Laidback Luke needs no introduction, but let’s drop a few facts anyway. He’s the founder of Mixmash Records, who are celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, he’s one of the very few (Dutch) DJs out there who always loves to get creative behind the decks by scratching during a DJ set, he has performed all across the globe and he’s one of the first DJs that started showcasing his life by creating vlogs. In addition to that, he’s famous for his Laidback Luke producer-forum which helped many guys grow into big artists, one of them being a Swedish guy named Tim also known as Avicii. Last week, Mixmash invited us to be a part of the yearmix recording. Traditionally, Laidback Luke records his Year Mix by mixing all Mixmash Records releases in just one mix. This year, he managed to mix 58 tracks in less than 50 minutes! We felt that it was the perfect opportunity to chat with him. Check out the interview below!
Hi Luke, first of all thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. One of the quotes you’ve used a lot is ‘scratching is what keeps me passionate about DJ’ing’ can you elaborate on that?
Sure! What I love about scratching is that you can really feel the music. If you put your finger on the platter you can do whatever you want and it’s not just “button-pushing’’. In addition to that, if you can scratch, you can be more confident behind the decks, because when something goes wrong for some reason you can always recover by switching the track & making sure it’s playing at the correct number of beats per minute. I hardly ever play a track from start till finish, I love manipulating the music and that keeps me busy during a DJ set.
That creativity which you mention while scratching, is that something you miss during sets of your colleagues, or do you consider it a ‘’unique selling point’’ of yourself as an artist?
Yeah well, I definitely don’t see this happening during the sets of a lot of my colleagues, but everybody has their own way of DJing. Some like to play a track & when it finishes play the next one and that you shouldn’t mess around too much with the music. I like to do the complete opposite of that, because I get bored really quickly. Tonight, for my Mixmash Year Mix, I played about 60 tracks in one hour and that’s a nice challenge, it keeps me busy.
I can totally imagine that such a challenge keeps you busy! What’s actually your favorite thing to do? DJ’ing or producing?
I started out as a producer; I mean I was producing for 4 years already before I even started DJ’ing. I never considered myself as a DJ to be honest. The process of learning a lot about music and playing with the different elements of music, what I already practiced while producing, is what I also wanted to bring out while DJ’ing. I’m one of these music-nerds that if I want to learn something, I really want to understand everything and put everything there is into practice. However, essentially, I’m a producer and not really a DJ.
Okay, we know you like to share your knowledge about producing with other aspiring producers. There was the famous Laidback Luke Producer Forum, a talent-school for people whereof some of them became world famous. Do you want to continue helping out young producers while obviously being a very busy person combining being an artist, an athlete as well as a dedicated dad?
It’s already quite different than it used to be in the forum-days when I was really helping people out ‘face-2-face’ across the internet. Currently I’m usually giving advice through my vlogs on YouTube. I’ve got a natural desire to spread the knowledge that I have and it’s always really nice to meet someone who tells me that they started DJ’ing thanks to watching my vlogs.
One of the people that popped up on your forum was Tim, better known as Avicii. You’ve recently played at his tribute event in Stockholm. Can you tell us how you’ve made an impact on his life and what it was like to play there as a tribute?
It was huge, but also definitely emotional. I’ve cried about 2 times in front of 60.000 people. It’s crazy to realize that years ago I listened to his first demo’s created at some little room at his parent’s place by playing some melodies on the piano and then the contrast of that with a huge stadium last week with so many people who love him and his music. I’d like to emphasize this for the readers of Festivalling: ‘’He was just a really talented kid that became one of the biggest artists on the planet, which is definitely a miracle and I’m really glad to have worked with him.’’
I can definitely imagine how special it must have been to play in Stockholm. As you mentioned you moved from guidance on a forum to vlogging. Did you do that with the goal to spread your knowledge?
