Martin Arceneaux’s trademark long, wavy brown hair blows in the perfect breeze off Lake Pontchartrain as we sit at a table on a jetty sticking out into the water—tonight’s backstage area. He has just performed a 20-minute set spinning funk and soul records at the Landing Festival, filling space between trumpet-rock band Cake and New Orleans’ modern funk overlords, the fest’s headliners, Galactic—a band to whom Arceneaux (alias Quickie Mart) owes much.
“I don’t get to spin funk and soul enough, unless I am with Galactic,” he says. Having expected an older crowd tonight, he was just as happy with the kids who danced to tonight’s heavy Neville set. “I don’t get to spin that stuff as much as I like to, so when I do it locally, I hope a lot of the dance music kids who like my electronic sets will come out, and it will kind of open their minds.”
On nights like this, with the black water reflecting the black sky and the mellow lights of docked yachts, we could almost be sitting on the French Riviera. Quickie tells me he has not yet ever DJ’d on the French Riviera. We sip whiskey and talk and I recall a similar breeze, in Miami, blowing across South Beach as I walked along grokking the beautiful Super Bowl 2006 crowd, then looked up and saw Quickie Mart spinning hip-hop records at an expensive-looking Art Deco patio party. His smile was big and his hair short beneath a cocked ball cap back then, at the age of 26, when he looked like an actor from the movie Kids. We didn’t know each other well yet, but he greeted me warmly with daps and a hug—as he would again when I came upon him randomly in 2010 as he DJ’d his original electronic music, some dubstep, plus Louisiana funk and soul at an Abita beer party at the clusterfuck that is Austin’s South By Southwest.
All this to say: The French Riviera may have eluded him so far, but Quickie Mart’s talent for both spinning the best records from all party genres, as well as producing original, eclectic electronic tracks, has him on the road for 50 to 80 concert dates a year lately, with another 5 or 6 in-state shows each month. Clearly it’s just a matter of time.
For now, though, he is happy to be on Lake Pontchartrain. Home. Quickie gets his share of international attention but admits he’s especially self-conscious to grace the cover of OffBeat, where folks come to read about real Louisiana music. “It’s easier for New Orleans DJs to develop an international following online and playing other cities,” he says, “whereas in New Orleans you really have to prove yourself as a ‘real musician.’ As a DJ you definitely want the respect of real musicians, you want them to know that all these records we have coming out, there are no samples on them, these are all notes that we’ve played.”
When I kid him about the Los Angeles phone number I was given to call him, Shreveport-born Martin Arceneaux kicks poetry: “I have 300 years of Louisiana history in me. I was the first of the men in my family to be born above I-10,” he laughs, then explains the origin of his last name—a story he claims overlaps with the Louisiana state poem, the fictional “Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “In the whole refugee nightmare from Nova Scotia [the expulsion of the Acadians], that’s where most of my father’s side of the family came from. Just like [Evangeline Bellefontaine and Gabriel Lajeunesse], the couple in the poem, Louis Arceneaux and Emille Lebochere came here together and basically the couple got separated,” says Quickie, recalling the story that is said to have helped define Acadian identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. “She then joined a convent and waited under an oak tree and prayed every day for years to meet back up with… my ancestor, basically. Eventually, one day he just passed by the tree, and she quit the convent and they got married and started my family.”
Quickie Mart was born when Arceneaux was 22, the moniker bestowed upon him by now-deceased New Orleans rapper Money Mike, a fan of Martin’s quick skills scratching and cutting vinyl records—skills left behind like Hammer pants by most of Quickie’s DJ peers.
Prior to that birth, in 1998, 17-year-old Arceneaux fell so in love with the genre called drum ‘n’ bass, and its organic skittering electronic drums reminiscent of jazz, that he finally began going out into the world as a DJ to spread the d’n’b gospel of electronic musicians like Photek, Grooverider and Ed Rush and Optical.
But Quickie’s natural affinity for old-school Louisiana funk, bounce and other rap helped him first make his name in a turntablist scratching duo with DJ Lady Fingaz. “When he was teamed with Lady Fingaz they would be at my house practicing scratch routines all day long,” says Galactic’s saxophone player and co-producer Ben Ellman of Quickie, whom he met in the early 2000s when many artists used Ellman’s Uptown home as a practice space. “He’s a turntablist, not just a DJ, so he can sit in with any band and he brings in a killer rhythmic element, cutting and scratching.”
Though there did exist a time in history when hip-hop DJs were expected to scratch as at least a nod to the music’s heritage, Quickie says, “There are only couple people in New Orleans doing it these days. Scratching doesn’t fit with the more frantic rhythms of EDM like it does with hip-hop and soul. Twerk music, that’s at a good tempo to scratch. And it works with some drum ‘n’ bass. But really a lot of dance music culture is about phrasing the mix and making it blend into the next song… not scratching. You don’t see a lot of trick mixing in EDM, so maybe I stand out in that way.”
Quickie eventually returned home and joined the fold of New Orleans indie label Media Darling, where he worked mostly behind the scenes finding and managing artists. Media Darling was a pre-Katrina hit in the city: a progressive but fun clique comprised of more than just the God Awful Krewe, DJ Kinetic, ATM, Soapbox, and revered New Orleans MC Bionik Brown (R.I.P.) “Quickie produced half of my first solo record and also mixed it and mastered it for me,” remembers former Media Darling rapper MC Know One, Roan Smith. “I don’t think I have one album that Quickie’s not involved in. The guy is ultra-prolific for one, but he’s also super well-rounded. He’s done R&B tracks, he’s done jazzy tracks—he can hear it in his head and just execute it. And he’s definitely the best scratch DJ I have ever worked with. He’s definitely put scratches on everything I’ve ever put out.”
