Tracing the 20-Year Career of Eelke Kleijn

Nov 30, 2022

Jonah Flint

4 min read

The artistic journey is rarely linear. Eelke Kleijn’s ability to transform his career over and over, finding success at each step is simply unparalleled, though.

From his early days as a trance producer to becoming a legendary name in the world of melodic music, Eelke Kleijn has seen it all. He has produced movie scores and once even had to take a break from his career as a DJ due to an identity crisis stemming from his commercial success. Now a label boss and a self-proclaimed studio addict, Eelke Kleijn has prevailed against the odds.

In the past few years, however, Eelke has worked hard to find himself. In the process, he’s established a label and put out a slew of incredible music.

“From when I was seven or eight years old I had my first double cassette deck,” Eelke said during his Spotlight interview with Gray Area. “I would record songs from the radio. I was making mixtapes with dance music that was on there at the time. Eurodance, I was always tapping it, changing the order.”

As Eelke Kleijn entered adulthood, he quickly dove deep into electronic music. He experimented for a few years with trance before moving onto the more melodic, layered soundscapes for which we now know him. Despite early success, he was and still is his own harshest critic.

“When I look back, I see myself as someone who was still learning how to produce music and learning how to find my preference,” Eelke said. “I was getting all these different influences and pretty much releasing everything I made. When I look back critically, there are some records that stood the test of time but there are also some that are dated and I might not even remember their names. ‘Luigi’s Magic Mushroom’ [with Nick Hogendoord] is still a favorite of mine and I work it into sets every now and then.”

As Eelke Kleijn entered the 2010s, his star continued to rise. He began finding opportunities to score movies and TV, while also coming across more commercial success than he ever could have imagined.

Despite a career trajectory the likes of which many artists would be envious, Eelke found himself struggling as he felt he lacked a true sonic identity. He ultimately rejected the mainstream success he had achieved. His issues with his own output were mounting and led him to take more than a year off of his career, allowing himself the time to reset and redirect his goals.

“The records were so successful that it became a slippery slope. I considered myself an underground artist, but then you do one track that’s a crossover and each one just begets the next,” Eelke said. “Also, with remixes at the time, I found it quite hard to balance what I enjoyed as an artist versus what an artist like John Legend wanted from a remix. As an underground artist I had my opinions on it, but you have to strike the balance between these things. It caused me a lot of stress and was the main reason as to why I took a year off from releasing music in 2016. I had to do a lot of self-reflection.”

After returning from the hiatus, Eelke Kleijn came back stronger than ever. In 2017 he announced his own label DAYS like NIGHTS. He then put out two full-length albums alongside multiple singles and remixes and debuted a brand-new live setup in his iconic performance for Cercle.

“It was an overwhelming experience,” Eelke says. “We talked to them for almost two years in advance; doing it around the new album and live setup was key. When i played the Circle show, it had been at least 1.5 years since I’d played a live show anywhere. It was quite a challenge. I spent four weeks leading up to the show just playing the show at home and rehearsing, at least three times a day.”

Since his Cercle set, Eelke Kleijn has been touring and releasing music consistently. We cannot wait to see what the master has in store next.

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