[Interview] 1/4 of YETI PACK, RUSH MARTINES

by Ian Foo

Rush Martines // Rush, otherwise also known as Russell Ho, drops his debut single, “LOCK” with an accompanying music video today.

Coming from a punk-rock background, Rush brings a completely different spin to Hip-Hop music with “LOCK”. He takes utter pride in more Asian Representation that can match up with the big dogs in the United States and around the world, and aims to be part of that movement and perhaps even lead it.

Here’s what Rush has to say about his latest single, musical influences, and what he has in store for 2019:

1) What is your latest single “Lock” all about? What can fans/listeners expect from your latest single?
Expect a whole new subtle style you’ve never heard before. It’s a hype song in the most subtle way possible. Lock is a low-key shoutout to the ones we loved who f*cked us over. Now we doing just fine without them, but you just wanna let them know how you feel.

2) What drew you to the music industry and who are your musical influences?
I was always a performer. I’ve always loved music, how it makes me feel, how it makes me move. And I knew when picked up the drums when I was 11, that the music scene is where I belong. Music helps me express the most. I grew up very shy and insecure, and music brings out myself completely without censoring myself. Music satisfies every aspect of me that I wanna get better at. For example, rapping helps with my speech, which I’ve always wanted improve, paired with writing about my feelings; it makes me love the process so much more. I’ve never been so eager to learn every single day. To have a voice. And I feel the music industry is where I can thrive the best. And it’s not just cuz I’m good at it, its because I love the process that come with it.

I grew up with primarily Rock music. Any kind. From the 80s rock you hear in GTA Vice City to classic Simple Plan’s ‘Welcome To My Life’, to harder stuff like Breaking Benjamin. But after becoming a dancer, I was drawn to Raggaeton music because of my dancing style as well. Currently, I look up hugely to Big Sean, Logic and Jaden Smith, mainly because of their style which I try to incorporate into my own, and most importantly, what they stand for.

3) You have completed your National Service in Singapore and that took approximately 2 years. How did that impact you in your journey towards becoming a musician?
It shifted my mindset in a way I never experienced before. I felt more compelled to write. About my aspirations, my experiences, about my feelings. Anger and frustration were the big ones. I was miserable in NS. I felt like I could be doing so much out of camp. I’m a guy who always wants to be learning and experiencing different things. But being put in PES E for an injury, I was surrounded with people who just don’t wanna be there. And I would rather suffer in combat because at least you learn something. But this isolation has made me appreciate time. It gives me time to think. A lot. And that helped me figure out what I really wanted to do in my life. Most importantly, it taught me to think of why I would never want a 9-5 job. That made me wanna work harder than ever everyday.

I wrote a few lines everyday in my little notebook that I carry in one of the many pockets of my Number 4 uniform. And I did all I could with my time outside of camp working on music. It was a way to distract myself from the pain as well. I would occasionally read books in the bathroom stall when I tell my superiors I’m going for a loo break.

4) How did you come up with your own music style? What was the creative process behind this single?
I knew what I wasn’t gonna be. I wasn’t going to rap about me having bitches in my lambo or drowning in molly. I knew I wasn’t going to go screaming “skrrrr” on an adlib. I had to experiment a lot because I never saw my voice as a weapon. I always loved sexy music. I take pride in my sex playlists. I love music that can make you move. So I thought of just trying out a sexy vibe. It stuck ever since. But I felt I was missing something. I could go all sexy talk for every song. I knew I could somewhat sing but I was always too shy to do it. But one day I decided to just face my fears and went for it. And after a few tries, I found it works really well together. So I incorporated that into my style, pairing Weeknd-type singing with sexy flows with hard-hitting drum-and-bass that makes you just wanna get down. You will see a lot more of this in my future songs.

For Lock, it came out of a new way of writing a song I was trying out. I decided to write without a beat and just pure emotions. I was feeling angry that day because I fell back into looking at Snapchat Memories with me and my only ex, whom I still care a lot about to this day. And I barely recognised her compared to now. From looks, to personality. And after everything that we’ve been through, I was f***ed over. And I just thought, after one has invested so much, why would she still do that to hurt you. At the same time, even though I will always have her in my head, I was doing well in my life. I moved on and I was doing good things for my life. AKA, this. I was happy but at same time you can’t deny it still killed you. So I wanted to do a shoutout to her. And I feel like people could relate to this pain. At the same time, for my first song, I wanted something hype. So with my style, and my emotions, and a small leap of faith, I came up with LOCK.

5) We have seen the movie Crazy Rich Asians make headway in Hollywood in terms of Asian Representation, and in music there is you following suit. What advice would you give an aspiring Asian musician who is looking to follow in your footsteps?
This is a topic close to my heart. I take utter pride in Asian representation. Growing up in so many different environments in the UK, and the international school community, and now America. It’s very apparent but people are not aware of it. We are the underdog where people see us as very one dimensional. I know there are artists out there like me who are so talented they can match the likes of mainstream artists and can do so much for the world, but Asians are mostly afraid to speak up. So my advice is to put yourself out there 100%, face your fears of rejection. Constantly work on yourself so you can give better value to others as well. Never be afraid to experiment. There aren’t enough Asian voices out there. We are different, and nobody has seen much of us. So we can be whatever we want.

6) With 2018 drawing to a close, what can we/fans/listeners expect to see from Rush Martines in 2019?
Expect an exploration of all my styles and the different genres of me. You’re gonna see me grow, and watch my style evolve. Some might make you hit the dance floor, some might make you cry, and some might even help you get over a breakup. Basically, [it’ll be] love-making tunes to strip club anthems and agonising relationship reflections.

Be sure to check out Rush’s debut single, “LOCK” on all major platforms today!