Laidback Luke’s Thump Interiew: 5 Things We Learned

Laidback Luke
Legendary house DJ/producer Laidback Luke recently gave a revealing interview with Vice’s EDM news site, Thump. The Dutchman opened up about a host of topics, including his rocky transition from DJing locally to touring worldwide, overcoming alcoholism, dealing with stress, accusations of pre-recorded sets, the current state of EDM, and more.
Luke’s interview offers a rare look into both the professional and personal lives of one of dance music’s most respected DJs. The entire conversation is worth reading but here’s five comments that really resonated with us:
1. He didn’t enjoy touring at first.

“Things really took off in 2008. I remember that I found it very stressful in the beginning, because I’m not much of a traveller. I’d rather just sit in my studio all day and make music, but I got sucked into it. The first few years were overwhelming. It’s scary: suddenly you don’t have a home anymore, you’re living out of a suitcase, and you hardly see your friends and family anymore. That takes a little getting used to.”

2. He quit drinking to become a better father and increase productivity.

“I did hit the wall a few times — and hard, too. That’s one of the reasons I quit drinking, Because I couldn’t be a good father anymore. At some point I just got incredibly frustrated at home. If you’re drinking and you’re on a schedule like mine, you don’t have time for hangovers. Three hours after your gig you’re already back at the airport with your vodka breath for another two flights and a three-hour car ride. At some point that starts to affect your motivation. Plus you have to keep producing, answer e-mails and listen to new music. I quit drinking in 2010. Before that I’d drink at least two vodka Red Bulls during every set, but now I live like an athlete. I only drink water during shows, no after parties. It sounds boring, but there’s so much pressure and professionalism in my scene that I just can’t afford to do that anymore.”

3. He practices kung fu to cope with stress.

“A few years ago I decided to bring my kung fu master on tour once a month as my personal trainer. That really helped me to get better at it. I’ve had two burnouts in my career. Once you get out of that, the burnout is still always there, in the background. You’re always aware that if you don’t sleep for a few nights or work too hard, it’s like: ‘Oh no, it’s coming back again’. My teacher has helped me to mentally deal with that. A lot of the people I talk to will say: ‘I don’t understand how you do it; how you’re still producing new music, still tweeting at people.’ Kung fu helps me to calmly step into the chaos.”

4. He thinks experimental sounds are becoming more popular in America.

“People have been listening to that commercial EDM sound for a while now and they are ready to hear more underground stuff; more experimental and longer mixes. Before they didn’t really get those here. But now there’s a large group of kids that grew up with EDM. A lot of 18-year-olds have been listening to it for five years now, and appreciate it if you go a little deeper. We don’t need to hear Akon on a David Guetta beat anymore; we want to hear Avicii with Coldplay. I think that there is a very positive development going on in the States right now. But I see EDM as a sort of glam rock or glam metal. We went from the real rock ‘n’ roll to glitter bands like Queen and Europe.”

5. He believes it’s his responsibility to educate fans.

“I’m a mentor to a lot of young artists; there are about five kids that I mentor personally. The last year and a half for example, I’ve been on an anti-Pryda-snare crusade. If someone sends me a demo with a Pryda snare, I don’t listen to it, or I tell them they have to take it out and replace it with something a little more original. And I try to instill in my students that it’s not about the private jets, but about passion for music. I also try to get that across through my Twitter feed.”

Related: Laidback Luke Responds to Accusations of Pre-recorded Sets