30 Under 30: Davey Martinez, Lighting Programmer

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

At one point, he was one of the most highly recognized high school classical bassists in the country. During that time, he became involved in the SGI, performing at large-scale events and concerts where he learned the ins and outs of stage production. In college, he began operating lighting and video, and by 22, he became Skrillex and Zedd's VJ/video director through the help of Los Angeles design firm, Production Club. Five years later, he is now a lighting programmer and director for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and more. His name is Davey Martinez.

Name: Davey Martinez

Age: 27

City, State of residence: Los Angeles, CA

Position/title: Lighting programmer, director, and designer

Employer (if not freelance): Freelance

Current project(s): Recent or on going:

  • Jay-Z and Beyoncé: On The Run II Tour - Lighting director
  • Jennifer Lopez - Lighting programmer
  • Janet Jackson - Lighting programmer and director
  • N.E.R.D - Lighting programmer and director
  • TLC - Lighting programmer
  • The Chainsmokers - Lighting programmer
  • Bruno Mars - Lighting programmer
  • Beyoncé - Lighting programmer and director

Most notable achievements:

  • Skrillex - NYE 2014 - Madison Square Garden - Lighting programmer and director
  • Skrillex - Mothership Tour 2014 - Lighting director
  • Jennifer Lopez - All I Have: Las Vegas Residency - Lighting programmer and director
  • ZHU - Neon City Tour - Lighting programmer
  • Beyoncé - Video Music Awards 2016 - Lighting programmer and director
  • Bruno Mars - American Music Awards 2016 - Lighting programmer and director
  • The Chainsmokers - Memories: Do Not Open Tour 2017 - Lighting programmer
  • Janet Jackson - The State of the World Tour 2017 - Lighting programmer and director
  • N.E.R.D - 2018 NBA All Star Halftime Show - Assistant lighting director
  • Beyoncé - Coachella 2018 performance - Lighting programmer and director

When I started in this industry: Age 10

How I got into this industry: It's a bit of a long story... At age 10, I began studying classical bass at the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School district, which is well-known to have one of the most comprehensive music programs in the country. Within a few years after my studies began, I had become one of the most highly recognized high school classical bassists in the country. I was practicing music privately 4-6 hours a day and also participating in my high school's jazz band, choir, band, chamber orchestra, and symphony orchestra. By the time I graduated high school in 2008, I had competed in, and won, various national competitions in classical bass performance. I had toured China and Eastern Europe performing in various youth orchestras, and had received scholarships to participate in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra for two consecutive summers. I was the "Music Nerd." 

During my teens, I was involved in the SGI, an international Buddhist organization promoting world peace, culture, and education. I performed at large-scale events and concerts. These events are where I truly gained my knowledge base, and appreciation for stage production. Being a member of the production and performing team for many years, I learned the “ins and outs” of stage production, backstage etiquette, how to properly coil cables, how to hang lekos, build truss, etc. all skills I still use to this day. 

In 2008, I received a full scholarship to study Classical Bass Performance and Studies in the Music Industry at the University of Southern California. At USC, I was able to cultivate even further my knowledge of live performance and concert production. After my first year at USC, I decided to dedicate all of my time to concert and event production, specifically in lighting and video. I began to help produce professional events throughout Los Angeles, including corporate concerts, underground raves, celebrity’s lavish birthdays, you name it. 

During my later college years, I also began operating lighting and video at local Hollywood nightclubs. At this time, 2010-2012, EDM was coming into the scene in a big way. More and more, clubs and concerts were less focused on highlighting the DJ and more focused on putting on an impressive light show. All of these shows had to be run live by an operator with both technical and musical abilities. This is truly where my two worlds collided in a big way, and man was it fun!!! 

In 2012, at age 22, through the help of Los Angeles design firm, Production Club, I was offered my first touring gigs as Skrillex and Zedd's VJ/Video Director. 

Influences: Cory FitzGerald, Miguel Risueno, LeRoy Bennett, Tobias Rylander, Baz Halpin, Willo Perron, Sooner Routhier.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Always say ‘yes.’”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Always say ‘yes.’”

My favorite thing about the production industry: Spending my time surrounded by creative, talented, and driven people.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: Using lighting fixtures in ways that make the audience ask themselves, "What did I just see...?!"

Plans for the future: Continue living my dream of working alongside some of the most talented artists and musicians alive.

Other interests/side gigs: Buddhism, biking, skateboarding, hiking, house music, yoga.

Organizations, memberships: USC Thornton School of Music Alumni

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30: