The long-awaited debut album by AREA21, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, has been released. The album is a culmination of not only the 12 songs written, produced, and performed by acclaimed DJ/producer Martin Garrix and Producer/songwriter Maejor, who between them have worked with some of music’s biggest artists including Bono, G-Eazy, Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and Khalid, but also a global visual project in the form of a series of videos by award-winning animation studio Titmouse, Inc. (Dua Lipa, Run the Jewels) which took 9 months to complete, with work by 60 artists from 10 countries. This is also Garrix’s first album release as a co-creator of AREA21.
It was really important for us to have a full body of work because there’s so much stylistic range on the album. I feel like if we had the pressure to compress it into something smaller, it wouldn’t have worked. – Maejor
I’ve never released this many songs before at the same time, so I’m nervous about it. But that nervousness gets overshadowed by excitement, adrenaline, and passion. This project means so much to us both musically and conceptually. I’ve had some of the best moments of my life working on these songs and we can’t wait to finally share them with the world. – Martin Garrix
AREA21 has released a series of songs and videos detailing the interstellar adventures of Garrix and Maejor’s alien alter egos, M & M, over the past nine months, with a narrative that tackled some of life’s most pressing questions and turned them into music that is both thought-provoking and relatable. In fact, M & M were the ones who came up with the album’s title. “When the aliens first arrived on Earth, all of their favorite albums had the title ‘Greatest Hits,’” Maejor observes. They didn’t realize you had to have a lot of albums out before making a greatest hits album.” Greatest Hits Vol. 1 is a collection of the greatest hits of all time. It features previously released songs like “La La La,” “Lovin’ Every Minute,” “Own The Night,” and “Followers,” as well as six brand new songs, including the lead single and latest in the series of animated videos, “Time Machine.”
They consider going back in time to relive simple moments from their youth in ‘Time Machine,’ but ultimately realize that living in the moment is the most important thing. The video mirrors this sentiment with a wistful look back at alien travelers M & M’s early years as well as a recap of their journey so far here on earth and features the characters they’ve met along the way including a Marvel-style group shot at the end as the M & M spaceship takes off. In the next chapter, we’ll learn where they’re going. Keep an eye out for updates.
The story behind each track of the Greatest Hits Vol. 1 album.
Martin: The first song on the album is a song called ’21’, which is actually the last song we finished before we delivered the final album. It’s funny because the album deadline was Friday night at midnight and Thursday morning, we decided to change the tracklist and work on a new song because I came up with this guitar riff the night before.
Maejor: We had already selected the songs and this one just came in at the last second. For me, it was exciting because the energy of the song is so uplifting and gets you excited and energized right away. That’s exactly what we needed to start the album.
Martin: I’m really excited about how it turned out. I feel like it’s a great opener for the album. It sets the tone, the energy. It’s a fun and playful song and introduces that the aliens are here, and they are not going home.
La La La
Maejor: ‘La La La‘ is the first song that we released from the album. The song talks about how the aliens see us humans being so easily influenced by the opinions of our family, friends, and the outside world. Sometimes we have these ideas or things we want to do, but we don’t do it because of the opinions of others. This song is about saying “forget that I don’t wanna hear it, I’m doing it. This is me. Can’t you see that I’m different and I like to go my own way”. Just do whatever it is you really believe in and have fun with it.
Martin: Don’t doubt yourself, because in the end, it’S only your own mind that’S in between you and what you want to do. This song is about blocking out all the blah blah blah and being you, being your beautiful self, and owning it.
Maejor: We hope the song encourages people to be themselves, be completely unique, be free and don’t let someone’s thoughts about you affect you.
Martin: ‘Pogo‘ is a song about escaping from commitments, from headaches, and just living your life and being free. It’s all about breaking free from anything that’s holding you back. The song was a lot of fun to make. I remember I made the beat, the groove, and then Maejor and I were on tour, and we were just generally trying different grooves, different rhythms and came up with the idea for the ‘Pogo’ video where the alien is running away from his relationship on a pogo stick.
Maejor: This one is just crazy energy. It’s all about breaking free from anything that’s holding you back. The animation is one of my favorites. they did an amazing job, the animation team at Titmouse — it looks like a movie, the action. and the kind of movement they have is really groundbreaking from an animation standpoint. Shout out to Titmouse!
Martin: ‘No Angel‘ is basically a conversation the two aliens are having. because one alien is very wise. very smart. and relaxed. And then you have the other alien who is a little less smart and falls in love with a girl that is brainwashing him. We tried to shine a light on some situations that are happening in the real world but wanted to do it in a funny and playful way. We also have an idea that wo want to flip the concept the other way around.
Maejor: We’re working on the version that shines a light on the women’s perspective about this exact same situation. It will be called ‘No Saint’ and that will be the follow-up to ‘No Angel‘.
