Mixmag is focusing on wellness over the month of February, exploring the huge and ongoing issue of touring DJs affected by poor health. There is a prevailing stigma against seeking help and speaking out on problem. As one of the world's biggest electronic acts, with thousands of shows under his belt, Laidback Luke opens up on how he's maintained over years of constant travel, seemingly never-ending performances and life as one big party.
What do you think about the common hesitation around DJs talking about health problems?
Everyone sees this as the dream. You get to see the world, party with huge crowds every night. To complain about that seems crazy, people say “How can you be complaining about your health and how you feel, you’re living the life!”. The truth is, it is extremely hard and the fact that you fear you might be judged for speaking out about your own wellbeing is a very serious.
Can you talk about a time when you questioned why you were pushing yourself so hard when you're health was not up to par?
I remember one time very vividly during a summer tour. I did more than 50 shows in a month. I came out of the club at 3AM and had to catch a 7AM flight. I had two flights then a three-hour drive straight to the next gig, then the whole thing repeated the next day. It was getting all too much, I remember thinking "I can’t do this". I told my tour manager I do not want to get on the plane. He eventually convinced me to finish my last two shows, but I was very close.
What do you think is the most dangerous component of the touring lifestyle and why?
The most dangerous thing about newly touring DJs is their ego. These DJs come up fast with people all around them boosting them up, saying they’re the best. It’s easy to run around partying and fucking girls and going crazy, but don’t let your ego get the best of you. Stay grounded and remember you’re only human.
You've been very open about your healthy lifestyle. What types of things do you do on tour to keep this up?
The biggest thing I’ve done is quitting drinking. I’m almost completely sober, especially when I’m on a summer tour with multiple shows each day. It’s hard sometimes with so much temptation, people crowding around you offering drinks and saying “come on man, it’s party time! Have just one!”.
But it's easy for other people to forget that I have to do this for hours on end, multiple times a day. I can’t be drinking throughout tours or I just wouldn’t make it.
You’ve discussed the importance of fitness and a good diet as well, can you elaborate on that?
I’ve been practicing Kung Fu and I’m very serious about it. All it takes is 45 minutes a day of training, but my body is stronger than ever. I’m actually competing in a national kung fu championship in China!
As far as diet, it’s all your choice. You choose to put good or bad things in your body. Whether you’re on tour or at home, good smelling things put in front of your nose, but you have to make the choice to eat healthy!
What do you think is the most important thing to maintain when touring, health wise?
Know that stress is only what you allow it to be. The touring lifestyle is stressful, there is no question about that. But just take a second, take a breath, don’t let it get to you. We all experience stress on different levels, but if you just take moments to relax you will realize you can always overcome it.
Laidback Luke is currently working on a new album for 2017.
Sydney is Mixmag's US Digital Content Editor. Follow her on Twitter here
Published as part of Mixmag Health Season