Laidback Luke

The leader of the loudness war

Luke was just a teenager when he began producing music, taking the ‘Laidback’ tag from Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin & Juice’. The word laidback is something you wouldn’t normally associate with Luke. After being born on the other side of the world, this superhero dance star landed in Holland where an education of hip hop and graffiti set him on this global yellow brick road. He fills clubs and festivals wherever he plays, is best mates with Guetta, has over 500 remixes under his belt, is currently smashing the charts with Example and is about to bring us his new collaboration with Sander Van Doorn. Dan Prince gets close and personal with a true superstar who has no qualms in revealing a love of Maroon 5, Subway sandwiches and Jamie Oliver….

Welcome Luke to the DMC World – congratulations on a fabulous career already young man. You were born in Manila in The Philppines but moved to Amsterdam soon after – what’s the story there?

“DMC thanks for having me guys – and thanks for your support! My mother is from the Philippines and met my dad there. My dad is Dutch and he was there doing voluntary work. For some strange reason, I’m not putting a picture to it, my mom got pregnant and they moved back to the Netherlands.” 

Once in The Netherlands you got into graffiti and hip hop quite quickly – what musicians were you into back then?

“My first talent in life is drawing so by the time I hit puberty it switched from wanting to make comic books to graffiti. I’ve always loved the party vibe of old skool hip hop – the kind where you would just want to jump and feel like you could take on the world. A couple of my favourites were Cypress Hill, Fu Schnickens and Onyx. Later on the Dr Dre the Chronic album really blew me away.”  

What was your graffiti tag?

“I had a couple but the one that lasted the longest was ‘ZYBR’. I was mainly known as the puppetmaster as I came from drawing a lot of comics.” 

How important was Dobre to you in the early days for you – what did he teach you?

“He was very important to me. I consider him as my grandmaster of producing. He heard my talent and guided me in the right directions. He always gave me tonnes of producer tips. One of the most valuable lessons he gave me was to be humble and remain humble. As I bumped into a lot of big egos trying to demo my producer talent, he was the one and one of the most successful ones, that treated me like another human being. That really made an impact on me and that’s the way I try to treat new talent myself now too.” 

What was that feeling like when you discovered technology that enabled you to make music and clean out your head of all the beats and melodies?!

“It was like – I have finally found my calling in life! It hit me hard when I discovered that, that I would want to make computer music for the rest of my life. I really knew this was what I was meant to do.” 

A big tune at the moment blaring out on every radio station, how did that hook up happen with Example for your ‘Natural Disaster’ smash?

“The Ministry of Sound and I have been in touch for such a long time and they found the time was right for us to collaborate and make a smash. They had an idea for a track and they came and sat down in my studio for an afternoon to get it just right. Although I thought a girl singer would sound great on there, they came with Example for it. I thought why not as he’s the boy obviously. Hearing back the result of the vocal on my track absolutely blew me away. So happy it came out the way it did, I’m really proud of it!“

A new tune coming up with Sander Van Doorn – tell us about that track?…

“This was another afternoon studio session with someone that a lot of people say we look alike. Throughout the years we’ve been confronted on all the social media by this and we’ve always kept in touch because of it – ha ha. The track is called ‘Who’s Wearing The Cap’ which is basically referring to me. As I always wear a cap when not DJing. That would be the best way to tell us apart!” 

What has been your tune of 2011?

“Without a doubt Avicii – ‘Levels’. It didn’t really come out in the beginning of the year but somehow it spread like a virus throughout the internet. I swear all the younger generation was bugging me to play it during the summer. I decided to give it a go and the impact was stunning. Whenever I’ll think back of summer 2011, I’ll think back of ‘Levels’.

What are the big 10 tunes you are spinning right now?

1. Arty – Around The World
2. Sidney Samson Ft. Lil Jon – Mutate (Rock The Houze Remix)
3. Tiesto & Mark Knight feat Dino – Beautiful World (Laidback Luke Remix)
4. Funkin Matt – Tazer
5. Pitbull feat. Marc Anthony – Rain On Me (Laidback Luke Remix)
6. Nero – Are You Ready (Hatiras Bootleg)
7. Nouveau Yorican – Nueva
8. Bingo Players – Rattle (Original Mix)
9. Switch & Andrea Martin – I Still Love You 
10. Patrick La Funk feat. Grace Regine – Time And Time Again (Laidback Luke Edit) 

What do you think your qualities are as a producer that sets you apart from your colleagues?

“I’m one of the leaders of the loudness war. Still up to this day I’m pushing the outer boundaries of Odb and what’s sonically possible to get a loud, crisp and dynamic sound. Don’t blame me though, the Swedish House Mafia got me hooked on it! I literally can’t take it if a track sounds louder then mine lol, it’s an addiction! Other than that, I always try and look what’s going to be the future sound, always trying out something new. I like being adventurous and not sticking to one particular sound.” 

How was Ibiza this year – there have been a few suggestions that Ibiza this year was a little ‘polished’ a little ‘commercial’ – what are your thoughts on that?

“Commercial, yes. Although I guess Ibiza would, and has been, the place for a lot of underground music, the times have changed. Especially in my corner of the music world it’s more commercial then your typical Ibiza after party type music. I like being commercial too, to me it brings the fun back into the music. Not trying to just be cool, I feel the best times are when you have a lot of stupid fun with your friends. And that’s exactly what I tried to bring with my ‘Super You&Me’ nights with ‘Cream’ at Amnesia in Ibiza this season. I was really stunned by the success we had with it too. Cream has supported me heavily this year and it certainly paid off! Thanks to everyone for their support, you’ve made this year unbelievable.”

