Don’t accept Luke-a-likes: A Q & A with the original Laidback Luke

Laidback Luke takes tracks to infinity… and beyond.
Laidback Luke takes tracks to infinity… and beyond.

Who can mix 40 tracks in an hour, play multiples parties a night, and still find time to create killer dirty beats? Sounds like Dutch producer/DJ Laidback Luke.

When headlining DJs come to Vegas, they tend to change their sound and play more commercial sets to appease the tourists. What will we hear at Body English on April 22?

I felt that when I played my first gig at Body English. Most of the time, I just whip up the Laidback Luke bootleg machine and try to combine the more known tracks with the Luke sauce. I make quite a lot of bootlegs, so in these cases, they come in really handy.

What do you mean when you use the phrase “live-remixing”? How many tracks would you say you mix in an hour?

I used to have this phase where, if I would mix under 40 tracks in an hour, I would say to myself I was lazy. I toned it down now, because sometimes—especially crowds that weren’t used to me—didn’t get it. I’m now on a 20-track average.

You’re still using Pioneer CDJs. What do you believe are the advantages and disadvantages of CDs versus laptop DJing?

Over in Europe, the laptop and Serato thing still didn’t take over like in America. Over here, a lot of us are still playing with CDs. I did try playing with a laptop; I even tried experimenting with a touch screen laptop. The thing that bothered me most about it was its reliability. … Often, my tracks would sound crackled and somehow I would miss dynamic range in the low end of tracks when playing from laptop. One major plus of the laptop versus the CD map is you can bring a ton of tracks without any effort. … But the whole connecting the laptop every gig instead of just popping in a CD—and the reliability of the laptop—made me stick to the CDJs.

You’ve studied classical piano for years. How does that play a part in your productions?

I come up with melodies really quickly and then I would know what chords or bass lines would fit best in there. Music is no mystery anymore. When I first started producing, I also started my piano lessons. Now, I can really make any type of music and melodies and harmonies I would like.

As a native of Holland, why do you think the Dutch are so in touch with good dance music?

It has always been an integral part of our going-out culture. From the time it started in America back in the ‘80s, we caught on really quickly. And somehow, the music filled up a big gap we were missing in our nightlife. From the start, we had a bunch of people that were very successful worldwide, like Fierce Ruling Diva, Jaydee [“Plastic Dreams”] and The Goodmen [“Give It Up”]. Those people set the standards and later on came our trance invasion. House music has been mainstream in our country from 1999. It’s chart music over here. Also, the Dutch mentality is a very critical mentality. You have to work hard and keep on struggling to get some respect over here. Even people like Tiësto still have to prove themselves in Holland—can you believe that? It keeps us on our toes, and the quality at a high level!

“Shake it Down” is one of the more original tracks we’ve heard in a while. What production software do you use and what was the process in creating that track?

Believe it or not, I use FL Studio—formerly known as FruityLoops—for all my productions! “Shake It Down”—thanks by the way—was just an afternoon session where A-Trak visited my studio just outside Amsterdam. He told me he wanted that old school Chicago flavor in the track and I just added the heavy toms and the bleepy stuff. It’s A-Trak on the vocal, by the way.

You just collaborated with Steve Angello on another remix of “Show Me Love,” which is perhaps one of the most overplayed songs in Vegas clubs. How did you decide to create another remix of the Robin S. track and why do you think this still appeals to clubgoers?

I have an infinite love for the original “Show Me Love.” That was one of the main tracks that sucked me into my love for house music. I remember I was obsessed with the organ sound back then. My dad [got] the Korg M1 hardware synthesizer—where the original organ sound is from—during the summer of ‘94 so I could make my first demos. … So, when the plug-in version of the Korg M1 came out, I instantly started experimenting with that classic organ sound again. Then, I took the sound to Steve Angello in Stockholm and we finished the track “Be.”

Later on, a young Dutch producer Hardwell mashed Mobin Master’s remake of “Show Me Love” with “Be” and it was an instant floorkiller. … To me, the original “Show Me Love” sums up the feeling and love I get from house music. The mystical organ sound, the diva vocals and the revamped dirty beats make it a killer.

“Leave the World Behind” is the number one download on Beatport this week, but what are some lesser-known tracks of yours you recommend?

Definitely check out tracks like “Break Down The House” or “Rocking With The Best.” Maybe also something more underground like “Down With the Mustard” or “Start Me Up.”

How were you able to play so many parties in Miami? Did you clone yourself?

Well, there are quite a lot of Laidback Luke-a-likes running around in the US. No, it was a pretty tight schedule, but everything’s close by in Miami anyway. I do need to say, my closing party was playing for David Guetta’s “F*ck Me I’m Famous” party and I really had to pull it out of my toes; I was that tired I could fall asleep standing up!

What’s one track you will never, ever play and why?

Probably some Dutch folk music kind of stuff. For us, it’s quite weird to hear people sing in our native language and most of the time the music sounds quite un-inspiring from a creative producer’s point of view.

Any lesser-known producers you’d recommend checking out?

Oh yeah! My forum on is a true breeding ground for young and up and coming producers. I guide a lot of people there and provide them [with] personal advice from day to day. People that came from there are Bart B. More, Afrojack and one half of the Bingo Players, for instance. New names are Max Vangeli & Digital Lab, Avicii, Anggar Dimas, Sébastien Lintz, Asser and DJ Sonic.

What else can we look forward to hearing from you in 2009?

I’m doing a lot of new original material now, focusing on my own album at the moment. I’m also working together with David Guetta to finish a couple of tracks for his new album. I also did tracks with Diplo and Lee Mortimer that work really good on my floors at the moment.

(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at

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