Cliff Martinez

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Cliff Martinez
Born (1954-02-05) February 5, 1954 (age 64)
The Bronx, New York City
Genres Film score, punk rock, funk rock, experimental rock, industrial, ambient
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Drums, percussion, cristal baschet, keyboards
Years active 1983–present
Labels EMI
Associated acts Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dickies, Captain Beefheart, Lydia Lunch, The Weirdos

Cliff Martinez (born February 5, 1954) is an American film score composer and former drummer known for his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Captain Beefheart.[1] Martinez's film scores include sex, lies and videotape, Drive,[1] Only God Forgives,[1] Contagion, Solaris and Traffic.[2]

On April 14, 2012, Martinez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.[2]


Cliff Martinez was born in the Bronx, New York. Raised in Columbus, Ohio, his first job composing was for the popular television show Pee Wee's Playhouse.[3] At the time, however, he was more interested in rock bands, and played drums in a variety of them, mostly in a temporary capacity.

Red Hot Chili Peppers (1983–1986)

After several years drumming for such acts as Captain Beefheart, The Dickies, Lydia Lunch and The Weirdos, in late 1983, he and Jack Sherman were drafted in to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the recording of their eponymous first album after Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak left the band to concentrate on their other project at the time, What Is This? Martinez again played on the recording of the band's second album Freaky Styley and its subsequent tour.

In 2012 Martinez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.[4] Martinez performed with the band for the first time in 26 years when he joined them along with former drummer Jack Irons on their song, "Give it Away" during the ceremony.[5]

Film composing

Eventually, Martinez' interests shifted and he focused his attention toward film scoring.[citation needed] A tape Martinez had put together using new technologies made its rounds, leading him to score an episode of Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The same recording also ended up in Steven Soderbergh's hands and Martinez was hired to score the famed director's first theatrical release, 1989's sex, lies, and videotape.[citation needed] Martinez's longstanding relationship with Soderbergh has continued through the years and they have worked together on ten theatrical releases including Kafka, The Limey, Traffic, Solaris, and 2011's Contagion, as well the Cinemax series The Knick.

Perhaps it is because of his time in the punk scene that Martinez's approach to scoring is nontraditional.[citation needed] His scores tend towards being stark and sparse, utilizing a modern tonal palette to paint the backdrop for films that are often dark, psychological stories like Pump Up the Volume (1990), The Limey (1999) Wonderland (2003), Wicker Park (2004), and Drive (2011).[citation needed] Martinez has been nominated for a Grammy Award (Steven Soderbergh's Traffic), a Cesar Award (Xavier Giannoli's À L'origine), and a Broadcast Film Critics Award (Drive). He earned a Robert Award (Danish Academy Award) for his work on Only God Forgives.[6]

Martinez’s use of audio manipulations, particularly for percussive sounds, has been evolving through the years and is evident[citation needed] by the hammered dulcimer of Kafka (1991), the gray-areas between sound design and score for Traffic (2000), the steel drums and textures of Solaris (2002), what Martinez called ‘rhythmi-tizing pitched, ambient textures’ of Narc (2002), and 'using percussion performances to trigger and shape the rhythmic and tonal characteristics of those ambient textures,' as he described his score for 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer.[citation needed]

Martinez served as a juror for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and served on the International Feature nominating committee for 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Martinez recent films include Robert Redford's The Company You Keep, Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers (co-composed with Skrillex), Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives[7] and The Neon Demon.[8]

Video game composing

Martinez composed the main menu titled "Galaxy Theme" for Spore with Brian Eno in 2008, and in 2014, Far Cry 4.


In 2013, Martinez scored the "Fly Beyond" Grey Goose (vodka) commercial.[9] Martinez also composed two songs, "Vibe" and "Kotopulse", for the 2014 Lincoln Motor Company advertising campaign featuring Matthew McConaughey.[10]


The Weirdos

Lydia Lunch

Captain Beefheart

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Dickies

As composer


Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1989 Sex, Lies, and Videotape Steven Soderbergh Miramax Films N/A
1990 Pump Up the Volume Allan Moyle New Line Cinema N/A
1991 Kafka Steven Soderbergh Miramax Films N/A
1992 Black Magic Daniel Taplitz N/A N/A
1993 King of the Hil Steven Soderbergh Gramercy Pictures N/A
1995 The Underneath Steven Soderbergh Gramercy Pictures N/A
1996 Gray's Anatomy Steven Soderbergh N/A N/A
1996 Schizopolis Steven Soderbergh N/A Uncredited
1998 Wicked Michael Steinberg N/A N/A
1999 The Limey Steven Soderbergh Artisan Entertainment N/A
2000 Traffic Steven Soderbergh Universal Pictures N/A
2002 Narc Joe Carnahan Paramount Pictures N/A
2002 Solaris Steven Soderbergh 20th Century Fox N/A
2003 Wonderland James Cox Lionsgate N/A
2004 Wicker Park Paul McGuigan Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
2005 Havoc Barbara Kopple New Line Cinema N/A
2006 First Snow Mark Fergus Freestyle Releasing N/A
2008 Stiletto Nick Vallelonga First Look International N/A
2008 Vice Raul Inglis N/A N/A
2009 Espion(s) Nicolas Saada N/A N/A
2009 Severe Clear Kristian Fraga N/A Documentary
2009 In the Beginning Xavier Giannoli EuropaCorp N/A
2011 The Lincoln Lawyer Brad Furman Lionsgate N/A
2011 Drive Nicolas Winding Refn FilmDistrict N/A
2011 Contagion Steven Soderbergh Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2012 Arbitrage Nicholas Jarecki Lionsgate N/A
2012 The Company You Keep Robert Redford Sony Pictures Classics N/A
2013 Spring Breakers Harmony Korine A24 Composed with Skrillex
2013 Golem Patrick McCue
Tobias Wiesner
N/A Short film
2013 Only God Forgives Nicolas Winding Refn RADiUS-TWC N/A
2014 Mea Culpa Fred Cavayé Gaumont N/A
2014 My Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Liv Corfixen N/A Documentary
2014 The Normal Heart Ryan Murphy Twentieth Century Fox Television Television film
2016 The Neon Demon Nicolas Winding Refn Gaumont N/A


Year Title Notes
2014 The Knick N/A

Video games

Year Title Developer(s) Publisher(s) Notes
2008 Spore Maxis Electronic Arts Galaxy Main Theme and other unspecified compositions
Composed with Brian Eno
2014 Far Cry 4 Ubisoft Montreal Ubisoft N/A


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ezell, Brice (September 4, 2013). "Getting Good at Getting Dark: An Interview with Cliff Martinez". PopMatters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Romero, Angie (July 22, 2013). "10 Questions With Cliff Martinez". BMI.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Composer for Film TV and Multimedia | Official Website". Cliff Martinez. Retrieved 2011-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Official Bio". Retrieved December 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Elle Fanning Sees Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon". Retrieved December 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 'Only God Forgives' director Nicolas Winding Refn's next projects: Commercial, horror
  10. LincolnMotorCompany on Twitter

External links