Well not really actually. My son, 16-years old, back then 11 years old, told me I should check his channel. He created a vlog and I was super amazed by the quality despite that it was simply shot with an iPhone and edited with iMovie. I was actually really sick and tired of these gig aftermovies which are the same for every DJ and every gig, with the artist getting on stage in slow-motion, some money shots etc. That’s why I named my vlog “The True Story And The Real Life”, I wanted to showcase something different and that turned out to be my new hobby.
Yeah, I guess the strength of your vlog is that it creates a personal connection and the fact that you explain what goes on in your mind while DJ’ing is super interesting for a lot of people. Today we’re celebrating the milestone of 15 years of Mixmash. Despite that you could say that the music is relatively underground if you would compare it to different label who exist just as long, what’s the success-factor which makes Mixmash stand out in your view?
The big difference of Mixmash or the sub-labels is that we go really steady and already create a long-term vision and goals. We’ve really stayed true to ourselves. We do our own thing and we’re stubborn/artsy in a good way.
Okay, well our blog is being read by people that are really interested into electronic music and when they see we did an interview with you, they’ll definitely expect to see some advice for young producers. What’s your best advice for someone who’s already really busy with producing/doing a few gigs?
Let’s discuss what happens when you get your big breakthrough. Let’s imagine that 6 months from now everything takes off for you; you get a booking agent, you’ll have a manager and you’ll actually be flying around Europe or the USA for gigs. The biggest obstacle that these young people will face is that before they went on tour they were spending a lot of time in the studio, releasing a lot of music. That music was obviously the reason that they got their breakthrough. If you suddenly need to focus on performing and being on tour all the time, you will hardly see your studio anymore. So, my advice is to keep a balance in everything you do.
Your collab with Unity is out now, when did you get in touch with him?Unity has been a Mixmash family member for about 3 years. That means he gets priority when we host a label night and we push him on our social media channels as well. He already did a collab with Pyrodox and now it was our turn. He sent me a really nice demo and I took the track to the next level. You can stream the track here:
Cool, do you have any big plans or goals for 2020?
Mainly I want to release a lot of new music! I’m in a really good place right now regarding my productions. While I struggled a little bit with mastering in the recent years, but thanks to Mixmash family member Pyrodox I’m definitely on the right track at this point. I feel that I’m back at that point back when I started producing with Swedish House Maffia. I want to join in the ‘’Spotify generation’’ and release more music than I did in the previous years. That doesn’t really mean I’m working on an album, but I would love to bring out a new track every 3 or 4 weeks. In the end I want to release the music that I love to create and I don’t make a track with the goal to have a big hit, if it turns out to be a hit, great, but it’s not the purpose. Before I had a vlog “deadline” every week. Now that I do my vlog every other week, I have more time to spend on producing new music.
You mention the word deadline and that makes me wonder, what’s your secret with all the flying and working hard to stay fit or in other words, balanced?
I recently came up with a great idea which I should have done a lot earlier, which is taking 1 day off every week. Which means no social media, no meetings, just relaxing, chilling in bed & watching Netflix and that, besides eating healthy and doing sports regularly really keeps me fit. You have these studio sessions when it just doesn’t work out, while after about 16 hours you created a kickdrum and a hi-hat. The best advice for that would be taking breaks, just set an alarm after 2 hours & take a 30-minute break and you’ll see that you get the best ideas. It’s also about just giving your ears some rest.
Soon you’ll be releasing a ‘’15 years of Mixmash remix album’’, pretty much the icing on the cake of your milestone. How did the artists who created a remix respond when you asked if they wanted to be a part of it?
Everybody was really into it actually. I’m proud that we got so many cool artists that made a remix for this album. When we approached Dannic for this he actually remembered where he had heard ‘Step by Step’ for the first time and was definitely eager to make a remix of the track.
That was already the final question so thanks very much & all the best for 2020!
As a bonus, hot of the press, the ”15 years of Mixmash remix album” is out now! You can stream it here: