loved listening to or that are fun to perform. It's exciting because I just know that it's going to do well. I want to get it out by March because it's the 30th anniversary of "Crying Over You". It's so exciting and I feel like every song that I finish is better than the one that I did before.  

It's not a freestyle record, but there is one freestyle song on there that I'm having a lot of fun with. I feel like I have to throw one freestyle song in to really get the attention of my original fanbase, almost as a thank you for sticking with me. It's a way of staying true to who I was as an artist back then while also proving that I'm vocally capable of so much more now. The reason why I like this particular song so much is that I wrote it in 1992 and it just stayed with me. I never recorded it or released it, I've just kept it with me for all of these years, thinking I'd save it for when freestyle comes back and gets real radio play. I always believed that if it were to come back then I'd need to be ready and this is my song for that.  

People say that freestyle is back but I can tell you that it never really went away. I've been singing it regularly for over thirty years. Maybe we get more shows now than even ten years ago, but it never went away." 


(Soave Martinez- Official Facebook)

Soave on not having any real regrets: 

"I don't ever have regret really and here's why: If you have regret and would change something in your life, then you also couldn't have the good things that you have today. I've had different dancers and I've had different kinds of stage shows over the years, but I've never stopped performing, never. I've been very blessed. If I changed one thing then all of that would change too. I'm happy with the opportunities that I've already had and I'm happy that my life isn't over yet, so I can still make a difference in a lot of different ways." 

Check out Soave's official site for updates on everything he's doing. Also, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram for info on upcoming gigs, new music & tour dates.