Already a buzzed-about name in the art world, the Rhode Island School of Design graduate is recognized for galvanizing the experience of her own intersectionality as a biracial, trans woman of color in her work as she casts herself as the quintessential rising star through various mediums. And she’s no stranger to putting herself on exhibition—literally. In the winter of 2016, Martine claimed a name for herself among the Big Apple’s iconography when she created a public billboard.
Simply titled ‘MartineJEANS,’ the faux fashion campaign, photographed by Martine herself, showed her gazing over Manhattan’s garment district clad in nothing but baggy jeans. This is just one example of the innumerable times Martine has wielded her image as well as her own gaze from behind the camera lens to question the politics behind modern pop imagery.
The acclaim of Martine’s head-turning work has reached both the high art pedigree of permanent museum collections and the lowbrow history of one’s YouTube search browser, and she is now adding bonafide musician to the list of tools used to spark up culturally poignant conversations.
On the trap-y R&B-infused “Origin,” which was written and produced by Martine, she’s joined by her mentor and lauded singer/songwriter, Nomi Ruiz. Their bewitching vocals, undulating from throaty moans to stuttering whispers, overlap in a merging call and response. Think of “Origin” as the brash, futuristic sister of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine”—albeit in place of rivalry is an allyship of siren sisterhood. The duet is all about what brings them together, and it intends to challenge listeners to, in Martine’s words, “confront bigotry and stereotypes but still tempt listeners to challenge their social constructs of what femininity or identity as a whole means to them.” Mission accomplished. Swaying between innocence and mistress, empathy and revenge, Martine and Nomi play to each other’s similarities in a dance of withering sexual power. The track is somehow both luminous and shadowy, dazzling and dark, with their captivating vocals expressing a seductively hushed, come-closer intimacy. Sonic spoiler alert: Prepare to be spellbound.
L’Officiel USA caught up with Martine to discuss her musical process, her experiences with gender fluidity, and how she’s ready to destroy the pop star mold.
Keep reading and listen to "Origin," below.