Martijn Garritsen, otherwise known by his stage name Martin Garrix, took the stage at the Coachella Valley Music Festival on two back-to-back Fridays (April 11 and April 18) to deliver an explosive set that was surely a highlight for many of the festival’s EDM (electronic dance music) fans.
The 17-year-old Dutch DJ’s hit song “Animals,” released last June, propelled him into the electronic music spotlight. The platinum-certified track is continuing to climb the Billboard Hot 100 (it hit a new peak of #21 on the chart this week).
Garrix became the youngest DJ ever to perform on the main stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami last month. TIME caught up with Garrix after his first Coachella performance – another career milestone – to discuss his experience at the festival, the success of “Animals” and upcoming singles.
TIME: How does Coachella compare to other festivals and venues you’ve played?
Garrix: What’s cool about Coachella is the diversity of crowd. You’ve got rock fans, you’ve got pop fans, you’ve got indie fans. For me, it was an unreal experience … It was about people having fun and playing a lot of new stuff, and I think that worked out well. I played a few unreleased tracks as well.
During your set, you played unreleased collaborations with Dillon Francis and Afrojack. What else do you have in the works?
There are so many new tracks coming up in 2014, which I’m really excited for. My next release is going to be “Tremor," together with Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. It’s going to be on Beatport on April 21. Then I got “Gold Sky” together with Sander Van Doorn and the guys from DVBBS. I ended my set with it. It’s getting released on June 2.
I might do an album later this year or next year, I got 10 new tracks in the works, including collaborations, solo stuff and remixes. I can’t wait until it all gets released.
Your track “Animals” was a huge hit. Can you describe the creative process behind producing it?
For me, it was just another track. I released like 20 other tracks before “Animals.” I just thought it was time for a new solo track. So I went into the studio and reopened an old project file, which I had started but never released, and I made this drop inspired by hip-hop. I wanted to bring something weird, something unique into the track, and that turned out to be the drop of “Animals.”
I started playing it live – I made the track to play at festivals, clubs and at own sets – and suddenly the radio started playing it, which was a big surprise for an instrumental track. Usually instrumental tracks don’t get that much love on the radio.
I’m just really thankful [for] the radio support, because with the radio you can reach out to a whole different kind of audience, which I wouldn’t reach myself.
When you start producing a new track, do you go in with a vision or is it a more experimental process?
It depends on how I feel. Sometimes I go in a very experimental direction, and I already know when I start it I can never release this under Martin Garrix as a single. But I make music, because I love to make music. I love to put my ideas into the computer and share them with my friends. Some of them get released under Martin Garrix. I also got some different aliases I’m working on. I’m not going to say which names, but I've got some other projects going on as well.
EDM has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, and some might say it’s becoming too popular and that the genre is suffering creatively because of it. Do you have a response for that?
I honestly don’t care because some people are going to hate on music if it’s getting popular. But it doesn’t change the track and if you don’t like it, then don’t listen to the music … I’m just doing my thing and a lot of people do actually like it and those are the people I make the music for and I play for the shows for.