Music has allowed Dutch deejay and producer, Maarten Hoogstraten, aka Bingo Players, the ability to travel the world over and some. With no signs of slowing down, Hoogstraten is coming in hot off the massive success of his Charlie Puth “Attention” remix, just releasing “Beat The Drum” on Hysteria Records in early August. The track is loaded with punchy vocals, bouncy bass, and all around groovy beats, making it an instant club sensation. After completing the 10-Year Anniversary Tour last year in honor of Maarten Hoogstraten’s late partner Paul Baümer who passed from cancer in 2013, Bingo Players’ kicked off the new year with an array of energetic hits including: “Bust This”, “No. 1 Disco” and “Tic Toc”, making “Beat The Drum” only an addition to his arsenal of already addictive club tracks.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s start this off with your home country of the Netherlands. What really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the land?
Maarten Hoogstraten: I live in the eastern side of the Netherlands, where it’s really quiet and peaceful. I don’t live on the western side where Amsterdam and all the big cities are. I grew up in a small city and I still live in a small city. What I like about the Netherlands, and especially this part, is that people are really down-to-earth. There’s not much pretentious stuff going on. People say directly what they want to say. They don’t try to be politically correct all the time.
That’s what I like about where I live. Everything is also slow paced. I think you can compare it to some small cities in the United States. I like that kind of vibe though, especially when I come back from a big tour seeing so many cities. It’s good to come back home, rewind for a bit and have a surrounding where everybody is just doing their own thing. I love relaxing at home.
For a first-time visitor, I have to say Amsterdam is the first big stop you have to make in the Netherlands. I think that’s our most famous city. There’s so much to do over there culture wise — great museums. Amsterdam is just a unique city. I don’t especially like it, it’s way too busy and crowded for me. I’ve also been there so many times. But, for a first-time visitor, yes of course it’s Amsterdam.
If you want to do something different, go to Zeeland. It’s a region in the southwest close to Belgium. It’s really nice there. Visitors will see how we build our deltas to keep the water out of the country. It’s really quiet over there too, and it has cool nature. There are beaches over there, as well. Those are the cool sights I would say.
SR: Yeah, I bet you need that kind of balance. That all sounds beautiful too. What was your first, real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
MH: Yes, the balance is exactly the thing. Like many other people, you get your music from your parents. I was really young, I think three/four years old, and one of my first memories is when my dad played “Purple Rain” by Prince. I just grew up in a family where there was a lot of music around. We would listen to music all the time. Then, when I was nine or 10 years old dance music was getting really big on the Dutch radio stations. That was really unique for Holland; there would be rave music on the radio during the day and on the charts.
I got in touch with it more by school friends who had mixtapes or CD’s with compilations of dance and house music on them. It immediately grasped me. I was already big into computer games then, so when I heard music that was made with computers I was so intrigued by it. I started to look into how it was made. I found out they used sound cards and all this stuff I couldn’t afford. So, a few years later when I got my first paper routes and money to buy things, I got my first sound card and started to make electronic music. That was really cool to me. As time progressed, the software and programs became better, but I still didn’t use synthesizers because those were just way too expensive. I had to do it all on the computer. When I was about 16 years old it was finally at a place where you could make professional music.
I then met Paul [Bäumer], the guy I started Bingo Players with, and he was also making music with sound cards. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple years ago. To continue, we started making demos, but nothing really happened with them, so he went away to Amsterdam for work. I had my school studies at the time too. A few years later, he came back and we started Bingo Players for real. We finally got signed, and had a string of big songs on the dance charts from there. We then got our first booking, but we had never played a live DJ set before, so we had to learn how to mix. We had the advantage though that the CDJ’s had just came out though. It just got bigger and bigger, and we traveled around the world from there. It was amazing, a dream come true.
SR: That’s fantastic. It’s amazing to see someone start at such an early age, not have it happen right away, but stick with it.
MH: Yes, it’s all about timing. My parents were also really pushing me to finish school first. I graduated college right as we got our first booking. If I hadn’t, my parents wouldn’t have let me go on the road.
SR: That sounds like my parents too. So, now to create music and traveling to promote it must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does traveling help you inspirationally at all?
MH: Making music in your home or basement, then going out to new cultures and playing them is crazy. Just making a song, going to play it for a crowd and watching them go crazy is one of the best parts about it. We can touch so many people across the world with something we made in a small studio. That’s something that, still to this day, really touches me. Especially now with the Internet, it’s wide open and you can get in touch with so many different people.
