Behind The Beat: Laidback Luke
Not all superheroes wear capes all the time. Sometimes they practice Kung Fu. Sometimes they produce music. Sometimes they DJ for thousands of people and actually wear a cape.
Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke started underground and evolved to his current more eclectic style and continues to have one of the most successful careers in dance music. From his Super You&Me shows where he and fellow DJs adorn superhero costumes along with their fans to his Vegas residency, Laidback Luke packs venues and is a truly inspirational figure for the industry.
He’s also the founder of Mixmash Records, a health fanatic, father, husband and avid vlogger. Only The Beat had the opportunity to catch up with Laidback Luke to hear a little bit about his career, where he’s headed and his overall outlook on the music industry.
Laidback Luke & Yves V – To The Beat (ft. Hawkboy)
Only The Beat: When did you both start DJing and producing? Where was your first official gig?
Laidback Luke: I started producing back in 1992, at the age of 15. I got my record deal in 1994 and got my first vinyl released in 1995. I started DJing in 1996 and my first official gig was in 1997, in Reading, a small town just outside London.
OTB: Do you have any mentors in the industry? If so, how have they helped your career?
LL: Yes, I do! My mentors are the guys from Chocolate Puma. They gave me my first record deal. I had Dobre from Chocolate Puma guiding me through my first days of producing up to the professional level.
OTB: If you had to pick another career…?
LL: I’d probably be a Kung Fu teacher. Actually, when DJing slows down I’m planning on opening my own Kung Fu school.
OTB: You are getting ready for an underground set at an intimate venue, Soundcheck, in D.C this week. Are you excited? How will this differ from a normal Laidback Luke set at a place like LIGHT Las Vegas where you are a resident?
LL: Oh in Vegas, it gets super commercial! I’m very excited for the underground set because I have roots in Techno. Plus my wife Gina Turner keeps me well connected with what’s going on in the underground. I promise there won’t be a top 40 hit in sight! I tend to get really abstract when I play Techno.
OTB: Anything new with Mixmash Records? Who do you see as an up and coming star?
LL: Always something new on Mixmash Records! The star of this year has been our youngest and newest addition Mark Villa. He’s only a teenager but already making humongous stuff.
OTB: What is your favorite track the you produced and one that you did not produce?
LL: One of my all-time favorites is a relatively unknown one. My remix for Buy Now – ‘Body Crash’. ‘Buy Now’ is actually Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso. Ones that I didn’t produce: Stardust – “Music Sounds Better With You“, Fedde Le Grand – “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit” and Sidney Samson – “Riverside”.
OTB: Who have you yet to collaborate with, but hope to in the future?
LL: Anyone that makes collaborating smooth and pleasant. I’m done dealing with artists that give me a super, hard time to make something work. No one in particular!
OTB: You are strong proponent of physical fitness and do Kung Fu and yoga. How difficult is it to stay healthy while on tour and working as a professional DJ?
LL: It’s not! It’s a blessing to be able to do so. You only need 45 minutes a day to be able to say you lead a fit life. The other 23 hours and 15 minutes you can be as lazy as you want and still feel great!
OTB: Is it harder to get discovered in the industry or maintain the status of being one of the top DJs/producers?
LL: Both are tough! Sometimes people think that all it takes is to breakthrough and then you’re fine. Maintaining takes the same amount of work! The work never stops, but I love it.
OTB: What advice do you have for an aspiring DJ that is trying to get a shot in the industry?
LL: One of the most overlooked things is that you need to realize at least 50% of your opportunities lay with people granting you those. You can’t do it on your own! So it’s good to reach out to people and build a network and to be kind to everyone you meet.
OTB: What is the top personal milestone in your career so far?
LL: One of my all-time big ones is doing an official remix for Daft Punk’s ‘Crescendolls’. My Dutch top 40 hit in 2003, my ‘Focus’ album of last year and mentoring Avicii and Afrojack in their early years.
OTB: Where do you see the dance music industry going in the next five years? New technology? Changes?
LL: Good question! I’m not seeing anything really. I’m usually really good at this. 2016 feels like a transitional year so I have no clue at the moment. One thing is for sure, streaming your record collection while DJing will takeover in the coming years.
OTB: Outside of Djing, what are your other interests or hobbies?
LL: Kung Fu and Tai Chi and video editing! Every week I upload a new VLOG about my life on the road. I shoot those and edit those myself and I have fallen in love with it.
OTB: What can we expect from you the rest of this year? Any new tracks or collaborations coming up?
LL: I have a track with Will Sparks and another one with Mike Hawkins on the way. Working hard on a new crossover type single as well with Bright Lights and Made In June. And a crazy uptempo Dutch track with Kura on Spinnin’!