Hardcore dance music fans woke up one day to discover a world where Deadmau5 plays the Grammys with the Foo Fighters, Skrillex makes the Forbes money list and Avicii packs the Boston Garden. Some bitch and moan that their beloved art form has been hijacked by corporate America. Others begrudgingly respect the hustle of the genre’s superstars while muttering under their breath that the whole damn scene has jumped the shark.
And then there’s guys like Laidback Luke, who just ignores it all and does his thing the same way he’s been doing it for 20 years.
“I don’t care about the superstar thing, other than that it’s been doing well for the music I love and love playing,” Luke says from Las Vegas’s McCarran airport. “And it’s reaching out to a lot of people now, which is very important to me. It’s giving people special memories and emotions and giving them a great time out of work. That stuff is what matters to me most.”
Born Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen in the Philippines, the 35-year-old producer/DJ was raised in the Netherlands and came up in the same Dutch trance/electro house scene that birthed fellow stars Sander van Doorn, Afrojack, Ferry Corsten, Funkerman and Fedde le Grand.
Anyone who’s smoked and drank their way through Amsterdam’s clubs and cafes can attest to the small European nation’s love of all things electro–and why it’s such a fertile breeding ground for killer DJs.
“Growing up in the Netherlands, we had dance music up in the charts from like 1989, so it has always been around and I always loved it,” he explains.
“It’s always been deeply rooted in my country. We were always very open to it and it crossed over big time in the early ‘90s. We always want to experience it for ourselves and are a very picky crowd. Even if you’re a fan, if your favorite artist screws up, we’ll let them know. This keeps us DJs sharp and edgy and always trying to perform the best we can.”
He’s worked with virtually every major EDM producer/vocalist/DJ of the past two decades, including Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Martin Solveig, Daft Punk, and Junior Sanchez. He’s also collaborated with pop stars like Lil’ Jon (who he calls “a very fun guy”), Deborah Cox, and Robyn S (on an awesome remake of ‘90s dancefloor smash “Show Me Love”).
He’s in the midst of a full U.S. tour and is in that elite tier of top DJs that think nothing of jetting from Ibiza to Tokyo to Tehran to Vegas and back again. But for Luke, it remains all about the music and the crowd.
“It’s just been a great ride. The amount of support I get during shows is heartwarming. People bringing posters, dressing up as superheroes and even bringing masks of my face.”
“It’s incredible. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and when I started it wasn’t about that. I was just this producer geek that liked to DJ too.”
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