MARTIN GARRIX

By Johnny Lee June 2015 Read in PDF format N5/2015
MARTIN GARRIX Earlier this month, Martijn Garritsen, better known to millions of dance-music fanatics as Martin Garrix, celebrated his 19th birthday. Despite his tender age, the young Dutchman has already performed at Ultra in Miami, headlined the Amsterdam Music Festival, and in April 2014 was invited to play both weekends at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the heart of the Colorado Desert. Equally at home in the studio as he is in the DJ booth, Garrix’s ascension to main-stage superstardom began to pick up speed after the release of ‘Animals’, an epic electronic instrumental that topped the UK singles charts and dominated online music stores like Beatport for months back in the latter half of 2013. Now one of the most in-demand DJs on the planet, when Garrix lands in Ibiza this summer it will be to headline a brand-new nine-week residency, called Big, at Ushuaïa. It’s a gigantic move that cements Garrix’s position alongside David Guetta and Avicii as part of EDM’s peak-time inner circle.

When we spoke to Martin, he’d only recently returned to Europe after an extended stopover in America. It was a busy trip; after meeting up with his unofficial mentor and fellow countryman Tiësto to lay down a new track, Garrix flew on to Coachella. This year, however, he was in Colorado solely as a music fan rather than a performer, taking a special interest in artists like Canadian rap icon Drake and Belgian pop-hop sensation Stromae. The breather was no more than Garrix deserved; after all, the young Dutchman has accomplished more in the last two years than most DJs will achieve in a lifetime – and yet, as hard as it is to believe, he’s still only a teenager.

Tell us about your Big new residency at Ushuaïa – what is it going to sound like?

Because I’m playing multiple weeks over the course of the summer, my new residency is going to be a testing ground for all kinds of new Martin Garrix music. I’m going to play a bunch of unreleased music at Ushuaïa. I might also bring some surprises. At my Las Vegas show in April, Alesso showed up and we ended up playing back-2-back for an hour!

Tiësto inspired you to start DJing. Now you’re working with him. But what’s the best piece of advice he ever gave you?

He told me not to listen to negative comments. Even if I got one bad comment out of a hundred I would focus all my attention on the one negative comment. I don’t think like that anymore.

What’s the most important production trick you learnt from your tutors at producer school?

I learnt that every effect you use in the studio is a destruction of the original sound. In other words, the more effects you add to a waveform, the worse it will sound. I was surprised when I first heard that, but if you think about it, it makes sense; when you’re using .wav files every effect you use destroys the quality of the original soundwave. One of the DJ tricks I learnt was that if you want one sound to be more prominent in the mix, don’t boost that particular one; instead you need to decrease the volume of the other sounds in the mix to make space for the new sound.

Tell us about your recent stateside visit to David Guettta’s house?

Tiësto and I were shooting the video clip for our new track, ‘The Only Way Is Up’. We were shooting in Miami on a boat and we knew where David Guetta lived, so we thought, ‘Okay let’s go and say hi to David Guetta!’ When we got to his house we put the boat in reverse, but the engine cut off and we hit his dock at full speed. It was very bad, but very funny at the same time! Luckily, we had four different cameras filming everything for my documentary and they managed to get David’s reaction. He was cool about it. As soon as he found out nobody was injured, he was totally calm and he was able to laugh about it. Of course, it sucks because it costs money to repair, but nobody got injured and that’s the main thing.

Did you have to pay for Guetta’s dock to be repaired?

No, he didn’t make us pay for the damage!

Tell us more about your recent studio collaboration with Tiësto?

Tiësto and I had been planning to make a track together for three years, ever since he signed one of my first tracks on Musical Freedom – a track called ‘Torrent’, which was released way before ‘Animals’. Tiësto has supported everything I’ve made and he plays my tracks in a lot of his sets, so it made sense to do something together. The idea for the track ‘The Only Way Is Up’ started when we were messing around with an acapella, chopping up the vocal and making a melody. After that, we just started jamming and worked around it. Then we had two days in a studio in Vegas to finish it.

Why are high-profile, cross-genre collaborations so important to EDM artists?

For a producer like myself, it’s super interesting to try out new stuff and to try to play with different genres because you learn so much from that. It’s all about gaining experience. I love working with artists like Usher and Ed Sheeran – it’s like fresh air in the studio and very inspiring.

So how did the opportunity to work with Ed Sheeran come about?

The idea came from my manager Scooter; he introduced us. After that, I just started jamming. Then I sent Ed a chord progression. The next thing I know, Ed sends me a voice note on WhatsApp of him singing a melody line on top of the chords. Then I built a track around the vocals and sent it back to him. He gave me some feedback and then we spent two days in the studio together finishing off the song. The cool thing about this collaboration is that Ed is a singer- songwriter, he comes from such a different angle to me, so it was very interesting to combine his voice with an electronic- dance-music sound.

What about the Usher collaboration – how did you guys hook up?

The way this happened was quite similar to the Ed Sheeran collaboration. The only difference was that I already had the track. I started speaking with my management about how cool it would be to get a surprising vocalist to sing on it. Scooter was like: ‘Don’t get your hopes up, but I’ll ask Usher and see if he likes the track.’ Three hours later he FaceTimes me saying: ‘Yo, Usher wants to do the track! He loves it.’ Then he turned the camera around and he was sat there with Usher!

We’ve heard rumours that you and Avicii have been reworking a John Legend track – are those rumours true?

It’s not John Legend on the vocals. And I don’t really have any information or updates about the track just yet. Basically, we played the track a little bit too soon and it’s already all over the internet. But what I can say is that I have been in the studio with Avicii and worked on multiple songs.

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