He was a graffiti artist, but by age 16 had transitioned to producing electronic music. He’s easygoing and level-headed, but Laidback Luke has a bustling touring agenda: He founded and runs the high-profile Mixmash Records label, and he still finds time to Tweet his fans. The Dutch producer is conquering the West Coast one party at a time: touching down at Coachella on April 16, making waves at Tao Beach on April 17 and blasting off at Marquee on April 18.
There is a definite swell of Dutch producers in house music right now, and your name is right there at the top. What brought this on?
We’ve had this sound for years now and it was developing in the Netherlands, but outside of the Netherlands wasn’t growing. The music that is big now that you guys know was our electro music from 2003 up to 2007. David Guetta noticed this and was like, “What is this amazing music? I want to bring this out of the Netherlands.” I remember telling [DJs] Chuckie and Afrojack, “You need to come back to this Dutch sound again,” but they were kind of fed up with it because everyone was doing it. Then there was footage of me playing with David Guetta and all these artists jumping on it and so they switched back, and the rest is here and now.
You guys seem to be so ahead of the curve. What’s going on in Europe now?
To be honest, Europe isn’t very interesting anymore and America is. House music is so exciting in America for us because it’s all new, and it’s a whole new crowd coming through and the market is so huge for us.
It is. Your recent Super You&Me party at Liv in Miami sold out. How did you come up with the idea for a party where everyone dresses at their favorite superhero?
I used to be a comic-book freak. I always wanted to be a superhero. The feeling I want my nights to have is the feeling of being a superhero, and not only the DJ should feel that way, but the crowd, too. I feel that dressing up is the whole part of the event, and we’re bringing new life to the night. Looking for your outfits and planning, then going and seeing your friends looking all silly adds to the fun.
This was the third year we’ve done [Super You&Me] in Miami, and almost every DJ you can imagine was there. I only thought Tiësto and Tocadisco would come, but all these DJs popped up last minute.
Vegas would totally eat that up. Have you considered bringing it here?
I would love to. We are actually working on that at the moment. I’m really excited.
So, can being a DJ give you superhero-like powers?
I do believe that. I always wanted to be a DJ for the people, and people treat me is as if I’m a superhero, but I don’t see myself that way. I’m just doing my stuff, and I love making music. I feel like a superhero for sure, especially with Twitter. I try to respond to everyone.
Which is something unique. You’re very personal with your fans.
I have people I look up to as well on Twitter. I started getting into cooking and there’s this U.K. cook, Jamie Oliver. I Tweeted at him, and he never replied! My heart was broken. I thought, “I should always Tweet back, because I wish Jamie Oliver would Tweet me back, that would make my day.”
Well, unlike chef Oliver, you offer your e-mail for artists to send demos and you give tips on your forum.
On my Twitter, people always send me music and people that send me tracks on my forum are people I’ll train and give feedback to. My forum is like a breeding ground for new talent, I’ve been doing it for ages. I’ve trained talent on there like Afrojack, Avicii, Bart B More and a whole array of producers.
These are all huge DJs and producers now who you’ve mentored. Who are your idols?
This may sound strange coming from a house producer, but I have a very big weakness for Timbaland. I was really inspired by him back in the day, then Swedish House Mafia came along and changed my sound.
Speaking of changing sounds, you are known to never play the same set twice.
The thing is, I really don’t know what to play until the last minute. I’ll go on, and a song will just hit me. It depends on the minute, the venue and the crowd. It’s important to fit the energy and the momentum.
You’ll be playing Coachella for the first time on April 16. What are you most looking forward to there?
I’ve heard amazing things. I’m a huge Daft Punk fan, and they premiered their show there. It’s legendary to me, and a real honor to perform there. I’m gonna do my best to rock it. I saw Sting do an interview once, and he said, “I’ll play every gig as if it’s my last gig I’ll ever do,” and that has become my mantra for DJing.