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July 6 2017

Martin Garrix talks Ibiza residencies, his recent hit with Troye Sivan, and his mentor Tiësto

The Independent spoke with Martin Garrix. Read the full interview below.

“Spanish is a sexy language. Dutch sounds like you’re choking.”

Martin Garrix, 21, one of the biggest DJ’s in the world right now, is making gargling sounds at me. He’s attempting to explain why he probably wouldn’t sing on one of his own tracks.

“I have a very strong accent,” he says. “So I write a s*** load of music but I’ll get someone else to sing it.”

Effusively charming, funny and, at least for the duration of the interview, full of beans: impressive, considering he landed in the UK at 3am. As you’d expect from the (relatively) new kid on the block, he’s very happy to be here.

Still on a high from the reception to his latest single ‘There For You’ which saw him collaborate with Australian singer Troye Sivan, he’s in London for a BST festival show where he’ll open for one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Justin Bieber.

His first show in Ibiza took place five years ago, which must seem like a lifetime considering everything that’s happened – that he’s made happen – since.

“There were maybe 10 people at the party I was playing at,” he recalls. “But the important thing was that I got to travel for doing what I love. I brought my mum with me. It was so special, so amazing.”

One year after that and he had his first Ibiza residency. Fast-forward to 2017 and Garrix has two – one at Ushuaïa, where his friend David Guetta plays, and another at Hï, held at one of the iconic music venues in the world.

“Ibiza’s the party island!” Garrix exclaims. “And also for electronic music in particular, it has such a history. It’s crazy. So just being there was very magical. Every time I go back, it’s like being a completely different world.”

Garrix has had some of the biggest names in music hammering on his door in hope that he might say yes to a collaboration. And while he is clearly flattered, he seems to enjoy the challenge of working with new talent just as much.

“If you do a song with a No.1 pop star, of course you know it’s gonna be a hit,” he says. “And I want the challenge. There will be songs I do with massive features, of course, but I love working with people like Troye, Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha….”

It was the 2004 Olympics that changed Garrix’s life. Watching Tiësto at the opening ceremony in Athens, he saw how the DJ, who is also from Holland, performed a triumphant set that saw some tracks build for up to eight minutes at a time.

“I just remember the sound, it triggered something in me, like what the f*** is this?” he says. “The synths, the chorus, the whole vibe. To feel that progression. I played Spanish guitar for about eight or nine years, Flamenco, but after that I knew I wanted to make electronic music.”

As a DJ you have to be able to read people, and Garrix understands that there’s a responsibility that comes with a residency in Ibiza – where it’s an honour to be given one of the highly-competitive spots, let alone two.

“At Ushuaïa I’m doing two hours so it’ll be very energetic, 95 per cent will be my own produced music,” he explains. “But at Hï because it’s also a club show, I’ll bring it down, I’m playing longer there.

“I love shows in general, but for my festival sets… I play like one and a half hour, two hours,” he says, referring to his BST set which is due to start in around two hours. “I released my first song under Martin Garrix when I was 15, so I can play a whole set which just my own s***, people who go to the festival to see me, they know I’m gonna play my stuff.

“I love to test out new material also. With the residency it happens every week so I can test it out, take it back home, polish it and try it again. Every week the crowd is different.”

He goes into raptures about Calvin Harris’ new album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, which features a veritable smörgåsbord of guest appearances including Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Lil Yachty, Kehlani, Jessie Reyez, Frank Ocean and Katy Perry.

Harris also made a point of stating how many instruments he plays on the record, perhaps spurred by a need to debunk misconceptions around DJs, that their job consists of spinning a couple of dials on a deck.

“I played in the bridge of the Troye Sivan song, I recorded that myself on the guitar,” Garrix says. “But a lot of people think, ‘oh it’s made with a computer, this is not real music’,” he mimics, somehow managing to make his derision sound good-humoured. “Even though all the artists they love, all that gets put through a computer and still sounds good afterwards.”

He jokes that he was jealous to see Harris had snagged rising US artist Khalid to appear on his single ‘Rollin’’: “He has such a calm in his music. Whenever you listen to it, it puts you in a zone.” He pauses. “He’s 19 or something right?” He laughs, shaking his head in admiration. “F***ing crazy.”

His idols, the DJs he looks up to, are ones who have managed to carve out their own distinguishable sound in an age when anyone can put out a sub-par track with their laptop.

“So what you have is that a lot of s*** sounds the same. People like Flume, they inspire me, they have such a unique sound, and that’s what I’m trying to do, I want people to be able to say ‘This is Martin Garrix’ when one of my tracks plays.

“Calvin Harris’ new album is like a completely different genre. That inspires me. You don’t give a f*** about what anyone else thinks, you just do what you wanna do, that’s the most important thing.”

Also contrary to what sceptics might expect, Garrix prefers to get people in the studio to make sure there’s a connection with an artist before putting out a new track, or at least to have met them before.

“For me, what I love to do is vibe with people,” he says. “Bebe, Dua, Troye, there was a connection with all of them.

“Me and Troye were in the studio, we had the rough idea for a song and we ended up, two days later, premiering it at Coachella! He didn’t even play on going to the festival,” he laughs. “I can’t work with someone if I don’t connect with them.”

Source: The Independent

Martin Garrix