Dutch electronic music star and newly-minted label boss Martin Garrix first broke out in 2013 with his club-banging Billboard Hot Dance Song No.1 hit “Animals.” Since, he’s released singles featuring Usher, Tiësto, Dillon Francis, and Afrojack, and has taken over festival mainstages across the globe.
Most recently he shared “In The Name of Love,” featuring Bebe Rexha, off his upcoming debut LP, due for release later this year. The track is already something of a hit, with more than 22 million times on Spotify. So what goes into crafting an earworm? Below, Garrix, who is playing the Billboard Hot 100 Festival at Jones Beach, NY. this weekend, dishes on his creative process and how to make a slam dunk single.
The 20-year-old says he finds muses everywhere. “When I come up with a melody in my head, it could be anywhere,” he says, “in the shower, on the plane, in bed—often when I’m on the go.” His first move? “I’ll record it on my phone with my own voice, humming.” Then, “When I get to the studio, I check which melodies work.”
“Lately, I love creating ideas on my acoustic guitar,” he says of how recent tracks have gotten their start. “I sit in my living room for hours trying different chords.” Once that’s settled he starts dissecting the tune. “I come up with a break, drop, and everything that the song needs to get better,” he explains. “Sometimes it can help to work with a vocalist.”
Speaking of singers, for Garrix’s latest, he tapped newcomer Rexha to man the mic. “She has that rough edge, but somehow also a very sweet voice,” he says of why he wanted to team-up.
The two talented stars met in Los Angeles to discuss ideas for a collaboration, but when it finally came time to cut the track, they worked in studios on opposite sides of the planet—Garrix in Amsterdam, Rexha in California. To keep up with each other, they relied on FaceTime to give feedback. “We were super honest with each other,” he says. “She tries some stuff…I have an idea in my head about how I think it should be… [eventually] we came to the point where we were both like, ‘Wow! That’s it!'”
Less is more
Dance music songs can often feel cluttered — sometimes even claustrophobic with high BPM counts and enormous builds and drops — but “In The Name of Love” doesn’t play to trends. Instead, its verses are backed by only sparse atmospherics. “Since the vocal and the melody are so strong, I didn’t think it needed more production,” he says simply. (Dare we say, we agree.)