Ever since his 2003 landing in the world of electronic music, Eelke Kleijn has been a name synchronous with quality. Fans and enthusiasts worldwide have come to love the sympathetic Dutchman for his affectionate sound, unique productions and dynamic DJ sets, which have taken him from Mexico to Russia, and almost everywhere in between. And it’s not just the fans that are moved by his work; avid followers include internationally renowned DJs such as Hernán Cattáneo, SashaandDave Seaman, who repeatedly drop his tracks in clubs and festivals around the world.
Eelke’s real breakthrough came in 2006 when Nick Warren included ’8 Bit Era’ onhis ‘GU 030: Paris’compilation. A few months later, Global Underground snapped up his debut artist album ‘Naturally Artificial‘,which hit the market late 2007 and received critical acclaim from press and reviewers worldwide. The attention from an international best-selling label also sky rocketed his DJ career, playing at massive events such as MoonparkinBuenos Aires, Dance Valley, ExtremaOutdoor and Sensation to club gigs at the world famous Warung in Brazil and PrivilegeIbiza.
Besides his work as a DJ and producer, Eelke also successfully runs the record label ‘Outside the Box Music‘, launched in 2006. His similarly named radio show and podcast has grown into an internet sensation, reaching tens of thousands of people each month.
Back in Autumn 2010, Eelke released his second artist album ‘Untold Stories‘, on ManualMusic. The philosophy behind his second full-length album is that music should be continuous, an uninterrupted, emotional experience. Having written the album as one single piece instead of a collection of individual tracks, ‘Untold Stories’ was truly Eelke’s way of pushing boundaries within his music. With 2 artist albums under his belt and an incredible amount of work to look back upon, Eelke Kleijn has established himself not just as another producer or DJ, but as a modern day electronic composer.
Progressive House Worldwide is now catching up with Eelke to see how everything goes with him, at his home, his music studio, and in the venues around the globe where he regularly plays. We really hope you guys will enjoy this one.
Hello Eelke. It is a great honor for us to have you here, so first of all thank you for your time, really apreciated. So, hows life treating you lately?
Really well to be honest. Busier than ever in the studio and I have a little babe on the way, so it is a very exciting period for me.
Was this summer of 2012 successful for you? Also, maybe it is too early to summarize the year of 2012, but, anyways, are you satisfied with it so far?
Overall it’s been a great summer. Gigwise it was a little bit quieter than last year. In 2011 I spent the entire summer flying from A to B. This year I was playing every other weekend, which was actually really nice because it gave me a lot of time in the studio. I think it must have been one of my most productive summers so far.
All of our readers already know who DJ/Producer Eelke Kleijn is. But can you tell us who Eelke Kleijn actually is when not behind the decks, or in the music studio?
I guess I would say that Eelke Kleijn is someone who enjoys watching series on TV, especially Breaking Bad, Dexter and Fringe. He also enjoys sports like swimming, climbing (although not as much as I’d like to) and working out. And he enjoys cooking as well and can spent an hour in the kitchen cooking up the perfect tomato soup
How does typical Eelke Kleijn day looks like?
I get out of bed between 8 and 8:30 in the morning. Make some breakfast, watch a bit of TV and check my email until 9:30 or so. Then depending on what needs to be done I get to work. I have my studio at home so usually I will work there between 9:30 and 18:00. During the day I might go out for groceries or so. Then at 18:00 I’ll cook dinner for my girlfriend and me, either go out to do some sport or get back into the studio until 22:00. Then chill out on the couch with a glass of red wine and some snacks and watch a movie or a series. I go to bed around 12 o’clock. Very un-DJlike!
Even you are quite young, you are in the business for almost a decade now and you have so many releases (and musical experience generally) behind you. At least to me, I guess that speaks a bit about your inner connection with music. What music personaly means to you?
To me it is an incredible thing that seemingly random combinations of sounds and melodies can make people laugh and cry. I think music has an impact on everyone because without music things like movies and adds would be pretty useless, but some people are just more aware of it than others. I’ve been really pulled towards it my entire life and whenever I’m not making music I often feel as if I am ‘wasting my time’.
Is there some force from the real life world that strongly shapes your experience of music? Your tracks like ‘Ortni’ or ‘Violintermezzo’ clearly witness that in your approach to music there is much more than just ‘producing music’. Where do you get all the inspiration?
Often from very different things. Track like Ortni and Violintermezzo were very much inspired by film music and listening to bands like UNKLE and Massive Attack. But some of my dance tracks might be inspired by listening to a set from Sven Väth or another DJ. I usually get inspired while being in the studio. I’m not really someone that walks around with melodies in his head. The magic usually happens when I sit down and start to play.
Can you use only one word to describe the music you produce and play, there seems to be a move away from the progressive sound you made your name with towards techno in your productions of late?
‘Depth’ is probably the best word I can use. Whether it’s my dancefloor stuff or the slower album like tracks, they all need to have some kind of depth. It’s true that some of my recent music might be a little bit more techno than before. I don’t think I’ve gone all the way and completely changed my sound. But I do listen to different things nowadays than 5 years ago and as a result the sound I produce also changes with me.
What’s happening lately …
The summer of 2012 witnessed a revamp of your huge hit from the ‘Untold Stories’, ‘The Lone Ranger’ on ‘Manual Music’. How did that happened? And how do you feel for having Henry Saiz on a remix duty?
Well, actually Henry’s mix was written specifically for his Balance CD. He loved the original when I sent it to him at the end of 2010 and had just started working on his album. He proposed that he would remix it for the CD. Balance had the exclusive on that and we weren’t allowed to release the remix on Manual for some time, that’s why it took a bit longer for the single to come out. I didn’t want to release just my original + Henry’s mix because most people had heard those. So I wrote the 2012 mix a few months ago to include something completely fresh with the release.
