Photo credit: Jos Kottmann
The fact that Eelke Kleijn DJs in his socks and produces in a standing position tells you a lot about what you need to know about him. Three albums into a well established yet still rapidly ascending career, Kleijn is an artist very much in his element. In the grand scheme of things, he’s an underground artist, but one who has effortlessly made the jump into the wider world when the time and opportunity have felt right. His remixes for the likes of John Legend, Pendulum and James Newton Howard & Jennifer Lawrence are testament to his ability to reach wider audiences without giving up on his core values.
With a background playing piano, guitar and bass and a healthy sideline in composing for film and TV, his productions are imbued with a deep sense of musicality and emotion, always engendering a strong sense of space, place and occasion. His work scoring Hollywood blockbusters like Rush, Parker, and This Means War has been met with great acclaim.
His latest artist album, ‘Moments Of Clarity’, is the apex of his work so far, blending progressive, ambient, epic breakbeat, deep house and melodic techno in perfect harmony to create an album that is as at home on the dancefloor as it is on the home stereo.
DAYS like NIGHTS is becoming an increasingly important part of what he does. Serving as a multi-faceted platform where he enjoys total creative control, it encompasses a label, a radio show, and podcast and spectacular parties.
We had the chance to talk with Eelke Kleijn ahead of the release of his upcoming album.
Electronic Groove: Hi Eelke, glad to have you back on EG. First, how do you keep yourself busy during the quarantine times? Do you find yourself being more creative and productive when it comes to making music at the moment?
Eelke Kleijn: Hello, I’m glad to be here too. I don’t think I’m necessarily more creative, but I really enjoy being able to work on music for an extended period. Before, studio time would always get interrupted by gigs and tours on the weekend. I’ve taught myself to write music on the road as well, but it’s actually extremely refreshing just to go into the studio and write music 6-7 days a week. Apart from that, it’s great to spend some more time with the family as well. My daughter loves that I am home all the time and we play Nintendo together almost every evening!
EG: What was your inspiration behind the album’s first single ‘The Magician’?
Eelke Kleijn: The idea for this track was based around the bassline. That sort of gnarley, bleepy quality that it has is called S&H Hold filter modulation, it’s a trick well known from some of the classic acts such as Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode. I had wanted to make a dance track with such a bassline for a while. I made the sound on my modular synthesizer and the rest actually came pretty quickly. If you look at the arrangement it’s a relatively simple track in terms of what is playing. Very unlike me actually, usually I have way too much stuff going on!
EG: What can we expect from your upcoming releases?
Eelke Kleijn: It will be a very nice selection of what is to come on the album. Very dancefloor-oriented, but in my own melodic way of course. The second single, ‘The Hierophant’, is out and it’s one of my personal favorites from the album.
EG: You have a new album coming in September. How did your creative process come about behind such a big project?
Eelke Kleijn: For me, an album is usually about the chemistry that the tracks hold together. I started writing music pretty much directly after ‘Moments Of Clarity’ was released at the end of 2018. After a while, I had 5 or 6 tracks that really worked well. And then you start to think about possibilities. There’s a certain sound that binds them all together in my head, and you start to fill in the gaps with other tracks and ideas that will fit. It usually takes me a while as well, I like to let tracks rest to see how I feel about them after a couple of months. That process is non-stop for the entire duration of the album production. I’ll listen to everything in different settings and at different times and the notes that I take will get worked into the tracks eventually.
“It’s about giving something back to the community, even though we can’t physically connect and dance together“
EG: You recently did a live stream from your studio, how was the experience?
Eelke Kleijn: Yes, finally a live stream from my studio! It contained some of the upcoming album works. Not everything is done yet, but there’s a few that will make the cut for sure. Apart from that, I really felt the need to play some music and to have people from all over the world tune in. It’s about giving something back to the community, even though we can’t physically connect and dance together, this is the next best thing to that.
EG: Would you ever consider doing a track deconstruction to show your fans how one of your tracks is made?
Eelke Kleijn: I have actually done a couple already! There’s two or three up on my YouTube channel, and I have recorded a deconstruction for ‘The Magician’ that will be available soon as well.
EG: What kind of set up do you have at home? Are you still working on new music at the moment?
Eelke Kleijn: I have my entire studio set up at home, I’ve also had it at other places but in the end I like to be able to quickly run up and record something whenever I feel like it. It’s based around Cubase with lots of Universal Audio plugins. I have quite a bit of external gear, but I’d say what I use most is my modular synthesizer and my Moog One. I’m a big fan of external effects as well, so the modular has all kinds of weird processing stuff in it, and I run a lot of my sounds through guitar pedals for additional processing. It’s a nice mix of software and hardware. And I’m always working on music, even now I’m still finalizing the album and recording new things as well.
EG: Tell us a bit more about your label, what are your plans for it, and what are you planning to release on it?
Eelke Kleijn: My label is called DAYS like NIGHTS. Over the coming months we have releases by Newman (I Love), Roger Martinez, Corren Cavini, and Dustin Nantais & David Hohme. There’s a couple of remixes forthcoming as well by the likes of Hernan Cattaneo & Soundexile, as well as Gerd Janson. I think it’s a good balance between upcoming and established artists, something I have always strived for. And soundwise it spans a large range as well, but so do my DJ sets so that shouldn’t surprise anybody. I do hope we can get back to putting on events soon as well, because I am really starting to miss our gatherings with fans and dance music lovers! ;-).
Eelke Kleijn’s ‘The Hierophant’ is now available. Stream and buy here.