He has heard of the criticisms about dance music — it all sounds the same. Well, not only is he making his music distinctive, but he’s doing it at a young age. Martijn Garritsen, known more commonly as Martin Garrix, is only 19. And his hit “Animals” has been featured at music festivals and clubs around the world.
The Dutch producer and musician was born and raised in Amstelveen, Netherlands, a suburb of Amsterdam. While his parents work in normal industries, they were all musically talented: His mother can play the piano, his dad can play the guitar and his sister can play the violin, piano and can sing.
Martin learned to play the drums and guitar, composing songs as he went along.
“But every time I wanted to show someone, I had to get my guitar,” he recalls. “So I did some research on how I could put these melodies from my guitar onto the computer.”
He began using FL Studio, which is the same software he uses today.
“First it was just guitar music, put it in the computer. Then I started adding drums to it,” Martin explains. “I started listening to trance music, like electronic. And I was like, ‘Oh, I will try to use that as well.’”
To put this all in perspective, though, Martin was only about 9 or 10 when he began experimenting with instruments and production. He consulted online tutorials, collaborated with artists, making mistakes and seeking assistance in forums. In high school, Martin wasn’t quite like other teenagers.
“Everyone’s doing sports and stuff,” he says about high school. “I was in here making music all the time and not going out. Well, I was going out, but not after school to play football. I was like, ‘I’ll go home. I like music.”
After high school, Martin attended a special two-year program for producers. During this time, he cmposed “Animals.”
“I just spent a shit load of time in the studio working, trying to get better every time and trying to find my own sound,” he says, “because the thing right now is so many artists, so many songs, so many DJs, they sound the same. So it’s hard to stand out.”
Martin created a sound so attractive that the label company Spinnin’ Records took notice, giving Martin a reputable platform to promote his tracks.
“They started putting out my music instead of me just showing it to my friends, putting it on Soundcloud and getting a hundred plays,” he says.
Very few teenagers could say they have millions of followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter combined. Martin has millions of followers per social media outlets. Since being published online in 2013, “Animals” has amassed over 500 million views. Martin, who attended festivals such as Ultra and Tomorrowland as a fan, was headlining them the following year.
“I started listening to trance music and house music because of Tiesto, and now I’m good buddies with him,” Martin says. “It’s very weird. My idols, like I know them now.”
Martin grew up following the dirty house movement that began in the 2000s, and renowned dance music DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Tiesto and Vato Gonzalez. Now, he’s in the studio recording with them.
“A lot of the time when I collaborated with someone, I thought everything they touched turned into gold. So when we were in the studio I just shut my mouth,” he shares. “But the thing is, they are in the studio with you because they want your input. They like what you do as well.”
After getting over the surrealism of walking into a studio to produce “Don’t Look Down” with Usher, Martin has been able to sit back and watch the response.
“The feedback we get is so crazy. And also the people like it, the friends like it, people like the collaboration,” he says. “I’m really liking it, I’m blown away, I’m really happy with it.”
And when asked what it’s like to work with talented singers like Usher, Martin is quick to respond. “It’s great. It’s a pleasure. It’s fucking Usher,” he laughs.
All of this after just a short amount of exposure to the limelight, and it’s not even close to ending. Martin teamed up with Ed Sheeran for a track called “Rewind Repeat It,” which he premiered at Ultra in March. David Guetta, Avicii, Afrojack, Kygo; the list goes on, and it’s neverending.
He clearly has a full schedule. When he first gained a reputation, the invitations flooded in, pulling him away from home and the studio. Now, Martin feels he has found a balance.
“We found the perfect balance between producing, time off, chilling with friends and shows,” Martin says.
Family is a major part of Martin’s life. He brought his mother to Ultra, his father to Tomorrowland and his whole family to Coachella. (Martin moved out of his parent’s home a few months ago, but his new home is still only about 10 minutes away.)
“I don’t want to be away from them for super long,” Martin says. “Like when I get there, put the switch off, no stress, just chilling, hanging out with them, decompressing.”
Now that he has finally found his sound and rhythm, he’s working on a full-length album. But unfortunately for his fans, there’s no release date set quite yet. Other factors are at force, like the amount of tracks he completes, which will be singles or album-only. However, the sound will be different.
“People only know my from energetic stuff, like club stuff. But the album shows like a complete other side as well, I’ve got some deeper tracks,” he shares. “There’s a track on it which means a lot personally. It shows more Martin Garrix than people get to see right now, which I can’t wait for people to see that as well.”
In between studio time, Martin is booked for the summer with festivals, clubs and collaborations and a few more single releases. In the grand scheme of things — because yes, despite all of his incredible achievements, Martin is not resting on his laurels — he hopes to play for massive audiences.
“I would love to do an insane headline tour,” he chuckle. “Big, big arena … like what Swedish House Mafia did … one day.”
And finishing the full-length, too, of course.
Perhaps it’s because of his age, but Martin’s demeanor is more relaxed than other musicians. He’s passionate, but not too tense. DJing and producing only became a career once he was signed, but that doesn’t go to his head. He acknowledges it, but it’s more of a responsibility than a chore.
“I was like, ‘Woah, money. Woah, fans, people who are actually listening to my music besides friends and family,’” he says. “It’s still a hobby. That’s the fun thing. I go into the studio because I have to finish stuff, but it doesn’t feel like a job.”