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Jason Martin is the sole songwriter behind Starflyer 59, a project that combines his love for British shoegaze, Beatlesque pop, dreamy space rock, and the songcraft of assorted indie bands like The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine.
The band emerged in 1993 with a sound that hewed closely to the sonic architecture of shoegaze. Beginning with 1998's The Fashion Focus, Martin began to dial back on the wall of guitars and started embracing keyboards and more traditional pop craftsmanship. He also began working with other musicians, including Frank Lenz, Wayne Everett, and Richard Swift, and maintained a prolific release schedule, with highlights arriving via 2001's Leaver Here A Stranger, 2010's Changing of the Guard, and 2019's Young In My Head.
A native of Southern California, Martin was raised in a Christian household without the influence of secular music. He later discovered the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead at the age of 12, and although Christianity continued to play an integral role in his life, Martin's faith didn't prohibit him from delving into the music of My Bloody Valentine and other shoegaze icons. Both the Smiths' melodic sense and MBV's walls of reverb-laden guitar would later find their way into Martin's own songwriting.
Testing his musical legs, Martin began writing material and playing keyboards for his older brother's band, Dancehouse Children. Starflyer 59 was subsequently launched in 1993, allowing Martin to create his own warped pop music with the help of several guests. Since Martin wrote every song, produced his own records, and played most instruments himself, there was no need for a conventional lineup in the recording studio. After signing to Tooth & Nail Records, the first Starflyer 59 album was 1994's Starflyer 59, which was followed by another self-titled effort in 1995 that had a gold cover in contrast to the debut's silver cover. Martin kept up a steady pace over the next few years, releasing Americana, The Fashion Focus, and Everybody Makes Mistakes between 1997 and 1999. During this time, he also formed Bon Voyage with his wife Julie and recorded a self-titled album of poppy punk that came out in 1998. (That band recorded two subsequent records in 2002 and 2008.)
Over the years, Martin loosened his grip on recording all the parts on the albums by himself, allowing for contributions from many talented musicians including Frank Lenz, Wayne Everett, and Richard Swift. Lenz featured on the excellent 2001 album Leave Here a Stranger, which saw the band expanding their horizons musically while ironically mixing the album in mono. Martin continued to record and release albums at a steady rate of roughly one a year (2003's Old, 2004's I Am the Portuguese Blues, 2005's Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, 2006's My Island) before slowing his pace a bit. The next two Starflyer 59 records, 2008's Dial M and 2010's The Changing of the Guard, showed Martin's continuing growth as an artist and reflected the changing nature of his life outside music. After spending his whole career recording for Tooth & Nail, Martin self-released the next record, 2013's IAMACEO on his own South Co. Records imprint. His break from Tooth & Nail didn't last long, though, and Martin was back in the fold for the release of the band's 14th (2016's Slow) and 15th (Young In My Head) studio albums. ~ John Bush, Rovi