Riding the Rhythm: Eelke Kleijn's Approach to a Dynamic Career

Jun 13, 2023

Photo of Michela Iosipov

Michela Iosipov

5 min read

If there is one thing that Eelke Kleijn’s diverse and distinguished career in music has highlighted, it's the significance of continual growth, maintaining a spark of inspiration, and consistently testing the limits of convention. In an exclusive interview, the Dutch maestro gives a peek into his approach to performance preparation, maintaining artistry, and his evolving sound journey.

Preparing for a gig is a detailed and thoughtful process for Kleijn. Whether he's lining up for a 10-hour set or a one-hour mainstage set, he meticulously arranges his playlists based on the intensity and genre of the music. The longer the set, the more he relishes in improvisation.

He also harnesses the power of dynamic playlisting, sorting his library by key and keywords, and constantly updating playlists based on when and how often a song has been played. Regardless of the length of the set, Kleijn finds comfort in preparedness, even though he admits to loving the thrill of improvisation.

Photography by Kian Lem

As an industry veteran who has been releasing music for two decades, staying motivated and inspired in an industry that's constantly developing can be challenging for Kleijn. He's seen trends come full circle, making it difficult at times to stay inspired.

“The Afterlife sound is what's going back to trance which is how I got introduced to music back then, but just at a slower tempo. The techno has gone up a bit. We have really hard techno now, which reminds me of the gabber house if it was 20 years ago. Now mainstream trance is popular again and we're back where we were 20 years ago when I started,” Kleijn tells us.

However, Kleijn combats this by ensuring he never does the same thing twice in the studio. He avoids using the foundation of a successful track for another and instead constantly seeks out fresh elements that excite him.

When asked what advice he wishes someone had given him when he started, he emphasizes "quality over quantity." Creating a unique sound that is truly reflective of oneself, he believes, can do wonders for a musician's career, and one quality track per year can make more impact than twenty average tracks.

Fans attending an Eelke Kleijn performance can expect a genre-bending musical voyage. He enjoys playing long sets, pushing envelopes, and playing into the crowd. He hopes that his audience leaves with a satisfied feeling, having experienced something new and inspiring.

Over the years, Kleijn's sound has certainly evolved, starting from trance in the early days to progressive house and now a more house-based sound. He's keenly aware of trends but avoids blindly following them. Instead, he adapts small components from trending sounds and incorporates them into his music, allowing for a natural evolution of his sound.

“Right now, for instance, the tempo is going up quite rapidly. A few years ago, we were playing 120, and now some sets I'm touching 130. That is how I adjust my sound. If I see something that is happening in the scene, I will also start to produce faster music. If you follow the trend a little bit and your tempo goes up, that means people can still play your music. Whereas if you are stuck to your own genre and today you are still producing at 120, that means you're limiting the number of people that can play your music,” Kleijn explains.

Being a musician to Kleijn is about spreading happiness and making a lasting impact. He aims to create music that withstands the test of time, music that would still be listened to decades from now.

“Making music is the only thing I want to do and the only thing I know how to do, I guess. I would like my music to be listened to 20 or 50 years from now. I am not interested in making a track that sounds like today and sounds outdated,” Kleijn states.

He admires the works of Maceo Plex and wishes he had produced the remix for Röyksopp's "Sordid Affair," describing it as the pinnacle of dance music in this era.

In a lighter vein, he recalls one of the most bizarre incidents on tour. Nearly two decades ago in Hungary, his performance was interrupted by a bomb threat, likely a prank by competing club owners. After evacuating, he and the crowd continued the party at a nearby club, making it a night to remember.

Eelke Kleijn’s ability to adapt, innovate, and stay true to his sound while keeping the quality of his music high continues to impress his fans and fellow artists alike. His drive and adoration for music are tangible in every performance and each track he produces, and as his odyssey in music continues, so too will his influence in the industry.

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