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Maarten Hoogstraten wasn’tlike other kids his age. When he was 10, his friends were buying toys to playwith, but Maarten was already spending his cash on vinyl and CDs.
“You know how it starts,” hesaid with a chuckle. “I was the one who bought records when I was young, Ibought lots of vinyl, seven-inches, twelve inches, and when CDs came about Ibought a lot of CDs, growing up, I spent all my money on music.”
The producer behind the hitEDM act, Bingo Players, got hooked on electronic music when he was a kid,listening to The Prodigy’s “Out of Space,” and wishing he could make the kindof tunes that were being played on Dutch radio. But, at the time, to make dancemusic, you needed physical equipment—synthesizers and drum machines—far out ofhis reach at his age.
When he was a teenager, twoevents would change his life. An early music software program called ProTrackerwas released, and he would meet Paul Baümer, who would become his musicalpartner for the better part of the next 15 years until he suddenly passed awayfrom cancer in 2013.
Maarten met Paul through hisyounger brother in Enschede, Holland, a two-hour drive from Amsterdam. One day,he went over to hang out with Paul’s younger brother, and found that Paul wasalso making music using ProTracker software. “It was only four channels and wasreally basic, but it was a start and really fun to do.”
“When we discovered we wereboth making similar sounding music with the same program we started spendingall our time together and became friends right away'” said Maarten.
Over the next decade theybegan recording; and in 2006 they began recording under the moniker, BingoPlayers. Their tracks started to resonate with the EDM crowds in America andabroad. Their songs— featuring buzzing, bouncing synthesizers, crunchy,guitar-like riffs reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers, and powerful, drivingbeats— are shaped by a memorable lyrical hook or a melody. 2009’s “Devotion”utilizes the catchy vocal hook, and sets it against a funky infectioussaxophone riff and syncopated backbeat.
“Most of the time we’d juststart with a melody. Then a song would just evolve,” said Maarten of theirsongwriting process. “We can connect with a song if the melody is strong eventhough it can still be bare bones. We need to sing along or whistle along or tohave an earworm, you know what I mean? Something that sticks in your head.”
Their breakout hit “Cry (Justa Little),” featured a re-recording of the hook from a 1988 Brenda Russellsong, “Piano in the Dark.” With the memorable lyric looping around an ebullientmelody, it became an instant crossover anthem.
“I was watching VH1 and I sawthis ‘Back to the 80s’ program where they played this Brenda Russell song and Ithought, ‘Hey, this particular part of the song sounds really cool, maybe wecould do something with it in our own style?'”
Though they didn’t start outas DJs, once the demand grew for them to play out live, they learned how to mixon CDJs. Soon, they became regulars on the EDM circuit, playing massivefestivals, like Electric Daily Carnival, Tomorrowland, and Coachella.
“I think we started to becomebetter producers once we started to DJ,” he said, noting that they would bringnew tunes on the road and play for a crowd to gauge their reaction.
In between playing festivalsand clubs around the world, the duo found the time to start their own label,Hysteria (a hat tip to Def Leppard, one of their favorite bands), releasingsingles from Carl Tricks (“Mad Dash”), MAKJ (“Springen”), and Henry Fong(“Jump”) as well as Bingo Players tunes.
In 2013, they scored one oftheir biggest coups. An updated version of their 2011 track, “Rattle,” titled,“Get Up” (Rattle),” with LA-based act, Far East Movement, rapping over abouncy, catchy beat, became a instant hit. When they first played the tune backin 2011, Maarten and Paul didn’t know if audiences liked it, but then, thesingle started to pick up steam around the world and slowly continued to grow.
It eventually charted in theTop Ten around the world including; Germany, Austria, France, and Australia(where it ended up going double Platinum), Gold in Canada, reaching the coveted#1 spot in the UK charts, and selling over 200,000 records in the U.S.,reaching #5 on the dance charts. The success of the single, and the quirky,humorous video featuring ducks squaring off against hoodlums (which now hasover 40 million views) helped propel Bingo Players high into the DJ Mag Top 100list last year.
But in June 2013, at theheight of their success, Paul suddenly fell ill. He was diagnosed with cancer.Everyone was shocked. Despite the prognosis, Paul remained optimistic.
In October, Paul took a turnfor the worse and he passed away in December 2013. There was an outpouring ofsupport from the EDM community with peers like Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Kaskade,Skrillex and Armin Van Buuren paying tribute on social media, at shows and inthe press.
Maarten was stunned and didn’tknow what to do. But Paul’s last wishes were for his best friend and hismusical partner to keep making music.
“He always said to me, ‘If youcan find solace and continue what we started, please do so. Please continue themusic. Carry on the Bingo Players flag,'” said Maarten.
He wasn’t sure if he couldcarry on. But, he said, “I took a holiday, took some time off to clear my headand think about things. I thought, “Yeah Paul’s right. I should continue, andcontinue the name and continue his legacy.”
After all, they have a library of finishedtracks and ideas they worked on together that have yet to be released andMaarten can continue his and Paul’s dream of making the music that they heardon the radio as kids. The scene might have gotten bigger, and the productionmight be made on something more sophisticated than ProTracker, but, saysMaarten, “The vibe is still the same. People want to have a good time, cometogether, and experience the music.” And Bingo Players live on.