“Best team in the world. They are family.”
Kygo’s go-to collaborator Petey Martin is no stranger to success in recorded music. As a part of his growing discography, Martin has been a collaborator with everyone from Vin Diesel (yes, the actor) to Ke$ha. Outside of his impressive production accolades, Martin has broadened his brand from an EDM superproducer to an artist that is commanding attention by breaking through across the Billboard and Spotify charts.
His latest single, “Come Back Home,” which features the vocal talents of two-time Grammy Award winner Lauren Daigle, landed atop the Billboard Dance and Electronic charts for the week of January 23rd and has already broken in various Spotify viral playlists, showing impressive momentum for a debut single.
Martin has proven himself not only a successful producer, but also an artist worth watching for years to come. He’s currently working on projects with some of his favorite artists and is primed to show off these high-profile collaborations in the near future.
In an exclusive interview, EDM.com caught up with Martin and his team at Palm Tree Records to discuss his journey signing to Kygo’s label, how he has navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic, and why he is excited to get back on the road and tour once venues begin to more broadly open up.
For our readers who may not be familiar, walk us through how you connected with Kygo and Palm Tree Records.
In 2016 I had written and produced a demo called “Sunrise” that was pitched to Myles Shear, Kygo’s manager. He and Kygo loved it and began working on it for his album Kids In Love. The record ended up coming out on his album and became one of the standout tracks.
When [Kygo] did his Kids In Love US tour, I went to Chicago to see the show. I met Myles backstage and he told me to start sending him more songs. We started to get in a groove over the next few months and one day he reached out and said he wanted to manage me and that was that. Not long after that I wrote and co-produced “Think About You” and started working on a lot more music with Kygo. We knew we wanted to start releasing music under my own name as well, but we wanted to take the time to develop my sound and my brand as a writer-producer.
In October of this past year, you produced actor Vin Diesel’s second dance single, “Feel Like I Do.” How did working with Diesel come about? Was it different working with him compared to any of your other past collaborators?
About a week into signing with Myles and Palm Tree crew, I got a phone call at 5AM from Myles asking if I’d be down to go to Dominican Republic to work with Vin Diesel, who was a fan of my music. A few hours later I was on a plane. Vin quickly became a big brother and for the last couple of years I’ll go visit him and his family from time to time. During the daytime we’re jetskiing, jamming on yachts, and playing basketball and then when his kids go to bed, we’ll go to the studio.
The dude can go without sleep. I’m an 8-hour-a-night kinda guy so that definitely took some getting used to. Vin is also a teddy bear and I’ve never seen someone care so deeply about creative energy. He has one house in the Dominican that is used solely as a music studio. He’ll have friends over—who happen to be movie stars, presidents, rockstars, et cetera—to watch us work and we’ll play them demos and see how they react to each song.
The COVID-19 virus and quarantine culture it created has certainly impacted every one of us, especially artists. Can you share with us how you have been navigating through COVID?
Up until COVID reached America, I had been traveling nonstop January through March. So at first, it honestly felt like the perfect excuse to go home and chill, read a book, and work on music alone in my studio. Obviously, no one knew at the time it would create the impact that it has or last this long.
I’m married to a nurse, so I fully understand how serious the virus is and how lucky I am to have not contracted it or have lost any family or friends to it. But looking at the positive effects for a second, COVID has given me time to slow down and focus on projects and songs I’m passionate about and safely spend more time with family and doing other things I’m passionate about. Over the summer I was able to spend more time than ever back home in Michigan on the lake. I reread all the Harry Potter books.
COVID has also impacted the ability for artists to collaborate in person. Are you finding yourself doing more virtual sessions and is that making it more challenging to create music?
I was against Zoom for a while until I finally tried it and honestly it’s made creating music so much easier. Before COVID, I’d have to travel to different countries or states to work with some of my favorite people. Now it just takes a text or email and creating a Zoom link. Even though we’re not in the same room, we’re still able to create amazing songs and work together more frequently than we could’ve before Zoom was a thing. There will always be magic in being in the same room and feeling the energy of creativity, but it is 100% still possible to achieve over WiFi. It’s not as fun drinking over a Zoom write though, I will say that.
Although live touring’s date of return is still uncertain, many artists are certainly biting their ears to get back on the road. Once it is safe to have live shows again, will you look to tour?
Definitely. I’d love to open up for an artist on the road.
You played a major role in co-producing five records off Kygo’s Golden Hour album among other records. Can you give us an idea of what it is like working and collaborating with Kygo?
I owe so much of my success to Kygo. He’s hands down my favorite producer. One of my favorite things musically to experience is what happens after handing off an idea to him. I get chills every time he sends it back and I hear where he’s taken it.
During the Golden Hour process, Kygo rented a string of studios in LA for the summer. He and I had studios across from each other and we’d bring in so many amazing songwriters and artists to collaborate with us. We’d pop in on each other and freak out when we landed on something big. When we nailed “Like It Is,” Myles had us blasting that one over and over again for him. We knew it felt big. His support means the world to me.
Let’s talk about your latest single. You and singer Lauren Daigle launched at #1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales chart with “Come Back Home.” What did it feel like to have your debut single off Palm Tree Records see such immediate commercial success?
I was definitely nervous. I’ve been lucky to have written and produced a handful of big songs for other artists, but releasing music on my own made me feel pretty naked (laughs).
I definitely had tears in my eyes by the end of the first night after seeing the song go #1 on iTunes Dance and how people were reacting to it. I wasn’t expecting that. And now we’re on a lot of the Spotify Viral 50 charts, including both global and US?! It’s unreal. I’m so lucky to get to work with everyone at Palm Tree Crew and Records. Best team in the world. They are family.
In regards to “Come Back Home,” can you walk us through the production and songwriting process you took with developing this record?
When my grandma passed, I took all my gear back to Michigan so that I could spend time with family after the funeral and just make music by the lake. One of my friends sent me the “Come Back Home” demo and the lyrics just wrecked me. I put the vocals in Logic X and 99% of the production was finished a few hours later.
My team sent it to Lauren and it blew our minds when she said she’d jump on it with us. She came to Nashville a few months later and we jumped in the studio to record her vocals. I had to force her to stop singing at 1AM because she was having so much fun singing the song over and over.
Looking beyond “Come Back Home,” what else should fans expect from you musically this year?
Bangers! Really excited to share what we’ve been working on. We already have a few things lined up with some of my favorite artists. And I’m loving the other projects I’m working on for other people, one of which just came out called “Stronger” by Sam Feldt and Kesha.