Martin Jensen is a renowned name in the music industry, needing no introduction. The Danish DJ and producer gained widespread recognition with his chart-topping hit ‘Solo Dance’ in 2016, propelling him to multi-platinum status and earning him numerous awards. Since then, Jensen’s career has been continuously progressing, consistently delivering high-quality EDM tracks and collaborating with esteemed artists like Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, and Jason Derulo. In an exclusive interview with GrooveNexus, Martin Jensen talks about his journey as a music professional.
His talent and expertise also led him to a prestigious role as a judge on X Factor Denmark, showcasing his comprehensive understanding of the music landscape. Martin Jensen’s musical prowess has undeniably positioned him as one of the top players in the industry, a reputation reinforced by his frequent appearances at major music festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra, and Lollapalooza.
Continuing to dominate the electronic music scene, Jensen’s feel-good and infectious productions have garnered billions of streams, solidifying his place as a true powerhouse. Now, he has teamed up with two other giants of the music world, Conor Maynard, and Sam Feldt, to deliver an unforgettable musical masterpiece, “UNWANTED.” With this collaboration, Martin Jensen once again proves why he remains a force to be reckoned with in the global music scene.
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Pooja Kashyap: How did your journey as a DJ and Record producer begin?
Martin Jensen: I started when I was 15, either in 2007 or 2008. I’m turning 32 this year, so I’ve been performing and playing for a good 17 years now. I’ve always been a DJ, and I’ve always loved music. Then, one day, I started considering whether I should continue doing this. I thought about producing my music and giving it my best shot to see if I could entertain people with the music, I would love to hear, instead of just playing everybody else’s music.”
I started when I was 15, in 2007 or 2008. I’m turning 32 this year. So, I’ve been performing and playing for 17 years, and I’ve always been a DJ and loved music. And then, one day, I thought I shouldn’t do this any longer. I should produce my music and try my best to see if I can entertain people with the music, I want to hear instead of just playing everybody else’s music.
Pooja Kashyap: I would love to know about the key moments that shaped your journey as a DJ or the challenges you faced along the way.
Martin Jensen: Martin Jensen: Ohh! Key moments. Oh, sh*t! That’s the first time I’m getting that tricky question. I would say every time I’ve failed (and I have failed many times), those have been the moments where I truly felt like a human being. Whatever you do in life, every time you fail, you learn; every time you have success, you forget. And the more times you fail, the better you’ll be. And trust me, I have failed a lot. I just think it’s very important to look back at those moments instead of reminiscing about, ‘Oh, that time when I played that massive show was so great,’ but you didn’t learn anything because everything was a success. The times when things didn’t go as planned, like when the player went out, the fire exploded back in my head, whatever it was, those are the moments you learn from and remember the best. So, the key moments are every time I failed, stood up again, and even got better at my job. That’s what truly matters.
Pooja Kashyap: So, with that, I would like to emphasize Solo Dance, which became a massive hit & received global recognition. Could you tell us about the creative process behind that?
Martin Jensen: We made the track while sitting in the studio and produced it. Then, the label I was signed to at the moment said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not there yet. We don’t like the drop, and it could be better. There are a lot of things to complain about.’ So, we worked on it for a good three months, but everyone was so excited about this record, and everybody just wanted it out.
Pooja Kashyap: That’s quite fascinating. How does it feel to have a track that resonates with so many people?
Martin Jensen: Like, that’s the thing again. I’m not thinking about ‘Solo Dance’ because that was a success, but I’m thinking about other tracks I released that didn’t succeed. And that’s just an issue with me; I tend to focus on the successes only now and then. But I must admit, while you are telling it now, it’s quite insane that the one track we made in a small studio in Denmark has garnered over 1 billion streams. It’s mind-boggling to think about.
Pooja Kashyap: Your music often incorporates samples from viral videos along with tropical house mixes. What drew you to this unique style and how do you approach incorporating these elements into your tracks?
Martin Jensen: So, I thought it was really funny to do this kind of stuff because otherwise, you’ll just be one of the other producers with a similar sound. You need to do something to stand out, and back in 2015 and 2016, turning memes into vines and incorporating them into tracks became a huge success for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but I’m seriously considering whether I should create another track where I take a meme and see if it could become something great again. It’s a different approach to making a song.
Pooja Kashyap: It’s quite unique. I have always been a fan of reality shows. From that, the question arises, what was it like being the first DJ judge at X Factor?
