As one of the rising stars of Amsterdam's vibrant nightlife, Luuk van Dijk is bringing infectious house music to the world. A music producer firmly rooted in the old school, yet with a forward-looking mindset, Luuk is constantly striving for the best basslines and tightest grooves.
For Luuk, becoming one of the most in-demand DJs in Holland did not happen over night. While the typical fifteen year olds played video games, a young Luuk was spending his time sifting through sample packs and saving up for his first vintage synthesizer. One day, his father, a jazz musician brought over a copy of Cubase and the rest is history.
In 2020, Luuk launched his own label Dark Side of the Sun. It marks the next step in his career after releasing on some of the world's leading (tech) house labels and touring internationally.
His debut album First Contact, is the end result of a long and intense voyage of discovery. An immersive sonic experience, the 13-track release features Dawn Richard, Kid Enigma & Steve Burton. The album kicks off with the suitably-titled Cosmiq, a deep, grooving sonic exploration that immediately sets the tone. The first single is the ethereal sounds of Love You featuring Dawn Richard on vocals. There are also collaborations with Steve Burton of Oneofmanysteves, in Wolf, a majestic, strings-led house track; Master Plug, an upbeat, jackin’ house tune with Chicago artist Kid Enigma; and Detroit-inspired Together We Rise, punctuated by MC Roga's spiritual vocals and much more.
Amidst his busy schedule, Luuk took time to talk about his love of music and food. He gave us a taste of his favorite restaurants, food joints, record stores in Amsterdam, and what he enjoys doing during the holidays.
Q: What have you eaten today?
A: I just finished a tour in Australia. I'm back to eating healthy again so today I started the day with a bowl of soy yoghurt, muesli, banana and some vanilla protein powder plus a nice cappuccino with oat milk. Most of the time I get breakfast on the go as I do intermittent fasting and I usually go to the studio around 10:00. But today I’m just chilling and working at home.
Q: Which dish, food, fruit, or drink reminds you of autumn?
A: Definitely fresh ginger tea. My immune system isn’t that good as I’m diabetic and touring isn’t the healthiest lifestyle so around this time I easily get a cold. I always try to beat that while drinking fresh ginger tea. The only classic dutch cuisine we have is mashes and hotchpotchs. That is typical fall/winter kind of food.
Q: Tell us about your favorite foods.
A: This is so hard because I love so many different types of cuisines. In particular I love Italian, a lot of different Asian cuisines (like Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian) and so much more but if I have to pick one I think I’ll go with Italian. I just love to cook Italian and the philosophy behind it, cook with local ingredients. It also can be very simple but if you have the finest products and ingredients it can be a game changer.
Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
A: Yes, we have this one Turkish place in Amsterdam called Beste Döner which serves the best Döner Kebab ever. It’s not your average after clubbing snack but it’s really something else. Bread, chicken Döner, grilled vegetables, some badass herbs and Madame Jeannette pepper sauce. It’s only open during the day.
Q: Which restaurant do you visit frequently?
A: The place where I go to the most is Caldi e Freddi. It’s a little shop behind my place where they serve the best Italian Ciabatta’s with amazing toppings for only 4€. I go there at least once or sometimes even twice a week. I get a Spoleto (Spianata Romana, Provola cheese and grilled eggplant) plus a 1€ double espresso. Life’s good.
Q: What are some of your favorite spots to eat in Amsterdam?
A: Cornerstore is my new fave hotspot in Amsterdam Noord, really cool place with the finest natural wines, refreshing and interesting small dishes. During the weekend DJs play the nicest music to eat to with vinyls from the restaurant (you can even eat at the booth). My all time favorite restaurant is Toscanini. I can say this is the best Italian restaurant in Amsterdam. You do have to make a reservation at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Q: How would you describe Dutch cuisine?
A: Hotchpotchs, it’s called Boerenkool (farmers kale). Basically mashed potatoes with kale, meatballs or sausage and gravy. Or Hutspot, Mashed potatoes with carrots and meatballs etc. And last but not least, Andijviestampot, (Endive Stew), mashed potatoes with Endive, sausage and gravy. Holland = Potato, haha!
Q: Your favorite Dutch dish is?
A: Well if I have to choose…. Boerenkool then.
Q: Do you cook? What do you like to cook?
A: Yes, cooking is a hobby. I love to cook Italian, just using the best products and really paying attention to the recipes. I especially love making dishes that take time. There’s nothing better then adding seasoning and tasting, let it sit, clean the kitchen and putting your hard work on the table.
Q: Which kitchen appliance do you use the most?
A: Pans of course. No but all jokes aside, I just got these new steel De Buyer pans and I’m loving them. It’s quite a task seasoning the pans but I feel like a real chef now!
Q: A type of food that you did not like as a child that you now enjoy as an adult?
A: Ginger, ugh how I hated that and love it now. Ginger beer, ginger tea, ginger in food, it’s just epic. Oh and tomatoes, I can’t imagine hating tomatoes!
Q: A family recipe/dish you look forward to eating during family gatherings?
A: My dad’s signature dish is chicken wrapped in bacon with this epic creamy mustard sauce with haricots verts and potatoes. Everybody in the fam loves it, I also made this dish for my in-laws which I also love to cook for and they love it too.
Q: Who would you say influenced your love of food?
A: My mom is a really bad cook (laughs), so it has to be my dad!
Q: Your parents are musicians, what type of music did they listen to when you were growing up?
A: My father is a real jazz head, especially the fast complex jazz music and my mother enjoy’s classical music more. She’s an opera singer of course! But I have to say my parents really enjoy everything I listen too as well, it’s super nice to have parents that are very musically open minded.
Q: What music did you listen to as a teenager?
A: Literally everything, all the music my parents listened too and also as a teenager but also everything MTV’s had been serving back then. But I was buying mostly Hip-Hop CDs with my brother. 50 Cent was at his peak.
Q: Do you play any instruments? If yes, which one?
A: I’ve been playing the piano since I was 6! That was mandatory at home. I had to practice so much (from my mother) but I’m really happy they pushed me, it does really helps with making music.
Q: Do you remember that one track that got you hooked on dance music?
A: I remember my brother playing this track: Mischa Daniëls - Off My Rocker. I think I was about 13 and was like wttffffffff, what’s this? That was during this period when there was this big Sneakerz movement in Holland, basically all club music sounded kind of like this.
Q: What did you feel when you went to your first “rave” or music festival?
A: My first festival was in 2013, Loveland Queensday. I just turned 16 and I remember Dubfire playing this track by Devid Dega - Moonstruck. I remember hearing penguin kind of sounds and being mind blown. The whole day people were vibing to rolling tech house and I remember in particular people being so friendly. When I think back to it I get goosebumps, just hearing all these new sounds and being in this natural high.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a DJ/producer?
A: When I was 13 years old, I had piano lessons from this cool dude who played jazz and he taught me how to improvise. At some point I was just jamming on the piano and one day my dad came home with this new music production DAW called Cubase and I started putting those jams into the computer. During that time I was listening to all the guest DJ mixes on the radio, the station was 538’s Dance Department. I think that was the time I started making tracks and if you made tracks you must DJ as well.
Q: How did your DJ journey begin?
A: Playing commercial music during birthday parties, talent shows, school parties, which eventually led to playing small clubs. In 2013, I attended this DJ contest called Kunstbende which (after winning 4 rounds and eventually the finals) got me a spot playing in one of Holland's biggest festivals Mysteryland, which gave my career a big head start.
Q: Music wise, who were you influenced by?
A: I was and still am absolutely obsessed with Disclosure, they have a very warm, sexy, complex and refreshing sound which inspired me so much back in the day.
Q: If you were to describe house music as food or dish what would it be and why?
A: Pizza, it’s just nice anytime of the day and you can always switch up the toppings.
Q: Do you have a vinyl collection?
A: Yes! I’ve been collecting vinyl since I moved to Amsterdam 6 years ago. I buy and sell a lot, nothing beats going to the record store and digging music all day long. We have a lot of nice stores here in Amsterdam, Mary Go Wild, Seawolf, Bordello A Parigi, Killa Cutz and of course Rush Hour. I just checked and my collection and it is 850+ records. I don’t really like to play records in a club or a festival because most venues haven’t set it up properly so I rip everything.
Q: What are some of your most precious records?
A: My first records: Tom Trago - Use Me Again, Disclosure - Settle, Hot Natured - Different Sides Of The Sun, - Paul Kalkbrenner - Sky And Sand, Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. - City. As an artist, these records have shaped me into who I am today.
Q: What is your preferred DJ setup?
A: 4x CDJ 3000’s, 1x XONE 96, 1x RMX1000. Subwoofers in the booth, some cold beers and surrounded by friends.
Q: What’s your go-to setup when producing? Do you have a favorite DAW, plug-in, or synth?
A: I recently bought the Nord Wave 2 and that’s my go to synth now to start making a track. I really like to scroll through presets and get inspired by jamming with various presets.
Q: Which track did you play the most this summer?
A: I think my own track Hot Stuff. It’s the first single of my album and crowd reaction has been super good over the summer!
Q: Any releases on Dark Side of the Sun that you are excited about?
A: The upcoming release on my label is my first full length album First Contact. This has been in the makings for quite some years now and I’m so happy with the result, I can’t wait for you all to hear it!
Q: What do you look forward to during the coming winter months?
A: Christmassssss, I just love the holidays! Bad movies, dinner with the fam and then party in a sweaty club.
Q: Luuk thank you for being part of The DJ Cookbook!
A: Thank youuuu!
Listen to Luuk van Dijk's first full length album First Contact