Dominican duo Martox is pushing the limits of the Latin music label. The guys come through with the fresh single “Mente” that sounds like The Lumineers in Spanish.
Recently Martox gave bolero a much-needed update.
Martox is made up of Juan Martínez and Eduardo Baldera, two childhood friends. The former is the singer and the latter is the producer. While in quarantine this past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the guys have focused on making their music that’s starting to make a splash. In January, Martox released “Un Bolero,” which gave the age-old sound a refreshing R&B update. The lyrics deal with a toxic relationship, but sonically, the song is a sweet listen.
With every release, Martox are taking “Latin” music to new places.
Music is Spanish is usually lumped together under the Latin label for categorical reasons, but Martox is showing there’s diversity in Spanish music with their output. For their new single “Mente,” the guys uniquely bring together the worlds of folk music, R&B, and a bit reggaeton. A serene whistle backs Martínez’s striking vocals as he seeks peace after a breakup.
“‘Mente’ represents closure after a rough ending to a long relationship,” said Martox in a statement. “It’s actually one of the first songs that we started during the lock down here in the Dominican Republic. We tested out a bunch of different styles, but ultimately we stuck to what we know best: soft romantic rhythms with a minimal fusion of reggaeton beats.”
These Dominicanos already have a Juan Luis Guerra co-sign.
Mardox’s come-up in the Dominican Republic is even more impressive because the duo’s genre-bending sound is breaking through the country’s current dembow dominance. In 2019, the guys got one of the biggest co-signs when local legend Juan Luis Guerra reposted their cover of his song “Amapola.”
World-famous pianist Arthur Hanlon is premiering his HBO Latino special Piano y Mujer this Friday. The Detroit-born musician will be teaming up with Latina artists like Venezuela’s Nella, Puerto Rico’s Kany García, and Colombia’s Goyo. The collaborations are already available on Hanlon’s album of the same name. Hanlon and Nella talked with Latido Music about recording Piano y Mujer and a few of their career highlights.
Hanlon fuses his jazz sound with his love of Latin music.
Hanlon is an Irish-American musician who has made an impact in the Latin music world thanks to his incredible piano-playing skills. Previously, he’s collaborated with artists like Luis Fonsi, Juanes, Marc Anthony, Lunay, and Prince Royce.
“It’s the rhythms more than anything,” Hanlon tells mitú about his fascination with Latin music. “That was the main attraction for me. La bachata, la salsa, and la merengue. There’s so much piano in those genres. For me, it was like a marriage made in heaven.”
“You can tell how much Arthur is passionate about Latin rhythms,” Nella adds. “It’s like he was born in Latin America. It’s a beautiful thing to play with [Arthur] because you also have the influence from the Anglo world, which I love.”
Hanlon also teamed up with Ozuna for a stellar collaboration.
Most recently, Hanlon featured on Puerto Rican superstar Ozuna’s Aura album. It was a feature on the most important song on the album, the title track, and he didn’t know about it until the eleventh hour.
“It was a great vibe,” Hanlon says. “He sent me an idea about a mirror called espejo. I just took that idea and I tried to play a mirror [on the piano] is what I did. I sent it back to him and I never heard anything back. I swear to God the night before, it was like, ‘Dude, it’s the title track. It’s not espejo anymore. It’s called ‘Aura.” That was cool.”
Nella is a Latin Grammy winner.
Nella is one of the women that’s featured in Hanlon’s Piano y Mujer album and HBO special. She’s in the company of García, ChocQuibTown’s Goyo, Spanish singer Natalia Jimenez, and Evaluna Montaner, the daughter of Argentine icon Ricardo Montaner. Nella rose to prominence after winning the Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2019.
“My music doesn’t exactly follow the radio format,” Nella says. “I was like, ‘I’m very glad to be nominated. I’m not expecting anything.’ When I heard my name, that was freaking crazy I’ve got to admit. It makes me so happy and proud to know that an album that was made with roots [in Venezuela] and vanguardia was recognized by The [Latin Recording] Academy. It was obviously a before and after in my life.”
Nella recently received a co-sign from Juan Luis Guerra.
A recent high in Nella’s career includes featuring on a song with Dominican icon Juan Luis Guerra. When she was a reference vocal in the song “Mi Guitarra” by Javier Limón, Guerra decided to keep her voice on there.
“When Juan Luis Guerra returned the song back to Javier, he didn’t delete my voice,” Nella says. “He kept my voice and did harmonies with my voice. It was such a beautiful and humble thing for him to do that he didn’t need to. It was a great honor to be chosen by him.”
For Piano y Mujer, Hanlon worked with Nella on songs that spoke to her Venezuelan roots.
Hanlon arranged the music for Piano y Mujer with Venezuelan producer Motiff. Hanlon played piano on two songs that are personal to Nella. The first one is “Caballo Viejo,” a popular folk song in Venezuela.
“I’ve listened to it since I was a baby and it’s been in my blood, but I’ve never performed it,” Nella says. “It was such a great opportunity to do this for the first time. It’s always beautiful for me to sing a little bit of my roots.”
Hanlon and Nella also worked together on “Me Llaman Nella.” That song was the lead single from Nella’s debut album Voy that helped her win her Latin Grammy.
“I always dreamed about having a remix of that song and there you go,” Nella says. “People got to know me [with that song] because it also tells my story. That’s going to be like my ‘Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. That song that you’re going to sing your whole freaking life. It was beautiful to hear with a different rhythm that respected the melody and the essence of the song.”
Hanlon and Nella also told us about who they want to collaborate with next.
As for what’s next, Hanlon says that he’s working on something that will hopefully make Colombian icon Carlos Vives’ Cumbiana Dos album. Nella reveals that she wants to work with more women. At the top of her list is Mayra Andrade, who hails from Cape Verde. Nella’s next album will be released on April 30.
Hanlon’s Piano y Mujer special airs on HBO Latino this Friday at 10 p.m. EST/PST. The show will be available to stream on HBO Max afterward.