Martin Jensen: Oh sh*t! Yeah, that show. Yeah, I did that for two years. It was quite wild. The Danish X Factor is very different compared to any other in the world because, in the Danish X Factor, you’re allowed to do whatever you want. We don’t have any earpieces when we are live on air. Whatever we say, we are on our own, so there are no guidelines like ‘You cannot say this, please say this,’ or anything like that. So, when we enter the studio, we are all by ourselves. If we have a blackout, we cannot figure out what to say; there won’t be any help in our ears. It’s a very pure show in that sense.
But it is so much work, man. I’ve never learned so much so fast as I did on The X Factor because it was a pure headache. Going from having a fan base for the music I created to suddenly being judged by the whole country was overwhelming. X Factor in Denmark is the biggest TV program, with 5 million people in Denmark, and an average of 1.5 million people watching the show every Friday. It’s the biggest television program we have. Suddenly being judged by anyone and everyone and knowing that people who have no idea about my work I’ve produced can have opinions about me—it’s just super weird.
It’s been a blessing for what I’ve learned, but sometimes I wish I had spent my time solely on creating music instead of doing X Factor.
Pooja Kashyap: Over the years you have collaborated with various artists. So, how do you choose your collaborators and what do you enjoy the most while working with other musicians?
Martin Jensen: Absolutely! Collaborating with other artists can be an incredibly inspiring and enriching experience. It allows you to tap into different creative minds, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the table.
So, the coolest thing, as they say, about the latest track I just did with Sam Feldt and Conor Maynard is that you get to infuse their great creativity into the music you’re working on, but it also pushes you to improve your work. It’s not just you sitting alone in a studio during the dark nights, playing around, but r you are incorporating other successful artists’ creativity. This aspect of collaboration is truly inspiring and motivates me to improve my own work and create better songs. Perhaps, with enough dedication and effort, I might even have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the artists I listened to while growing up.
Being able to blend your creativity with theirs and witnessing the synergy it creates can be a powerful motivator to elevate your own songwriting and production skills. It opens doors to new possibilities and allows you to explore uncharted territories in music.
Pooja Kashyap: It intrigued me to ask you, how was your experience working with Sam & Conor?
Martin Jensen: So, the thing with “Unwanted” is that it’s an old track. Sam and I worked on it in 2019, but it was only recently released. So yes, it’s four years old. Initially, we couldn’t really figure it out, so we worked on it a little bit, then it sat in the bank for a very, very long time. Afterward, we revisited it and made some more changes, then went back to the bank again, and so on. It seemed like an endless cycle. But then, something unexpected happened. I’m not sure how, but somehow the track found its way to some managers, and Nina played it for Conor. He really enjoyed it and liked the track, so he agreed to sing on it. And just like that, after four years of work and perseverance, “Unwanted” finally came to life.
“We are blessed to have this out in public.”
Pooja Kashyap: Is there any Indian artist or DJ that you would love to collaborate with?
Martin Jensen: I wish I could name the top ten Indian artists right now, but I have no clue, except for the two girls who won the prize and collaborated with DJ Snake (Nooran Sisters). That was a super cool collaboration, but honestly, I don’t have any other Indian artists in mind at the moment.
Pooja Kashyap: You have performed at one of the biggest music festivals like Lollapalooza, Tomorrowland. So, could you tell us about that experience and what it meant for you as an artist?
Martin Jensen: To be honest, I enjoy playing at the smaller festivals where there’s a whole lot of energy. The thing is, at big festivals like Lollapalooza, Tomorrowland, and Medusa, it becomes a statement for an artist to perform there. You must play at these festivals to get opportunities to play at smaller ones. But I like the smaller, less-known festivals where you encounter a whole different energy. When performing at big festivals, there are high expectations for everything – the food, the drinks, the stage design, and everything else. Sometimes, it’s refreshing to be in a raw place where things just explode unexpectedly.
When I go to Tomorrowland and perform, I expect high energy and top-notch stage design, as it’s considered one of the world’s top festivals. However, when I’m at a festival where I have no idea what to expect, it’s a much better experience for me. I get pleasantly surprised by the crowd, the energy, and the overall vibe, which makes it even more special.
Pooja Kashyap: So, as an experienced club DJ, what are some valuable lessons you have learned while performing live & how do you create memorable experiences for them?
