Martin Garrix Is a Beat Ahead

Martin Garrix Is a Beat Ahead

The young DJ has already hit the big leagues. Now, he's reflecting on the impact he's made.

The young DJ has already hit the big leagues. Now, he's reflecting on the impact he's made.

Photography: Cameron McNee

Styling: Christian Stroble

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

This article will appear in VMAN39, on newsstands February 22. 

Martin Garrix has seemingly already accomplished everything a DJ can: the 21-year-old Dutch artist ranked #1 on DJ Mag’s top 100 list in both 2016 and 2017, making him the youngest-ever recipient of the award twice in a row. He’s worked with everyone from pop titan Troye Sivan to electronic music veteran Tiestö, the latter of whom Garrix credits with inspiring him to become a DJ in the first place. Garrix also began his own record company, STMPD RCRDS, in 2016, thus creating a platform for emerging electronic artists.

More accurately, perhaps, Garrix is redefining what a DJ can accomplish. His ubiquitous presence at international music festivals, involvement in music production for other artists, and knack for social media (he has over 14 million followers on Instagram alone) has catapulted Garrix from famous musician to veritable one-man brand. While music and fashion often dovetail—think Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, and Lady Gaga—it doesn’t occur all that often with electronic artists. Cue Garrix, who became the face of Armani Exchange’s Fall 2017 campaign, making him one of the first successful DJ/producers to transition into modeling.

Despite a plum fashion gig, Garrix insists he’s far from glamorous behind the scenes. “In the end, I’m a computer nerd,” he admits. “I produce music and I play guitar.” Those who know this side of him are likely the people that still call him by his real name, Martijn Gerard Garritsen—family, friends and teachers who flock to Garrix’s gigs in his hometown of Amsterdam. Playing sold out shows where he grew up—and where he first witnessed DJs segue from childhood icons to close friends—is a particular treat for Garrix.

However, he feels most creative while he’s on the road. “I get so inspired by being on tour, meeting new people, seeing different cultures and amazing locations… I would go crazy if I couldn’t make music on the road,” he says. He’s particularly excited about playing in Asia: “Right now, I’m doing solo shows in India for 60,000 people.” But he’s most familiar with headlining festivals, playing in front of thousands upon thousands of exuberant fans. “I went to my first Coachella four years ago when I was 17, and remember walking around like, ‘Where the fuck am I?’” Garrix recalls. He used to attend festivals alone as a music lover, and still has trouble believing it when he sees his name on festival flyers. He often attends even when he’s not playing: “I just go as a visitor, and have the time of my life.”

Garrix’s love of electronic music and festival culture hasn’t diminished over the years; when he is playing, he’s doing it for fun, not fame. “I honestly don’t give a fuck about numbers,” Garrix remarks on his idea of success. “At Tomorrowland, I saw a couple get engaged while I played [“Pizza”], and for me that is one of the most [clear indicators that] ‘Okay, this one is a success.” Generally, playing witness to the emotional reactions fans have during his performances seems to be his favorite amongst a host of roles Garrix plays. “Some people cried because [“Pizza”] was the last song of Tomorrowland. For some people, it’s the best weekend of their lives,” he shares. “When my music triggers emotions in people, I don’t care about the numbers.”

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