How Eelke Kleijn Course Corrected from Mainstream to Underground
Jun 2, 2023
2 min read
You know what they say: It’s lonely at the top.
Few in electronic music know this as well as Eelke Kleijn. The Dutch DJ and producer achieved a level of commercial success most can only dream of during the EDM boom of the early 2010s. This ultimately left him unfulfilled and in need of a change, however.
In his Gray Area Spotlight interview, Eelke explained that from the time he discovered electronic music as a child, a wide range of sounds piqued his interest. The early years of his career saw him focus primarily on trance, although his 2007 single “Luigi’s Magic Mushroom” foreshadowed the deep and progressive style that would later become his calling card.
From 2010-2011, Eelke Kleijn embarked on a foray into film scores. Then, a flurry of releases on Spinnin’ Records kicked his career into high gear. At the height of his commercial success, Eelke remixed John Legend’s “Dance The Pain Away.” As it turned out, the title itself reflected how he felt about the state of affairs.
“The records were so successful that it became a slippery slope,” he said. “I considered myself an underground artist, but then you do one track that’s a crossover and each one just begets the next.”
He continued: “By the time you’ve made four records you don’t even recognize your own sound… It caused me a lot of stress and was the main reason why I took a year off from releasing music in 2016. I had to do a lot of self-reflection.”
This ended up being the right move. When he returned to the scene in 2017, Eelke Kleijn launched his record label, DAYS like NIGHTS. It has since amassed millions upon millions of streams and spawned events in cities like New York, Amsterdam, Melbourne, and Buenos Aires. Eelke himself has become a fixture of underground dance music, with a sphere of influence that grows bigger by the day.
That begs the question: Where would he be right now if he didn’t choose to follow his heart? That’s anybody’s guess, but it’s safe to say Eelke Kleinberg doesn’t second-guess his decision.