Interview with Laidback Luke: “EDM is a dirty word for the more commercial tracks”
“I find a lot of my fellow DJs very egotistical,” 36-year-old Laidback Luke says with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “The scene shouldn’t be about one DJ in particular, it’s a shame when people think like that and only worry about their own things.”
Filipino-born producer and DJ, Laidback Luke, real name Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen, takes a sip of still water as we sit and chat in the reception area of the Hotel Verta. He’s visiting London for a sell-out ‘Super You & Me’ gig at Electric Brixton, an innovative night that, in Luke’s words, help to bring the fun and stupidity back into clubbing.
“Super You & Me started about five years ago in Amsterdam,” the DJ says, as a smile starts to grow across his face. “I noticed the electronic music scene was getting too serious over there and I remembered times when I could go out with my friends and have silly, stupid fun on a themed night. That’s what I want to get across in my nights, where you feel so epic you have a feeling that you could take on the whole world.”
Initiated by homeland legends Chocolate Puma and consistently hailed as one of Dutch House music’s longest-standing heavyweights to date, Luke’s scattered discography is full of studio releases, remixes and off-the-cuff bootlegs. His genre-jumping diversity means the technical DJ continuously re-invents himself every few years, with his latest track Pogo being a prime example.
“I keep trying to stay unique,” Luke says, as he relaxes back into the black and white leather sofa in the hotel reception waiting area. “I’m the type of person who can’t do the same thing for three or four years, so every so often I re-invent myself.”
But it’s not just for the DJ and producer’s own satisfaction that he has to constantly be across the board when it comes to his music.
“When I got into this style of music in the Nineties, it was all the same whether it was Trap, Club, Dance, etc – it was all called House.
“Now it’s very different,” he continues, “there are sub-genres, sub-sub genres, people like specific things and that means as a DJ I have to appeal to a new and upcoming generation.”
I can tell from the look in Luke’s eyes that he knows exactly what I’m going to ask next. His brain begins to prepare an answer but what he says isn’t the average media-trained response.
“EDM is a dirty word for the more commercial tracks out there,” Luke says, quickly trying to finish his sentence, “but I don’t mind it being commercial.” He takes another swig from his glass. “Especially in America right now, everyone understands ‘EDM’ where as five years ago they would look at you funny if you played House music. I remember Lil’ Louis’ French Kiss going mainstream without a vocal back in the Nineties and although people might call them ‘sell-outs’ it helps because the bigger the commercial scene the bigger the underground scene gets – it’s still the same family.”
Leaping from his own diverse peak-timers to upfront house gems alongside underground favorite-turned-wife Gina Turner, the consistent development of his own Mixmash imprint has seen Luke give back and share his success.
With 40 kids, known as the ‘Luke Army, signed to his own publishing agency, the recently married DJ is on a mission to discover and train up and coming young producers.
“When I was a young DJ, apart from my two mentors Chocolate Puma, I found DJs were arrogant,” Luke says bluntly.
“I couldn’t go anywhere with my questions so I made a promise to myself that if I made a name for myself I would be the mentor that I was looking for. A guy like Avicii would stalk me with five tracks a week and I would give feedback, telling them ‘this works’, ‘this doesn’t’ and from that the likes of AN21 and Bingo Players have arrived.”
The Kung fu-fighting crowd-pleaser and advocator of old-school House music’s attitude quickly checks his watch, it’s evident he’s got some last minute preparation to do before the big night. But before he leaves he tells me with a big smile that he’s on the bill for SW4 as well as hosting the second main stage at TomorrowLand in July.
“I’ve also been trying to do an Ultra in Poland, which unfortunately got cancelled due to the infrastructure over there or something,” he pauses for a couple of seconds, “but I’m not giving up!”
‘Laidback Luke’s latest track ‘Dynamo’ ft Hardwell is out now on Mixmash Records’
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