25 years of dance music in the Netherlands: Bingo Players
Now in its 25th year, Amsterdam Dance Event continues to draw artists, professionals and fans from across the globe to celebrate the electronic dance music industry. To commemorate 25-years of dance music in the Netherlands and the ongoing relevance of the annual conference, DA turned to some of the nation’s finest musical assets to tell the unique story of Dutch dance music from the mouths of the artists that have kept in such high esteem. Kicking off the series this week is long serving duo and Hysteria Records founders Bingo Players.
Describe growing up in The Netherlands and when electronic music first became apparent to you – was it easily accessible?
Maarten Hoogstraten: Electronic dance music has been around in The Netherlands since the late 80’s, the phenomenon hit us after coming from the UK and the USA and it quickly became mainstream. The Dutch radio stations and the recording industry played a major role in the development of dance music in The Netherlands. National pop radio supported dance tracks pretty heavily and you could find the latest tracks very easily at your local record store. Mix compilations were also really hot at the time. One of the compilation series that really introduced us to dance music was “Turn Up The Bass” released back in 1989. When there were school dances towards the end of our elementary school days, we would all dance to these compilations. We remember having mix tapes recorded live from radio broadcasts or directly from the club when we were 12 years old (that’s over 20 years ago). It’s crazy to think about it. There was no YouTube, no Soundcloud, no internet. We had to hear music on the radio, find a track in a record store, buy a mix compilation or go to the club.
How have you seen dance music culture develop within The Netherlands within your own career and has it always been an easy / positive route of progression?
MH: Fast-forward from when we were in elementary school to when we started Bingo Players. There was a whole new sound coming out after all of the trance and club house records dominated the Dutch scene for years. It was approximately one year before Fedde Le Grand smashed the charts with “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit. Electro house had truly emerged and it was really inspirational and really exciting to us. The years after that, things evolved really quickly.
What is your fondest memory of experiencing electronic dance music within your national homeland and why?
MH: As a fan we had been to festivals and clubs since we were both teenagers, from techno events like Awakenings, to the early days of Mysterland and so on. As Bingo Players, it was great to play these big events later in life because we had always dreamed of being on those big stages. Once you’re on the other side, words cannot describe how you feel. Ten years ago YOU were in that crowd and because of that the connection with the crowd is easily made.
How have you seen the national authorities respond to the culture for electronic music / clubbing within the Netherlands and has it ever had the same love/hate relationship as we see in North America / certain European countries
MH: There was never really any hate. The Netherlands is a very tolerant country when it comes to these kinds of things. Of course, we have had organizations that consider everything involved with dance music to be something evil, but luckily the majority of The Netherlands think otherwise. We think that the open-minded attitude towards the club culture really helped grow clubs, festivals, DJs and producers over here in a really positive way.
What do you consider to have been the key differentiator between Dutch club culture and its European peers – was it as obvious as the history books would have us believe or was it more subtle to your mind?
MH: We think it’s the tolerant and embracing attitude The Netherlands had (and still has) towards the whole club culture. Also, growing up and listening to house/rave/edm or whatever you want to call it, since we were kids back in the early 90’s it gave us a head start on understanding dance culture.
Who do you consider to have been one of the most influential innovators where Dutch dance music is concerned and why?
MH: Ben Liebrand Introduced dance music to the nation in the early 80’s. He was a radio DJ who played all the hot disco and house tracks and mixed them together. The modern day equivalent to radio “mix shows” on Friday nights in the states. When it comes to bringing it into the Dutch clubs, Eddy De Clercq has to be mentioned, he is really the pioneer of Dutch dance music.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being an artist within the Dutch market / circuit and why?
MH: The most difficult part of being in the Dutch market is making yourself stand out from the other DJ/producers out there. If you randomly ask ten kids in Holland, at least six of them will say they are DJs or producers and they would most likely have great demo. There is a lot of talent so if you want to make it, you have to really push yourself to create music that stands a part from everyone else and even from your past work as an artist. If you listen to our records “Cry (Just a Little)”, “Rattle”, and “Buzzcut” they all sound very different from each other. This is the attitude that has helped so many Dutch DJs break out from their home country and become successful internationally.