Artist InterviewsInterviewsTop Interviews

Laidback Luke

Last night, we laid back at Bijou Boston with Luke himself. Read on as he talks about his first gig, strictly techno, switching to commercial, Denon gear, and vlogging.

So you just got in today?
Yeah, from Amsterdam.

How long is that flight?
About seven-and-a-half hours.

Did you sleep?
Nothing too bad. I had a good sleep.

We’re sure you’ve had longer flights. You’ve been [to Boston] quite a few times, right?
I’ve played Boston many times and I’m always excited to be back.

But this is your first techno set here.
► In Boston, yes it is. I was talking to a couple of DJs today. Richard Fraioli was mentioning to me in the beginning 2000s, he was very much into trance music. For me it was all about techno in the late 90s, so tonight I’m going back to my roots and I’m very excited to dive back into those.

How long have you been playing these techno sets — the recent ones?
► As of recently, about one-and-a-half to two  years now.

But not all your sets are, right? You still switch back and forth?
► Absolutely not. People know me from being EDM or dutch house on the commercial side. Tonight I spoke to a couple of people on the streets who are coming out and they said “It’s so good to have you back, but too bad we don’t get to hear any of your own tracks.” It’s true, I’m not gonna play any of my tracks — maybe tease them a little bit like snippets — but I really want to keep it strictly techno tonight.

It must be fun to go from one type of set to another so frequently though. Keeps the job from getting boring?
► Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I quit commercial music or anything. I love all kinds of music. With my commercial, sets I’ll always anticipate the crowd and sometimes people can ask me for requests on Twitter and I’ll happily play them. Tonight it’s just only gonna be about me and my techno roots. I’m just happy there are people here that want to enjoy that.

We’ve been listening to your work for a while. Do you remember the point in time you knew this was going to be your career?
► This was way back like in 1992 when I discovered I was able to make music with a computer. It was then and there that I thought I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. My first gig was really good; it was in the UK in 1997, so that was 20 years ago. I remember coming off of that show and obviously I had practiced like in my bedroom and everything, but it was so overwhelming to be in control of music that loud. I remember waking up the next day smelling like smoke and had beeping in my years and I didn’t really know if I thought it was pleasant. It was definitely overwhelming and I did long for more.

So that was back when you were playing more techno sounds.
► Yeah.

What inspired the move to more commercial? Was it to reach a different or larger audience? Were you bored?
► It was very much a bittersweet ending to my techno career when I was absolutely uninspired to make new techno music. I come from a very musical family and if you really analyze techno music, it’s all about programming beats. Nothing like chords or song structures are happening in that. I had a really good career going on; I’m from the same generation as Adam Beyer and Umek and Marco Carola. I know those guys really well, and at a certain point, I could not make techno music anymore. I could do two things, either stop with my DJ and producer career, or allow myself to make any music I wanted. I chose for the latter and that gradually became EDM. It was a very tough decision and I do see techno as my long lost ex girlfriend and now we’re dating again.

Fortunately you can do a great job with either one.
► Sometime people ask me, “Can you do a throwback trance set?” or “Can you do a hardstyle set?” and I’m like, “No, those aren’t my roots.” I have no trance roots. I have no history in hardstyle. It’s not as easy as that with techno — and perhaps you’ll feel it tonight as well — it just comes very seamlessly. It’s nice for me to have this swichup.

You’re using Denon gear. Why that instead of Pioneer?
► About one-and-a-half years ago, I switched over to Denon and became an ambassador of their new players. I’ve been helping them develop it correctly for DJs. They’re superior than the older players and I’m very happy to have those as my equipment.

And you’re doing these weekly vlogs on YouTube. How on earth do you even have time for that? Do you actually create and upload weekly?
► I literally do it weekly. Shout out to all the daily vloggers for keeping that up. It’s hard work. Every vlog takes six to eight hours to finish and I do it somewhere in between. But it has become my new hobby and I’m very grateful for the amount of people watching them.

One more question, since the year is coming to an end. What’s up next?
► I’m prepping an album at the moment. Right now we have the Mixmash family album that’s out with two new tracks by myself on there. I’m preparing a new album and it’s gonna be basically a celebration of dance music and the people I know and it’s just gonna be all collaborations between big DJ names and younger talent I’m supporting as well.