Cliff Martinez

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Cliff Martinez
Martinez in 2012
Martinez in 2012
Background information
Birth nameCliff Robert Martinez
Born (1954-02-05) February 5, 1954 (age 70)
New York City, U.S.
GenresFilm score, punk rock, funk rock, experimental rock, synthwave, industrial, ambient
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Drums, piano
Years active1970s–present

Cliff Robert Martinez (born February 5, 1954) is an American musician and composer. Early in his career, Martinez was known as a drummer notably with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Captain Beefheart.[1] Since the 1990s, he has worked primarily as a film score composer, writing music for Spring Breakers, The Foreigner, and multiple films by Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Solaris, Contagion, and Traffic[2]) and Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive,[1] Only God Forgives,[1] The Neon Demon and the miniseries Too Old to Die Young).

On April 14, 2012, Martinez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.[2]

Early life[edit]

Martinez was born in the Bronx, New York. His grandfather migrated from a small village in Spain to the United States.[3] Raised in Columbus, Ohio, his first job composing was for the popular television show Pee Wee's Playhouse.[4] At the time, however, he was more interested in rock bands, and played drums in a variety of them, mostly in a temporary capacity.

Red Hot Chili Peppers (1983–1986)[edit]

After several years drumming for such acts as Captain Beefheart, The Dickies, Lydia Lunch and The Weirdos, in late 1983, he and Jack Sherman were drafted in to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the recording of their eponymous first album after Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak left the band to concentrate on their other project at the time, What Is This? Martinez again played on the recording of the band's second album Freaky Styley and its subsequent tour.

In 2012 Martinez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.[5] Martinez performed with the band for the first time in 26 years when he joined them along with former drummer Jack Irons on their song, "Give It Away" during the ceremony.[6]

Film composing[edit]

Eventually, Martinez' interests shifted and he focused his attention toward film scoring. A tape Martinez had put together using 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 the famed director's first theatrical release, 1989's Sex, Lies, and Videotape.[citation needed] Martinez's longstanding relationship with Soderbergh has continued through the years and they have worked together on ten theatrical releases including Kafka, The Limey, Traffic, Solaris and 2011's Contagion, as well the Cinemax series The Knick.

His nontraditional 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 Pump Up the Volume (1990), The Limey (1999) Wonderland (2003), Wicker Park (2004) and Drive (2011).[citation needed] Martinez has been nominated for a Grammy Award (Steven Soderbergh's Traffic), a Cesar Award (Xavier Giannoli's À L'origine), and a Broadcast Film Critics Award (Drive). He earned a Robert Award (Danish Academy Award) for his work on Only God Forgives.[7]

Martinez's use of audio manipulations, particularly for percussive sounds, has been evolving through the years and is evident[citation needed] by the hammered dulcimer of Kafka (1991), the gray-areas between sound design and score for Traffic (2000), the steel drums and textures of Solaris (2002), what Martinez called "rhythmi-tizing pitched, ambient textures" of Narc (2002), and "using percussion performances to trigger and shape the rhythmic and tonal characteristics of those ambient textures," as he described his score for 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer.[citation needed]

Martinez served as a juror for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and served on the International Feature nominating committee for 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Martinez's recent films include Robert Redford's The Company You Keep, Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers (co-composed with Skrillex), and Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives[8] and The Neon Demon.[9]

Video game composing[edit]

Martinez composed the main menu music titled "Galaxy Theme" for Spore in 2008.[10] In 2014, Martinez also composed the title score for Far Cry 4.


In 2013, Martinez scored the "Fly Beyond" Grey Goose vodka commercial.[11] Martinez also composed two songs, "Vibe" and "Kotopulse", for the 2014 Lincoln Motor Company advertising campaign featuring Matthew McConaughey.[12]


The Weirdos[edit]

Lydia Lunch[edit]

Captain Beefheart[edit]

Red Hot Chili Peppers[edit]

The Dickies[edit]

As composer[edit]


Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1989 Sex, Lies, and Videotape Steven Soderbergh Miramax Films
1990 Pump Up the Volume Allan Moyle New Line Cinema
1991 Kafka Steven Soderbergh Miramax Films
1992 Black Magic Daniel Taplitz
1993 King of the Hill Steven Soderbergh Gramercy Pictures
1995 The Underneath Steven Soderbergh Gramercy Pictures
1996 Gray's Anatomy Steven Soderbergh
1996 Schizopolis Steven Soderbergh Uncredited
1998 Wicked Michael Steinberg
1999 The Limey Steven Soderbergh Artisan Entertainment
2000 Traffic Steven Soderbergh USA Films
2002 Narc Joe Carnahan Paramount Pictures
2002 Solaris Steven Soderbergh 20th Century Fox
2003 Wonderland James Cox Lionsgate
2004 Wicker Park Paul McGuigan Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
2005 Havoc Barbara Kopple New Line Cinema
2006 First Snow Mark Fergus Freestyle Releasing
2008 Stiletto Nick Vallelonga First Look International
2008 Vice Raul Inglis
2009 Espion(s) Nicolas Saada
2009 Severe Clear Kristian Fraga Documentary
2009 In the Beginning Xavier Giannoli EuropaCorp
2011 The Lincoln Lawyer Brad Furman Lionsgate
2011 Drive Nicolas Winding Refn FilmDistrict
2011 Contagion Steven Soderbergh Warner Bros. Pictures Additional music by Mac Quayle & Gregory Tripi
2012 Arbitrage Nicholas Jarecki Lionsgate Additional music by Mac Quayle & Gregory Tripi
2012 The Company You Keep Robert Redford Sony Pictures Classics Additional music by Mac Quayle & Gregory Tripi
2013 Spring Breakers Harmony Korine A24 Composed with Skrillex
Additional music by Mac Quayle & Gregory Tripi
2013 Golem Patrick McCue
Tobias Wiesner
Short film
2013 Only God Forgives Nicolas Winding Refn RADiUS-TWC
2014 Mea Culpa Fred Cavayé Gaumont
2014 My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Liv Corfixen Documentary
2014 The Normal Heart Ryan Murphy 20th Century Fox Television Television film
2016 The Neon Demon Nicolas Winding Refn Gaumont Additional music by Peter G. Adams & Gregory Tripi
2016 War Dogs Todd Phillips Warner Bros. Pictures Additional music by Peter G. Adams & Gregory Tripi
2017 The Foreigner[13] Martin Campbell STX Entertainment Additional music by Peter G. Adams, Thor Lawae & Gregory Tripi
2018 Den of Thieves Christian Gudegast STX Entertainment Additional music by Peter G. Adams, Thor Lawae & Gregory Tripi
2018 Game Night John Francis Daley
Jonathan Goldstein
Warner Bros. Pictures
New Line Cinema
Additional music by Peter G. Adams & Thor Lawae
2018 Hotel Artemis Drew Pearce Global Road Entertainment Additional music by Thor Lawae & Gregory Tripi
2022 Kimi Steven Soderbergh Warner Bros. Pictures
New Line Cinema


Year Title Notes
2014–2017 The Knick
2019 Too Old to Die Young additional music by Peter G. Adams & Thor Lawae
2020 The Wilds
2022 Copenhagen Cowboy

Video games[edit]

Year Title Developer(s) Publisher(s) Notes
2008 Spore Maxis Electronic Arts Galaxy Main Theme and other unspecified compositions
Composed with Brian Eno
2014 Far Cry 4 Ubisoft Montreal Ubisoft Additional music and arrangements by Peter G. Adams, Gregory Tripi, Mac Quayle and Jeff Rona


  1. ^ a b c Ezell, Brice (September 4, 2013). "Getting Good at Getting Dark: An Interview with Cliff Martinez". PopMatters.
  2. ^ a b Romero, Angie (July 22, 2013). "10 Questions With Cliff Martinez". BMI.
  3. ^ Puga, Kristina (February 21, 2012). "Red Hot Chili Peppers ex-drummer, Cliff Martinez, opens up". Kristina Puga. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  4. ^ "Composer for Film TV and Multimedia | Official Website". Cliff Martinez. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Hunt sweeps Danish Robert awards".
  8. ^ "Official Bio". Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  9. ^ "Elle Fanning Sees Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon". Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Spore Credits at Archived November 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ 'Only God Forgives' director Nicolas Winding Refn's next projects: Commercial, horror
  12. ^ LincolnMotorCompany on Twitter
  13. ^ "Cliff Martinez to Score Martin Campbell's The Foreigner". March 21, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2016.

External links[edit]