In her own words, Dorothy Martin was always “a little weird and a little different”. Having grown up on the varied music of Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, “a lot of Motown and lot of folk music”, she got hooked on rock’n’roll as a teenager and never looked back.
Gifts From The Holy Ghost, the third album from her self-named band, is the best thing she’s ever done. Led by Martin’s gale-force voice and landing somewhere between a harder-edged Halestorm and the elastic rock of the 80s Sunset Strip, it’s packed with lean, life-affirming anthems that speak of empowerment and overcoming defeat.
Her mentality is sink or swim
Martin was three years old when she and her single mother fled communist Hungary for a new life in the US.
“My mom thought a life in the USA might be best. She brought us to California,” she says of her turbulent childhood. “Human beings are good at adapting; you either adapt or you drown. I went to school in San Diego, and I had to learn English and make all new friends. For me reading and music was an escape.”
Dorothy’s new album Gifts From The Holy Ghost is wall-to-wall bangers
Martin describes her band’s third record as the album she’s always wanted to make. And upon listening to it you can understand why. “I feel it’s more true to who I am as a person,” she says. “I was trusting my God-given intuition and going where that took me, and we ended up with this record.”
From sleazy opener A Beautiful Life, to the album’s gospel-blues title track closer, it’s straight-up all killer, no filler. “My goal was ten singles,” she explains. “I didn’t want any extra fluff.”
The album was inspired by a moment of divine intervention
One night during the tour for the band’s 2018 album 28 Days In The Valley, Martin watched in horror as her guitar tech overdosed on heroin on the tour bus. “I’m pretty sure I witnessed a miracle,” she says of the moment he was revived. “I think it set my life in a different trajectory and changed who I am at my core.”
Her goal now is to share her experience through music. “I believe in something greater than me, and I trust that I’m on a journey and my life has a purpose.”
LA is part of her story
Like many an aspiring artist before her, Martin moved to LA when she was 19 to “make it”. But her relationship with the City Of Sin ended up somewhat love-hate.
“If you don’t have a strong support system of good people around you, it’s very easy to die in that city,” she says. “It’s full of darkness, drugs and alcohol. But, you know, I don’t regret any path my life has taken. I went through some of my darkest experiences there, and that shaped me as a person.”
Music saved her
“By all accounts I should be dead,” Martin tells us. “I overdosed and went to the ER in Los Angeles. Then, as I was starting to go into music, I was starting to realise I had an alcohol problem. Recovery came into the picture in the early years of my music [career], and thank God, because it would have been very easy to destroy what I had built.”
The song Rest In Peace is a testament to breaking old habits. “It reads like a break-up song, so the fans can interpret it that way if they choose,” she says. “But I interpreted it as I’m breaking up with my alcoholism… or whatever those demons are. My favourite lyric on the album is: ‘Don’t let the demons get you down’. That is the message.”
She didn’t have a Plan B
Things moved fast once Martin made the decision to pursue music full time, and in 2015 she signed a deal with Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation.
“The whole experience was surreal,” she says. “I was shocked by how quickly it happened after I decided I wanted to do music full time and start a band. If you have a dream and you don’t go for it, then you might miss out on that opportunity. I went for it, and I guess the stars aligned.”
Gifts From The Holy Ghost is out now via Spinefarm Records.