Eelke Kleijn: "I don't want to stick genres on everything"

Eelke Kleijn is a rare talent. With his work stretching across movie trailer scores, deep live shows and incredibly well-formed production, he crosses a boundary from electronic producer and into a true modern-day composer. The Rotterdam based music maker, who has delivered two artist albums, an array of originals and first class remixes, has signed his work to labels such as Ultra, Global Underground, 3 Beat Records and Spinnin’ just to mention few. In 2017 he established his own imprint DAYS like NIGHTS which will present another milestone in his rich career. We've invited Eelke Kleijn to a casual chat about his career, his signature sound, current trends and much more.

After an era of quite cold and sterile sound, it seems emotions and melodies are again big thing in techno, as well as house and not every artist, feels the need to be played on the radio. Are you happy where trends in club music are going right now and what currently excites you the most as a DJ and producer?

I think lots of exciting music is getting released at the moment, so I'm definitely happy with where the whole scene is moving. Melodies are really what I look for in a track, so it's good to see that getting more traction than ten years ago or so. The one thing I don't enjoy is techno getting harder (and faster). I just don't like it, I never have. But fortunately, there is a lot of quality music still being made by established and also new artists.

We've discovered you through Global Underground releases and we liked your music just as much when you crossed-over into "pop house" (f. e. Mistakes I've Made). Where do you stand with your sound today as a producer and DJ? We have a feeling it should appeal to young as well as older fans?

I'd say my sound is a more modern take on what I became known for with my earlier releases, such as the Global Underground tracks. I've definitely moved away from the typical progressive house a little bit, but I've also moved away from the pop-house. I loved writing those tracks, but it's music I don't really enjoy playing in a club. The tracks I released in the past two years on my label DAYS like NIGHTS should give you a good idea of where I stand right now. I don't want to stick genres on everything, but if I had to I'd call it melodic house and techno (thanks Beatport!).

You're best known for producing and playing various types of dance music but you also did music for TV, commercials, games and movie trailers. Does doing one or the other requires different mindset and skills or is this more like being good craftsman for various clientele and it helps you breaking the routine?

It definitely helps to break the routine. I get bored easily, so being able to work on different projects at the same time works wonders for me. It definitely requires a different sort of mindset but in the end, it's just making music. So you're always searching for the right sound or the right melody, just with a different purpose. It is sometimes liberating not having to think about where you want to take a track, the briefings for trailers and commercials are very distinct in what they require. I like turning off my brain and just write for a purpose every now and then.

How does doing music for movie-trailers and TV-series affect your club-oriented production? You sound was always warm, cinematic and full of emotions …

They don't influence each other that much, but I do have an enormous amount of sample libraries and software instruments for the movie music. I'll often turn to those in dance tracks as well to find a certain sample or sound that stands apart from the rest. That can be everything from a distinct ethnic vocal to all kinds of weird sampled drums and ambient beds. Whenever I come across a cool sound during movie trailer production I'll write it down in a notebook so I can return to it later in a dance track.

Speaking of warm and richly produced sound: do you see your music when you produce it? It triggers a lot of imagination and listening to it always takes us to some warm place at the sea. Not sure why, but it does. 

That is a great question. I've always found it fascinating how other people experience music. I know some producers see shapes, colours or even whole objects in their mind while writing music. To be honest, I don't really see anything. I don't think my brain is wired in that way. When I'm working on a track, I'm mostly just focused on my ears, trying to find that perfect combination of sounds that does it for me.

Sasha and John Digweed, as well as Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren, seem to have lots of fun doing b2b sets almost as steady duos. Who would you pick to form a super-duo or a super-group with?

I am a bit of a control freak, so I'm not sure if I would enjoy playing back to back on a more regular basis. Having said that, some of my best b2b sets have been with Miss Melera. Music wise we have very similar ideas and usually, when we play together, it feels as if the whole is better than the individual parts.

Anything fresh and upcoming regarding your creativity we should mention?

My next artist album is coming up in November. I'm currently in the final stages of finishing all the tracks, and the first single will be out in June!

You can catch Eelke Kleijn performing on 18th May at Velesajm Zagreb alongside Chaim & Guy J. Check out more information about the event HERE.

By Saša, edited on 13 June 2018