Laidback Luke Gives Some of the Best Advice for Aspiring Producers in iEDM Exclusive Interview
Even though events like EDC and Coachella have become household names, the scene from the other side of the DJ stand is often shrouded in mystery. What does it take to become a producer? How do collaborations work? How can you play at a festival? Laidback Luke sat down with iEDM before his set at kineticFIELD and gave some of the best advice that we've heard for aspiring producers.
iEDM: You've been a huge name on the scene for a really long time, and EDM has changed so much from its old days to where it's at now. What are some of the biggest changes you've seen on the scene so far?
Luke: One of the major changes was that it came from being a novelty thing to a multi-million dollar industry. So that's one of the biggest changes. And with that, there's a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon. I was happy that I was there from the start and I'm really proud that it evolved into being as huge as it is now.
iEDM: Definitely, and with the advancement of technology, you can do so much more with synths, and drum machines, and all that.
Luke: Well absolutely, but here's the thing. I don't see many people utilizing that. I recently became the ambassador for the Denon brand and Denon brought out these new players that are technologically advanced, which is the standard now. But many DJs are afraid to take risks for instance and are afraid to really experiment with technology. Whereas when I started, everyone was about technology and they were jumping on the newest technology to try and utilize that the most. It's really conservative if you ask me.
Luke: That's always a tough question because there are so many awesome venues around the world and awesome festivals. Obviously, EDC Las Vegas is one of the biggest of the year and I'm so happy to be back on the main stage again this year. That's always a tough one to answer. There's Bootshaus in Germany that always does it for me and legendary places like Zouk in Singapore, and Ministry of Sound in London.
iEDM: I can imagine how hard it must be to pick just one. You've also collaborated with a number of producers. Do you have a dream collaboration?
Luke: Well I kinda gave up on that. It's always really hard to reach out to the people you really want to produce with. It's a struggle dealing with managers, for instance, them not judging you for your worth. I would love to do something with Bruno Mars or Justin Timberlake, but I don't know if they would answer my emails, you know? And that won't really happen and I've noticed that working with bigger names. It's always such a headache when it comes to contracts and trying to make it work, and then you finish the track and it takes like two years to come out. I do realize that this sounds a bit negative but it's the truth.
What I actually love and what I've always stood for is working with young up-and-coming talents. And really trying to not be that big artist that wants to be very hard on the contracts and I just want it to be a seamless collaboration and I really enjoy it.
iEDM: That's really interesting. I think people have this romanticized view of how collaborations work. Like everyone becomes best friends and gets along really well in the studio.
Luke: Sometimes you do have that, and on some occasions that's true. But if you want to aim high, it's almost impossible.
iEDM: That's good to know. And on the topic of working with up-and-coming producers, do you have any advice for aspiring producers? People, that want to play at places like EDC?
Luke: Well it's funny. A couple of weeks ago, I got this tweet from a kid that said: "I want to play at a festival, can you give me tips on how to properly tackle a festival set?" And this kid had about thirty followers, so I said "You should actually start playing at birthdays first, then at weddings, then in small clubs, then in bigger clubs. Then, you can consider going into the festival circuit. There's a whole route going up there to properly tackle a festival that a lot of kids don't know.
Here's another tip. So, a lot of times, kids reach out to me and say "Oh, I just finished my first track. Can you listen to it and give me feedback?" And so, I'll often say "trust me, if you make ten more tracks and listen to your first track, you'll be sorry that you sent me your first track." And I would even go further. If you finish a hundred tracks, then you're about ready to send one to me and if you reach that point, listen back to the first one, or the tenth one, and you'll hear that you had a lot to learn.
You have to see it like this. Someone wants to be an NFL pro football player, so a kid has been doing a year of football and asks a professional manager "I've been doing a year of American football, can you add me to the pro league please?" And it doesn't work like that. You gotta add up the experience and the years, you gotta put in the years of effort in order to do that. But a lot of people don't realize this. And there's only one shot.
For instance, sometimes I'll browse through my Twitter feed and I'll see a link. And sometimes for fun, I'll press the link and I'll be like, "Let's do this! This is your shot right here." And then often the track sucks, so if you want to put something out there, just make sure it's really amazing and you'll get a proper shot.
iEDM: Fair enough, I think a lot of people have this very skewed impression that there are so many new producers on the scene, it must be easy to become one. But there's a lot of hard work involved and fine-tuning.
iEDM: Do you have any new projects coming out soon? Any hints you want to give your fans?
Luke: Absolutely. I have a new track coming out in three weeks which is me going back to my Dutch-house roots and it's actually a really hard Dutch banger. It's a collaboration with a German producer called Konih. And he's a friend of TWOLOUD and in the beginning of the year I put some pop stuff out and now I'm back to putting out dance floor bangers. And for me as a DJ, playing festivals like this, it's really handy to actually have a couple of bangers and to be able to play it out. Because the pop stuff works more on radio, where if you're playing for a crowd like this, you want a banger like this.
iEDM: Definitely, you want everyone to jump. Will this track see airtime tonight?
Luke: Absolutely, the track is called "Like This."
Thank you so much, Luke, for your time and for all your helpful advice to aspiring producers out there. We thoroughly enjoyed your set at kineticFIELD this year. Keep up with all of Luke's new music via SoundCloud and if you haven't yet, check out his full EDC set. You can also listen to a preview of "Like This" on SoundCloud.