Lovin’ Every Minute
Martin: The initial idea for ‘Lovin’ Every Minute‘ was already over five years old. I remember Maejor playing me this whistle melody and the lyric hook he had on it. He sent me the stems, I did the production, made it a little bit more clubby and bouncy, and ended up playing it live once in Ibiza. Then when we were working on the album. we were listening to all these old ideas because the database we have of unreleased AREA21 music is crazy. This one song popped up and we decided to redo the lyrics and production a bit.
Maejor: The lyrics of this song bring a message of comfort from the aliens to humans. letting them know that everything is going to be okay. The world seems crazy, but if you can tap into that place of your mind where it’s peaceful and quiet. you can look around and realize that life is worth living. The song is a reminder to love every minute of your life, whether you’re with your family. going to school or playing a festival. Every minute of your life is important.
Maejor: If you could put a bucket list into a song. that would be ‘Mona Lisa‘. We thought of all the things — the wildest, craziest things — that one could experience “I want a Mona Lisa in my room, I want to picnic on the moon, I want to light up with Snoop, play myself in a cartoon.”
Martin: From a production level. we really wanted to have it sound playful as well cause the song is very playful lyrically. We really had a blast in the studio writing the second verse.
Maejor: One thing that ‘Mona Lisa‘ shows, that is also highlighted in the rest of the project and is exciting for us creatively. is that we don’t have to fit inside one genre or one structure musically because the aliens are from outer space. So. we can pull from any creative influence and ‘Mona Lisa’ is a mash-up of many worlds together which is exciting.
Own Tho Night
Maejor: That’s a moment, we feel it’s a big statement moment for our shows and everything we’re about. It’s such an impactful, powerful energy song. Big shout out to Todd Helder who is a young, talented, amazing producer.
Martin: He’s a wizard, it’s crazy. I remember Maejor and I loaded in the idea. did guitars on it and actually made the song with only two takes. I really like the animation of it, I like the message of it. Everywhere they go the aliens see people with a fake smile on their faces and they don’t understand what’s happening. Towards the end of the animation. you can see that through the music and the love it gives people, the fake smiles disappear. and people’s real emotions show up again. I think that’s a beautiful concept.
Maejor: ‘Own The Night‘ is also a great example Of how great music can last. We had recorded the song so long ago we had almost forgotten about it. but when we listened again it felt like something new like a marriage of the past with the future. In the video, the blue faces are a representation of what kind of experience you can have in Hollywood or entertainment. Everyone comes around if you’re making it or if you have something people want from you, they sometimes show you a certain face which makes it hard to distinguish who really cares about you. That video really did a good job of portraying that in a cool and funny way.
Martin: ‘Followers‘ is a song that was really fun to make. We wanted to write a song that basically is putting a mirror up to humans and asking them “what would you do if your social media followers were gone?”. Because nowadays everyone is so focused on the amount of likes, the amount of followers, what kind of pictures work well, how the algorithms work and what’s the best time to post, while social media initially was there to share real. genuine, fun moments. Lyrically Maejor did some crazy stuff. We wanted to make people think about what’s really important. Is your phone that important? And do you remember how great life was when you didn’t have your phone? In the animation, you see at one point that the aliens throw their phone away and then the world starts smiling at them and everything they encounter is just nature in her full glory.
Maejor. ‘Followers‘ is what you would do if you woke up and someone deleted all your followers. A lot of people would probably panic, myself included. I’m guilty of that. Especially during the pandemic, I’ve gotten so used to being on my phone all the time. So, it’s not that we’re against the phone or hates it, but hopefully, we can find some balance and not put so much into the electronic existence that we forget the existence that’s happening right here around us.
Martin: ‘Human‘ is actually one of the first songs we wrote six years ago.
Maejor: It’s about the questions the aliens have after crash landing on planet earth and being able to spend some time here. The main question on their mind is “Would you still love me if I was human?”
Martin: Upon their arrival on planet earth, the aliens don’t understand why there are borders between countries and why there are things such as racism and bullying. They don’t understand humans and why they treat each other like that.
Maejor: We thought it would be cool to be able to look through the aliens’ eyes to see how humans are treating each other, and how they would treat someone if they were to come from another planet. A lot of it Comes down to people being afraid of each other and having different ideas and beliefs. We wanted to make a song that hopefully makes people think of what it would look like from an outside perspective. Hopefully the aliens’ perspective of seeing humanity as one can help unite.
All I Need
Maejor: I love this song. it’s probably one of my favorites, if not my favorite song of the album. Every time I hear it. it sounds like so many worlds of music just all merged together. When Martin first showed me the melody that he came up with I immediately thought it was insane.
