INTERVIEW: Laidback Luke (2013)

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Laidback Luke is an energetic character – something you get when you listen to his productions or see him perform live.  Take a listen to his recent track “Pogo” and that infectious joyous energy comes through.  Although he’s been producing tracks for twenty years, his work with the different members of the Swedish House Mafia in 2006/2007 really launched him into the stratosphere.  His solo tracks, as well as collaborations with everyone from Steve Aoki and Hardwell to Robyn and Sander Van Doorn, appear in the crates (or on the hard drives) of every big DJ around the world.  He launched his own label MixMash as a breeding ground for new talent, and having helped launch the careers of Avicii and Afrojack, you know that’s definitely a label to watch as well.  We caught up for a brief chat at WMC in March.

DJ Ron Slomowicz: Are you having a good conference?
Laidback Luke: Yes, it has been an amazing conference. Every year it seems to get bigger and better and I must say that it seems like a Dutch invasion as well.

RS: Well you have Dirty Dutch and Trance Superstars, what else do you see coming out of Amsterdam now?
Laidback Luke: Tons of stuff, we have Showtek coming up, those guys were a hardstyle before. We crashed Benny Benassi’s party at LIV on Monday and you would expect all the Italian DJs to be there but all the Dutch DJs were there, it’s crazy.

RS: Let’s get back to you; I wanted to ask you about the “Pogo” track, it’s absolutely sick, where did the sound inspiration come from?
Laidback Luke: The new Dutch style is a distorted heavy kick drum which is really implemented in the Dutch roots, it goes back to hard style and gabber. The way that people dance to it is bouncing, so I wanted to find a sound that would mimic the bouncing and get people jumping around. I found a Jewish mouth harp that sounds like an actual spring and I sent it to Majestic. He is an amazing MC that is known from “Ruffneck Bass” from Skrillex and he came up with the “Pogo” idea and it worked.

RS: Whose idea was the video?
Laidback Luke: I actually wanted to switch back to a cheeky video like Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction,” with the hot women and the power tools but the producer came with an idea to combine fast food and hot women. The video is about fun, craziness, and nothing too serious.

RS: A real feminist statement.
Laidback Luke: I guess, I am spinning with pizzas and I look like a chef so it’s me kicking against the whole DJ documentary on flying private jets and splashing champagne over people.

RS: Good choice. Why did you start Mixmash?
Laidback Luke:  My original idea for Mixmash was to have a platform for all of the talent that we discover. Back when Mixmash started we really pushed guys like Afrojack.  Avicii who had his first release on our label. We have people like Dyro and GTA that we are pushing and trying to get to the next level, there are so many of those kids around. It is really great to see that Mixmash can be a platform for these guys.

RS: Very cool. Are you working on an artist album now?
Laidback Luke: I am not; I am not really interested in it. To be honest I have a lot of stuff lying around and could whip up one if I wanted to but I don’t really feel like it’s the time nowadays. Today it is more about being visible every month or every two months versus waiting a year and putting out 12 tracks. Doing that could actually be the end of a career nowadays.

RS:  You always have to have something in the pipeline.
Laidback Luke:  Exactly.

RS: You have been doing some really sick collaborations lately with people like Hardwell, Chuckie, and Solveig, who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t worked with?
Laidback Luke: My dream collaboration would be with Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, or Timbaland. It’s funny; I actually met the guy that produces for Timberlake and Timbaland this week here at WMC so I am in touch with them.

RS: “Turbulence” has a life of its own and it keeps coming back, when you made it did you think that it would stick around like it has?
Laidback Luke: Absolutely not. I went into the studio with Steve Aoki and I said that it was time to make a “Warp” Part 2 and he was like “cool, let’s do it.” Whenever you do a Part 2, you don’t expect it to be bigger than the Part 1- but it turned out that way. It’s crazy; it’s like a part of history now.

RS: What are you working on right now?
Laidback Luke: At the moment we are finishing off the collab that I did with Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, which is coming after “Dynamo,” my collab with Hardwell.  I can’t tell you yet but we have arranged some awesome vocals on it by a group that is well known in America. It looks like it is going to be big and I am very happy to be working with those guys.

RS: What kind of software are you using?
Laidback Luke: Ableton. I just switched to Ableton 9 which I love; it is the quickest way of working for me.

RS: What were you using before?
Laidback Luke: I was working with Fruity Loops and before that Logic and before that Cubase. I have been producing for 20 years now so I have found my way through all the DAWs.

RS: It’s kind of funny because most people start off with Fruity Loops then go to Ableton and then go to Logic; you have it all in a different order.
Laidback Luke: Yeah I have it all switched up. I must say that I am so happy that I have found Ableton though; it makes me able to make tracks in about 3 hours.

RS: Do you think that you will ever move to playing live with Ableton or are you still using CDs and thumb drives?
Laidback Luke: I tried earlier in my career to use a DAW or a laptop when performing and it wasn’t for me. I do feel that I am more of a turntablist kind of DJ, for me the CD-J’s work so intuitively that I can’t step away from it.

RS: Any big plans for a US tour?
Laidback Luke: Absolutely, after the summer we are actually planning another college bus tour across the States. I am very excited, the previous one was a success and so much fun, it’s good to tap into those markets.

RS: “Yo Gina” on your t-shirt; is that for Gina Tucci of Big Beat?
Laidback Luke: Actually no, I know Gina Tucci very well but this is actually Gina Turner my wife. I am supportive.

RS: She is a singer isn’t she?
Laidback Luke: Yeah, she does everything.

RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans?
Laidback Luke: I would like to say thank you so much for the support. Without my fans I couldn’t be doing this or feeling the way that I feel at the moment. I hope that we are going to rave for a long time to come.

Interview conducted during Winter Music Conference 2013.

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