Martin Garrix is arguably the break-out EDM star of 2014. The 17-year-old producer reached a new peak of number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week with bone-rattling club anthem “Animals”, which is a huge achievement under any circumstances but positively unheard of for an instrumental electro-house track.
I caught up with the Dutch DJ at Coachella, where he performed for the first time in the Sahara tent. Martin opened up about the unprecedented success of “Animals” (fun fact: it almost had a rap vocal), discussed his upcoming collaboration with Ed Sheeran and talked about his must-see acts at the Californian music festival. Read the interview after the jump.
How was your first set at Coachella?
It was insane. I was nervous for it because I played a lot of new stuff but the tent was packed and the crowd reactions were so good. Half way through my set I looked behind me and I saw Paul McCartney standing there, giving me a thumbs up and for me that was the highlight of the day.
Which song got the biggest reaction?
“Animals”. I have this specific orchestra intro edit of it and I played “Tremor”, which is my new track with Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, and that also a crazy reaction.
What do you put the success of “Animals” down to?
Maybe because it has two lines that you can easily get on to — you hear it one time and it sticks in your head. I don’t know what else. I think it’s also luck, having a great team working the track. I made the track with the intention to play it in my own sets and to play it in the clubs and get it played in the festivals like Coachella but never really with the intention to get it played on the radio or hit the mainstream charts. When that happened, I looked at my computer and said “holy shit, it’s happening!” It’s really exciting and insane to see how much one track can do for somebody’s career.
Was there ever going to be a vocal?
We were thinking about adding a vocal on it but then we hit number one in the UK charts without a vocal and then we were like “fuck it!” I only want vocals on an instrumental track if the vocal takes the track up to the next level. I don’t want a vocal on a track if the thought behind it is ‘we need a vocal so then it can cross over on radio’. For me it’s just important that the vocal adds something to the track. For “Animals” we got some toplines but I didn’t get the feeling it brought the track to a new level.
Who did the vocal you didn’t use?
We had some rappers on it because the drop is inspired by a hip-hop track. It has some hip-hop sounds in it.
What can you tell us about your Ed Sheeran collaboration?
That track is one of my first vocal tracks. I’m beyond excited for that one, I’m going to finish it with Ed in LA. I made the chord progress, I sent it his way then he wrote a topline and sent it to me. The first time I listened to it, I was like ‘holy shit!’ Ed is such a talented guy. He can do anything he wants. He can make hits in his sound and he can write toplines for electronic music and that’s the coolest thing. For me it was really a pleasure to work with him.
Do you look for unusual collaborations?
I like weird combinations. Out of weird combinations like that you get the most interesting tracks.
Are you working on an album?
I definitely want to do an album in the future. Right now I’ve got some projects which I can’t release as singles because they are too weird or too strange. I just put them on the side and when I decide it’s the right time to do an album, I can reopen those projects again.
Who were you excited to see at Coachella?
Pharrell, Ellie Goulding, I’m super excited for Skrillex. I wish I could see flume but I’m on at the same time. Of course, Zedd as well. Zedd is insane. I’ve seen him a couple of times live but every time he just crushes it. It’s like one big group of friends and you get to see everybody at all these places around the world.
How do you keep level headed?
It is super weird. I still don’t think I realize what’s happenning right now. For me it’s really important that I keep my friends close around me, my family. I fly my mom, dad and sister in next weekend for Coachella. As long as they are really involved in it, I can still live in the normal world as well. I’m just really thanksful and happy that I can do what I love to do and share my passion and love for music with other people.
Did you see Martin’s Coachella set? Let us know in the comments below.
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