When Martin Garrix’s smash ‘Animals’ topped sales charts in late 2013, it felt like a watershed moment for EDM, and marked the beginning of the then-seventeen-year-old talent’s remarkable career. Perhaps even more impressive than this huge debut success is the mature and prolific way he has built on that initial stepping stone over the last couple of years to become one of the scene’s leading lights whose every move is awaited with baited breath. His social media followers are the biggest of all his peers, his shows sell out months in advance and now its Bali’s turn to turn it up for Martin Garrix courtesy of Ultra Music Festival this weekend.
You seem so level headed all the time. How do you maintain such professionalism and poise especially in an industry full of indulgence and partying?
Well for one, I have a great team helping me out. They have the balls to tell me no. Sometimes I’ll want to go out and they’ll be like “Martin, why the fuck do you even want to go out, you’ve got such an important day coming up.” Like last night I wanted to go out, since there were a ton of parties going on. But my team reminded me that I’ve got 25 interviews today [laughs].
Is it hard to stay back and rest or do work while all your friends are out partying and having a good time? I imagine you probably want to go join them all the time.
Yes and no. I party hard, trust me. When I’m able to party I can definitely party. Weeks like this though, where there’s so much important stuff happening, I’d rather focus and make sure the show is perfect, and then once it’s done I can go out and party like a maniac.
You used to DJ for your parents’ parties. How did you go from that to headlining the Ultra main stage?
Well for me, I’m a DJ, but I’m also more of a producer. I’m a computer nerd. I’m behind my computer like 12 hours a day making new music. So that helped me a lot. I would release my songs on the internet and eventually I got signed to a label. Once that happened I had a platform to reach people. And from there it just grew. The bigger your songs get the bigger the festivals you play at will be, until you make it to Ultra. It happened super quick for me. I’m still in shock actually. I have to pinch myself a lot.
It’s been a crazy decade for you… You told me some time ago that Tiesto’s 2004 Olympic performance was pivotal in inspiring your career.
That’s totally correct. He did so much for the genre. He introduced me to the electronic stuff. It’s fun. I was just with him [backstage at Coachella]. We were hanging out over there. He’s here. It’s crazy. He’s the guy who inspired me to start producing electronic music.
You were only seven years old when he played the Olympics. Was that really when your career began, at seven?
No, no. It didn’t begin, but I started to listen to his stuff and I was playing guitar at the time. When I was nine, ten, I was super young, but I installed a program on my computer so I could start producing music. I just started messing around. Then, after a couple of years, I got better. I actually learned some tricks, so I knew what I was doing instead of just messing. I’m still messing around, but the more you work in the program the more you learn from every song and even your mistakes. For me that has been a really interesting process. After a couple of years I received some recognition from various people at labels and Martin Garrix started.
You actually studied at a performance academy.
Yes, it was a producing academy and I was there for two years. I already was producing five years before that, but I learned a lot of stuff there. The nice thing about being there was I was in class with people who were also producing music. It was a great environment that was very creative and inspiring.
Your parents have careers that are a bit more in the mainstream.
My mom is a doctor and my dad is an auctioneer.
Were they supportive of your decision to go into music?
They were super supportive. They knew how happy music makes me and how much it means to me. When I was in a more traditional school and had an hour break, I would run to my parents’ house with some friends and we would work on tracks before going back to school again.
Was your school supportive with all of your touring demands?
In my second year they were really supportive, because I produced “Animals.” I released “Animals” when I was almost done with the first year and that’s when the touring really started. I was still in school, but I really wanted to finish. Together the school and I made a schedule. Certain weeks I really had to be at school to keep up with all the tests. We scheduled a bunch of tests during the week I was in town and after I completed them I could go and tour again. Together, with a lot of communication, we made it happen.