It’s incredible to think that Martin Garrix isn’t legally allowed to drink alcohol at the EDM festivals he's been a fixture at the past few years. Garrix, who’s aged 19, wouldn’t even have been old enough to get into most nightclubs when he charted at No.40 on the DJ Mag Top 100 for the first time in 2013. But his relative youth, compared to the rest of the DJs who have made this year’s top 10, has not held him back — if anything it’s probably aided his remarkable rise.
Garrix, who was born Martijn Garritsen in 1996 in Amstelveen, just outside of Amsterdam, is, in many ways, the embodiment of the generation that have grown up with EDM. In 2004, Garritsen had a musical revelation after witnessing fellow Dutchman Tiësto DJ during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games held in Athens.
(The soundtrack to the event was the first CD he ever bought). The setting in which Garritsen was exposed to dance music is significant: a decade on, he would be playing to packed-out stadium-sized venues before having even set foot in a club.
Like many of his fans, Garrix’s experiences with dance music have been largely mediated through festivals rather than clubs; the sound and spectacle of such large-scale events have no doubt shaped his own productions.
When recently asked in an interview with SPIN which artists inspired him, Garrix cited Dillon Francis, Bauuer, Flosstradamus and, of course, Tiësto. He belongs to a generation for whom the progenitors of house and techno mean very little — and who can blame them.
Instead, they subscribe to a different canon altogether: one in which the faces of Daft Punk, David Guetta, Diplo and Skrillex might make up its Mount Rushmore.
Garrix’s success rests partly on being an EDM everyman. He looks like he could have been picked out entirely at random from the crowd at TomorrowWorld. In a parallel universe he might have been a YouTube vlogger in the mould of Alfie Deyes.
Tiësto described Garrix as an “inspiration” in 2013. He’s right: in a way, Garrix is an inspiration precisely because he’s an ordinary and unremarkable 19-year-old in a lot of respects.
His favourite song of all time is Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ because, as he explained to EDM.com, it “makes me happy... every time I play it”; his favourite food is a cheeseburger without any tomatoes or onions; he describes Ed Sheeran as a “genius”.
When Playboy attempted to see if Garrix had a more mischievous side by asking him what crime he would commit if he could get away with it, the youngster answered: “Drink a beer”.
Garrix’s plainness has allowed him to become a blank slate onto which thousands of white male teenagers have projected their ambitions of DJ superstardom onto. He makes EDM fame look like it’s just one Beatport-charting production away — a wet dream recently played out in Zac Efron’s dismal EDM film We Are Your Friends.
Following the release of ‘Break Through The Silence’ in July, Garrix is back in the studio hard at work on a full-length. When asked in a recent interview about his plans for the future, he replied: “Conquer the world”.
Of all the inflated personalities that he’s shared a bill with in the last few years, Garrix’s propensity for hyperbole is low. In a genre full of overblown characters, his earnestness makes him an oddity. Earlier this year, Garrix starred in the music video for his Usher collaboration ‘Don’t Look Down’, playing an attendant at a country club handing out towels to guests.
His attempts to court a woman lounging by the pool with a hip-thrusting, walking-on-water dance routine fail spectacularly. Naturally, he’s more comfortable in the role of the towel boy than the bicep-flexing jock.