Both charmingly demure and intensely focused, Martin Arceneaux holds court in the house he helped build: Church, the weekly "Sunday Spunday" free-for-all at the Dragon's Den, now approaching the five-year mark of hosting local and visiting electronic music artists.
Sitting ensconced in late-night shadows in the Esplanade Avenue club's courtyard, Arceneaux entertains a procession of hugs, daps and more hugs from fans. Though unassumingly dressed in blue jeans and a hippie-cowboy button-down shirt, Arceneaux is recognizable. Beyond the shock of shoulder-length strawberry-blonde hair, he's Quickie Mart: a local underground scenester and now an increasingly in-demand DJ beyond New Orleans.
"I was given the name Quickie Mart by Money Mike [Willis]," he says before his 2:30 a.m.-until-daybreak set at Church, a swirling marathon of deep dubstep (replete with the epic rude-boy sing-along refrain "Nobody move, nobody get hurt" weaved in), gratuitous ass-shaking bounce and the drop-goblin frenetics of "Dem Man," a track he co-produced with Unicorn Fukr and was remixed by Truth on a Dutch label which that week hit No. 5 on the charts at Beatport, a leading online store/app for electronic music and culture.
"We were DJing together a lot starting around 2002," says Arceneaux, an eight-time Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival veteran. "We were big into the four elements of hip hop: scratching, free-styling, graffiti and breakdancing. He started calling me that from a freestyle rap one night; he said I was quick on the scratch and my name is Martin. The God Awful boys starting putting Quickie Mart on fliers around town for shows we were all doing. People liked the name, but I didn't, so I didn't really know what to do. Then Mike passed away four months later and I decided, 'I'm going to go hard with this name.'"
Arceneaux grew up in Shreveport, and both sides of his family have 300 years of Louisiana lineage — his mother's Langlois line traces its roots to first-generation French Creoles who lived in the French Quarter. Arceneaux's house was filled with music — his mother played piano, ukulele and sang while his father played guitar and sang on top of listening to everything from New Orleans jazz to zydeco to ABBA. "I was always very attached to music," Arceneaux says. "As a kid, I picked up every instrument and took lessons on all of them."
Music proved to be his salvation. "I started getting into a lot of trouble and, at 15, my mom kicked me out of the house," he says. "I was basically on the street for two years, living in a skater house and on friends' couches. I started going to raves and was introduced to psychedelics and fell in love with electronic music and realized, 'This is what I want to do.' I was on the streets, hustling, and one night after a rave, I decided to stop doing all that bullshit. I got all my money from hustling together and bought a bunch of records. I've spent all my money, time and effort from that point forward learning to DJ."
"I love making music with him, and he's taught me more about producing than anyone," says Erik Browne of Unicorn Fukr. "He's like that; he's reached out to a lot of local producers, always ready to help anyone who has a real passion for music."
Such tight artistic bonds are the driving force in a thriving local electronic music scene. "We were totally surprised by the success of 'Dem Man,'" Arceneaux says. "It's hard to gain notoriety as a DJ from New Orleans, but there's no other city I'd rather be doing it in."