Eelke Kleijn: It’s all about quality over quantity

Eelke Kleijn burst on to the scene as a talented 20 year old with his debut release on Segment Records – 4.5 Billion Years / Knowledge Base. It caused a large ripple in the progressive scene, and a new star was born. A few short years later he set up Outside the Box which has been a talisman of quality deep electronic music for over half a decade. This perfectionist streak in all aspects of his professional life has won him many friends within the industry and an army of music fans around the world. His style has always been deep and harmonic, and his live sets are a wonder to behold mashing all styles of electronic music in to a glorious cacophony of sound. With his sights set firmly towards the future, our intrepid Jaap Ligthart caught up with Eelke to chat about his career, Hollywood soundtracks and his current US tour.

Hi Eelke, great to meet you. How’s your day been so far?
Good although I am a bit jetlagged! I just got home from my tour in the North America and arrived this morning, straight from a gig in Mexico to San Diego and then on to LA and Amsterdam

So tell us about the tour. How long are you there for and where are you playing?
The tour was about 4 weeks. Well I started in Chicago, then Miami, New York, Toronto, Calgary, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and ended it this last weekend in Tijuana Mexico.

Do you still get nervous before certain gigs? And if so, how do you cope with that?
Not really to be honest. I might get slightly nervous if it is a really really big gig, but as soon as I am on the stage I lose that.

With EDM very much in the minds of the American populous, how have the crowds reacted to your more refined sound?
Well like any country there are different scenes in the USA. Most clubs I play at are pretty underground and they love a lot of the music I play, I don’t necessarily have to play any different then I would in other countries. It would be different when playing bigger festivals, but this tour I played mainly at clubs.


In New York you played alongside Nick Warren and Edu Imbernon. Are there many DJs left you would love to play with but haven’t for some reason?
Not really, when I go on stage I focus mainly on my own set. Although it’s great to play with other people, in the end you have got to play a great set yourself.

Any good tour stories you can share?
My brother lives in the USA, so he drove around 1100KMs to go to the San Diego show. That was actually the coolest thing that happened in a while. We had a great time discovering San Diego too the next day.

And your back in Holland on the 28th February at Het Diepe in Alkmaar. Have you ever played in Alkmaar before?
To be honest I don’t think I have. This will be a first time…

And are there any new producers who really inspire you?
The guys on the Steyoyoke label are doing really well ! Al of them have a nice unique sound, loving it!

We understand you are a husband and father. How hard is it to balance family life with being a touring DJ?
It’s not always easy but I think that goes for every job where you are away for a longer time. It means a lot more work for my wife when I am away. The good thing is that you look so much more forward to coming back every time you’ve been away from each other for a little while!


Tell us about Before Now After. What’s the idea behind that, who else is involved and how your New Years gigs went?
It’s a project involving Olivier Weiter, Arjuna Schiks, Miss Melera and myself. We will all play together at the same time involving DJ and live sets. It was an idea that haunted us for a while already, all of us being good friends and playing together a lot anyway. The new years events were the kickoff and they were incredible. Both of them completely sold out, an amazing experience. We definitely hope to bring this concept to more places around the world.

With so many commitments between you, scheduling the next party must be tough. How are you getting around that?
That’s right, so we need to plan those ahead. We discuss and block certain important dates together so we can all play at the same time.

Will you guys be releasing any productions under the project name?
Yes that is definitely the plan. we have had some studio sessions already which were very promising!

So lets move on to productions. You seem to have a golden touch with movie soundtracks, how did you get into that and is it an area you would like to explore more?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and definitely an area I want to continue working on. I did my first full feature film as well this year, a Dutch documentary called Hollywood Banker. Check it out if you get the chance, it’s a really interesting view of Frans Afman, a Dutch banker who invented a financing system for Hollywood.

Would you ever consider arranging a soundtrack like David Holmes did for Oceans 11. Just picking really cool music?
I think that is more the job of a musical director, if I work on a movie I would prefer to write the music myself.

How do you deal with the pressure of creating music for a Hollywood blockbuster?
I actually work really well under pressure, so with a bit of pressure on top I often perform better than without. When you work on something for Hollywood that are certain deadlines you just need to make and as long as you get that, everything is good!

With your tracks Mistakes I’ve Made and Ein Tag Am Strand you chose to release on Spinnin’. It’s not the first label I would think of when I think of your sound, so how did end up there?
Those are tracks that appeal to a slightly bigger audience so you need a label that can make that work. I think Spinnin is a great partner for that. They have got a huge following and it’s easier for them to bring those tracks to the people that are interested in it. I think they wouldn’t have worked on an underground label, although Ein Tag Am Strand was almost signed to Kompakt at one point. Funny if you think of that!

We understand Ein Tag Am Strand took a while to be finished. Do you think patience is a virtue lost on most producers? Is there a pressure to constantly finish tracks and get them released in todays musical climate?
The pressure is there, but I try not to be bothered by that too much. It’s all about quality over quantity. People will remember you for one great track. But they won’t remember you for 100 average ones.

How healthy do you think the Dutch scene is right now, and how does it compare to the rest of the world?
I think it’s great to be honest ! And it’s only getting better. I have really seen the scene grow over the past years, getting more and more young people and fresh faces involved. I think we have one of the healthiest scenes around the world right now.

In 11 short years you’ve achieved a great deal. What advice would you give to young producers today hungry for success?
Quality over quantity! That’s the only thing that counts

Well, its been a pleasure to talk with you Eelke, I hope the tour continues to be successful. Where else are you playing this year?
There’s lots of things coming up. This year will see me go back to Buenos Aires for Ultra. Then later this year Australia, London, the USA again, Serbia, Poland and of course a lot of gigs in the Netherlands!


Eelke Kleijn is playing at Het Diepe in Alkmaar, The Netherlands on the 28th of February. Decoded Magazine is proud to be media sponsor.

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About the Author

Working as a Web Designer / Front End Developer / Digital Producer for the last 15 years, Jaap can finally combine his two passions, online and music.