From: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DJ style: “Progressive/big room house.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Taska Black ‘Forever’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Osrin.”
Dutch wunderkind Martin Garrix has scooped the Top 100 DJs crown for the third year in a row — a feat only previously accomplished by his fellow countrymen Armin van Buuren and Tiësto. Amazingly, he’s still only 22, three years younger than Hardwell was when he first won the poll.
Garrix, born Martijn Garritsen, learned the guitar at an early age — a good grounding for the electronic pop songs he’d later co-write. When he saw Tiësto DJing at the 2004 Olympic Games opening ceremony in Athens on TV, he decided he wanted to be a DJ and — with the full support of his mum and dad — started spinning at school events and the like. Soon getting into producing his own music, he signed to Spinnin’ Records to start releasing club tracks while still doing a music production course in Utrecht. When ‘Animals’ was released in 2013, it exploded all over the world — and Garrix became a star overnight. With much of the EDM mulch that has followed in the scene, it’s easy to forget what a groundbreaking record ‘Animals’ was. Much copied but never bettered, its dynamics were impeccable for rocking big arenas — a synth riff that became akin to a terrace chant, a contrasting clucking drop, and that slightly naughty, shouted “Animals” exhalation that saw some of his early fans start wearing animal masks to his shows.
Five years on from ‘Animals’, he’s now a bona fide pop star, as well as a chart-topping DJ. A slew of productions has seen him collab with a virtual who’s who of EDM — DV&LM, Afrojack, Tiësto, Guetta — and also some of pop’s biggest names, such as the angsty slomo relationship song ‘Scared To Be Lonely’ with Dua Lipa and the widescreen melodic EDM cut ‘Don’t Look Down’ with Usher. He’s also recorded with Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, although those tracks have yet to see the light of day due to assorted music industry politics.
After escaping his deal with Spinnin’, Martin signed to Sony and also started up his own label — STMPD RCRDS. “It’s doing really good,” he tells DJ Mag. “We’ve released lots of music last year from both established and upcoming artists. My vision of creating this label is really coming to life, especially with the recently added STMPD recording studios. It’s really turned into a creative hub where all kinds of artists and types of music come together.”
Evidently in the game for the long haul, Garrix has released lots of music in the last 12 months — including the deep, melancholic, emotive love paean ‘Ocean’ with American singer-songwriter Khalid — and has toured the world playing the biggest festivals (Ultra Miami, Tomorrowland), headlining the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and rocking his Ibiza residency at Ushuaïa every week during the summer. He came out very well from the What We Started documentary film launched during Miami Music week in March, sharing top billing with Carl Cox, and has just released a book LIFE = CRAZY, which documents his, err, crazy life through a succession of choice photos.
Martin Garrix is unstoppable. Still incredibly well-adjusted and down to earth despite his fame, he’s a deserving winner of the Top 100 DJs poll once again.
Words: CARL LOBEN