Martin Stääf (born 13 November 1978), aka Liquid Stranger, is a Swedish-born electronic musician, described by Generation Bass as "the epitome of Transnational Dubstep covering everything from Latin, Asian, Eastern European and Jamaican Dancehall dubs." Martin Stääf is known for his experimental approach to composition where he merges genres to create a unique style of music. Martin Woods of Chillbase describes Liquid Stranger's music as a "unique blend of Ambience, Big Band Jazz, Dubstep and Psychedelica drizzled over electronic Dub Reggae grooves." Stääf lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Martin Stääf was born 13 November 1978 in Varberg on the Swedish West Coast. He started playing the piano and did classical piano concerts between the ages of 6-8. Stääf started experimenting with synthesizers in the mid 80s and abandoned the classical music world to spend the next 10 years producing his own material. Stääf states: "I never thought about releasing any of my music until I was 17. Then, all of a sudden, it was time to get a job and I realized that there was nothing else I wanted to do at that time than making music."
Early career: late 1990s:
Martin Stääf worked in the commercial studio Bohus Sound Recordings 1997-1999 and engineered/produced various jazz and rock bands. During this time he also made a song for the Euro-Vision contest.
In 1997 Martin Stääf formed the outfit Necton together with Patrik Olsén, mainly focusing on progressive and psychedelic trance. Necton released two full length albums, 6 vinyl EPs, and were featured on numerous CD compilations. They were signed to Spirit Zone Recordings, Digital Structures and Spiral Trax. Necton toured extensively around the world between 1997-2003.
During this time, Martin Stääf released Nu Skool Breaks on labels Ministry of Sound, Sound of Habib, Muti Music, Random Recordings, Hope Recordings, and Muve Recordings under the alias Rhoca. Stääf also released funky Techno on Iboga Records, Plusquam Records, and Nanobeat Records.
The Liquid Stranger Project: 2003-2009:
Martin Stääf launched the Liquid Stranger project in 2003. His intention was to have one alias that would encompass all his musical output. Consequently, he has produced a wide variety of music under the name Liquid Stranger. At first, Stääf's plan was to keep his identity a secret. He never did interviews or showed his face on stage. Stääf states: "After a while it became quite tricky. in fact, Interchill finally ruined this idea by writing my name on the record sleeves." Liquid Stranger's creative output ranges from suggestive Ambient soundscapes to movie scores, pop, dub, infernalia, drill n bass, and electronica.
The first release under the name Liquid Stranger was the song Environmental Meltdown, featured on the compilation Global Psychedelic Chill Out - Compilation Vol. 4 by Spirit Zone Recordings.
When asked in an interview why he moved away from the trance scene, Stääf replied: "I never really switched per se, I have always made tons of different types of music. During the time I toured with Necton, I produced various stuff like Ambient, Electro and Drill n bass. What excites me is the fusing of genres. I have no fixed style that I stay with too long, I do not like boundaries."
In 2003, Martin Stääf founded the musical collective Subnatura together with Marckus Andersson. Subnatura released 12 digital Ep's and were featured on net label Monotonik and the video DVD Collectanea: First Course, released by Escapi Music.
Candy Mind records:
In 2004, Martin Stääf founded the record label Candy Mind Records together with his brother Jens Stääf. Candy Mind Records released 33 digital Ep's, and one full-length CD release from Dorothy's Magic Bag. During the Candy Mind era, Martin Stääf and his brother started the duo Hectopascal. They released the full-length album Anywhere And Me on Kahvi records. The Ep's Pixels and Pixies, and Alive in Veddige were released on Candy Mind Records.
In 2005, Stääf got signed to Canadian label Interchill Records. The song Political Finga was featured on Earth Octave Lounge Vol. 2, and received high praise from the dub community. The song Liquid Stranger on the Run appeared on the compilation Dissolving Clouds and got frequent plays on underground radio. Rick Anderson of Allmusic wrote about Liquid Stranger "As someone who has previously worked in progressive rock, punk, techno, breakbeat, and IDM genres, Staaf brings a certain sophistication to his Interchill-style dubtronica, and there is lots to hear for those who take the trouble to listen closely: the brass and orchestral samples bubbling beneath the surface of the gently churning dub of Liquid Stranger on the Run."
The song We Meet at Last appeared on the compilation Bliminal, and was licensed by Velcrow Ripper for the film Fierce Light - Where Spirit Meets Action, released in 2008.
The Invisible Conquest:
The first full-length Liquid Stranger album, The Invisible Conquest, was released by Interchill Records in 2007. A bass-heavy album with melodic bass lines, percussive grooves, tribal accents and minimal psychedelic overlays. The Invisible Conquest received high ratings and praise from critics. Properly Chilled wrote of the album "Liquid Stranger's sound has the grandeur of its peers without building an humongous ego. . .we give this record two thumbs way up and a standing ovation", and Raves.com described it as "A taste of the experimental, a chunk of tribal, all wrapped around a root of dub excellence. . .dub vibes that shoot right through to the middle of your gut." Morpeus Music describes the music of Liquid Stranger as "Bass driven atmospheric chillout. Liquid Stranger creates mostly instrumental montages with strong rhythmic content."
The Intergalactic Slapstick:
The second full-length Liquid Stranger album was released by Interchill Records in 2009. This album saw Liquid Stranger moving significantly into heavier Dubstep and reggae influenced grooves. Vocalists Brother Culture, Danman, Deeyah and Warrior Queen are featured on the album. Seb Taylor from Kaya Project plays Steel Guitar on the songs His Fully Automatic Wheelbarrow, and Dew Point. Dub-connection wrote of the album "the production varies and waves between a electro-dub chill-out and powerful tracks in the limit of drum and bass with a bit of stepper to spice the sound." Morpheus Music wrote of the album "The diverse roots of Liquid Stranger's sound sprawl across electro, ambient, grime, global, breaks and garage."Sun Is Shining wrote "Some albums float your boat with one or two tracks becoming ingrained in your mind for days, weeks and even months. Once in a blue moon an album levitates that boat out of the water and into the clouds. LS's long awaited second album is certainly filed in the latter category."
The Private Riot:
The third full-length Liquid Stranger album was released on Rottun Recordings in 2010. This album features 10 dark and energetic Dubstep songs, described by Music and Happy Life as "totally devastating dance-floor monsters." The album received high praise in the electronic music scene, with the song "Ripple" hitting number 1 on Beatport's top download charts for an extended period of time.
Martin Stääf mentioned in an interview on BBC radio that his main influence comes from music from vintage computer games. In an interview with Chillbase, Stääf says that he does not listen to music all that much, except when he is on a concert. In the same interview Stääf explains that he gets inspiration from movie soundtracks, dreams, and everyday life.