Laidback Luke is an international EDM superstar. And yes, he's also a world champion kung-fu fighter.
But even famous DJs and (almost) master martial artists can't avoid from the same kind of worries that plague average folk like us.
Just check the cut for Luke's take on learning your electronic music history, enduring the haters, and balancing a bank account.
Crossfade: What did you get into first? Kung fu or electronic music?
Laidback Luke: Electronic music was first. I was 15 years old .... Well, actually! Hang on! Rewind! I'm thinking just now that I was 8 years old when I started doing karate. It's just that the kung-fu didn't come until I was 21.
How about the DJing? When did you become a master?
The thing is, I come from a musical family. But I was always the one who couldn't play the instruments as well as the others. My brother and my father were always like, "Ah, that's cute, look at Luke trying to do this or that." So I had all this music always trapped inside me. And when I discovered that I was able to make music with a computer, I really got hooked.
My friend had an Amiga computer and he had this track. He showed me how to mute the voice, how to preprogram the drums, and everything. And I was like, "Whoa!"
So you started on a computer. But I recently spotted a photo of you DJing with vinyl in '98. Is there anything purer about analog vs. digital gear?
You can go back even further, when there were DJs and producers who used to play with tape. They used to cut tape. They made measurements how long in inches a bar of music was at 128 BPM. I've heard those stories and I actually know a couple of people who used to do it.
To me, electronic music was always about jumping on the most cutting-edge technology. We stem from making music with sequencers and drum computers. At that time, this was all just really high-tech stuff. And I do really feel that we need to just keep going with that approach. I am always interested in new technology. Although, I do feel it's good to know about the background, like I know about those people who mixed with tape.
For example, reverb used to be just a big room where they recorded a drum creating that effect. That history, know it, even if you are from the new generation.
You currently work with CDJs. As far as technique, do you draw a line? Is there a point when DJing becomes too gimmicky? Or too easy?
You know, I recently released my new Pioneer DJ Sounds 2013 show on YouTube. And I saw a lot of haters commenting that I was overusing the effects and playing too many tracks, but it is still a show by Pioneer, so I really need to display what the equipment does and I am going to mix fast because I don't want the people watching to be bored. Of course, to take a step back and mix cleaner with less tracks is very easy. That's totally doable.
In the end, I think the most important thing is having fun with it. If I were doing a beat-matching mix every five minutes or wait until the outro of a track, I would be very bored and I probably wouldn't be as passionate about DJing as I am now.
The way I use effects is just to add something extra to the vibe or the energy. Like, I always try to take out the bass before a drop hits, because it'll sound heavier. And that's for the crowd in the club. It all adds up to me.
Now, with your Musically Driven Bus Tour, what's up? Why take a motor vehicle when you could do a private jet?
The thing with private jets, they're very expensive! They are easily five times more expensive than a regular flight. So a tip for all you DJs who are making the same as I am and flying by jet: You are throwing away your money!
You could save. You could invest. I am very Dutch in that sense.
Laidback Luke's Musically Driven Bus Tour. With D.O.D. Friday, October 18, at Story, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $35 to $45 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-538-2424 or visit storymiami.com.
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