pluko's sound evolves with new track, "higher"

Currently at his home in Pennsylvania, Sam Martinsen, better known by his stage name pluko, has been putting the final touches on his latest album during these last few weeks of lockdown.

“I’ve really just been using this time to get the super technical stuff done,” he says. “The stuff that I really find myself procrastinating.”

His newest track "higher," with the Australian indie pop/electronica band panama, came out today and is a testament to the direction that pluko is heading in with his music. "higher" is the perfect blend of electronic and alternative sounds, featuring indie-style vocals over an electronic melody and a whimsical beat.

"Higher" is the kind of electronic song that tells you a story. The lyrics and music come together to create an emotional sound that brings you in.

In a time of uncertainty, especially for the music industry, pluko has seen positives in the recent trend of online music festivals. He had a hand in the Digital Mirage streaming festival, put on by Los Angeles based music collective Brownies and Lemonade and electronic music promotion channel Proximity. With online festivals, music communities and fan bases are coming together to create something good.

“Seeing the reaction from that was honestly, like, bigger than most of the festivals I’ve played in real life,” he says. “There were like 30,000 people watching all at once, and everyone is fully attentive. They’re not, like, distracted by going to get pizza or whatever it is at a festival. You know they’re all in.”

pluko is no stranger to festivals. Within the span of two short years, pluko went from producing beats in his bedroom to playing the iconic DoLab stage at Coachella and taking on Red Rocks with Odesza, among many others.

pluko’s interest in electronic music began when he was in sixth grade, after first hearing music by names like Skrillex and Martin Garrix. He began finding house and future bass songs on Soundcloud and then started to produce his own music in eighth grade.

“I was listening to Martin Garix, and I saw the ‘Animals’ music video, and I did some research, and I saw that he was 17 and I thought, ‘this kid’s doing it and I want to try it,’” he says. “I was just really into the music.”

At first, it was something that he did on the side for fun. A person who likes to have everything planned out. pluko says that at age 15 he had a full plan in place to go into architecture. But, as his love for music grew, he began to focus more on how he could turn production into a career.

“My business mindset kind of kicked in from there, and I wanted to make sure I could secure this as a life-sustaining thing,” he says. “I try not to take it for granted, I get to get paid and live based on what I do for fun.”

The defining moment for pluko, when he realized that this was really turning into a career was when his parents came to see him open for Odesza. Up until that point, the growing number of views on his songs was hard to conceptualize, they were big numbers, but they were still just numbers on a screen.

“My parents saw my show, but then they saw Odesza’s show, and there was this understanding that that’s what I want and that’s the ultimate goal— to have a show like that and a career like that, and they’ve been on board ever since,” he says. “Ever since I got their official stamp of approval is when I realized I can actually do this.”

Photo by Lucas MK

When it comes to inspirations, pluko looks to both electronic artists and alternative names like Phoenix and Tame Impala to encompass a sound that he hopes to reach more audiences with.

“I’m really trying to step into the world of not just being an electronic artist, and I think that’s where my music is heading as well,” he says. “I’m still very electronic, but I feel like my music is becoming more applicable to greater crowds of people.”

Moving into the future, we can expect to see pluko’s newest album soon.

“I haven’t released the name or the date or anything,” he says. “But this is definitely the most proud I’ve ever been of a body of work. I’ve really put every ounce of effort into every little second and every little detail.”

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