You recently did a remix for Goldfish’s single ‘Woman’s A Devil’. You turned it into a real atmospheric monster. Was it hard to remix such a fancy track, and to completely reverse it’s main direction?
Yes it took me a couple of tries to get it right. I loved the vocals in the original, but the melodies didn’t easily lend themselves for a darker dance floor version. So I kept on playing with the vocals, pitching them up and down a bit, getting the harmonies right. Once I layered that with a basic groove and came up with the bassline, it was easy to finish the tune. Funny detail is that everything was made in my temporary setup while the studio was being rebuilt, so I did this whole remix on a set of cheap 40$ Creative speakers, which actually worked really well for creativity. Afterwards when I heard it in my studio I needed to make some pretty heavy mix adjustments though
If I am right, you debuted on Hope Recordings with a remix for Way Out West’s track ‘Surrender’ back in 2010. Also, Nick Warren is one of the main ‘respondents’ for your real breakthrough on the scene. How does it feel to be back on his label, by remixing already a pretty huge track like Terje Saether’s ‘The Train’ is?
Very good! I’ve always been a fan of the Hope label, and Nick has been a longtime supporter of my music. Just before he asked me to remix this track, I’d got a promo from Terje and was really fond of that. So when Nick came up with his track for Hope, I was into it right away.
Can you tell us something about your new single ‘Rauwdouwer’ on Cattaneo’s ‘Sudbeat’? I wasn’t able to find any previews of it. It will feature a Christian Smith remix right?
That’s right! You are well informed It’s a track that I have been playing live for a while already, and it is an unofficial followup to my more techno oriented tracks such as Rauwdouwer. It’s been featured in the Outside the Box radio show but without an ID, many people have asked me what that track was. It should be released next month I believe. I have just heard Christian’s mix this morning and it’s wicked!
Next up on your Outside The Box Music you will host two of the industry’s biggest heavy-weights: Dave Seaman & John 00 Fleming. The ‘Pixelated’ cut is just huge, especially Part 2. How that cooperation came about (between them and your label)? And can you tell us something about your remix? You’ve driven that progressive house into a more driving techy side …
To be honest I am not 100% sure how the cooperation between John & Dave came about. But I’ve known Dave for a while and he approached me with the idea to release their track on OTB. I was all ears of course, and proposed to do a remix myself. We’re coming up with a remix disc as well later this year. I’ve indeed taken my remix down a slightly techier road. It still features the melodies and sounds that bring depth, but I wanted the groove to “really” do something on the dancefloor. I’m very glad with the bassline and percussion especially. It’s definitely something I might try again for future tracks.
Anything more coming up soon from your digital kitchen that I maybe forgot to mention?
There is a new 2-track Eelke Kleijn release coming up on Outside the Box on the 31st of October. Samples should be up very soon on Soundcloud!
DJ Eelke Kleijn
According to you, what country has the most educated club crowd? I heard some guys talking a lot about Argentina, and I see you have been there a couple of time earlier this year…
I don’t think there is such a thing as 1 country having the best educated crowd. I think every where you go you have great parties, but you have to be in the right places. Argentina is indeed one of the places I really enjoy playing because I always play in clubs with people that go for the music for 100%. I’ve had similar experiences in Eastern Europe and Russia, but also in the Netherlands.
Tell us about your touring schedule for the rest of 2012. Is there some event you’re especially looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to ADE this year. I will play at VRIJ at het concertgebouw (concert hall) in Amsterdam on 19-10 together with Junkie XL and Yonderboi. This should be really good as I am going completely live for the first time with just my own music, ableton and controllers.
From your own DJ experience, can you tell us, does club crowd knows how to respond to emotional music?
I think that really depends on where you play and how well you have build up your set. For instance, if the DJ before has really warmed up well and you’re playing a nice a deep set that people are into, they will definitely love the more emotional tunes as well. However, sometimes you play at places where you notice that people really want more dancefloor oriented things with percussion and grooving basslines. In that case it might be harder to play an emotional track. Although it can be a nice change in sound as well. In the end it probably all depends on how well you can read the crowd
What has been the strangest request you have ever had from a clubber whilst Djing?
Some girl once asked me if I could play a song that has a beginning and an end. Also I’ve been proposed to a couple of times..!
To finish the things off …
I see that you have been involved into producing music for Hollywood movies like ‘Wrath of the Titans’ and ‘This Means War’. How was that experience for you?
Wonderful! That is something I see myself doing for years to come. I would love to work on film music one day. Things like doing trailers for big movies are a very big step up for me and I definitely will continue to push myself in that direction.
Do you maybe have some candidate for tune of 2012? If not, give us a couple of tracks you’ve been really enjoying lately.
I can never really make up my mind about that. But some tunes I have been really enjoying lately are Pig & Dan – Let The Show Begin, Kramnik – Viclone (Gabriel Ananda Remix) and Hot Since 82 – Hit & Run.
You are especially good at … (besides making and playing music)?
Psychology (I’ve got a degree as a biological psychologist!)
What are your plans & goals for next year?
Well a new album is definitely high on the list. Apart from that, continue doing things the way I have done for the past years and hopefully make the jump to some new places such as America and Australia.
Any final shout outs to the readers of the interview and fans around the globe? all the best, and we hope to hear soon again from you with more hot news.
Thank you very much for the interview! Hopefully I will have much more good news for you soon. For news just keep an eye on my soundcloud and facebook page.