Martin Jensen: I ask the promoter at the club where I’m performing about the music scene there. Whether I play in the U.S., Asia, or Europe is completely different. The music scene varies everywhere, and I adapt my sets accordingly. If the promoter tells me they prefer mainstream music or mainstream EDM, I’ll play that without any worries. However, in one instance, I played my set thinking it was a club for mainstream music, but I quickly realized it was more inclined towards future rave, big room, Melbourne bounce, and a bit of trap. So, I had to change my approach.
Being a DJ for 17 years, one of the most significant things I’ve learned is the ability to adapt to the crowd’s preferences. I have a vast library of great tracks and music, which allows me to instantly switch between styles during my live performances. It’s essential to observe the crowd’s reaction to the songs I’m playing and not just focus on myself in a mirror.
Pooja Kashyap: You have also played at Sunny Beach. Do you have any fun stories from that time?
Martin Jensen: I have a lot of fun stories. In 2020, when everything was closed down worldwide, I created a show called ‘Me Myself Online.’ It was an online show, yes. We used the national stadium in Denmark, where soccer is played, and the stadium could accommodate around 45,000 people.
In less than two and a half months, I played at the same stadium twice, which nobody had ever done. It taught me that even in challenging times, there are opportunities to be found, and it’s essential to find positive ways to navigate through difficulties. You can turn adverse situations around and make the best out of them.
From that experience, I was inspired to create a brand-new show called ‘The Ordinary Mix,’ where I travel around Denmark and Scandinavia, doing one-hour DJ sessions and uploading them to YouTube. People can enjoy these sessions while working out at the gym, having a party, or simply sitting on the couch, watching a great stream, and listening to some fantastic music.
Pooja Kashyap: As far as the tour is concerned, when are you planning to visit India?
Martin Jensen: There have been so many plans to visit India; it’s insane. But I have no idea what happened every time we’ve been so close to getting there. I just think my agent has been, I don’t know what he has been doing, but going to India is definitely on the schedule, especially for events like Sunburn and everything else you have out there. I’ve been to Asia so many times, and I love it, but surprisingly, I’ve never been to India. I want to go there, tell everybody and I will come over.
We Love You as Well.
Pooja Kashyap: Who has been your biggest inspiration in music?
Martin Jensen: When I started back in the day, my big inspiration was definitely Martin Garrix. He was doing incredibly well and exploded overnight with ‘Animals.’ The transition from progressive house to pop was incredible and inspiring.
But then, when they performed in Denmark, I got invited to play as the support act for Chainsmokers. I think I was around 16, 17, or 18 years old at the time. Experiencing their show and interacting with the guys was amazing. They were so skilled at what they did, and that particular show was unique, with Matt on the drums, turning it into more of a live concert rather than just a DJ set. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that super energetic DJ performance.
Since then, Chainsmokers have been a major source of inspiration for me, and I’ve looked up to them a lot in my journey as a DJ.
Pooja Kashyap: Many Artists think to adopt a stage name, but you have continued with your real name. What was the reason behind this decision? What advantages or challenges come with your real name as an artist?
Martin Jensen: Martin Jensen is, I think, the second most common name in Denmark. So, it was a bit challenging at first, as people would hear the name “Martin Jensen” and associate it with their neighbor or someone working in a grocery shop. However, outside of Denmark, it’s a more Scandinavian name and resonates well with people.
I wanted my artist name to feel more connected and personal, like a stage name, but changing my full name would be odd because I love my name. So, I started my career using my real name, Martin Jensen. At one point, I considered coming up with a stage name, but then I realized that everything I had built up until that moment would be lost, and I’d have to start from scratch. So, I chose to stick with my real name and continue my career as Martin Jensen.
That’s a nice name, Martin.
Pooja Kashyap: What are some of your upcoming projects? Can you give us a glimpse?
Martin Jensen: I’m very excited about my new show, “The Ordinary Mix.” We put a lot of time and effort into creating it, and personally, I find it to be incredibly beautiful, without trying to brag. It’s just genuinely nice. In this show, we are showcasing some of the most stunning locations in Denmark. It’s a joy to be back creating content like this, where it’s live and available to watch beyond just the 60 minutes of the show. People can revisit it, and watch it repeatedly, which makes it even more special.
I’m looking forward to doing more of these shows and providing an experience that people can enjoy repeatedly.