Track by track: Luuk van Dijk’s “first contact”


Photo credit: Segraphy

Luuk van Dijk has unveiled his highly anticipated debut album “First Contact”, which will be released on November 11 on his own label Dark Side Of The Sun. The Dutch DJ and producer’s debut album is the end result of a long and intense journey of discovery. Years of preparation, this is a project that Luuk can fully support and be proud of. Alongside a search for one’s own identity and one’s own place in music, it has also become a passage through time.

To celebrate the fall of ‘First contact’, Luuk van Dijk given FOR EXAMPLE the exclusive breakdown of each track from his debut album:

1. Cosmic:

It’s a track I started 5 years ago in my old studio. My old studio roommate had this Roland SH-101 and I dove into it. When I was doing “Cosmic”, I had no intention of releasing it. I was just having fun and letting my inspiration flow. Sometimes, when I listen to music, I put my folder with only my own productions and put it on shuffle. This way I hear a lot of tracks I’ve done over the past 7 (almost) years and come across old ideas and tracks that never saw the light of day. Everytime “Cosmic” came, I was like, “I have to release this one day”. Because of this track, I wanted to make an album to showcase my other kind of music that people might not expect from me. I chose this track as the first track on the album because it’s kind of the beginning of this album.

2. I love you:

When I first started making house music I was very intrigued by the sound that was coming from the UK, especially bands like Disclosure. They have been one of my biggest inspirations during my musical journey. A few years ago, I had a period where I listened to a lot of Garage and 2-Step, and I also wanted to do a song that didn’t have a 4×4 kick. I did the beat, did the chord riff, and recorded the bassline, and I could listen to that hook for hours. The chords gave me a very warm feeling, my kind of love song 😉 I finished the track and noticed that something was missing, a voice. I wanted something more poppy, something that could work on the radio. I contacted the LA singer Dawn Richard and when she sent the vocal stems back to me, I was blown away. She really took this track to a whole new level, I couldn’t be happier with the result.

3. Return of the Gobble:

The process of creating this track was so much fun, the kind of track-making sessions that any producer wants. I bought a new synth, the Korg M1. Famous for the sounds of ‘Show me your love’, ‘Rhythm is a dancer’and ‘Gypsy’. I’m a sucker for classic house sounds so this is the workstation for me haha. This track was made in an overnight session in the studio, I do these sessions once in a while where I make music all night and crash on the couch. I sampled some drums from some old house tracks and made this nice groovy beat and started jamming to the M1. The rhythm groove was more kick and clap oriented, and it worked really well with that bassline that was timed to the kicks. I knew it was a different kind of bassline than what I usually do, and the bassline itself was the main hook of the track. When recording the little chord hits, I remember I was thinking like, “Damn, that shit is funky haha”. While arranging and adding extra elements throughout the track I came across this old “Loon” sample and like I said I’m a sucker for classic house sounds/samples and I put it. As I put the “Gobble” sample in I remembered that I’ve used it before, the ‘Return of the Gobble’.

4. All is well:

Most of the main tracks on the album were done and I wanted to have some interludes as well. Tracks like these are what made this album such a treat. I just wanted to do something that was just to be listened to, a nice little musical interlude between all the dance floors. It can be so freeing to make music with an empty mind and not think about how a track might work on the dance floor, will most people like it, etc. When you leave all those thoughts behind and just let the music take you away, the magic happens. I had the arp in the beginning (the sound when the track starts) and I just started adding more and more and I was like, “Okay, shit, let’s add a fast, distorted rhythm, weird effects”and sampled this little fragment of this Megan Fox interview. I just loved the contrast of a nice cute melody and complex heavy beats. I wanted to end the song with a nice peaceful piano piece to kind of reset the listening experience you just had putting on this album. I played the piano before making music when I was young and during this time I started giving lessons again. I asked my piano teacher Daan Herweg (the best pianist I’ve heard, who has also worked with many of the best Dutch artists) for writing an ending for this piece together, thank you Daan!

5. Wolf:

It’s also one of those tracks where I started jamming and just let my inspiration flow. I thought it was cool to have a more “organic” sound”Kaytranada“-like” to go with the tighter electronic bass line. I also really wanted a vocal for this track and asked my editor to find a vocal that sounds a bit like jamiroquai. I think oneofmanysteves nailed it. Also one of those vocals that take the track to a different level. The melody of the voice with the strings is so beautiful.

6. Elevate my spirit:

A little song I did on the plane on my way to my first US tour, it was so cool. I sampled this little part of the Subway Conductor in Brooklyn.

7. Main socket:

I did this track not too long ago and played it a lot in my sets. Just a solid tech house beat with a groovy bassline hook that I kept rocking for quite a while so you know you got the right bassline and vocals by Enigma Child. I always wanted to work with him, and in making this beat, I knew I wanted him on it, and I saved room for his voice. Very happy with the result!

8. Hot tips:

I wrote ‘Hot Things’ as Holland was locked out and couldn’t wait to release him. It was one of those titles that caught the eye on social media and I’m happy to finally be able to share it with you! Stumbling on the main chord hits preset and doing the sequence reminded me of this earlier Hot Creations, Dynamica sort of stripped-down synth Deep House sound that I really liked when I started digging back then.

9. Let the bass kick:

One of my favorites I’ve ever made. I play a lot of old skool house music and wanted to make a track myself that could really be done before 2000. The best way to make it sound like it was in the past is to sample most of the elements and not not try to mix everything up. . I sampled beats from old house tracks, used a bass sample, and tried not to EQ most of the elements. If you want an old school sound, it’s essential not to sound too bright haha.

10. Together we rise:

Like I said before, I’m a big fan of the old stuff and tried to make a track like they made music. With as few machines as possible, just a mixer, a sampler and some synths. So I made a groove, pressed the recording and made the arrangement just filtering the main band (drums, bass and music). It was a fun way to get away from the usual arrangements, a revelation for me! Later I asked Ginoa majestic percussionist jungle at night band to start jamming and creating classic Tech House grooves, like it’s Ibiza in the year 2000. I also did this track during the COVID-19 peak, in a very emotional time, so I asked my friend MC Roga preach.

11. Too Far:

Just good music (interlude)

12. Love at first sight:

In the last two years I bought a lot of synths and when I buy a new synth new songs come 🙂 I composed the chords for this track on the Roland SH-32, a very nice little synth to make trance. I wanted it to be an ambient track, but again, I couldn’t resist putting a beat on it, and I wrote several bass melodies and lots of pads to set the mood. This track has a lot of musical layers, I really liked that, but it also made this track the longest production process ever, haha. I also sampled the voices from the film ‘Meet Joe Black’that you can hear in other songs like “Cosmic” and ‘Got too far’. An absolutely wonderful film. Artists like Leon Vynehall and Dark were big inspirations for this track.

12. Know how:

The last track on the album, and also a track that started out as an Interlude and ended up being a full song. This song basically sums up how I felt in 2020 and 2021, very emotional and sad, but also hopeful. Everything will be alright.

“First Contact” by Luuk van Dijk is already available for pre-order via Dark Side Of The Sun. Buy your copy here.

Follow Luuk van Dijk: Facebook | instagram | sound cloud | Spotify

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