Martin Garrix is a Happy Surprise: Exclusive Coachella Interview

Martin Garrix at Coachella 2014, photo credit Nicole Hanratty for

Martin Garrix sits down with Nicole Hanratty, in the Media tent at Coachella.  Saturday, April 12, 2014.  Photo credit Jake Gould
Martin Garrix sits down with Nicole Hanratty, in the Media tent at Coachella. Saturday, April 12, 2014. Photo credit Jake Gould

Sitting down to chat with the hottest new artist in EDM, Martin Garrix, can only be described as akin to having an out of body experience. His energy is compelling, his smile contagious. Rarely do I meet anyone his age–Martin Garrix is only 17 years old–that has as much drive, charisma and self confidence. While he seems superhuman, it’s really just his massive desire to succeed and dominate his craft that lies beneath his perceived super powers that come across from the moment he utters the word, “Hello.” The success of Martin Garrix is based on equal parts motivation and talent with perhaps a dash of the most beautiful face on the planet splashed on top. We chat everything from his future plans which include a song with Ed Sheeran to up and coming artists he likes as we sit backstage in the media tent at Coachella on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

Martin Garrix in the teen world is the “it” heartthrob at the moment and it’s easy to see why. On the purple velvet coach, his light blue eyes, chiseled chin and clean cut sporty relaxed look make him easy to adore. Even my Coachella weekend one intern, Jake Gould, couldn’t help but take a moment as we set up the interview to let Garrix know what a huge fan he and everyone at his high school is of Martin Garrix’s music. Impressively, Garrix leaned forward reached out his hand to shake Jake’s hand saying, “Thanks man, that means a lot.” The huge smile on his face made it clear exactly how Garrix has amassed such a fan base: he shows sincere appreciation for each and every fan. This goes beyond shaking hands too. Garrix tells me that after having such a great year last year he asked his record label to give (at the time) his next song away for free as a ‘thank you’ to his fans.

Coachella 2014 crowd at Martin Garrix set on weekend one
Coachella 2014 crowd at Martin Garrix set on weekend one

(Martin Garrix at Coachella. Friday, April 11, 2014. 8:45 Set Time in Sahara Tent)

Best known for his song “Animals,” (which Garrix estimates has sold world wide more than 5 million copies), it’s his humble personality that makes him flat irresistible. The way he commands his crowds at shows is not unlike how he lives his life, enthusiastically planned with faith in the power of music. Of the overflowing crowd at his Friday night show in the Sahara tent April 11, 2014, Garrix says, “It was like a dream come true.” His sets, he tells me, “consist of songs mostly I’ve made myself. New Martin Garrix tracks, old Martin Garrix tracks.” He says of the songs he chooses, “[they’re] unique or they give me a kind of feeling, ’cause they lift me up.”

As for who influences the discerning producer, “Personally wise,” Garrix tells me, “Tiësto is my biggest inspiration and influence because he’s so big and he’s such a humble guy still. He’s one of the nicest guys in the whole industry. And, for me, it’s important that even though what happens around you or how many people like your music that you stay who you are and stay humble to the people that support you from the beginning. Tiësto is a perfect example of one of those persons. Production wise I’ve got a lot of different inspirations, I love listening to different genres.” Amongst others, Garrix points to Dillon Francis saying, “Dillon Francis is an insane producer, you can really hear his own signature sound which is important to me.”

Jake Gould and Martin Garrix, interview at Coachella 2014
Jake Gould and Martin Garrix, interview at Coachella 2014

Coming out soon Martin Garrix tells me he has a track with Afrojack and another Martin Garrix single featuring Ed Sheeran titled “Rewind, Repeat It.” I share with him my excitement over all he has coming up and comment, “My feeling is you’re making a mark on the music industry. Not only are you creating a generation of music lovers and lighting up a certain type of music, but you are also creating a certain Martin Garrix brand. I know how I see you, I know how all the teenage girls see you [Garrix laughs], I would like to know how you would describe the Martin Garrix brand?” Garrix answers, “The music behind Martin Garrix is energetic. That’s the word to describe my music. I create music to create moments for people. To create happy moments to share. Yesterday, as I watched the crowd, I see people who don’t know each other jumping together like they’re a family. Not only my music but music in general unites people. That’s one of the coolest things about music. I’m really happy and thankful and blessed that I can do what I love to do and share my music with others and create happy moments for others. It’s kind of unreal and crazy to see what music can do to people.”

