EMMBER’s story is one of perseverance, growth, and staying true to who you are.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with EMMBER to learn about her story, artistry, and how her journey played an instrumental part in molding her identity.

The EMMBER Stamp

Hailing from Chicago, EMMBER’s desire to fulfill her artist dream officially sparked after making the decision to move to California.

The DJ-producer has now become a recognized name in the LA scene – sharing lineups with renowned artists including Morgan Page, Gene Farris, Lee Reynolds, and Honeyluv. She’s performed sets at Groove Cruise, Evolove Festival, and is locally known as a resident DJ at LickNDip.

Solidifying her brand furthermore with her Better Together Records imprint, EMMBER is a force to be reckoned with as she climbs her way through the industry.

What we find incredible about EMMBER’s career journey is how intertwined it is to her own personal growth and identity. EMMBER’s story is one to leave you inspired and eager to catch a set with your own eyes.

Q: How did you kickstart your musical journey?

I started as a DJ in Chicago, with my first gig at Local Bar and Grill. I secured some dope residencies over the next few years and started producing in 2015, which became a side hustle alongside my finance career.

On March 6, 2016, I had a dream that felt incredibly real – I quit my job and drove to LA – and knew this was a sign to pursue my dreams. Some of my friends say I may have astral projected; regardless, it motivated me to move to LA and attend Icon Collective to sharpen my skills.

While taking classes, I fell in love with writing music so much to the point that I sold all my DJ equipment to focus on producing. I did that for about 5 years until Covid hit. Like everyone else, I took some time to myself until I was approached to perform for a virtual stream. This reinvigorated my DJ career, and that’s when I fell back in love with DJing. Now I spend my time doing both – producing and mixing.

Q: What inspired your alias?

In Chicago, my alias was actually DJ Martini, but I knew this name was no longer me. My rebrand ties into my identity and how I almost prevented myself from moving to LA because of my age.

I’m transgender, and before I settled on the name Alexa, I tried Amber. I liked the name, but it instantly felt wrong. A few days later, “Ember” came to mind and I looked up the definition:

Being 30 at the time, I saw other artists kick start careers in their early 20s which really hindered my perspective. This definition reminded me of how I was letting age holding me back, so I took this as a sign to pursue my dream.

The last element – the two M’s in EMMBER – came from my roots. Before I transitioned, my original name was Mark Martinez. I believe it’s important to remember where you came from, so I included my initials “MM” in “EMMBER”. And voilà, EMMBER eventually grew into the fiery force it is today!

And although I wasn’t into astrology when I chose this alias, I found out I’m a double fire sign – Aries sun, Leo rising – which fits perfectly since an ember represents fire and burning.

Q: What can we expect from an EMMBER set?

Lots of energy! Expect a lot of tech house, bass house, and a splash of techno. I always have the mindset of making it the most memorable set for the audience, so strap in and get ready to ride the wave!

Evolution + Experimentation

Evolving and experimenting is key to a career in music. Without it, an artist will never get where they want to be. 

EMMBER discusses some of her creative processes and experimentations to create art for her audience.

Q: What does your creative process look like when it comes to building a set and producing?

Building a set is kind of chaotic, but organization is key.

There are 2 ingredients to making a memorable set – knowing your library and audience. My first step is crate digging and building a playlist. I play ~40 songs per hour, so hot cues and markers need to be on point to keep transitions tight and the energy high. The audience is also important – where am I playing, who am I playing for, what’s my demographic, and what do they like? For my opening, I’ll usually start off with a strong statement song to let the crowd know we’re turning up the heat!

When producing music, it’s important to play around and have fun! I’ll usually find some vocals and dig through samples and presets. At some point, something just clicks and the song spills out of me. When I have that aha moment, it almost feels like I black out sometimes because the song is made, but I’ll have no clue how I got there.

Q: How do you get the creativity flowing when you’re stuck?

Being out in nature helps me. I live in Santa Monica, so taking a walk around Temescal Canyon and going to the beach is really convenient.

Q: Which of your songs best captures the essence of EMMBER, and why?

“I Think It’s Time” with LAVENGE and Nordi Blu – During this session, we tapped inspiration from baggage we were all holding onto, mostly relationship issues. The day of our co-write, I was in a vulnerable place and unhappy with my career, and this song pulled emotions out of me to create something powerful. To date, this is still my favorite song I’ve written and something I’m incredibly proud of.

Community + Connection

The Music Dealers pride ourselves in teamwork and collaboration – artists supporting artists.

EMMBER talks about how the local community influenced her growth in multiple avenues, and offers valuable advice every artist should hear.

Q: In what way has the local community influenced your music career?

The local community has allowed me a safe space to be myself. Not only has my career grown, but I’ve also received endless support to grow more comfortable with myself as a person – my identity.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve received? Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

My buddy Dave booked me for my first Chicago gig and gave me the best advice I’ve ever received: “Don’t get a big head. It’s important to remember where you come from – having an ego will only hurt you because your circle helps build your career.

Another piece of good advice I received is: “If you make your own edits, it’ll land you better slots.” This actually led me to start producing. Creating edits helps you stand out, so I try to make edits before each set to spice things up.

My advice for aspiring artists is: Don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone is on a different path – you write your own journey.

Q: Where would you like to perform in the future?

Playing another festival is the goal – EDC, Coachella, or Lollapalooza to name a few. Venue-wise, I would love to get a gig at Exchange or Academy. It would be cool to play some shows in my hometown too – it’s been ~8 years since I last played in Chicago so it would be an incredible homecoming!

Q: Any new releases?

Yes! I just flipped “Group Therapy” by AIMMIA, whose a friend of mine. I gave it a high octane techno makeover to feature in my warehouse sets. I also just released a tribal inspired mix on Better Together Radio as well as my most recent Lickndip set.

Wins + Aspirations

Wins + Aspirations set the tone for the future – what you hope to be, work to be, and one day, be.

EMMBER reflects on some of her big wins and aspirations for the upcoming year.

Q: Biggest win?

My biggest win was moving to LA to fulfill my dream, even if that meant leaving Chicago. As essential as Chicago was to the beginning of my career, I knew taking that next step was necessary to grow not only as an artist, but to also become more comfortable with myself and my identity. Now, I get to live being my true self, and that’s the biggest win of all.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

Releasing more music for bigger labels. I have tons of finished music I’m ready to share this year. On top of that, I want to continue writing music and start playing some shows outside of LA.

If I’m shooting for the stars, my biggest goal would be to make it in music full time because it’s what I love to do. I would love to have a couple tours under my belt and to executive produce a few artists.

Follow EMMBER’s Journey