The name Mart Hoogkamer said almost no one a few years ago. Now everyone is singing I am going to swim loudly. Within a short period of time, the 24-year-old from Leiden has grown into one of the most famous singers in the Netherlands. How did he manage that so quickly?By Danja Koeleman
“It may sound arrogant, but I always thought that the Netherlands would know me one day,” Hoogkamer said in an interview with de Volkskrant.
This year his dream has come true. I am going to swim has since been streamed 39 million times. Walk into any party bar and the song blares out of the speakers. But even outside the cafe you can hardly ignore Hoogkamer. He will be in the theater from Tuesday, will make his debut as a presenter at AVROTROS next week and can also be seen in I Want Your Song on SBS6.
It starts in 2016 when the then eighteen-year-old Hoogkamer participates in Holland’s Got Talent. He ends up in the final and comes in second, which earns him a contract with Sony Music. His first singles are released, including a duet with Willeke Alberti. Hoogkamer is now growing into a well-known name in the folk singer circuit, but a real monster hit is not forthcoming.
He attracts the attention of documentary maker Arjen Sinninghe Damsté. “I came across an audition at a talent show where he broke halfway through and continued singing with a lump in his throat,” says the director. “That the song made him so emotional was an indication to me of someone who understands the song of life, or at least someone who takes music very seriously.”
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Lange Frans co-wrote hit
In August 2020, the Hoogkamer hype is on the eve when his manager shares an online video of the singer. In the video, the performer on the beach, accompanied by karaoke music, sings a cover of the Elvis Presley hit Unchained Melody.
In no time, the video is viewed millions of times. Hoogkamer’s cover also stands out outside the Dutch borders. For example, positive reactions are given from Brazil and the United States, among others. As a follow-up to this success, a single version is being released. It ends up in first place in the iTunes Top 100.
At that time I am going to swim already written. Hoogkamer has planned a writing session at the beginning of 2020 together with some other artists, including Lange Frans. The singer is looking for a real party song, à la live by André Hazes. “I hear in the background I’m serious by André Hazes,” says Hoogkamer in de Volkskrant. “The refrigerator is open and I see a half-empty bottle of Bacardi Lemon from the night before. The producer makes a melody and I sing to him, ‘I’m going for a swim, in Bacardi Lemon.'”
The resident of Leiden smells a hit and writes the text in half an hour. Ultimately, the single will be released in the summer of 2021 and ends up in first place. The song also flies through the charts in Belgium. Hoogkamer’s agenda is filling up: everyone wants to book the singer.
He prefers to be at home
Success also has a bitter side. All the attention and appearances lead to overstrain. Hoogkamer gets double pneumonia and has to take a rest. “I feel all the time that people expect a lot from me, which is actually because of the success I have,” the singer says in conversation with New Revue. “Because I perform so well, others think I can perform even better.”
After the forced short break, Hoogkamer’s agenda is now overcrowded again. He will be in theaters with his tour until the end of this year. And from next week, the singer will also have his own television program. In it he tries to write an après-ski hit with well-known colleagues.
In his spare time he prefers to be at home. “That is perhaps the biggest change,” he says in de Volkskrant about his changed life. “Since I’ve been successful, I’d rather be home, all by myself. Stupid isn’t it?”
The artist is still struggling with his fame, he admits. “At the same time, losing that fame is my biggest fear. I can’t go back and I don’t want to go back. Now I want to become the biggest.”