Picture shirtless DJs flexing during a face-off then climbing into the octagon while iconic announcer Bruce Buffer adds extra hype to the track. That’s what happened when Laidback Luke recently shot the video for his new collaboration with Steve Aoki, “It’s Time,” at the UFC headquarters in Las Vegas.
This may come as a surprise to you if you didn’t see Luke on the cover of the Netherlands edition of Men’s Health, which showcased his life in the martial arts. “From age 8 I started doing karate and at 14 I quit, just before my black belt exam,” he says. “But it was then that I started working on music. At 24 I started doing kung-fu. As a lot of martial artists, I got drawn into it by seeing Bruce Lee, Karate Kid, American Ninja and classic movies like Bloodsport.”
Born in the Philippines and raised in the Netherlands, Luke returned to his extra duties of teaching a kung-fu class at the recent Miami Music Week. Of course, he performed at Ultra Music Festival, too.
“What I set out to do is to energize people, to make them aware of their body, but within that, trigger something in the mental state,” he says of his martial arts instruction. “A lot of people suffer from stress. They forget to breathe. In my classes I show people how to deal with that through some physical effort.”
Luke has been spinning regularly in Vegas clubs for more than 10 years, before the EDM boom took hold. He’s currently redeveloping his musical style—“quite the challenge,” he says— but looking forward to showcasing a new signature sound.
And he’s happy to reunite with Aoki for “It’s Time,” their first collaboration since the Lil Jon-laced track “Turbulence” in 2012.
“I was so happy when Steve reached out to me. I’ve been asking him for a couple of years now and, finally, it’s time,” he says. “After some back and forth, Steve came with the idea of a countdown and I asked him, why couldn’t we try Bruce Buffer, the UFC ring announcer? Coincidentally, he had spoken to Bruce the night before, and before I knew it, Steve had recorded the vocals.”
Don’t worry, the DJs didn’t go at it for real. That probably wouldn’t end well—for Aoki.
“Although Steve rocks at his bootcamps, and I heard he’s done some wrestling as well, he’s not a fighter,” Luke says. “On set we quickly found out that he’ll probably need to start working on some kickboxing soon.”
LAIDBACK LUKE AT MARQUEE March 30, 10:30 p.m., $19-$42. Cosmopolitan, 702-333-9000.