The 113-degree sweltering desert heat didn’t seem to matter to the crowd Sunday night at EDC Las Vegas last weekend. The neon lights had just turned toward the DJ booth, the signature EDC owl engrained in Kinetic Field opened its flashing eyes, and Dutch Dj Maarten Hoogstraten of the Bingo Players stood at the helm of what seemed like the center of the world. I watched as he delivered a set that pulled people from all over Las Vegas Motor Speedway to his performance like a real-life magnet.
When you’re an international DJ headlining at North America’s largest stage, you really might be the master of the universe. Well, at least for an hour.
After a slew of performances at major festivals like Coachella and Tomorrowland, all while enduring the sudden passing of fellow group member Paul Bäumer to cancer in 2013, Hoogstraten’s tireless work ethic and renewed energy for his craft was evident in his electrifying EDC Las Vegas set. And now with a new club-ready song titled “Curiosity” that combines electro house music with a little bit of funk, it’s safe to say Hoogstraten deserves the vacation he’s about to take after a year and a half of non-stop work.
I was able to check in with Hoogstraten after his set at EDC, where I found him at his trailer taking group pictures with his team and grinning pretty damn hard. Clearly there was a lot to celebrate.
What was the best part about your EDC Las Vegas performance?
I think it was entering the stage and seeing the massive amounts of people. You can’t even see where the crowd ends. You get goose bumps when you hear the people scream. I can’t describe it, It’s something you have to experience. It’s the best feeling in the world, and tonight was one of the highlights of my life.
What inspired you to start your own record company, Hysteria Records?
We wanted to be in control of what music we release. Having your own label gives you a lot of freedom to decide for yourself what you want to release and when you want to release it, and not have to deal with record people who are like, “we want this this and this.” We have total control of our music and that’s the advantage.
What was it like having “Knock You Out” become your first No. 1 U.S. dance hit?
That was amazing. It was a track I did with Paul before he passed, and right after he passed the song was released. Having great feedback from the track was really good for us and when it went No. 1 on the dance charts, we were really happy with it. It’s cool people still sing along with it. That was the last finished song I did with Paul, which is why it was so special. And we made some more concepts, but I’m still working on them with retouching the tracks and giving them a new twist. There will be more coming out from what we’ve worked on, they won’t be full songs but you’ll hear them in the future.
What was your first experience with Playboy?
Friends of mine had it hidden under their bed. No one talked about it with their parents, but my friends would say, “Oh I have a Playboy.” And i was like, “Oh whoah, naked women.” That’s my first experience with Playboy. I think the magazine is way more than just a nude magazine though. It’s more about lifestyle and culture.
What inspired you to get into music?
My parents played music all day long. I remember growing up my dad had this big record player, and it was just a natural evolution for me growing up. When I was young my friends would go spend money on clubs and bars, and i would spend money on CD singles.
What artists growing up influenced your style?
The first memory I have of really listening to music was the Prince “Purple Rain” album. And then when I was older I started to get into compilations like from ‘90s music in the clubs. This new sound was house music and I’d never heard of it before, and it sounded so cool and I was curious as to how they made that sound. I found out they used computers and synthesizers, and when you’re 11-years-old you don’t know how to use that technology and don’t even have the money to buy it. But as I got older and the technology became more accessible, I got a computer and a small sampler and started to learn how to produce.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
[Laughs] Lost in translation. You know, something that annoys you.
Oh yeah. Definitely traveling. As a DJ traveling can be really annoying because other people on the flight can be late and hold things up. But I’m not really a person that gets annoyed really quickly, but If you’re tired and working while traveling you just want to get to the next destination.
What’s your favorite after-hours thing to do in Vegas?
I really just like just going back to the hotel and chilling. Vegas is so great but if you do it 10 times a year, you just want to go back and sleep. You don’t want to be hungover for the next day. In Vegas it’s so easy to forget time because it’s so much fun, but for me sometimes it’s like, “Oh shit I have to pack and leave" when I look at my watch.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Not really. I always like to chill out and listen to the previous DJ before my set, so I get to the venue early.
What’s one of the biggest misconceptions about being a DJ?
Oh that’s easy. That you’re just being treated as a king and flying private from there and there, playing some music, hang with all these girls and easy easy easy, just making big money. That’s not the case. It’s real hard work. Of course we can’t complain—it’s a great job. I’m super grateful, but there’s a big misconception with people thinking it’s just pressing play and that’s it. There’s so much more behind it, and sometimes it annoys me that people think it’s so simple. Like i said, we get to do our hobby and I’m super grateful and it’s what i love to do, but it’s not as easy as some people perceive it to be. DJs are also now producers, so you have to really be on top of everything all the time.
Missed EDC Las Vegas? Watch Playboy’s recap right here.
For more music and news from The Bingo Players. check out their official site.