Somber Hills — real name Lukas Martin — grounds his verses in a deep appreciation for all genres, allowing him to draw from a wide palette of sonic influences in his production. Lyrically, he’s as experimental as they come, preferring to freestyle his bars rather than write them down.
“My mind is super ADD, I was diagnosed with it when I was 13. I just overthink what I’m writing. When I freestyle, I just let my emotions do their thing”.
Martin came to music at a young age, when he was given a guitar as a birthday present. He remembers being so besotted with the instrument that he literally slept in bed next to it, so he could play music as soon as he woke up each morning.
As the years passed, the young Martin took to producing, working with his mates in the New Zealand skating scene. It was in his hometown Nelson that he honed his craft and began a love of producing which has defined his career thus far.
Moving to a new city at eighteen and leaving behind his former collaborators motivated Martin to experiment vocally while working with local emcee Timu West, who encouraged his fledgling rap skills.
While living in Hamilton, Martin dropped the single ‘Comfort Clouds’, which went on to net 350,000 streams on Spotify. The young artist began to realise the possibility of a career in music.
Martin knew, however, that if he was to achieve his dream of making music professionally, he’d need to fly the coup and spread his wings internationally. He feels most comfortable by never being in the same place for too long and being able to adapt to life in different places at different times, keeping him inspired by his creative workflow.
Avenues began to open up across the ditch in Australia, all thanks to the artist’s love for his craft and his hard-working attitude. Around this time, he adopted the ‘Somber Hills’ moniker as a way to find a new identity in his music.
Just as his career was picking up steam, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Somber Hills packed his bags and headed home, but his contacts in the tight-knit New Zealand music scene meant he could slot right back in, playing packed-out gigs as soon as he arrived home.
In terms of highlights, he says that “there’s more moments that kind of made me realise that I was supposed to do this and that I need to keep going.” He points to opening for A$AP Ferg, a spot at Rhythm & Vines, one of New Zealand’s largest festivals, and meeting with Post Malone’s manager, Dre London, as evidence that he is heading in the right direction.
Now that he’s in Australia again full-time, Somber Hills has finally found a place he feels at home, a place that has welcomed his music, and has just one goal thus far: “I want to be able to make a living off of this”.
Beyond that, he hopes to continue collaborating. In his first month living in Australia, he’s already linked up and collaborated with the likes of Jeida Woods, Boy Soda, Joe Mason, LUCIANBLOMKAMP, UP LATE and more.
“I just like being in the studio with people, bouncing off each other,” he says.
“There’s something about it, I feel like I learn a lot and it helps me create more. You get to see someone’s project evolve and it’s just fun”.
“I see myself as a vessel for creativity, rather than a creative person.”
He’s ready to put out new material as soon as the opportunity arises, with two albums worth of music already written and ready to drop. This is an artist who thrives on being busy.
I’m such a hustler, I don’t fuck around. I don’t believe the odds don’t go against you, I believe you make the odds,” he says.