Artist Spotlight

Eelke Kleijn

Netherlands

Eelke Kleijn’s multi-decade long journey from novice trance producer to one of the most respected names in electronic music has been far from a straight line. Despite a high level of success early in his career, Eelke Kleijn struggled over the years trying to find his true sonic identity. After taking a year off in 2016, he announced his own label in 2017, with the first release aptly named ‘Home.’”

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Eelke Kleijn first began to discover electronic music at the age of 7. He would use his double cassette deck to record songs directly off the radio. Eelke would record anything he heard that had a dance sound to it and try to change the order around or experiment when possible. Over the years he began to dive deeper into the world of electronic music and started to release music at the age of 18.

“Back then trance was the biggest sound. I was definitely inspired by that. I got into touch with another guy [who I started to produce with]... As someone who had never released a record, we started making music and it took off pretty quickly. It got into Armin and Tiesto’s playlists quickly. From being a duo who had never released, we went to putting out 10-12 records a year. It worked for me for 1-2 years but it quickly got still… I didn’t feel like I was doing the music I loved. I was more into lower tempos and progressive house. After 3 – 4 years I put an end to the project and went out on my own.” 

After getting his start in the world of trance under the monikers M.I.D.O.R and Six4Eight, Eelke Kleijn began releasing under his name in the early 2000s. From about 2003 – 2009 his sound and production were well received and remained experimental. While Eelke worked to define himself and find label partners, he produced a wide variety of electronic music. Reflecting back on the period brings up mixed emotions. “When I look back, I see myself as someone who was still learning how to find my preference. I was getting all these different influences, and I was 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 the name. ‘Luigi’s Magic Mushroom’ is still a favorite of mine and I work it into sets every now and then.”

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As he started to find more success and recognition, Eelke began to work on another aspect of his career that ultimately came around earlier than he had anticipated. Around 2010, he scored his first movie trailer and quickly realized that it was a passion. “I got to try some pitches for tracks in film. Around 2010 – 2011 the first one landed. I spent a lot of time writing records for TV after that. A lot have landed in trailers. It’s something I love to do… It’s quite different than the music I write for myself. You have unlimited possibility on a track for the music side, on a movie pitch you’re trying to fit into a box.” 

During this time period, Eelke’s star was quickly rising. He was releasing a wide variety of music to critical acclaim and was seeing many of his songs chart outside of dance music. Although from the outside looking in, it seemed as if he was hitting his stride, the reality was far from this. “I was still trying to find what sound I really wanted to give to people… Some of them [my records] had trance roots, some of them were inspired by Cocoon and Sven Vath… From the outside, it might have looked like a solid plan, but I was really still trying to discover myself… I felt like I could never bundle my sounds into one label.”

In 2014 it seemed as if Eelke Kleijn’s mainstream popularity was at its apex. For the self-proclaimed underground artist, this caused a bit of an identity crisis. After a string of successful releases with Spinnin’ Records, and a massive remix for John Legend, Eelke felt that he needed to take time off in order to reset and focus on the founding of his label. “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. By the time you’ve made 4 records you don’t even recognize your own sound… It caused me a lot of stress and was a main reason as to why I took a year off from releasing music in 2016. I had to do a lot of self-reflection.”

Since his return, Eelke Kleijn has been on an absolute tear. After founding his label, DAYS Like NIGHTS, in 2017, Eelke has released two full albums as well as countless singles. He recently premiered a brand new live performance for the iconic, Cercle, and put out a stunning track to go along with the livestream. Although he was very proud of his performance and the ability to perform live again, Eelke recalls the experience as being a relatively intense one. “We talked to them for almost 2 years in advance… It had been 1.5 years since I’d played a live show anywhere. It was quite a challenge. I spent 4 weeks leading up to the show just playing the show at home and rehearsing, at least 3 times a day… Cercle is truly live so any mistakes will be in there forever… I had not seen a crowd in front of me for so long and then all of a sudden you’re in France with a huge team working on the show. It was overwhelming. To be really honest I don’t think I enjoyed the moment… When it was done, it was satisfying.”

For Eelke going forward, the world is his oyster. His major goals are to produce his fifth studio album. “I want to play more guitar on that. I only started playing guitar 3 years ago, I’m not comfortable on stage with it yet but I’m okay in the studio. I’ve taken an interest recently in the indie dance and indie rock scene. My next album will probably have a bit more crossover to that sound.” Furthermore, Eelke would like to build out his live show more and bring it to more places around the world. He hopes that his next album will facilitate further opportunities in the world of film and TV as well.

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