Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts.
Name: Martin Yakes
School: Cedar Springs High School
As Cedar Springs high schoolers walked to class Friday morning right before Christmas break, they were jamming to their classmate’s mini concert.
Junior Martin Yakes was center stage for this edition of Concert at the Y, held about one Friday morning per month to start the day at the high school.
Martin was in his comfort zone, doing his favorite thing: showcasing his DJ talents in mixing, scratching and digital music creation using a holiday theme in a traffic-filled hallway.
“Martin has a passion for creating, and you will often find him during his downtime at school mixing and creating new beats, sounds and songs,” said Jeremy Verwys, assistant principal. “He also uses his talents as a member of our high school plays and musicals … and has plans to use his talent and skills to make a living in the music industry.”
How long have you been interested in music?
“It was kind of in sixth grade,” said Martin, who didn’t think of music as a career back then. “My dad (Jeff) played me this one song and the second I heard it I thought, This is awesome. I started using online programs and self-teaching.
“It was really slow the first few years, but I just kept doing it.”
He said his early musical inspirations were the bands Family Force 5 and Skrillex.
“Even when I should be doing my homework, I spend hours and hours learning,” said Martin, who joined choir in the seventh grade. “It’s just a passion and I love it.”
Do you plan to pursue this as a career?
“I think it’d be sweet to have a job that I’m making money, but it’s not really a job,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’m kind of already working with other musicians who are in the business and making a living from music.
“I have just started getting into DJ’ing some birthday parties and outside school events,” continued Martin, who produces and records music in his bedroom studio. “I’m looking to be an independent DJ and musician and hopefully can book some gigs during the summer and make some money.”
Martin made $200 for his first official gig, a sweet 16 birthday party for a soccer teammate’s sister, and also made $300 at another birthday party in Rockford. He has received much of his equipment from his church and donations over time.
Who are your mentors?
Martin said after remixing one of Detroit rapper Tray Little’s songs, he’s now getting mentored by him.
“He kind of took me under his wing and I’ve been learning from him, producing music and releasing it on Spotify and other platforms,” said Martin, who’s also a forward on the varsity soccer team.
What do his peers think?
Senior Nathan Perry said Martin is a one-of-a-kind producer and enjoys his concerts at school.
“I think it is fantastic,” Nathan said. “It is a great way for him to get his stuff out there, and I always see other kids having fun dancing to his stuff.”