Every musician has a unique approach to songwriting; Dorothy Martin has three.
“Sometimes I feel like songs get downloaded into my brain,” says Martin, who fronts the L.A. rock band Dorothy. “I joke about it but it feels like an angel on my shoulder whispering song lyrics and I’m writing them down and that is when it’s the most fun. Sometimes you have to play Tetris and work your brain muscles, and that is not as fun, but it is challenging. And finally, sometimes I just record gibberish into my phone when my guitar player is sound-checking.”
Martin says the band’s upcoming release, Gifts from the Holy Ghost, out April 22, required a mix of all three processes—“For this album, it was all of it.”
Gifts from the Holy Ghost marks a return to the harder and more guitar-driven sound that the Roc Nation-signed artist showed in her first album Rockisdead.
“We took some risks on our previous album 28 Days in the Valley that didn’t feel like it was the ultimate direction,” explains Martin. “So I redirected our sound back to harder rock… and I kind of called all of the shots on Gifts From the Holy Ghost. I reached out to different people that I wanted to work with on a more guitar-driven record. So this album is more about getting back to my roots.”
Martin wanted to gain back creative control of her music, and her upcoming release contains songs straight from her soul.
“I was sick of people telling me what to do or who I should be,” says Martin. “A lot of people try to insert their opinions on the creative process, when you’re the artist who should be expressing what is inside of you. But overall, it is a journey. In the end though I was like, I got this, and I’ll do it my way as Frank Sinatra once said.”
By doing it her way, Martin ended up with an album that she is ultimately proud to release.
“I would say this is the most genuine music I made,” explains Martin. “It’s true to who I am and how I feel. I love the band and everyone that is involved. I am really proud of it, and I hope everyone enjoys the album.”
Part of the reason why Dorothy’s upcoming release might feel so genuine is because it dives into the adversity and sometimes traumatizing events that have happened in Martin’s life. The first single released from the album, “Rest in Peace,” is an ode to making it through difficult times.
“It kind of sounds like a break-up song,” says Martin. “I like that the song can be interpreted that way, but for me it’s about overcoming pain and adversity. It kind of reads like a break-up song, but overall it’s about coming through the other side stronger.”
Martin is big on self-care, and it has helped her surf troubled waters over the past couple of years.
“I like to keep my mind and body healthy,” says Martin. “I do a 12-step recovery program for drugs and alcohol. I do a lot of prayer and meditation as well. I used to be a closed-off and self-centered person, and now I like to think that I’m not that way anymore. I always see if there is someone I can help and that keeps me grounded.”
Martin credits her sobriety as a catalyst for her evolving personality.
“Having alcoholism was a curse and then it was a blessing,” says Martin. “It forced me to change, and I think god used my alcoholism to let me grow and change who I was. There’s a saying that goes, pain is necessary, but suffering is optional. Pain is a great motivator for growth and changing you. Everyone has a journey and destiny, and I’m on mine.”
Another event that shaped Gifts From the Holy Ghost was when Martin’s guitar technician had a brush with death on the tour bus.
“He had OD’d on heroin, and my manager was doing CPR on him for 20 minutes,” remembers Martin. “When I saw his body, I wasn’t scared and I looked at him and knew that his spirit wasn’t there. There was this darkness around him, and I got a spirit that told me to pray for him. So I grabbed everyone’s hand and when the paramedics started working on him I started praying. I remember saying, ‘If there’s a god out there, please give him another chance.’ Then when I opened my eyes, they successfully revived him.”
Through it all, music has also helped Martin in her life journey, and the second single from Gifts from the Holy Ghost, “Black Sheep,” is dedicated to the rock and roll community.
“We finished the song over Xoom, and we wanted it to be a song for the rock and roll community,” says Martin. “When we get together at a rock show it feels like we are family, and the connection we have is awesome. The rock and roll community draws people from all walks of life who might feel like they are an outcast or a little weird, and it’s definitely drawn to a specific type of personality. It’s a community where we can get together and feel like we have a place to belong to.”
The place of belonging for fans of Dorothy will be at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair on April 15. Ticket information can be found here.