Kickin’ It With Laidback Luke

The DJ marches to his own beat in the music industry—monkey sounds and all


Laidback Luke.

Laidback Luke is one of the few old-school artists who has adapted and survived the limelight in an era of overnight teen DJ sensations. Born Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen, Luke navigated the world of underground raves throughout the 1990s, and modified his sound by the early 2000s to rise to fame during the EDM explosion only a handful of years ago. Check out how Luke stays on top of the music game and hear his ever-changing sound July 19 at Encore Beach Club.

We had to schedule this interview around your “Daddy Days.” What does that mean?

Every Tuesday and Wednesday are my “Daddy Days.” One week, I have them in New York, because my daughter and [wife], Gina [Turner], live there. The other week, I’ll have [“Daddy Days”] in the Netherlands, because my two sons from my previous marriage live there, so I go back and forth. It means I just take time to actually be there with my kids and not do anything work related.

That’s a far cry from the perceived “rock-star lifestyle” that some people might think you live.

Yeah. It’s very important, actually. At the beginning of my career, I just tried to plan by ear. But with kids, you’ve just got to be there and make time for them.

Early on, you used to play more underground types of music. Why don’t you do that anymore?

A real DJ should always adapt to the room. So when you see me in Vegas, I play more commercial [tracks], which is appropriate to Vegas. And if I play a small club, it’ll be different than a festival. What a lot of people don’t know is that my roots are in techno—I actually broke through as a techno DJ. I’m from the same generation as Marco Carola, Adam Beyer and Umek, and I still speak to those guys.

When did you make the switch to a more commercial sound?

The late ’90s, and I said goodbye to techno in about 2001. I believe it took about 10 years, until I met Gina, that [techno] got ignited with me again.

You recently played a back-to-back techno set with Gina in the Mixmag Lab in Los Angeles. Why did you want to do that?

It was just such a fun thing to do, because Gina plays mainly underground music. Whenever we play back-to-back it’s really, really underground. Gina often does the deeper parties and the techno parties, and she keeps well connected with what’s going on there. When we came [home] from Mixmag Lab, one girl tweeted, “It was incredible, I think there was only one song I recognized!”

So you like playing those sets where you have to Shazam everything, and sometimes it’s not even on Shazam?

Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a techno purist. I’m not always into deep house—I love it all. I really do enjoy playing commercial sets, and I do enjoy playing very underground sets, and sometimes even in my festival sets I’ll try to sneak in one or two deeper tracks, just because of the variation. Nowadays, everything is so segregated into separate genres. I don’t really care about genres. I’m really a lover of [all] electronic dance music.

Your new “Beat of the Drum” track with Angger Dimas featuring Mina has been described as a part of the “jungle terror” genre. What does that mean?

I’d describe it as the revenge of the Dutch sound. Basically, when everyone jumped on the whole signature Dutch sound, it died out really quickly. In the underground, there were all these cool guys, such as Main Course Music and Wiwek, keeping this Dutch type of vibe alive, but they took it more into the tribal route—especially Wiwek, who I’ve been guiding for a couple of years. I’ve actually been trying to tell them, “Dude, you’ve got to make more mainstream stuff, because no one understands all the jungle and monkey sounds you’re putting into this track. No one gets it.”

Do people “get it” now?

All of a sudden, it’s here and it’s working. Everyone loves the jungle and tribal sound. One of Wiwek’s influences is Angger Dimas. He and I used to work [together] a lot. I thought Angger should go back into jungle terror. Basically, we made this track in a hotel room in Indonesia, and it worked well for our sets. So we just put it out like that; you know, monkey sounds and elephants and everything.