Kim Martin has the "Heart
and Soul" of a rocker
By Michelle Mills
A few short days after catching her CD release party, I sat in a noisy restaurant in Covina, California across from a beautiful woman with striking blue eyes. She was the pretty kind that you could easily hate just because, but once she spoke, all thoughts of envy disappear. Kim Martin is sweet and sincere and, best of all, intelligent. As she poured out her story of how she came to have her album, "Heart and Soul," released in Japan, I discovered that she is much more that another pretty face who is fortunate enough to have the talent for bass playing and singing-- Martin has substance.
"I started recording the CD in May of '97," Martin begins excitedly. "I was looking in the paper, the Recycler, for bands to play with because I had played in several different bands and wasn't really having fun. I knew I wanted to do something else. And I tried out for Ozzy Osbourne in '96, as a bass player, not as a singer. He had an open audition that I heard about on the radio and I went down there and there was like a hundred guys in line. And I went in and got to about seventh in line to go inside and met his wife and manager, Sharon, and then they said, 'Well, we've got to cancel for today because the guitarist's arm is about to fall off and we'll call you right back and we'll reschedule.' But they picked somebody who already tried out.
"There was like two other girls-- all guys, in the whole line down the block. and it was in Hollywood. And I went in and people were getting kind of restless, so they ordered pizza and started passing out near-beer and Evian bottles. It was getting restless and so they said, 'We'll have to call you guys back.'
"I sent him a tape though. I did send him a tape and ended up on the mailing list for the shows and stuff," Martin laughs. "That was in '96-- March 3. I went out the next day and bought my Fender, my bass. I wanted to get a new one and I was so excited. Now I needed to find someone to play with. Then I found an ad in the paper, it said, 'Singer/songwriter/lyricists get discovered, call David Day Productions' and I was like, 'Hmmmm, let's see what that's about.' And I talked to him on the phone for about a half hour and he said if you can write and you can sing or play an instrument also, he'll help you develop your own style and help you to produce and record a demo CD.
"So he said he would rather do longer than a three- or four-song demo and do like a ten-song CD. He said, 'It's going to take a long time. Because first we have to find out what kind of style you are, we've got to write, we have to find a song and all that.' So I started writing and recording in May of '97 with him. He lives in Granada Hills. At first it was every other week because of the money. I was paying for it by myself with my job as a cocktail waitress. I was paying for it week by week with my paychecks. Every other week I was out there and I'd spend four hours in the studio and I would have an idea of the song when I went in, I'd have my lyrics and a melody, but I didn't have the bass line down yet. So I'd go in and he'd say, 'Okay, what have you got?' And I'd sit down and I'd kind of sing the lyrics and the melody and we'd play guitar chords and that's how we'd get the chord structure of the song. And then he'd say, 'Now, what kind of a drum beat do you want?' And I would have a sample of some song that I liked, 'I kind of like this beat.' And we'd put them in the computer as a sample of how the drums should be. Then I formed a bass line according to the chords and key. And then I would go back and work on it for the next two weeks and bring it back in the studio two weeks later for another four hours. After making a rough cut of that song, we'd stack on the harmonies. We did that for ten songs and that took about five months. By December of '97, I had all ten songs recorded in a rough draft. I wrote them all except for the lyrics to the last song ('Now it's Time to Let You Go'), my friend at work wrote that."
During this process, Martin also received vocal training from Day. He taught her how to sing correctly, how to warm up and how to strengthen her voice. It may seem like Martin's work was finally finished, but it was just the beginning.
"January of '98 through August of '98, was all final mixing and final recording," explains Martin. "When I saved money for mastering, well eventually, I was going to the studio every week after that. When I had enough money, I was like, 'I'm going to the studio every week; I'm going to get this done.' And I was getting really anxious to get it done. In October of '98, I had it mastered in Pasadena. It took the whole day, eight hours; it was a lot of fun. Then I raised the money for a couple months, I got them (the CD) printed. I had to have graphic design; photographs."
Martin takes a deep breath and looks me in the eyes, "Most people do not realize how much goes into an album."
Martin relates how she had to find her own photographer, make-up artist, hair dresser and graphic designer just to create the CD cover and all within her budget.
By early '99, "Heart and Soul" was ready, but Martin still had to find someone to listen to it. She shopped her release, as most artists do, but oddly enough she really only needed to look over her shoulder. A friend of Martin's gave a copy of the CD to Peter Kelly of Toi-Lin Entertainment, Inc. and he soon became her manager.
"Heart and Soul" received a few touch-ups before its release in Japan. Different drums were added to the recording and a few of the songs were remixed, but otherwise, the CD is the same as the original.
Martin's tale may still sound typical, but her life hasn't been. She started singing when she was around 5 or 6 years old and at age 14, Martin found her brother's discarded bass in the garage. It only had three strings, but she gave it a go and discovered her hidden talent. By age 15, she started taking bass lessons and practiced six hours each night. She also began playing in bands.
Martin sang, played bass and wrote in her first band, the female rock trio, Skin Tight. They played mostly parties and talent contests. The group split when Martin was asked to step down as the singer and only play bass. She also did a stint with the hard rock band Treason. Martin was the only female in the group and she ended up leaving after the guys complained that she was stealing the spotlight.
Martin may indeed be an intimidating prospect for her male counterparts, as after attending Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, she went on to study bass at the prestigious Berkeley Institute of Music. With her studies completed there, she returned home to study engineering and recording at the Grove Music School. She has definitely paid her dues to learn her craft. Currently, she works for a copy service making copies of records for attorneys.
Growing up listening to hard rock, Martin is influenced by Black Sabbath, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Lita Ford, Boston among others. She sees hard rock making a comeback and states that music is becoming more melodic with four-part harmonies. Martin also feels that the Internet is an important tool for artists. For example, TAXI, an Internet service for musicians, helped Martin by critiquing her songs and giving her good ideas.
Martin's touring band consists of Roy Caprillo on drums and Tim Daley on guitar. Caprillo has toured with Dick Dale and was a drum tech for Agent Orange. Daley was a friend of Caprillo's, so musical camaraderie was easy. On the CD, David Day plays guitar joined by drummer Frank Reina.
Educated, talented and beautiful, what else could a girl need? Martin sums it up when she explains her bond with music.
"Rock music is so energetic and so exciting. My heart is definitely rock."
For more information on Kim Martin, visit
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