We caught up With Martijn Garritsen—who is best known for his 2013 hit “Animals” and goes by the moniker Martin Garrix—while the 17-year-old Dutch DJ was ducking Parisian paparazzi. Clearly his star has risen in the European EDM world, but this young producer is now getting a fair bit of buzz in the U.S. Recently, the producer discussed everything from his impending debut at Hakkasan on Super Bowl Sunday to his signing with Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.
Is it true that hearing Tiësto play the Athens Olympics in 2004 inspired you to be a DJ?
Yes. I became really interested in learning about electronic music and bought some equipment. I also installed a program on my computer to start experimenting with different sounds. Music has always been a hobby of mine, and it’s really still a hobby despite the fact that I am doing it professionally. I played guitar for seven years before deciding that I wanted to produce EDM. I also don’t just produce EDM, I produce what I like to produce—some hip-hop and different genres.
Your remix of Christina Aguilera’s “Your Body” in 2012 ended up on the deluxe edition of her album. Do you consider that to be your breakout?
My breakout was definitely “Animals.”
When did you realize “Animals” was taking off?
When I saw all the hype that it was getting on the Internet after we only posted the name of the track [without a byline]. The teaser got 200,000 views in two to three days. I thought, “Holy shit, this could become big!”
Why didn’t you initially put your name on the track?
When we put it out on Billboard and announced that I was the one who made it and that it sold a million copies, everyone thought it was by Hardwell or Tiësto. I didn’t put my name on it because I was a new artist and some people think that everything coming out by someone new is shit. I wanted people to listen to the track and decide and not just say it was shit until they at least listened to it. [When it was] announced that it was my track, I think a lot of people were like, “Ahh, fuck.”
You’re the youngest person ever to reach No. 1 on Beatport. Is there added pressure in achieving success so young?
Of course! There was a lot of pressure after “Animals” because I thought people would not like the next track as much, and I didn’t have other tracks ready to release then. After my buddy Jay Hardway and I released “Wizards,” which was well received, and knowing that I now have five to seven other songs coming out, there was less pressure.
What was your reaction when you found out you had been named an MTV Artist to Watch?
I was really surprised! I am a house/dance music producer, and I had always thought they were more poppy. I am really thankful and think that it is really cool. EDM is still developing, so it’s great to have our part in the industry, and I’m really happy MTV is willing to play a track like “Animals.”
Are you still in school?
I’m in my last year, and attend a special producers and musicians academy. [The academy is] really supportive, and I do a lot of homework on the road. I just give them my tour and flight information, and they say go, but just finish the homework by this date.
What do you have in the works?
Tiësto and I are looking for some free days to work on a track together. I also have several collaborations coming out. The first is a new edit I did of “Crackin” by Bassjackers. In February I’ll release “Helicopter” with Firebeatz, then a collab with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike will come out during Miami Music Week. I also have something with Julian Jordan and Dillon Francis in the works, as well as a solo track.
Hakkasan is your first Las Vegas show. Would you ever consider having a residency here?
I’m really looking forward to playing in Vegas and at Hakkasan. I’ve heard Tiësto and others share some really good stories. We’ll start with one date and then explore options for a residency in Vegas.
Are you excited about playing at Ultra and Coachella?
I’m excited about everything! I will also be playing at Firefly and some other major U.S. festivals for the first time. I actually only received my U.S. working permit three months ago, and my first U.S. tour is nearly sold out! I am really happy to be playing in America.
I hear you just signed with Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.
Yes, Scooter is working in the background, and nobody really knows he is working on me. He was the one who actually made the We Are Animals Tour possible and is helping set up some really interesting collaborations. He is managing me in the U.S., and together with my European management, I really have a great team.