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Dutch deejay, producer and martial artist Laidback Luke, real name Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen, has left an indelible imprint on the dance music world since he splashed onto the scene in the early 90’s. Still relentlessly roaming the world over, his ever-expanding discography continues to solidify his place alongside the greats. Anybody that’s seen Luke live has experienced his energy behind the decks, and his latest track “With Me” embodies that classic dance-floor vibe we love.
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Sean Ritchie: Kicking this off with your home country of the Netherlands, what really makes it special to you? How is it set apart from elsewhere in the world?
Laidback Luke: What makes it home for me is really just the fact that I grew up in it. I was actually born in Manila, Philippines, but I moved to the Netherlands from the age of four. So, I know the traditions. I know what was on TV back in the day. I know what the people are like. The mentality of the people generally around here is actually quite similar to the people of New York [City]. Whether you’re friends or unknown from each other, you can shoot from the hip. You can actually tell people straight up in their faces what you think without getting very angry about it.
This ties into my DJing experience as well, because the Dutch crowd is a very tough crowd, and even your biggest fans will tell you that you sucked if you play a set that wasn’t as good as the other one. This will always keep you on your toes. I do think this is one of the reasons that there are a lot of Dutch DJ’s that can deliver quality.
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SR: Being from around New York that’s cool to hear. Now, where would you suggest a first-time visitor to go within the country?
LL: Obviously, Amsterdam is the big staple of the country, and I grew up around [there]. I kind of tell people I live in the New Jersey of Amsterdam. But, a lot of people forget that there’s Rotterdam, as well. What’s different about Rotterdam versus Amsterdam is that during the second World War all of the old buildings were bombed away. So, Rotterdam actually looks really modern. It has a skyline and everything. I think that the art and the way all the multi-cultures work in Rotterdam is a very interesting thing. It really makes it a world city, but always in the shadows of Amsterdam.
SR: Wow, that’s pretty crazy to hear. I didn’t know that about the World War. So, to bring it back a little bit, I want to touch on how you first got into music. What was your initial exposure to it? How did you get inspired to do this with the rest of your life?
LL: I grew up in a musical family. My dad always played the guitar and actually used to make his own beats back in the 80’s. My mom was an aspiring singer, and whenever we would have family and friends meeting up she would always perform for them. So, I grew up with that. The only thing was that I was always the one person in the family that couldn’t really play an instrument as good as the other family members. My brother is an amazing drummer for instance.
So, at the age of 15 I found out that I could actually make music with a computer, and mind you this is back in 1992. A friend of mine had an old-school Atari computer. When he showed me that I was able to actually make beats with the help of a computer, suddenly I was able to unleash all of this music that was always stuck in my head. From then on I knew that this was my calling.
SR: It’s always great to hear that people found their callings at an early age.
LL: Yes! Somehow I could see my life path unfolding right before me at that moment.
SR: To fast forward a bit, I just had a chance before we got on the phone to listen to your new track “With Me” with Florian Picasso featuring Tania Zygar. Talk about that track a bit. What was your thought process behind it? How has it been received so far?
LL: The response has been incredible. I think that because a lot of the EDM guys and myself are trying to make these crossover, [The]-Chainsmokers-type-of hits, a lot of people miss the good-old, dance-floor-type-of tracks that everyone knows from the era when EDM blew up. This track basically grabs back to that type of house/synthy feel of 2008-2009. A lot of DJ’s and fans have actually thanked me for putting out a dance-floor track again. We’re getting a ton of support on it.
SR: Great to hear! It’s awesome to see you throwing it back. Now, one of our main objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, and I feel like that has a ton of parallels with music. Artists constantly grab people from all different nationalities and backgrounds into one central location, people that may not even speak the same language. How special is it to be able to travel the world and have that impact?
LL: Thank you! It is incredible. You know that the language of music is universal. It’s true. Throughout the years I’ve connected many people. I’ve received messages from people that have met each other at my show and gone as far as starting a family with kids thanks to my music. If you look at the big festivals, like Ultra Music Festival or in Europe Tomorrowland, everyone brings their own flag and the vibes are just so amazing. Especially in these dark and scary times it’s so overwhelming to see that people can actually unite, and thanks to music people get along.
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SR: I couldn’t agree more. I was actually just watching the Ariana Grande Manchester benefit concert with The Black Eyed Peas. That to me just epitomizes the greatest part of music, so it’s cool you said that.
LL: Yes, music unites! Absolutely.
SR: Switching gears a bit to your personal travels, when you do have some down time where do you like to go? Are you a beach dude, in the mountains or are you trying to be in a city somewhere?
LL: Good question! Very good question. That’s the thing though, I haven’t really figured it out yet. I love the beach. I love the city. I’m not big into hiking or anything like that, but I have pretty much tried it all. I’ve gone on city and beach vacations and they are both cool. I think wherever it is it’s important to just get that down time to have a clear head. Wherever it’s at and whatever you’re doing, it doesn’t really matter as long as you can let go from your own reality for a bit.
SR: I always love to ask people that are well traveled what three countries they would travel to that they haven’t been to yet. Which ones do you still have to hit?
LL: Oh that’s a good question, and obviously I’ve seen a ton of cities in the world, but one beautiful country I haven’t been able to get to is South Africa. I’ve heard it’s incredible and has some amazing sights. I really need to get there.
© Mac Qin
SR: It’s funny, I used to market the Maldives back in the day and it’s an incredible place. It’s insane how beautiful it is. Having been born in the Philippines, have you had a chance to go back in your adulthood? If so, what were those experiences like?
LL: I have. All of my mother’s family is from the Philippines. I’ve gone back as an adult multiple times. But the thing is, and we were just taking about the Maldives, the Philippines apparently has a humongous amount of islands and tropical resorts that I’ve never had the chance to see yet. So, I guess there’s my third answer.
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The other thing is all of my family is in Manila, so whenever I have the time I spend it with them there. They won’t let me have a week in Boracay or anything. So, I’ve never had the opportunity. Manila is cool. It’s a city. There’s a lot of poverty. It’s nice to be with the family, but I could definitely find some more romantic spots in the Philippines than Manila.
SR: A while back we interviewed Thomas Newson, another Netherlands DJ, and he alluded to the cruddy weather forcing people to be indoors as one of the reasons why there are so many prominent Dutch DJ’s. Why, in your perspective, drives that prominence?
LL: That ties in with my first answer a bit, but to add to that we are just all one big click. Whenever we come across each other on tour, whenever we see each other, we just feel like one big family. Whether it’s Tiësto or Thomas Newson, whenever we see each other we hang out, drink, chat and have our typical Dutch banter. It’s all good. I think that’s very rare. You don’t really see that much among America DJ’s or any other country really. Usually, it’s rivalry. With us it’s absolutely not.
SR: That’s really cool to hear that. Lastly, to wrap this up, what’s the next couple weeks look like for you?
LL: So, I’m back in the United States this coming weekend. I have my residency at Intrigue in Las Vegas, which is at the Wynn [Las Vegas & Encore Resort]. It’s actually a whole Las Vegas week, because it’s the week of EDC festival. I’m playing the main stage again, which is awesome. I’m not going to be stuck in the US, because I’m doing a small China tour towards the end of June. It’s the festival season too, so I’ll be all over Europe as well.
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For more on Laidback Luke visit his website:
All photos of Laidback Luke © Ruud Baan
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