The first time we tried to track down Martin Garrix — born Martijn Garritsen — for a phone interview, he was on a skiing holiday, cruising through the mountains. Reception was spotty.
It's an easy image to conjure: The EDM prodigy sliding down a pristine mountainside in a designer jumpsuit, perhaps carried back up the slope by one of those fancy Mercedes SUVs as his own song plays from the stereo, his eyes shielded by aviators. In other words: fucking killing it. Eventually, we managed to track down the 20-year-old from the Netherlands.
It’s a natural instinct to dislike someone under the U.S. legal drinking age who’s making millions and gallivanting around the world, but don’t do it. Embrace the Garrix. Because he's a likable bastard — like it or not — and very humble, Garrix is quick to praise his team and likes to deflect attention away from himself. Despite the occasional mountain adventure, he prefers to keep things low-key. “I like to go out clubbing in the Netherlands with my friends. There are many cool clubs, but as I’m DJ'ing myself on the weekends, I mostly go out during the week and end up in random tourist bars,” he laughs.
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Back in the day, when he was 8 years old, Martin would tell his friends at soccer practice that he was going to be a famous DJ. They’d laugh at him. He was inspired by Tiësto’s set during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. A few years later, around age 11, he saved up some money to buy DJ equipment. He even made a “DJ Marty” sign and stretched it across his setup below his tables with a few disco lights.
DJ Marty practiced and saved up more money to buy a computer to produce on. He was producing tracks by his early teens and eventually caught the attention of the popular Dutch DJ Vato Gonzalez.
“When I first bought a DJ setup, I was just messing around and produced a bit of hardstyle,” Garrix says. “Hardstyle grew from a Dutch microgenre into one of the most popular EDM subcultures in the world, so I think it’s just a Dutch thing. But ten years ago, it was all about trance music — that’s how I got into DJ'ing and producing, actually. Dance music always evolves, which is a really good thing.”
These days, his favorite song is Pryda’s “Miami to Atlanta,” and his original inspiration, Tiësto, remains his favorite DJ.
Garrix first experienced Ultra in 2013. He was in the front row for Fatboy Slim, who came out of the gate with “Error 404,” Garrix's 2010 single. “It was amazing,” he says now, thinking back to the memory. “I was just standing there to see the show and all of a sudden Fatboy Slim used my track to open his set at Ultra. Crazy!”
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Crazy might be an understatement. He was only 16, after all. But a year later, Garrix was playing Ultra's main stage. Last year, he played the main stage once again, and, naturally, he's returning for 2016.
“Everyone can expect a great party with new music and other surprises,” he assures. “Like always, I’ve been superbusy in the studio, and there’s tons of awesome material that I’ll be sharing with you guys.”
Later in the same night, Garrix will host a party for the launch of his new label, STMPD Records, at Story with Arty, Jay Hardaway, Julian Jordan, Mattise & Sadko, and more special guests to come.
With a schedule like that, a ski vacation suddenly seems well-deserved.
Martin Garrix with Arty, Jay Hardaway, Julian Jordan, Mattise & Sadko, and more. 11 p.m. Friday, March 18, at Story, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-2424; storymiami.com. Tickets cost $90 plus fees via falvorus.com.
Ultra Music Festival with Martin Garrix, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Carl Cox, David Guetta, Dubfire, Eric Prydz, Hardwell, Jamie Jones, Kaskade, and more. Noon Friday, March 18, to Sunday, March 20, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $324.95 to $1,249.95 plus fees via ultramusicfestival.com.