Where are your favourite places to hang out on the island?

“I love the Terrace at Amnesia obviously, and it’s always great to come and play the pre party at Mambo’s or Savannah. I do go on holiday to Ibiza myself too though and always try and discover the quieter side of the island. Loving the secluded beaches and little towns there too.”

It’s obvious that music takes up 100% of your life – but how do you chill out – is kung fu an escape?

“Kung fu is an amazing way to keep healthy, both mentally as physically. This DJ lifestyle can take a toll on you and sometimes you can feel like you’re being lived, instead of actually living. I like having control over my life and Kung Fu lets me grow as a human being.”

What is your guilty pleasures song?

“Anything by Maroon 5, yes I am a fan…(blushes)…” 

A great discography under your belt already. What do you think is the greatest remix you have brought us so far and how do you feel when sitting down and taking apart someone else’s work?

“That’s such a hard question! I think in my 20 years as a producer I have done about 500 remixes or more. I always say the best is yet to come though. I love making remixes, I just really enjoy taking out the parts that will work for my sets and then making a Super Luke DJ battleweapon out of it.”

You are currently in tour in South America, which country around the world do you really enjoy returning to – where gives you the best reception?

“I’m not really an adventurous type. I’m just the DJ/producer who travels to being able to play my music live to the various crowds around the world that love hearing it. Honestly, I’m your typical studio geek guy who just loves being in a dark studio tweaking music. At the moment California, New York and the UK are the best territories for me. And the UK is so easy to travel to from the Netherlands.”

Have you seen/heard any new DJ or producer talent we should be looking out for next year?

“I’m always busy discovering and training new producers on my forum at . Amongst others, people like Afrojack, Avicii, Bingo Players and Max Vangeli are kids that I guided there and trained to be the superstars they are now. I’m still doing that and I can tell you people like GTA, Mata, Moska, La Fuente, Dyro and Loopers are amongst a few I have high hopes for coming year. For anyone I left out, please push hard coming year and blow me away! It’s the way to go.” 

Not many people know this, but Luke is really good at…

“Cooking at the moment! It’s been my new hobby for about a year now, Totally inspired by Jamie Oliver and his iPhone app. I really got sucked in there and find myself cooking the most amazing meals and dishes.” 

What is your biggest vice?

“Love having brownies after every meal and Subway sandwiches.” 

 What is the best and worst thing about living in Amsterdam?

“The best thing is to be able to call it home and worst is that I’m never there!” 

 Which DJs were you looking up to as you made your way to the top?

“Since my roots are in techno I very much looked up to Dave Clarke and Jeff Mills. I’m from the same generation as Umek and Adam Beyer, except they stuck to techno. We had some amazing Dutch DJs too you might not have heard of but good for me to mention like Miss Monica, Remy and Ronald Molendijk. Later on it became people like Bad Boy Bill and DJ Q-bert that inspired me a lot. My current DJ I look up to is Gaslamp Killer, Google him if you get a chance, it’s really worth it!”

So we come back to yours after the club – what Back To Mine tunes (non house) do you play us to chill us out?

“Anything by Air, Phoenix, Daft Punk’s Homework album, Dr Dre ‘The Cronic’ and any hits of the eighties will do too.” 

 What is the craziest request a clubber has ever asked you whilst DJing?

“If I could play something with bass in it. And when Laidback Luke was going on lol.” 

What is the finest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?

“Probably PHD – ‘I Won’t Let You Down’. It’s one of my favourite records ever. Just eighties pop though, I’m still a sucker for it.” 

Who is your biggest DJ mate?

“Without a doubt David Guetta. In terms of the biggest and a mate. From all the DJs on this South American tour only he came to my tent to watch me play! That’s a sign of character and I love him for that.”

Who us the coolest person on your mobile phone?

“Probably Armand van Helden. I don’t know if people come any cooler than him.” 

An old question but gotta ask – why do you think The Netherlands is the No. 1 country for DJs/producers at the moment – and the thing is, you all like each other!

“Ha! Dan, we almost all like each other! Armin and Tiesto can’t stand each other I have heard.” There’s some beef in the Dirty Dutch camp too (not mentioning any names). We’ve always had a big electronic scene in the Netherlands. My explanation is the way the Dutchmen thinks. And the way the Dutch crowd is. We’re not easily impressed. Actually, we’re never impressed and always very picky and the first to lay down an honest opinion about a DJ or production. Even if you’re a dedicated fan! That keeps us on top of things though and always trying to push the hardest we can.”

What is the greatest record you have made and why?

My greatest record is yet to come, but I’m very proud of ‘Natural Disaster’ though!” 

What are you excited about already that 2012 holds for us? 

“I’m excited for my next single with Ministry of Sound which features Wynter Gordon on the vocals. It will be called ‘Speak Up’. Wynter Gordon had a massive track with ‘Dirty Talk’. I’m planning a lot of new tracks for 2012. The plan is to release a new original every two months. I’m lining them up now. As I love producing, I prefer it over watching TV, you can expect loads of new stuff!”

And finally, what has been the proudest moment of your career to date?

“The successes of my producer students Afrojack and Avicii this year. They’ve outgrown their master and the feeling that I get of watching them become this big is something you can’t pay for. All I want to do is give house music back the feeling that it always gave me, fun, memories and the feeling I could take on the whole world. I’m not done at all yet, but already the next generation is passing on that feeling. It couldn’t be better.” 

Thank you Luke. Appreciate your time.

“Thanks for Dan having me, my pleasure!”