SR: Really great to hear. Now, your latest single “Beat The Drum” was just released in early August. What was your thought process behind that particular track? How has it been received since you’ve been able to play it live?
MH: I got the vocals from somebody else, and they couldn’t get the music around it right. So, I was like, “I’ll take a shot at it.” It had a cool message in the lyrics, “Don’t fight the night, just beat the drum.” Basically, it means if you go out just have a good time and don’t be aggressive. I have to say when I’m out, I don’t see too many fights. But, I just thought the song’s message was pretty positive. I made a song around it, tested it out a couple of times and it went really well, so I released it. It took quite a while to produce, but the feedback has been good.
SR: To bring it into your personal travels, I know you mentioned when you do have some downtime you like being home, but when you are looking to get away are you more of a beach guy? Up in the mountains somewhere? Or, in the center of a city?
MH: I’m definitely a beach guy, because I see so many cities when I travel. So, when I have downtime I take my family somewhere where it’s warm and sunny. In the Netherlands, it’s always raining and cloudy. It’s always cold, even in the summers. We are lucky if we get 20 days of real sun. Most of the time I take time off in January, because the bookings are slower, everyone has just had the holidays. There’s not much going on with clubs and festivals. I like to go to Curaçao or Aruba, which were Dutch colonies in the past, and are still ran by the Dutch government today. They have direct flights from Amsterdam. I like to take a week or two off in the beautiful sun and just relax. I’m not an active guy that goes hiking. My girlfriend is crazy about sun as well, so it’s good for us.
SR: I always love to ask well-traveled people if they have any destinations that they haven’t been to, but want to hit. Do you have two or three that you have to still see?
MH: I really want to go to the Maldives, but it’s so far away and you have to take water planes. It looks so beautiful. I always see those crystal-clear beaches and am amazed. I want to travel more in Japan. I’ve only been to Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo, but Japan is one of my recently discovered, beautiful countries. I love the people there and their culture. I want to visit some temples and stuff outside of the cities. There are some parts in the United States I haven’t been to. We’ve never gone to Wyoming or the Dakotas. I really want to go there to see the nature. I like the idea of being isolated there with no one around you. I’d love to do some rafting or camping outside there.
SR: One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding dance music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
MH: With dance music in general, if people go out, they’re really excited for the night, especially in the US. They also save a ton of money for the festivals. You can tell they’re waiting the whole year to come together. There’s a big bonding between people at these raves. I constantly hear stories about how they met their current wife or husband there. That part is amazing. In clubs, it’s a little bit less of that, because they’re more local and everybody knows each other. It’s a cool vibe to play for. In Asian countries, they are way different. It’s mostly VIP clubs and they come there to show off their money. It’s a different vibe. Overall though, the music really helps to bond people and bring positive vibes. I really like it, it’s a good crowd to play for. As I said, I don’t see that many fights, most of the time it’s all love at the festivals. That’s really cool and important to see. Everyone’s looking to help each other out.
SR: You’ve played at a whole bunch of venues around the world. Is there one that particularly stood out for its beauty?
MH: I really thought that playing EDC Las Vegas was cool. Playing in the desert was awesome. I also visited the Gorge [Amphitheatre] a little while ago. I did a festival there. It’s close to Seattle. That was some amazing, amazing scenery. The skies were purple. It was really nice and impressive to be there.
SR: When you are relaxing on the beach, or just have some downtime, are you listening to dance music? Or, are you switching up the tunes? If so, to what?
MH: When I have downtime, I try to switch up the music as much as possible, because I’m listening, producing and playing it so much. When I have time off, I try to clear my mind and not think too much about dance music. When I listen to it I start analyzing it and getting ideas, and I’m instantly back in work mode. I try to stay away from it until I really have to work again.
MH: Oh, I listen to a ton of 70’s and 80’s rock and pop music. I really love that. I love 90’s hip-hop, especially. I’m always making playlists for the beach, mostly breezy, relaxing music. I’m not going to listen to Metallica when I’m chilling at the beach.
SR: Lastly, what do the next couple of months look like for you?
MH: I have a party at Amsterdam Dance Event next week. It’s my own night. That’s going to be so exciting. I have a couple other shows during ADE too. After that, I’m up for a fall tour. I’m going to be releasing an EP in a couple of weeks from now. So, that tour will be around the EP. I’ll be in the US from mid-November until the end of the year. I’m really looking forward to that.