From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “EDM and anything not EDM.”
Best known for: “Real DJing.”
What’s the next new big track? “Anything by Mark Martins, but it's very underground, Dutch style and ravey!”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Mark Villa.”
Despite his new-found love for filming and video-editing (picking up skills learned from his graphic design background), Dutch superstar Laidback Luke hosted a series of Mixmash parties this year to push “the amazing talent we have on the label”. One of his own main DJ highlights was playing in EDM capital Las Vegas and he praises festivals like Tomorrowland. However, Luke says that Germany has the best clubs and parties. Apart from clubs like Bootshaus, he says, “the German festival scene was massive for me this year. I did my first time at Nature One festival in Germany, and that probably was my number one show of the year”.
Luke was also busy in the studio and released a brace of singles for his Mixmash label this year. Did he find it difficult to balance production with gigging? “I still very much enjoy making music and make music anywhere! Being settled into the touring life now, making music on the road is just a part of it. Truth be told: it has been hard with the added time I'm spending with video editing nowadays! But I'm not someone to take it easy,” he says.
That productivity looks set to continue into next year, and Luke promises that he will release a new album in 2017. “Having produced for almost 25 years now, making music is coming more natural to me than ever. I'm very excited to unleash even more music, present my musical adventures — and I'm just enjoying the ride still! It's incredible how many lives I've touched with my music. That's where the real magic is. It's not about fame, money, DJ rankings and flying private jets. It's about empowering people, bringing people together, giving them hope, dreams and amazing memories!”
What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“Going back to my 2008 sound and producing more club-orientated tracks like ‘Move To The Sound’ and ‘Fcukin' Beats’. My new love has been filming and editing, mainly for my VLOGs and that has been so much fun.”
Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
“Sadly no, especially by the artists who practice the craft. Isn’t it ironic that with this being DJ Mag, that the whole focus on the craft of DJing is all but gone? Not just in the EDM landscape, but in underground land as well. I was a fan of all these DJs in the mid-‘90s — Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills, Carl Cox — and it was thanks to them that I was inspired and got so technical. Now, I'm one of the more 'technically advanced DJs’ in the field, but that's just because the rest of the new school can't be bothered to properly practice!”
What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“We've seen the NXS2 gear coming for Pioneer this year and I'm so happy with it! It's so much faster and more intuitive.”
If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“I'd probably pick techno, since that's where a big part of my roots are.”
As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“I'm guessing around 50 euros — I'd have to still buy some drinks!”
What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“Well, I'm from Amsterdam, so what we do is inform people. We tell them what happens with drug use, tell people how to properly cope with it, hydrate, properly stay away from it. People need to realise the risks involved, but also realise that this music doesn't need stimulants!”
How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“In the early 90s, dance music was a melting pot of all styles and flavours. It was one big family. I still live by those ideals, and that's why my sets are so diverse. In the scene, I really welcome kids from all backgrounds to give it a try — women especially seem to think being a DJ or producer isn’t 'their thing’, but it can be for sure.”
WORDS: RICHARD BROPHY