Former Gainesville resident and music artist Kelsea Martinez believes there are three loves: the first love, the innocent, naive one; the second love, the one where you learn the most lessons; and the third love, the unexpected one where you might even find your soulmate.
Martinez, now living in Jacksonville, discusses all of the above with her new album “Love Is…” set to be released on Sept. 25. The album will consist of six tracks, including her recently released single, “Lemon,” which dropped on Aug. 20.
Martinez, 23, said she became interested in making music as a child. She began writing songs at age 9 and immediately wanted to reach listeners through her music.
“I wanted to speak to the quiet girl like I was,” Martinez said. “And be able to relate to somebody in hopes that they can connect.”
Making music became a pivotal part of Martinez’s life in high school when she was diagnosed with lupus and dysautonomia, a condition affecting the nervous system. Martinez had already witnessed the effects of illness through her mother and turned to music and dance to process the tumultuous time of her life.
“That was really the only way I could express anything,” Martinez said. “I was so shut down. I never looked myself in the mirror because I didn’t like what I saw. I really struggled just being myself.”
Martinez lived in Gainesville for four years while attending Santa Fe College, where she studied dance. She returned to her hometown of Jacksonville about a year ago and now teaches dance in addition to making music.
In addition to making music, Martinez strives to give back to the community. Part of a group of fellow artists called Elite, Martinez and other artists support Jacksonville’s low-income neighborhoods by giving dance lessons and other opportunities to children in those areas.
Martinez said she hopes one day to start a nonprofit to give back to aspiring young artists in the way her mentors supported her.
“If it wasn’t for my dance teacher giving me a scholarship, I would have never been able to pursue my dancing,” Martinez said. “We want to create those equal opportunities.”
“Love Is…” will be Martinez’s first album release, a collection of songs she said are based on love and growth. Martinez said the album takes on an R&B sound and will feature some rap elements as well, citing The Notorious B.I.G. as one of her musical inspirations.
The three loves will be the first focus of the album. Martinez said the first three songs describe these loves: The track “Damn Shame” is Martinez’s dedication to the first, idealistic love; “Sociopath” details a second, more toxic relationship where hard lessons are learned; and the single “Lemon” describes the third love, an unexpected relationship where you might meet “the one.”
Though Martinez said she didn’t find the third love to apply to her, she wrote “Love Is…” as a portrayal of herself in past relationships and as a recognition of the strength she developed, even at the lowest of points.
“Love Is…” also features songs like “God” and “Sorry,” which Martinez said detail her relationship with religion and, most importantly, herself.
“I just really wanted this album to represent the different kinds of growth I've gone through throughout these relationships and how I’ve formed to the person I am now,” Martinez said.
“This is just a beautiful picture of what a person can look like when they actually figure out how to help themselves and to not give up.”
Accompanying Martinez on this journey was fellow Jacksonville artist and friend Matthew Wilson, known professionally as L3V!, who mixed and mastered the album’s six tracks.
“My goal ultimately was to make the sound dance with the rhythm of her idea,” Wilson said. “I had an atmosphere and an ambiance in mind that I wanted to create.”
Wilson worked to capture the flow and theme of Martinez’s album and believes the finished songs offer something every listener can enjoy and take away from.
“It’s a project that, no matter where you are in life, you can connect to as deep as a spiritual level,” Wilson said.
Martinez said she is “extremely proud” of the new album and that the release marks a big step for her, citing the relationships discussed in “Love Is…” as an obstacle she has overcome.
“Those relationships, they always hindered me,” she said. “They always made me feel like what I had wasn’t good enough. This album is almost like an ‘awe moment’ for me. I’m like, ‘I did it.’ I decided to take back, to start putting my whole efforts back into my music.”