We’re on the expressway. I check the time on the car’s clock. Three. I check it again; just to make sure I have it right. I scan the rear view mirror. He’s having a conversation with his girlfriend Martine. He’s aiming away at a number of things outside of the window with that universal tourist finger we all seem to grow when we’re far away from home. They’re laughing quietly; enjoying each others company. There’s really no mystery here as to why he’s been booked to travel all the way from his home (a small town just a few miles outside of Amsterdam) to spin in the Windy City. The reason is obvious. Three in the afternoon and Laidback Luke is on his way to the space, eleven hours prior to his Chicago headlining debut at tonight’s 303 event. Somewhat early? It doesn’t take much to arrive to the conclusion that it’s this sort of dedication which gets you on top of things.
And then there’s the part about talent. Let’s just say he has it. Instead of taking the normal route of evolution, Luke began producing music at the age of fifteen; prior to his becoming a DJ. He had no real gear at the time when he began tinkering with sound, just a personal computer and its basic soundcard. But by the age of seventeen, a record deal was landed. A very bright start for someone who’s musical production roots can be traced back to sampling small bits and pieces of music on a single piece of equipment- a friend’s Amiga computer.
And like all true talented artists, he’s had guidance that goes beyond his self motivation. One of his earliest and ongoing main influences has been Dobre. Luke regards him as one of the best musicians in the world. “We use to listen to my demo tapes and he would give me tips on doing things better. Then we would listen to records and he would explain the songs and their build-ups. I am always learning things from him.”
He continues to learn and appreciate that which others have to offer. Other people whose work has positively affected his own he says are Jeroen Verheji (Secret Cineman, Grooveyard), Neal Landstrumm, Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, Surgeon, and Thomas Bangalter. “I worked with H.P. Vince (as the Dubbing Double), Jamez (as Boom! Vs Bone Machine), Derric (as the Tronic Men), and DJ Roy (as Soundtravellers). But my biggest dream was to put a needle on my own piece of vinyl and they (the Somefour crew) made it come true. I have just started to work on an album, and I’m looking forward to doing some stuff for Tim Taylor’s Missile label. There’s some new work coming out on Touché and Groove alert (Loud flava vol. 4). Be on the lookout for Boom! pt. 2 on Rough cut records. There will also be Subspace releases, Subspace 6 – Vinny’s Grooves by H.P. Vince and Subspace 7 – Public Domain by myself, with a remix by ‘Jeroen & Michel’ (those guys from Search).”
So it’s seven o’clock now. Setup is ahead of schedule. While people are working on last minute details, Luke and one of the locals are quietly throwing out a few beats on the decks. One can imagine how easy it would be for this young man of twenty years, who has reached so high in such a short time, to become either overwhelmed or egotistical by the stir he has generated among his peers and music lovers in general. Far from reality. The one thing strikingly characteristic about Luke is his sense of humility. Above anything else, he considers one of his all-time satisfying accomplishments to be “sitting in Switzerland and talking to Derrick Carter. He asking me how old I am, me telling him I’m twenty. Then him reaching out and congratulating me, saying that at the time HE was twenty years old no one gave a fuck.”
Aside from producing music in his home studio, handling his Subspace label, and globetrotting to places like England, Ireland, New York, and Philadelphia, Luke manages to insert school into his life as well. He is majoring in graphic design and does all the artwork for the Subspace releases. Although he has one year of school left, his ultimate goal is to “live off (his) music… I’m hoping things will work out.” By two in the morning, he’s giving the crowd a clean set, smiling; enjoying the music that’s he’s helped to spread. The next day is Sunday. At 9:30 in the evening he’ll wrap up his working schedule in Chicago and do a live mix show at Hyde Park’s historic radio station, WHPK (88.5 FM). With as many projects as he’s involved with, it’s humorous to see the irony in being called “Laidback.”