Cliff Martinez moved to California in 1976, landing in the middle of the punk movement. As drummer he joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and later the Dickies. It was during his tenure with the Chili Peppers that he began exploring the new technologies of that era.
A tape Martinez had put together using these 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 1989’s sex, lies, and videotape.
Martinez’s 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 Drive (2011). Martinez has been nominated for a Grammy Award (Traffic), a Cesar Award (A L’origine), and a Broadcast Film Critics Award (Drive). His score for The Neon Demon was awarded Best Soundtrack at Cannes in 2016.
Still the drummer at heart, Martinez’s use of audio manipulations, particularly for percussive sounds, has been evolving through the years and is evident in films like Kafka (1991), Solaris(2002), Narc (2002), and The Lincoln Lawyer (2011).
Martinez’s recent films include Hotel Artemis, Den of Thieves, The Foreigner, The Company You Keep, and Spring Breakers (co-composed with Skrillex). Only God Forgives, earned Martinez a 2014 Robert Award (Danish Academy Award). Next up will be the limited series Too Old to Die Young.