19 10 2016

THE MAKINGS OF A NUMBER ONE

The votes have been cast, the will of the people has been heard, and ladies and gentlemen, we have a new number one: Martin Garrix! He’s worked harder than ever this year, and it’s a well-deserved title for the 20-year old prodigy from the Amsterdam suburbs. We all know his monster hit ‘Animals’, we all know about his varied and explosive DJ sets – but what really made Martin into this year’s #1 DJ?

It’s a unique feat – becoming the world’s #1 DJ with a career really only spanning four years, and at only 20 years of age. But Martin, a self-declared ‘computer nerd’, didn’t get there just by looking good and knowing the right people. In fact, he’s never been one to rely on anything but hard work. When not on tour, he still spends up to 12 hours a day in the studio, churning out tracks like there’s no tomorrow. And even before he had his first tracks released, that work paid off: he got admitted to the Herman Brood Academie, a specialized music academy, before he’d even finished high school.

All of that was a different world compared to the one Martin is in now, however. His touring schedule involves mainstage upon mainstage, held together by intercontinental flights and lack of sleep. Still, in the year leading up to his #1 position, Martin has not been content just touring and releasing a few tracks – far from it, in fact. And perhaps that’s the reason why he won in the first place.

As it happens, Martin ended his engagement with Spinnin’ Records a while before ADE 2015, citing several differences of opinion as reasons. He went ‘underground’ for a little while, only to emerge stronger than ever. Soon, the announcement came that Garrix was setting up his own label, allowing him complete creative freedom as well as ownership over all his music. In March this year, STMPD records was born and along with it came an explosion of creativity from Garrix. Breaking away from the exclusive focus on ‘big room’ house and the typical EDM sound, Martin surprised crowds the world over with future bass (‘In the Name of Love’), melodic electro (‘Oops’) and a lot more unreleased variety. Yet all of his music remained recognizably ‘Martin’. It carries the mark of a true pop star: always recognizable, always catchy, but never limited by bland genre definitions.

What, then, are the makings of this year’s #1 DJ? A relentlessly creative mind, on the one hand, and a loyal and open-minded fanbase, on the other. As the man himself put it tonight: “It feels unreal to have won. I 100% did not expect it at all. I’ve had an amazing year, with awesome shows and amazing fans — I’m so thankful for their support.”

Martin never took to social media to ask for votes, and yet he came out on top. It only goes to show how well his new musical direction was received. As a fresh wind is starting to blow through all of dance music, as EDM and pop are merging further, there is only one way to remain at the top of the game: you have to build a self-made, diverse, and well-supported creative empire. And that’s exactly what Martin has done.

Congratulations, Martin Garrix, on your first place in DJ Mag’s 2016 Top 100 DJs poll!

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