10 Questions with ... Laidback Luke
October 4, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) When did it all begin for you?
I started producing in 1992. I was 15 years old. I remember discovering that it was possible, and this was unique back then, that you could actually make music with the computer. Mind you, this was a time when the first Sound Blaster soundcards weren't even out. I remember my friend showing me how to make music on his Omega computer and I was blown away by it. I was like, I want to do that as well and I want to do that for the rest of my life.
2) Over the years you've done a lot of great remixes, a few that come to mind are: Benny Benassi "Cinema", Katy Perry "Last Friday Night", Madonna f/ Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. "Give Me All Your Luvin", Robin Thicke f/ T.I. & Pharrell "Blurred Lines." How long into it, did you go from producing music yourself, to doing remixes?
I remember the first major, big remix I did back in 1996 the guys from Chocolate Puma, who actually discovered me and gave me my first record deal; they got a remix assignment for Green Velvet. They said, "Hey guys, can we try and get this new kid on the remix duty as well?" So they remixed the track; their mix was side A. I remixed it as well and I was side B. I made a funky, techno remix of it, and all of a sudden all these big DJs started playing my side of the vinyl. I remember specifically calling Carl Cox hammering it out in every single show, beating me up, saying I was the man for the future, and basically it took off from there.
3) How far into your career does the name Laidback Luke come into play?
I think it was in 1993 where I was under the guidance of Gaston [Steenkist] from the duo, Chocolate Puma, he said we need to come up with a cooler artist name than you have now. I'll tell you my old artist name was Peanut Butter, which in Dutch means exactly what I am; I am half-cheese and half-peanut. So peanuts are like Asian people in The Netherlands, and cheese is like White people in The Netherlands. So that didn't go well ... LOL. So he said, try and do something with your real name. I was very much looking up to guys like Carl Cox and Todd Terry and I wanted a double-letter name. Heard Snoop Dogg rapping on the radio: "Rolling down the streets, smoking indo, sipping on Gin and Juice. Laid back..." And I was like, "That's it!" I need to grab that. So, yea from 1993, I have been Laidback Luke.
4) So now we move ahead to 2016; your current single "Madman" is with Kura on Spinnin'. Earlier this year you had a single out with Afrojack "Move To The Sound."
"Move To The Sound," yes. Actually I see this collaboration as a gift from Afrojack. I've known him for ages since he was a teenager. I remember us hanging out on a bus tour once, when he was kind of like a Laidback Luke groupie and he was haunting me for my phone number. At the end of the tour, I was like, "You know what, I'll give you my phone number but you can never call me and never try to disturb me!" So basically I guided him from being a young teenager, and you know, he's the big dude nowadays! And all of a sudden, he e-mailed me out of the blue, he said, "Would you like to jump on this sketch?" I listened to it and it wasn't your typical Afrojack Top 40 sound, and I was like, "Dude, this is amazing! We need to bring back this type of underground Dutch sound where people know us from." And the collaboration happened. I'm super-proud of it!
5) You had a song come out with Too Loud, "Funkin Beats"...
This is kind of like a new era for me. You have all these cats doing Bass House and a lot of people sounding the same. I actually wanted to bring back Electro House, with this track, because I feel it's time again. Same goes for the Dutch type of sound. Sometimes the sound crosses over and then it dies. Electro House died probably around 2008 when it went super-commercial. And I feel the time is right again to bring it back.
6) You also had "Front 2 The Back" with Mike Cervello...
Mike Cervello is part of the Barong Family which is Yellow Claw's family, and those guys are doing amazing stuff right now. Cervello and Sesgo basically grew up listening to the old Dutch sounds by me, Chuckie, Sidney Sampson, Afrojack ... and they are bringing it back in such a cool and underground way, and you know I love playing that type of stuff again. "Front 2 The Back" is definitely an example of that.
7) Your label is called Mixmash Records. How'd you come up with that name?
It's exactly how I play! It's always a mix and match, and a mash up of any type of any sound. Recently I had my show at Lights and I surprised myself by playing the original of Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'." It's that type of stuff that keeps it very exciting for me. Just like being open, and not being glued to one typical style and so my label should be that as well.
8) You signed a 15-year-old artist, Mark Villa...
Mark Villa, yeah! You know I am super-jealous of him because I couldn't produce like that when I was 15 years old. I swear the kid is a genius and he's just super-talented. So lucky to have him onboard. Actually the track we put out is called "Venture;" it reminds me a lot of when I heard "Levels" for the first time by Avicii. He's definitely a kid to keep an eye on.
9) Towards the end of last year/earlier this year you put out an album, 'Focus' - which, if you stare at the album cover, you can lose focus! What made you come up with that image for the album cover?
It's kind of funny. I saw a hate post on Instagram where Ariana Grande fans blamed me of being too inspired by her. But, it's such a coincidence. Like even the artwork and everything looks alike. Even the name of the single, and I swear I am not busy with Ariana Grande or anything in the Pop industry ... and actually we were first in designing our artwork. Then two months later, we found out that Ariana is coming out with a single called, "Focus" and similar type of artwork. It was a funny coincidence; something that must've been in the air. The album, I actually made it relatively quickly. Like in a month. I just made 30 tracks in thirty days! And it's something I'm really proud of, actually.
10) Maybe do a Twitter battle and put the two covers up and ask fans which one they like more, or you can surprise her fans and do a mix to make them be quiet.
I'll tell you what, I had that battle and I was swarmed with millions of Ariana Grande fans hating on me and cussing. Mind you, these are like 12-year-old girls telling me, "You're an old man, you aren't as famous as Ariana Grande." I've never blocked so many people in my life! Most fans, within seven or eight years, when they're old enough to go out to the clubs, I will see you there and we'll have a great time together!
Something that your fans might know, but maybe not the radio industry people ... you practice kung-fu. I would think that someone like Sidney Sampson or Afrojack, guys who are like 6'5" would be into kung-fu, but you don't look like someone who is a master of it. Perhaps it's my perception and you went to China with the Kung Fu Holland team in 2013?
That's always a tricky one with people who do martial arts. You can't really tell if they're lethal or not. I've been doing kung-fu for 16 years. We have 53 weapons in our system ranging from spares to swords to whips to everything. If you would give me like a table knife, I could show you some Hong Kong street on there. That's all fun stuff. So yes, I do come out for the National team to compete. In 2013 I went to the World Championships in Hong Kong. Won four Gold medals and one Silver medal! It was a huge event, 10,000 people, most of them Chinese competing there. So yes, one big thing in my life that I'd like to do after DJ-ing is opening my own kung-fu school and spread the word of kung-fu.
What's harder -- DJing for 50,000 people at a festival or competing in a kung-fu tournament?
I would say participating in festivals. I've done it for such a long time, and I play on such a regular basis that I'm never ever nervous any more. So competing is super stressful for me. I mean, I got it under control, but it's tough!
If you could give one piece of advice an up-and-coming DJ, producer, remixer, what would it be?
Never ever give up on your dream! You are in charge of your own life. The moment you say no to your own life, it's over. If you keep on having the hop, the chances are always there.
What do you do to relax?
Actually every morning I've been getting more and more into meditation. And I really like feeling connected to the bigger sense of reality right now.
We're back home driving in The Netherlands, what are your fans going to be surprised to hear you listening to?
Eighties Indie Pop! I love Electro Indie Pop, anything by Emperor Of The Sun, MGMT, as well as Phoenix. That kind of stuff I like listening to. I'm into that.