Laidback Luke on Remixing Madonna and EDM's Mainstream Crossover
"Laidback" might fit the tone of Amsterdam-based Laidback Luke (born Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen), but the tag might be doing a disservice to his work ethic: He's worked with David Guetta, Diplo, Junior Sanchez, and more, and remixed pop acts like Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Chris Brown, and the one and only Madonna, and his pounding beats and trance melodies, exemplified on tracks like "Natural Disaster," have seduced the airwaves.
Luke will kick off his first ever North American bus tour starting March 7, just a few days before his long awaited new single, "Speak Up," featuring New York City vocalist Wynter Gordon, is released on March 12 via Beatport and March 27 on all other digital outlets. The track is a bold move toward both club supremacy and an EDM/mainstream crossover.
I spoke with Luke about his first ever bus tour, his excitement to play for cities that haven't experienced his act live, and the pressure of remixing Madonna.
Laidback Luke is scheduled to perform Thursday, March 8, at Wild Knight in Scottsdale.
Up on the Sun: When did you kick off your involvement in the global dance scene?
Laidback Luke: Started producing back in 1992, when I found out you could make music with a computer. Back then this was revolutionary. A friend of mine showed me how to remake Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam" with his computer I was blown away and instantly knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
The full version of your new single "Speak Up" featuring Wynter Gordon won't be released until March 12 on Beatport, but have you be dropping it at upcoming shows?
Oh absolutely. I'm playing it at every set. It needs to be played out a lot. I'm just handing it to a lot of DJ friends I know. It's definitely working really well in sets for me and I feel the people that know my music appreciate me dropping it as well.
What made you want to collaborate with NYC vocalist Wynter Gordon?
I did a remix for her single, "Dirty Talk" and it went to storm in the clubs everywhere. I figured I just wanted a track of my own with her on the vocals as well. So after I made "Turbulence," I figured I wanted something with the same drive but a little more melodic. I thought of Wynter as the first vocalist to sing on that. Basically she wrote the lyrics. It's funny. I can tell you in the video as well, I [play a] captured super hero. She drags me in a body bag and I'm all sedated just sitting in a chair. And she wants information from me so she says "Speak Up." So it kind of fits the message in the song.
EDM and dance are really surging in popularity right now, and video production and things like that are really being taken to the next level.
Yeah I'm really happy with it. This is probably my eighth video, and I've been doing videos since 2000. But this was more European-based and now seeing dance music being infiltrated like that in the US, being taken to the Grammy level, is just mind blowing.
What inspired you to do a remix of "Give Me All Your Love" by Madonna?
The thing is when you do a remix -- and this is what a lot of new kids and new talents don't realize out there -- I am always correcting people, [but] in the non-professional world it goes: Oh, there's this pop song I like. I'll just make a bootleg of it and then I'll call it my remix. I'll release it on my SoundCloud. In the professional world it's way different. In the professional world you get approached by the original artist who asks you do a remix and that only that artist can release it. And sometimes this gets messed around. So basically I got approached by Madonna to remix her new single. So what am I going to say? It's a real honor to have to been able to do so.
The EDM scene is vastly growing. You were on the UK Top 40 in 2011. What do you think could happen this year?
I do really want to cross over. I mean with a track like "Speak Up," it would be great to get more US radio play and more mainstream airplay as well. I do feel the market in the US is right now for it. My problem with a lot of dance music now days is that it gets really cheesy sometimes, and I do like to have that original EDM feel in my music, but then to cross over. That's the kind of thing I'm focusing on. I do really want to keep this EDM feeling alive that we know. To me it needs to be genuine and not just out there for the sake of becoming mainstream. It's a fine line. It's a tricky one because at the end you don't want to just stay to a select group. Music is so powerful and I'm very happy and blessed to give people these memories and emotions. So I just really want to spread it to as many as I can without selling myself so to say.
Just for shits and giggles -- why "Laidback" Luke?
I always wanted to have a double letter artist name. In the time when I got into this kind of music people like Carl Cox, Todd Perry [were popular and] I just wanted to have a similar name just because I thought it sounded cool. This is the fun part -- when I heard Snoop Dogg rap "laidback" in "Gin And Juice," I was like "Oh, this is the 'L' word I was really looking for. Then my friends said it really fit me well because in person I'm just a chill-out dude.