Dutch-born DJ/producer Marlo Hoogstraten is known for 2 things that contribute to his strong branding in the dance music industry: “MaRLo” (his mid-name capitalisation) and the “MaRLo sound”. Unmistakable and addictive, MaRLo’s signature style comprises of “hands in the air” moments infused with high energy beats derived from trance, techno, tech-house influences.
Any hardcore trance fan will be able to recognise his music from a mile away ;)
This November, he will take his MaRLo-branded set to the 2016 installment of “It’s The Ship”, Asia’s largest festival cruise at sea. And thanks to our awesome friends from The Livescape Group, we managed to ring MaRLo up this morning real quick for a chat.
Here’s what went down:
Hi MaRLo! Thanks for taking time off your schedule to speak to us. Where are you right now and what are you currently up to?
Nice to speak to you! We’re actually moving house to Sydney next week so we’ve been crazy, crazy busy packing everything up. And..my whole life is in boxes at the moment.
A little birdie told us that you’re going to be a Dad soon. Congratulations! You must have had about a million and one emotions when you first found out..
Definitely, yeaaahh! I can’t believe it. I’m so excited about that. I’ve got a dog, and a cat, and 2 aquariums that I take care of. And I love taking care of that. But taking care of another human being? Your own child? It’s just amazing and I’m really excited to do that. I can’t wait to meet this little baby.
What can you tell us about that turning point moment in your life when you realised that you wanted to be a DJ/producer?
I was actually.. – there was an event in Holland called Trance Energy but it’s no longer around, I think it stopped in 2010 – I was at one of those events and I was actually working as a volunteer to help carry the DJs’ record bags and equipment. And so I got to meet a lot of those DJs back then, and when I saw the amount of people sort of all unified in one moment enjoying the same type of music, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it somehow. So I started to produce music and started my own events first and then performed at some, then I fell in love. It became an obsession and it’s all I wanna do – to make music.
The “MaRLo sound” is very distinguishable and it’s easy to tell straight up when a track is made by you. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I think I reached the point where I didn’t want to make music for other people anymore as much. When I first started out, I wanted to get a certain DJ to play my music or I want to keep a certain audience happy. But I’ve sort of let go of all of that and just made music that I really enjoyed making, that I would wanna hear if I was on the dance floor. And that’s going to be my unique sound because I’m not longer sticking to a strict formula.
Do you think that having a signature sound and that sort of familiarity (for your fans) often makes it a challenge for you to reinvent yourself?
Well, at the very core of it..because I’ve made it very clear from the start that I kinda do what I wanna do, the MaRLo sound is diverse. It’s a bit of a lot of things and whatever I feel like doing. My fans that are true fans understand that I may put out a really pretty vocal track, and then my next track is really hard and underground or dark. I really get a lot of joy out of it and I think my fans understand that now.
Your tracks have received a lot of support from the trance titans like Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten. Are you also working on putting out an artiste album?
At the moment I’m not working on an album but I am doing a lot of collaborations with other artistes. I’m doing a collaboration with Armin van Buuren himself as well as a bunch of other acts that I’m really excited about.
You’ve played in Asia, particularly Kuala Lumpur, many times in the past. What do you remember most about the response from your Asian fans?
Oh man, I’m not just saying this because I’m speaking to you but Asia is one of my favourite places in the world to play! I’ve played there a long time, and I think also because Asia is quite close to Australia, there’s a lot of common ground there – a lot of similar types of music to what I play at home. So the response in Malaysia especially has always been crazy. Malaysia and Singapore, those 2 territories, have just always been very lively and have great people. And I love coming there also for the food, and enjoy the culture! I actually have been visiting those territories even before I even started DJing. My mom used to take me to Asia a lot on travels when I was younger, mainly places in Malaysia but also South Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia.
So when you first came to Asia to DJ, did you expect that the response would be so crazy?
No! And that’s the honest truth – I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s one of those situations where you’re not sure what you’re walking into and then you get such a warm response. Everyone’s enthusiastic and jumping around like crazy.
From clubs to festivals, you often play in front of sizeable crowds. How do you come down and zen out from the surge of adrenaline after a high energy set?
If I had a really full-on weekend where I haven’t slept much and partied a lot, I’d try to take some time off to just relax and find my center again. Maybe walk through the city or go get a massage, and just sort of relax my brain because like you said, it is very intense. Not just the show itself but also like, rushing to the airport and moving countries. Sometimes you go to 5 countries in a weekend and it’s pretty crazy.
Do you ever get disoriented like, you’re not sure where you are or what time it is?
Oh, all the time! You wake up in a foreign hotel room and you sort of look around and go, “Where am I, again?”..it’s very odd. Or I’d look next to me and see if Janette (Jano) is there, and she’s not, and I’m like, “Oh I must be on tour. Where am I?” It happens like that a lot because I’m always in different places.
So what’s MaRLo like on a good day, like when you’re not working, you’re not tired, not disoriented, and not moving homes..
A perfect day for me is I wake up, I go and have breakfast with my wife and my dog at a local cafe just down the road. And then after breakfast and a strong coffee, I get into the studio and work all day. That’s what I love to do the most. It’s work, but I love making music. To me, the art of creation, of sitting down in front of a blank screen and at the end of it, I finish the song..it’s something very magical.
And this is going to be your first time playing on “It’s The Ship“, an Asian festival cruise. How are you preparing for that?
It’s my first time playing on a big boat party like that. I’ve done smaller boat parties in Miami and also Australia, but this is a really huge one. I’m really excited to be a part of it. I saw videos from last year and it looks crazy! As for what I’m doing to prepare for it, I mean..I’ve got lots of new tracks that I’m excited to play.
In your own words, tell your fans why they need to be on “It’s The Ship” this November.
All my fans have to go on “It’s The Ship” because it’s going to be absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to bring lots of music, lots of energy, and I know you guys all rock and party like crazy, and I can’t wait to be a part of it again.
Right. Thank you so much for speaking to us, MaRLo. And we’ll see you on the ship.
See you soon!
The 4D3N “It’s The Ship” festival cruise departs on the prestigious Royal Caribbean International cruiseliner, Mariner of the Seas, from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore on 4th November. It will then cross international waters on the straits of Malacca to the Pearl of the Orient, Penang, before returning to Singapore shores on 7th November.
Go here to book a cabin from as low as USD588 per person.