While a pandemic has created a creative block for many, recording artist Leonardo Martinez has been thriving. Releasing two brand new singles recently (‘Damn Right’ and ‘Apologize’), Martinez has teamed up with Impulse Music Group in an effort to take his art to the next level. Impulse is a non-profit organization and AIDS Health Foundation, with twenty five locations worldwide. (founder of Impulse Music Group Jose Ramos gets his own cameo in the video for ‘Apologize’)! I sat down for a chat with Martinez (with some comments from Impulse Music Group founder Jose Ramos) to talk about his newest music, what it’s like having “pinch-me” moments like hearing his music remixed for the world on Sirius/XM radio, and how the pandemic has actually elevated his creativity.
Michael Cook: Tell me about the new video and singes you’ve released.
Leonardo Martinez: The two singles ‘Damn Right’ and ‘Apologize’ are part of the body of work I’ve been tirelessly putting together during the pandemic. As I’ve matured and learned more of who I am in this time, I wanted to authenticate myself in new ways that I hadn’t explored before. These two tracks are my first R&B style tracks! As an LGBTQ+ artist, that is not the typical genre one from the community would perform, and the respect I got thus far has been rewarding. Furthermore, ‘Damn Right’ is by far my most sexually expressive song. I think the quarantine had me feeling a certain type of way about not being able to be as liberated and open to encounters (considering the social distancing). So instead, I just wrote about it.
This music video was such an incredible process to put together! It began with a conversation between the founder, Jose, and I. He took an interest in my music and he wanted to support! So I presented to the Impulse United VP, Rasheed, and Jose my idea which incorporated the message impulse strives to educate gay men on (smart/safe sexual practices and behaviors). They not only liked it but even felt personal connection to the story line! So with their agreement, I had the green light to go ahead and pursue two songs in one video.
MC: Tell me about the mission and your work with Impulse Group
LM: I started working with them in November 2020 with them. They’re interested in engaging and connecting the LGBTQ+ community to create relationships for people to lean into. In addition, advocating to end HIV stigma and informing the community in smart/safe sexual behavior practices.
Jose, tell me about the origin of Impulse Music Group
Jose Ramos: Impulse Group was founded in 2009 in my kitchen with a group of 6 friends. It was design as a volunteered based social movement group. Created for those of us who work full time and want to give back to our local communities. After my best friend was diagnosed with AIDS, I decided to get involved and help educate and empower gay men around their sexual health. Aids HealthCare Foundation (AHF) became our founder and has remain for over ten years.
MC: Tell me about the single ‘Moonlight’ and how it has elevated your career since the release.
LM: ‘Moonlight’ just hasn’t stopped since we spoke in the summer!! If you recall, Moonlight was given opportunities like a video premiere, and added to the weekend rotation at Lance Bass’s spot Rocco’s! The video was also given that same support in places like Flamingo’s and Industry in Puerto Vallarta, Axel Hotel in Barcelona and much more. Since then, Moonlight caught the attention of 418 Music Group, the #1 independent music record label catering to the dance charts which Forbes highlighted. They’ve offered me a contract which has created the opportunity for remixes of ‘Moonlight’! The leading remix off the compilation is by Grammy nominated chart topper StoneBridge has had an epic start off by playing on Sirius/XM/Pandora radio station BPM on their Saturday night dance music show and kicked off the week on Beatport in the Top100 Dance/Electro Pop charts at 34!
MC: What was it like working with Stonebridge and seeing your music recreated for the dance floor?
LM: StoneBridge is an incredible guy, I haven’t met him in person yet. We’ve only spoken over email. But his support, communication, and collaboration(thanks to 418 Music Group) were a ten out of ten. He has been fun to chat with and bounce ideas off of since. Stay tuned for another remix coming from him very soon for “Damn Right”! I do hope that one day we can experience the dance floor setting safely and that it can have that life it deserves. It definitely is off to a good start for the possibilities that are around the corner. I truly believe we will see freedom not long from now and these tracks will get their chance at music festivals, nightclubs, Pride events, and more. Until then, I’m grateful to be on the radio for the first time in my career on a worldwide level thanks to him slaying the ‘Moonlight’ remix.
MC: What is next for both Impulse Music Group and your mission as well as you Leonardo?
JR: For Impulse Group, we are focusing on educating and encouraging gay men to take their vaccine when available to them and to continue following CDC guidelines. Also, we are making internal changes to support racial equity and diversity internally and in our communities.
LM: I will just go with the flow and see what God has in store. The way things are starting off, I have strong faith for a great year. I’ve signed to this label, I now have a music manager, and I have more music and videos to release! With things being day by day, and still waiting to see the total impact the ‘Moonlight’ remix will have, as well as how ‘Damn Right’ remix will go, I truly have to be open to anything and everything. I’m doing my best to continue moving forward so that’s all I can do. But I’ll keep making music, keep pushing to grow in my story, and do my best to remain in faith and let the story unfold as it should organically.
MC: How have you stayed inspired during a pandemic?
LM: Continuing to hone my craft, listening to my spirit, and seeing how I can evolve has been my main goals. I continue to write, make time to record, dance when I can however I can, and now I have the chance to do good works in the community which has been on my heart.
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