Catching Up With Eelke Kleijn, a True Modern Day Composer

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As a music lover and someone who has come to appreciate the industry for all of its riches and adversities, it’s interesting to observe the ever-evolving musical trends that take place, whether it be among society, friends or even within my own personal tastes. Recently, I have found myself driven by melody. Music that touches my emotions. They are what I call, those magical moments and I’ve been fortunate to experience many of these magical moments over the past year.

One moment that surely stands out took place a few weeks back when Eelke Kleijn paid a visit to Toronto. If you want to talk about music that touches your emotions, Eelke Kleijn is a master of the craft. Hailing from Rotterdam, Eelke is a true modern day composer. With two artist albums already under his belt, a plethora of first-class originals and remixes, while also stretching his talents into the world of film and digital media, Eelke Kleijn is a rare talent. Anyone who has had the opportunity to experience one of his sets would surely agree and those who were in attendance at Ryze Nightclub in Toronto on January 24th, would gladly tell you that they experienced the magic of Eelke Kleijn.

Initially scheduled as the headliner to play a two-hour set, it was announced in the days leading up to the show that the opener would no longer be able to perform. However, this unfortunate news would actually play out in everyone’s favour. The show would now feature a 4-hour extended set by Eelke, allowing him to take the audience on a remarkable journey.

Godzilla Disco was there to chat with Eelke just moments before he took to the decks. Despite a 7-hour delay in New York from the previous night’s gig, Eelke appeared to be in high spirits and eager to catch up with us. Here’s what went down:

First off, welcome back to Toronto! How often do you generally make it up here?

Thank-you! This is the second time in Toronto this year, but usually it’s about once a year. And this is my first time playing at Ryze.

You are currently on your North American tour—how has it been going so far? Are there any venues that you are especially looking forward to, or which you’ve already played?

Well, yesterday I played Verboten, which was really nice. I played there about 5 months ago and it was just really cool to return to that spot, especially because last time I played the second room and this time, I was in the main room with the main slot, so that was really good! I’m also looking forward to playing San Francisco again. Modualr Nights at Audio last time was a nice one—  I put that set up on SoundCloud. I’m looking forward to repeating that one.

The first time I had the chance to see you play, you were playing back to back with Miss Melera who you have recently partnered with to create the project Before.Now.After—can you tell us a bit about Before.Now.After?

Yes- it’s me, Olivier Weiter, Miss Melera and Arjuna Schiks and the thing is, we’re all good friends and we were often playing a lot at the same parties—  sometimes even back to back. After a while, we figured why not turn this into something bigger? So we did two kick-off parties in Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve. Everyone played their own solo sets, but we also did b2b2b2b where all four of us would go on stage. The three of us would do our DJ sets and Arjuna would play his live set.

Very cool!

Ya, we’d like to expand on the concept, maybe bring it to other countries. But also, do music together with the four of us and probably release it on our own label. So we’ll see where that takes us.

Tonight, Weiss was scheduled to open, but he wasn’t able to show, which allows you to play an extended 4 hour set. Do you prefer playing longer sets and would you agree they are more appropriate for the type of music you play?

Well I always enjoy playing longer, so when they asked me I was like sure! Also, when I’m playing for four hours, I play with a different mind set. When you play 2 hours as a main slot, you can’t really fool around or play records as a way of trying them out. But if you play 4 hours, you can take some detours every now and then and try some new things. And for me, that feels more natural.

You’ve had the opportunity to produce music for other forms of media as well such as film, video gaming, commercials—what have been some of the most challenging creative projects you’ve been able to work on?

Ya, the reason I did that is because I enjoy working on a lot of different things. I get bored very easily. I’d probably get really bored just creating dance music all the time, the same way I’d get bored just creating music for film scores, so it’s the balance of both that keeps things interesting for me. I’m now 31and if I look at all my colleagues I know I could go right up into my 50’s creating dance music, but I’m also thinking about afterwards. And I’d love to spend more time creating music for film and television.

And how did that first opportunity come about? Was it something you were into before producing dance music or after?

It came after. It grew very naturally, starting first with very small commercials and short animations. And then, one of my friends who does my management— he went to live in LA for a while to build upon contacts and that’s basically how it got started. He was building his network and we got some trailer gigs in. One of the first ones that I think worked was Wrath of the the Titans. Once one comes in, then you get another and another, and before you know it you’ve got some really cool trailers where you’ve worked on the music.

If you were to compare your music to some other artists—who have been some names that you look to for inspiration?

Definitely Junkie XL because he’s also got this great cross-over thing going. I’ve seen him play and destroy dance floors ten years ago on huge stages, but he also works with Hans Zimmer for Superman and Batman and all these movies. And then there’s also of course, DJs so people like Sven Vath— not necessarily for his music, because sometimes he can play a little bit hard for me, but what I love is his energy. His presence— he’s a performer. And then music wise, people like Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren. All these guys who paved the way and helped me out early in my career, who I really enjoy. They’ve got such a good sound that really guided me in the first years of my career.

Tell us a bit about your current projects going on—gigs or new releases you’re looking forward to?

There’s a new record coming up on Spinnin’ that’s called “Celebrate Life”. Actually, it’s for ID&T— it was for one of their movies. And it was such a nice record that we decided to release it. So it’s coming out either end of March or early April. I’m also doing a compilation for Toolroom Records with Prok & Fitch and Jewel Kid.

Last question— If someone were to look through your music library, what do you think they’d be most surprised to see?

Ohhh! Well, I have a lot of these guilty pleasures where there’s a lot of top 40 and pop music that I actually really like. I won’t dive into details, but if you go over my Spotify playlist, there’s anything from Snoop Dogg to Britney Spears probably. I like a lot of music. I even have a playlist that’s called something like “Really Bad Party Music”, so you’ve probably got a good idea of what that is!


Preview Eelke’s upcoming record, “Celebrate Life” to be released on Spinnin’ Records: