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Interview: Martin Garrix on Road to Ultra and record labels

"I don't want to limit myself to a specific genre or think in boxes when it comes down to my music."

Few DJs during EDM’s recent boom period have risen as far and fast as Martin Garrix. His position at number three on last year’s DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list, behind fellow industry giants Hardwell and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, is only a surface description of his success. A music-maker since the tender age of eight, starting with the guitar, the 20-year-old was inspired by Tiësto’s performance at the opening ceremony at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Now, Garrix is headlining sets and festivals all over the world, from Tomorrowland to Ultra Miami, and is boss of his own record label, Stmpd Rcrds. With two EPs and one album released in the last 12 months, he’s a busy man, but we catch him before he arrives for his headline slot at 9pm...

Hi Martin! You’ve become a huge success in a short space of time. If you were given an award for your accomplishments thus far, who are the people you would thank?
I think it’s difficult to say what exactly made me become a successful DJ. It depends on so many different things. If I were given an award, I would thank my family, friends, Tiësto and the great team behind me for all their support and hard work. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I get my inspiration from so many different things. Tiësto’s show at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics is so unique and special to me because it sparked my interest in electronic music. If I’d never seen that set I probably would never have started producing myself and I’d be somewhere completely different!

We’ve got to ask about the labels. First, Spinnin’ Records. You signed with them when EDM was just starting to take hold again. How did you feel about that?
I was really young when I signed with Spinnin’ Records and the huge success of Animals hit me by surprise. I didn’t expect my life to turn like that at all. But it was a very welcome surprise to say the least!

And, of course, you are now with the label that you founded earlier this year, Stmpd Rcrds. Many artists have taken a similar step, so what’s been your motivation? Do you think it’s the same as other artists?
It allows me so much creative freedom. I can’t say why other big artists establish their own label and what their exact reasons are. I can only speak for myself. I didn’t start my label out of a business perspective, I did it because I wanted to create a platform where new musicians can have the chance to get into a studio, work with each other and get their music noticed by a large audience. How would you describe your current sound? It’s difficult because I like to experiment with different kinds of sounds. I don’t want to limit myself to a specific genre or think in boxes when it comes to my own music. I’ve started working more with singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Bebe Rexha and I love it! It’s nice to work with very talented people so you can inspire each other.

Who’s on your radar as far as collaborations?
I would love to work with Pharrell Williams. I think he’s a great artist and producer and he always manages to create something out of the box. Also, my artists from Stmpd Rcrds have a high priority. I want to work with artists from all kinds of genres and make some great music together!

What are you looking forward to during your first trip to Hong Kong?
Hopefully I’ll have some time to explore the city! I’m looking forward to seeing the crowd and playing some new music for them!

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