Martin Garrix has come a long way since performing at the age of 11 as “DJ Marty” at local weddings and school parties, driven around by his father who helped him build his DJ booth.
Today, the chart-topping Dutch DJ/Producer tours the world, headlining at music festivals, while picking up prestigious awards and accolades along the way.
Martin, now 22, has collaborated with some of the top names in the music industry, launched his own record label and runs his own recording studios.
After a hectic weekend of sold-out performances to crowds of thousands in his home town of Amsterdam, he still found time and energy to speak about his role as an ‘International Friend’ of SOS Children’s Villages.
“I love kids. They are so pure, so loving, so friendly. They don’t judge, they are truly themselves,” says Martin. “Every kid in the entire world deserves a loving home, a family, someone to care about them, to care for them and guide them in the crazy world we live in.”
He first heard about SOS Children’s Villages through his parents. They are long-term supporters of the organisation, which works to prevent family breakdown and provides family-like, alternative care to children who can no longer live with their families.
“For me, my parents are the perfect example that a loving home is very important. They have always provided me with one and they would say ‘Martin, what we do for you, they (SOS) do this for kids all over the world’.”
Martin offers his support by making donations, attending fundraising events and raising awareness among his millions of followers around the world.
He also visits SOS Children’s Villages when he finds time during his busy touring schedules and promotes the organisation through his hugely popular social media channels.
“Donating money is one thing, but visiting and experiencing what they are doing with it is amazing.
I visited some of the Villages and have seen the work there myself.”
“I think that triggered me to become even more involved and to support even more. I saw with my own eyes how much joy those kids had. I met the SOS mothers who help raise the kids. You see all the amazing stuff that’s done to give them a loving home. It’s really heartwarming,” he says.
In the recently released book, LIFE = CRAZY, which documents Martin’s life through photos, a section entitled ‘Giving Back’ illustrates his support for SOS Children’s Villages and documents his visit to the Cape Town Children’s Village in South Africa, where he performed a DJ set.
“All the visits have been super special. But, for me, Cape Town was magical. I was DJing, and I could see how much joy music gives to people. I remember there was this one kid, he was in the back by himself. I think I played for around 45 minutes, and he was just dancing,” he says.
“Afterwards he came up to me and hugged me and said ‘thank you’. It was amazing. It’s so powerful what SOS Children’s Villages does and how powerful music is and the fact we could combine it was really special.”
Not all of the children in the Village knew who Martin was, but this was not important to him or them.
“What mattered is that someone came there and played them music. The whole trip was not for me, it was for them. I don’t care about Martin Garrix. I care about the kids there and every single person had a smile on their face. And that, to me, was the perfect day.”
Martin remains very close to his family, who often accompany him on his tours. He says the fact that he and his sister grew up with caring and supporting parents encouraged him to become involved with SOS Children’s Villages.
“For me, my family is everything. They have shaped me into the person I am. I want every single kid to feel that love, that happiness, to feel that you can chase your dreams, you can do anything possible as long as you have people who believe in you,” he says.
He also believes that his family and the support they give him are a big part of his success, especially since he was only 17 when his professional music career took off.
“It all started as a hobby. One day I had one more year left at school, and I told my parents I wanted to switch schools, because I really loved music and wanted to do it on a professional level. I said if it didn’t work out, I would go back and finish my high school.”
His parents allowed him to make the switch to a music production school. That same year he released his debut song ‘Animals’.
“For me, having that support, having their trust, made me want to succeed more with the music. ‘Animals’ changed my life. It was in the charts everywhere, and it was really crazy. Without the support of my family, my parents, my sister, it would never have happened.”
In the future, Martin plans to continue his support for SOS Children’s Villages and “build the relationship further, because the more kids we can help, the better”.
“For me, the most important aspect of what SOS Children’s Villages does is provide a loving home for kids. Every kid deserves a loving home and a family, and I fully stand behind this organization,” he says.