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Martin Garrix Is All Smiles

The EDM wunderkind talks Tiësto, the success of his newest hit “Scared to Be Lonely” and his musical roots

Martin Garrix walked into the DuJour offices and immediately enveloped me in a hug. He graciously signed a fan’s headphones and apologized for the New York City traffic he hit on his way here. When we mistakenly walked into the wrong room, he laughed and wondered why the less-than-thrilled to be interrupted occupant seemed so disgruntled. “Just be happy” were his words.

The 20-year-old producer, songwriter, DJ and musician holds the number one spot on 2016’s DJ Mag Top 100 Poll. Hailing from Amsterdam, the Dutch superstar gained massive fame from his smash hit “Animals” in 2013 and has been streamed over two billion times, listed on Billboard’s “21 Under 21” three times and on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list twice. With the help of his manager Scooter Braun, Martin Garrix shows no signs of stopping, slowing down or smiling. From the moment the blue-eyed, baby-faced DJ walked in to the DuJour offices until the moment he was stopped at the elevator by a gushing fan, he was grinning ear to ear. He has a lot to grin about too, from his global hit “In the Name of Love” with Bebe Rexha, his newest single “Scared To Be Lonely” with Dua Lipa to his residencies in Las Vegas and Ibiza and his newest venture, his own record label, STMPD RCRDS.

DuJour caught up with Martin to discuss the success of his recent singles, what his pre-show ritual consists of and who he would really love to collaborate with.

Were you surprised by the success of “In the Name of Love”?

I knew the song was more radio-friendly than some of the other Martin Garrix music. I like to make some very aggressive house music that isn’t so radio-friendly. But, I’m still really surprised with the result. I think we are #4 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs Chart right now. 

What is the best part about collaborating with people like Bebe Rexha and Dua Lipa?

I love collaborating because it’s an extra pair of ears on a song. I have this bad habit that as soon as I’m stuck on a song, I’ll jump to the next one. So then I have ten unfinished songs and the label doesn’t love that. What I like about collaborating is that I’ll be stuck on something and someone else hears it a different way and it’s a breath of fresh air. When I collaborate with someone, I try techniques and styles that if I had been alone, I wouldn’t have tried.

Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha
Courtesy of RCA Records

Who would you like to collaborate with next?

Pharrell or Twenty One Pilots. I loved their acceptance speech at the Grammys. It’s a great story, how five years ago they were watching the show in their underwear. 

You started out playing the guitar. How did you make the transition into electronic music?

I played Spanish guitar at first, like Flamenco. At one point I started writing songs on the guitar. Every time I wanted to play one, I would have to run and grab my guitar to show my family and friends. Eventually, I found a computer program that allowed me to record and edit my guitar melodies. First it was just guitar melodies and then I fell in love with trance music.

When was the first time you discovered trance music?

The first time I heard it was when Tiësto performed at the Olympics in 2004. He was this big Dutch DJ and I remember listening to it and feeling it straight away. So, I had the skills and I knew I loved trance music so the logical transition was to produce it. I was eleven or twelve at the time. 

What was it like creating it “Animals” in your bedroom and then having it blow up so quickly?

It was so weird. I made “Animals” in my bedroom at my parent’s house. At the time I was still finishing school so I would DJ Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and Sunday night I would have to go home directly after the show. Sometimes I would be in Ibiza Saturday, and then have to get back to the Netherlands for school on Monday. Maintaining that balance was so weird, but worth it. I’ve met amazing people, seen the world and made music; I can’t complain.

What role do you think your age has played in your career?

At first, people in the industry assumed I didn’t make my own shit. That pissed me off because of course I make all my own stuff. So I would do live streams and production tutorials on the Internet to get rid of that stigma and to prove to everyone that I make my own music. 

Now, I feel that age is just a number. Especially in creative industries, it’s about the quality of the product. If the music is good and the shows are good, you will be validated. 

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I hug every single one of my team members. There’s so much adrenaline pumping and I still get nervous before every show so it’s comforting. 

What is the most memorable show you can remember?

There are so many. I played Coachella two years ago. It was one of the first shows I played and one of the craziest. I brought my whole family. Having my parents and my sister there made it a really beautiful moment.

Ultra Music Festival 2016 was amazing. I closed the Main Stage and a couple years earlier, I had been standing in the crowd. Fatboy Slim had played one of my songs and I thought it was the coolest thing. I thought nothing would ever beat that moment of happiness.

Martin Garrix
Courtesy of RCA Records

Who have you been listening to lately?

I love music because it unites people and makes people happy. Lately I’ve been listening to Flume a lot, but I listen to everything from Pharrell to Twenty One Pilots. I don’t listen to electronic music too often because I’m afraid I will accidentally be too inspired by it. 

What can we expect on your album?

I could release an album right now if I had to. I don’t want to do it like that, though. When I release an album I want it to be the craziest album. I want to surprise people. I want to release a couple more singles and then put them on an album with other tracks. I don’t know; I need to figure it out. I do know that I have a lot of cool music coming up, a lot of new projects. 

Tell me about your new record label: STMPD RCRDS.

I want to sign good music. I want to sign rappers, bands, folk music, everything. There’s so much talent out there in the world that is not heard yet. I want to use my platform and my resources to get them heard.

What is a band/artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?

I love Travis Scott. I put his stuff on in my house and just dance by myself.

Main Image Credit: Sergi Alexander / Getty Images