Martin: It was a lot of fun making the song. I have a video on my phone of us jamming on the guitar and piano. We wanted to do a song about friendship because you can go to the shittiest place. but if you’re with the right company you can make it great and that’s exactly what the song is about. Having your crew around you wherever you go makes you feel good because you’re a team and in the end, that’s all you need. I’m also excited because no one has heard this song yet. This is one of the songs on the album that’s just on the album. In my head, the song has already been there for six years. so it’s exciting to share this one.
Martin: ‘Time Machine‘ starts with the aliens wanting to have a time machine to relive certain memories from growing up. Halfway through the song, there is a change lyrically. Instead of looking back or looking forward to certain things, why don’t you focus on the here and now and what’s around you? Because one day this moment is going to be a memory. The song really triggers a lot of emotion in a beautiful way for
Maejor: We hope that ‘Time Machine‘ takes people to memories of those simple moments that make life beautiful. We wanted to capture that in the song. I’m grateful for the timelessness of the song, it feels very classic to me. and I think that Time Machine will be a song that will be around forever.
Martin: The first song of the album talks about the aliens arriving and saying “we ain’t going home” but towards the end of the album, they’ve had enough. They will come back at one point, but after twelve songs and their experiences on planet earth, they’re going home for a little bit to recharge. We had this idea to record a kid’s choir. The neighbor that I grew up with across the street is a schoolteacher, so she reached out to the music teacher from that school to get some kids who could sing.
We had a studio day at STMPD recording studios which was so much fun and so beautiful. The kids were so excited to be a part Of this and to just sing, they had so much passion for music.
The song to us really feels like a closing song. During our live shows, we want this to be the moment the UFO takes off.
Maejor: I just remember coming to Amsterdam and it was actually my birthday. Martin asked me what I wanted to do, and I was really excited to just work on the music, that was the best birthday gift I could have. So on my birthday we actually recorded all the kids, and it was such a gift to me because of the talent they have and how much life they brought to the song. It took the song to the next level.
At the beginning of the song. we say something very important which is that “even though we’re coming from different worlds, home is where we are together”. This song kind of says “we’re going home, but home could be wherever we meet.”
AREA21 videos storyline.
APRIL 9: La La La
The first video in the series, “La La La,” shows the alien travelers beaming up unhappy people into their spaceship for an impromptu intergalactic party, using music to unite and uplift their mood. The end of the video sees them accidentally crashing the spaceship on planet Earth where the real adventure begins. “La La La” speaks to the importance of being your true self, following your voice, and choosing your path from a place of dreaming and wonder, not fear, while the lyrics celebrate being different and blocking out the negativity.
MAY 21: Pogo
The video for “Pogo” picks up where “La La La” left off with the two alien travelers M & M having crashed landed on earth, standing on their recently crashed spaceship, and running from the law. Their escape includes a very unorthodox mode of transportation, a group of unlikely heroes and lands them in the perfect place to get away from it all — Vegas, baby.
JUNE 18: Mona Lisa
After their adventures in Vegas, the accompanying video for “Mona Lisa”, takes the viewer along on a trip with the aliens to the Louvre in Paris. Floating through outer space, we see them acting out their earthly bucket list, “A Mona Lisa in my room, wanna light it up with Snoop, wanna picnic on the moon, play myself in a cartoon, show the world we’re all the same, Hit the stage, with Bey and Jay, Get a star on the walk of fame, Yea one day they’ll know our name. ”
AUG 27: Lovin’ Every Minute
“With your energy and spirit, you can change someone’s mood just by how you treat them” noted AREA21. Meanwhile, the video looks at how M & M are loving every minute of their time here on Earth and hints at what’s ahead for the duo. The video details M & M’s journey so far — from their accidental crash in the Nevada desert. being chased by the ominous Lady T, to partying in Vegas and floating through the Louvre in Paris. There’s even a hint at what’s to come.
SEPT 17: Followers
Detailed in AREA21’s music and visuals, the alien characters M & M have been able to observe humans both from a distance and up close. With the song “Followers” they talk about the benefit of living life in real-time instead of becoming mesmerized by devices. In the accompanying music video, AREA21 highlight the pressures that can come from living your life through social media and encourage everyone to look up and enjoy the world around them.
OCT 15: Own The Night
In “Own The Night” the alien duo have found their way to Hollywood and are struck by the many masks that humans put on to conform to society’s norm. The track is incredibly catchy, but also carries a sense of social awareness, which is exactly what AREA21 are trying to transmit through their music.
NOV 12: ALBUM & Time Machine
“Time Machine,” the last in the series of animated videos accompanying the songs that makeup AREA21 ‘s debut album, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, is a wistful look back at alien travelers M & M’s early years, as well as recapping their journey so far here on earth, and features a few of the characters they’ve met along the way.