Big room house DJ/producer Laidback Luke is a hot ticket wherever he plays. He not only produces like there is no tomorrow for labels like Size, Fool's Gold and his own Mixmash, spending every weekend DJing all over the world, he also takes time out to give his expertise back to budding music producers on his forum — a good place to get professional advice on making your tracks sound the best that they can.
When did you first get into music production?
“I first got into production in 1992. I discovered it was actually possible to make music with the help of a computer. We’re talking about 1992 here, so the PCs were nothing yet! I remember starting out just before the original Soundblaster cards came out. In 1996, a year after I got my record deal and had released my first vinyls, I started DJing. Basically because my girlfriend bought a set-up and decided it wasn’t for her. I started experimenting with it, as I originally wanted to optimize my productions for the DJs' needs. DJing became very addictive.”
You have a very large discography — how do you manage to be so prolific?
“I just love making music! And working hard. My success is not an overnight story. It’s been a long and slow rise. All due to hard work and dedication. I know if I stop that and feel comfortable, there’s many people that would love to take my place.”
How do you find the time to produce if you're so busy?
“There’s never ever time in my schedule. I’m very lucky if I can squeeze in two hours of studio [time] in a row. So I seize every minute I can to be able to make a little bit of music. My studio process therefore is like this: most of the day, say I’m travelling, I’ll have concepts and angles marinate in my mind. On how I want my track to sound. Presets, synths, compression, it all develops in my head. So then, when I get the precious time behind the laptop, I can just pour it all out of my brain and work super quick. I never go in without a concept anymore. There’s simply no time! To be very honest, most of my music I produce and finish in hotels and airplanes. Because there’s never time and deadlines don’t care if you are in your studio or not. So I do mastering on the road as well, and a big help are my Sol Republic Calvin Harris XCs headphones. Even in the studio, I produce on them!”
So you do a lot of your productions on headphones?
“Yeah, now you know I work on headphones the most, the important thing with that is to keep on referencing. Keep comparing your track with professional tracks that you know sound good everywhere. The way they sound on your headphones, that’s the way your track should sound on your headphones as well. In the majority of my production process, I produce in mono. I always say: ‘Mono is the truth’. As stereo can clutter your hearing or fool your hearing. I only put my track in stereo in the very last stages! Pretty much before I go into mastering. One big rule for me on headphones is this: whenever I want to turn the volume up, I turn it down a little instead. After about 40 minutes I reach silence, so I turn it up for real that time. This keeps the ears fresh and changing the volume will keep giving a good overview of how the track sounds.”
Does DJing help you in your productions?
“Yes, anything can be an influence. But what I mostly focus on are my DJ sets. I still try to make tracks that stand out amongst the biggest tracks I play in my set. All tracks I put out have been thoroughly tried and tested in my sets and every single one of them, I know work in front of a crowd! People underestimate that sometimes. In that sense I’m very lucky to have that many gigs to be able to tweak tracks according to how they work on my floors.”
What projects are you currently working on?
“There’s tons of stuff in the air right now. We’ve just come out of the big controversy that surrounds my very successful collab with Tujamo called S.A.X., which is fine, as I know a lot of people like it and play it out. So the hype is real! The next one up is putting out 'Rocking With The Best 2015', and in the meantime I’m doing a ton of collabs and demos. Can’t reveal too much, but I can tell you I’m as busy as ever in producing loads and loads of tracks, as I love it!”
Where will you be playing during 2015?
“I’m flirting with the idea of igniting the European club scene again. Because festivals killed the clubs in Europe. And you know what?! Clubs are such fun to play as well. It brings a different flavour! We do have the big festivals around the globe lined up again, where I’ll bring my Super You & Me concept, so I’m very lucky with that too.”