Garrix shares his passion for producing and working with different genres of music. He tells me, “I’ve got some aliases which I’m working on which nobody knows about. …I’m not gonna say the names but I’ve got a side project–a different electronic dance music project going on and I’m behind the scenes also a producer for big pop artists right now so there is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the background as well. What I want to do is create names–like everybody knows those names–and then suddenly we will reveal that’s Martin as well. That’s kind of my goal. That’s what I want to do, surprise people,” says the sheepishly smiling Garrix. The word surprise resonates as he says it and I comment, “I think you are a surprise. You’re young, your talented, you work hard.”

Martin Garrix at Coachella 2014, photo credit Nicole Hanratty for
Martin Garrix at Coachella 2014, photo credit Nicole Hanratty for

The support of his parents can’t go unmentioned as at the age of seventeen, he is not yet a legal adult. “It could not have been easy for them to just let go, let you change schools, support you and now have you out here living on tour.” Garrix nods as I speak showing my thoughts are hitting home so to speak. “I think my parents are the coolest and biggest support ever. They supported from day one. I’ve been producing music for six years, I’ve been DJing for also six seven years. The coolest thing they did was two and a half years ago, I went to regular school and Spinnin’ Records signed me and I was still nobody. I had like 1,000 – 2,000 twitter followers. But I got some recognition by a big house label and I just told them, ‘Mom Dad, I don’t want to go to school anymore. I love producing so much and I just want to pursue my dream by making my living out of producing music and DJing music. At that time it was super risky because I didn’t earn any money with music yet. I had to go one more year and finish my school and I could do whatever I want, I just didn’t feel it. I was producing music all the time. If I had a break at school for one hour I would go to my house with friends to produce music. My heart was with producing music and in the end I did the most–I’m happy I did it–I went to this other school [to visit] without my parents knowing it. I asked them, ‘Is there any possibility I could attend this school?'” The production music school told Garrix he would have to start on Monday (it was Friday) giving him only the weekend to convince his parents. “Like the worst nightmare of every parent,” Garrix recounts saying, “Mom Dad, can I please stop with school and go to this producing school?” After much discussion, Garrix parent’s supported his wishes. “Coolest thing ever, they let me go to the school,” says Garrix adding, “one year later I made Animals.” He proudly adds, “I’m flying my Mom Dad and sister in to check me out at Coachella second weekend. I flew my mom into Ultra. …I’m excited for them to see it. Yesterday was, for me, real life changing.”

I close by asking Martin Garrix my signature question. “If you had to choose one song title–it could be any song in the world–to describe your personality, which song title would you say best describes your personality?” Without even a pause or second thought, Garrix answers, “Pharrell, ‘Happy.'” His enormous smile as he says it is proof that this is the perfect choice for him. “You seem like you’re always happy,” I say with his contagious smile now spread across my own face. “Well of course,” Garrix replies. “We’re in fucking Coachella.” Yes, we are, Mr. Garrix, yes we are. From making music in his bedroom to Coachella, Martin Garrix is a happy surprise.

Martin Garrix has volunteered his time visiting the downtown Miami Youth Center giving free DJ lessons. Garrix has also personally donated money and raised 10K (Euro) doing a free show for The Red Cross to help provide clean water to children in Africa. You can donate to the Red Cross here:
British Red Cross UK
Red Cross US

Jay Hardway


Interview by Nicole Hanratty with Jake Gould
Posted April 21, 2014