Ben Ellman grew close with Quickie and his label mates, did some production work for Know One, and eventually took all of them out on tour to open for Galactic. “Galactic really, really put us on back in the day,” Quickie remembers with sincere awe. “A lot of people wouldn’t have accepted me if it wasn’t for Ellman and them.”
Ellman seems to feel the same about Quickie: “He’s kind of like our DJ,” says Ellman, who went on to collaborate with Quickie on two original albums under the name Gypsyphonic Disko. As Galactic has branched off into sampling technology and cut-and-paste art, Ellman and krewe have also turned to Quickie to keep them in tune with modern sounds. “He’s been our go-to for like remixing things, and keeping it fresh,” says Ellman. “He’s got his finger on the pulse and we’re a bunch of old dudes. He’s very versatile. He knows dubstep, he knows trap, he knows bounce and old-school hip-hop. He specializes in everything.”
Thinking like a real musician, Ellman adds, “He can take a lot of different gigs. Especially in electronic music, where things move quickly, the EDM that’s popular today… is it going be popular in five years? It’s probably gonna be something totally different.”
Quickie has indeed always been ready. “When electronic and dubstep music came back around in like 2005, I got back into it hard,” he recalls of the period after Katrina killed off Media Darling. Like so many New Orleans musicians at the time, Quickie moved to Los Angeles in 2006. “I felt like my production really stepped up once I got there,” he says of L.A. “Even if you’re not a competitive type, you feel like you need to up your game there. It’s all around you there; you can’t escape the hustle.” In L.A. Quickie spent three years DJing hip-hop at a Venice Beach nightclub, and served as in-house DJ at “Last Call with Carson Daly,” along with booking and managing hip-hop tours where he served as one-man backing band. “In 2009 I met a lot of rappers. I was tour DJ for Interscope group the Knux,” Quickie shrugs. “It was a job. I DJ’d a lot for Freddie Gibbs too, and a few tour dates with Los Angeles rapper Wax when he was on Def Jam.”
All the while, he kept his Louisiana tools sharp. “I’ve done bounce for eight or nine years now,” he tells me as we drink in the Pontchartrain breeze. “When it was peaking, I was doing those shows all over. And then bounce got mixed with EDM, and twerk came from that—twerk is the bounce version of EDM.”
Like any true-to-life DJ, Quickie is about giving people that education. “Adapting turntablism turned me onto break culture, and learning where all these breaks and samples came from that I’d fallen in love with in the ’90s. I’d wanted to learn all that, and what better place to learn that than here in New Orleans? I once opened for George Porter, Jr. and he came up to me later and said, ‘You know I played bass on almost all those records you played tonight.” I was like “Yes sir,” Quickie laughs, adding, “A lot of this EDM is black music that isn’t getting the credit it deserves—it comes from funk and reggae, and EDM culture is a little whitewashed with that.”
To that end, in 2011, Quickie formed his Super Mart Produce label to put out his music and his friends’, including albums by Gypsyphonic Disko, Mason & Dow Jones, and MC Know One’s recent Know One Special. With his own label established, Quickie came back to NOLA and formed the ‘80s boogie funk throwback duo Computa Games with Chris Arenas, better known as the handlebar-mustachioed bassist for Eric Lindell. “Chris is really into the boogie funk scene, so we started doing this project to reflect that,” says Quickie, touting a Computa Games 45 out in November on the Austin Boogie label. Then this year, Quickie started another, more internationally focused label called Versed, with longtime New Orleans DJ partner Unicorn Fukr, plus Organik (from Atlanta): “We are putting out deeper electronic music, deep dubstep—original sounding dubstep, not like Skrillex stuff you hear on the radio. Deep house. Deep music.” Versed aims for two releases a month starting in November.
Quickie’s own EPs (almost all of which feature vibrant original artwork by MC Know One) have consistently charted on Beatport, with Space Monkey Radio hitting number four, where it stayed for several weeks. His latest EP with Unicorn Fukr and toaster Werd2jaH called Dem Man, just came out on the German dubstep label Subway Music, which released one of the biggest dubstep hits of last year with “Under Control” by Bukez Finezt. Dem Man is a heavy, churning electronic muck with a wobbly Jamaican spine. “It’s classic dub,” explains Quickie, “which is the original sound of dubstep, closely related to dub reggae.” Subway Music head, Geoff van der Tuuk in Rotterdam, Netherlands, who has never been to New Orleans, never seen Quickie Mart perform (Quickie visits Rotterdam in March), and has nothing to go by but the music, describes “Dem Man” as “hip-hop meets moombah with a dash of trap and whole dab of booty bass.” Or for those don’t know every electronic music sub-genre, van der Tuuk says, “Quickie Mart is edgy, diverse and street as fuck. If I had a low-rider with hydraulics I would bump it all day while driving up and down the street.” The EP’s first single, featuring popular duo Truth, cracked the top five on Beatport’s dubstep charts, and has a new video out by now.
Quickie says that just being on Subway Music means a lot. “This record is actually a big step forward for New Orleans electronic music,” he says, sounding grateful.
But Quickie seems just as jazzed about the short funk and soul set he just let loose at the Landing Fest on the French Riviera, Lake Pontchartrain—even though the roadies moved Galactic’s gear about the stage continuously behind Martin as he worked to make people dance. On the jetty in the breeze he says it doesn’t bother him to be the side dish between the “real” bands—Quickie is happy to, as they say, get in where he fit in.
Though Quickie remains nervous about representing electronic music on the cover of OffBeat, MC Know One doesn’t share his partner’s reservations. “Really, it’s about fucking time,” says Know One. “Quickie’s been the number one DJ in this city for years. He’s played at Bonnaroo eight times. He’s done like everyone’s mixtapes. Really, it’s about time.”