The mainstream DJs in EDM culture get a lot of flak from haters because of their success. From being called "button pushers" to much worse, the sharp snark of the internets seems relentless, and shows no signs of slowing down.
One of those at the top is Laidback Luke. In our eyes, he's a DJ who has paid his dues and earned his stripes to get where he is at. LBL is a monster on the decks, considered by many to be one of the fastest mixing EDM DJs out there. And when it comes to production, he's a master- able to produce anything from the big room to more dark, deep after hour sounds.
So, when we saw he had given an interview recently to Vice's Thump, we were quick to take a read. He gives some valuable insights and perspectives in this industry. Here are some excerpts:
So you quit drinking. Were you addicted or was it just a way to escape the pressure?
Both. I remember that my ex-wife found it problematic. She saw what I was doing and said: ‘You’ve been drinking more and more when you’re playing, do you really think that’s necessary?’. And then I’d say: ‘I’m just combining pleasure with the pressure of the business.’ But it was an attempt to run away from the stress; you have to give everything at every show. That went completely haywire. I do feel like it was an addiction. I didn’t think I could do it without alcohol.
I once heard a DJ say that he had created his own little world with his addiction. A sort of cocoon where no one bothered him. Is that something you recognize?
Yes, that sounds familiar. I love to cook for example, because I can do that without the whole world having an opinion about what I’m cooking. I recognize that level of stress when you have to perform at a high level and that cocoon as well. But now I take the edge off in a healthy way with kung fu.
Mixmash Records is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. What have been some highlights so far?
I’ve always fought to create a platform for the talent that I’m mentoring. But Avicii has been one of the biggest highlights. You can debate whether his music is good or not –I’m not a big fan of country house either- but the kid has made it to the absolute top. I’m just waiting for him to collaborate with U2 now and then he’ll have done pretty much everything there is to do.
But you are proud of him?
I’m incredibly proud of Avicii. I remember when he was just a 16-year-old kid and he sent me his first demos. And after a year or two his sound was so professional that he was ready. He had his first booking with me. He opened at WMC in Miami for an empty room. It’s great to see where he is now. The same goes for Afrojack. We also pushed him really hard with Mixmash. I was the one that introduced Afrojack to David Guetta.
... It must be hard to read the negative comments on a video like What DJs Do These Days. Isn’t it terrifying to see how much hatred something like that stir in people?
I thought that video was funny too. In that minute and a half, Steve, Sander and I really aren’t doing much. But even legends like Dimitri would sometimes just let a record play for seven minutes. But all the hate in the comments on that video... Some people on Twitter even started insulting my newborn daughter because of that clip. That was just bizarre. And then you have to explain to these people again and again what it is you really do. I’m one of the fastest-mixing DJs in the world. But still there are people who say that all that has been prerecorded and I’m essentially lip-syncing. I just said that being a DJ is all about having fun for me, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t take it seriously as an art, especially when it comes to technique. So the whole thing did hurt me a little.
Read the full interview on Thump
Check out a preview of his new song "Bae" featuring Gina Turner below.