A legend in the Dutch scene since 1991, Jeroen Verheij a.k.a. Secret Cinema has gone on to become a leading international headlining artist. His highly respected imprint Gem Records helped introduce artists such as Enrico Sangiuliano and Egbert to the scene. We caught up with the man as he celebrates his 25th anniversary!
2016 was a big year for you, as It marked your “25 Years of Secret Cinema”. That has to feel like a really big achievement, being able to stay current in this ever changing industry. Can you tell us what that “Silver Box” symbolized and who came up with the idea?
I saw a few other artists celebrating their 25 years with just a few remixes of their old tracks compiled into a Beatport release. I thought, 25 years and still being out there is something you can’t take lightly. I want to look back and compile everything that I can find since I started out, and put it all into one big collector’s box. Make it special. We had a meeting with my team at Gem and also the Amsterdam based publisher named after my track “Mary Go Wild” and we came up with the Silver Box.
What can fans expect if they buy the box package? Any exclusives?
I still have the original floppy disk with some of my first releases I ever made, on the old Amiga 500 computer. I took these tracks and all those I have released over the last 25 years and put them on a USB. Also in the box is 2 CD’s, one with a collection of my live sets from 1997 -2014 and then other with all my greatest hits. It also contains the DVD documentary and a really cool 90 minute live set with visuals I did in 2003. There is more….3 vinyl’s are also in the box with exclusive remixes, and fun things like stickers, postcards and all sorts! A true collectors box full of little surprises.
We hear there was a documentary filmed too, what was the idea behind this and what does it tell us about Secret Cinema that we do not already know? The director was a very famous one from the Netherlands, is that correct?
You can watch this and see who I am as a person, what gave me the drive to do what I am doing now, who my friends were and still are today, as well as what my mum thought about my career choice! We have some really cool clips too, talking with other artists in the industry – saying things which I could never say about myself!
Many people might not know the extent of your alias’s in the past. You have been known as Grooveyard, Meng Syndicate, Point Blank… What was the purpose of these? You still use Point Blank aka Secret Cinema now – tell us more.
Back in the day when I made some of my bigger club tracks, I went by the name of ‘Grooveyard’. A bit more techno focused was Secret Cinema, and the more experimental was Point Blank. I just made tracks and then later decide under what name it would thrive best.
Meng’s theme recently got the Joris Voorn remix treatment. Who approached who to do this? And have you managed to drop the original in many sets of late? Have you ever thought about doing a Secret Cinema remix?
Joris used to live right across the street from my studio when we both lived in Rotterdam, so we know each other very well. He once told me he thought it was the best Dutch techno record ever made. I remembered of course, and asked him to be part of this project when I knew we had the opportunity to get it remixed. He (thankfully) supported the whole idea, and I am really happy that he did, because Joris is a great remixer and I know that whatever he did with this track would come out really special.
Gem Records has been your baby since 2009, and we have seen the label steadily growing with his standout releases from artists. What does it take as a person to start a label off the ground and keep it running successfully?
A good A&R manager for sure, and release music that I want to play in my own sets of course. Be patient, as with everything and do not force your own opinion too much onto the artists. Let them be themselves and wait until something comes by that fits the label.
Are there any releases that you can let us in on for 2017 that you are particularly excited about on Gem?
There is an album coming by SQL – Sequel, which in my opinion is a real beauty and a wonderful type music perfect for an album. I made some tracks by myself in my bedroom studio because I was without a studio for over a year. And I recently saw Adam Beyer play one at Timewarp, Mannheim called ‘Séance’. For me, it’s a great achievement making tracks in a really lousy studio with horrible reflections and still managing to release playable tracks like that.
Your b2b performances with Egbert have been in high demand, and you guys are both now releasing a lot of material together. How did this relationship come about and do you guys enjoy working together in and out of the studio?
Egbert was one of the first guys I discovered when I started DJ-ing, and soon realized that he had so much groove and a real talent for that type of dancefloor techno. I wanted to launch his name into the world a little more, so decided to play b2b sets with him, so he can get to know the crowd with me. From there it all evolved into what it is now, and we have been playing sold out venues and parties all over the world! We have a great chemistry when playing together, so it works!
You recently collaborated with Reinier Zonneveld with your track “Extreem” which we love! Tell us about the track and how it was made. (Gear you use in the studio, your tips for creating a collab etc)
Another gem of a guy with his own talent and view on all things. I had my eye on him for a while and I thought maybe we should try doing some tracks together and just see where it goes. We made 4 tracks in 2 sessions! We obviously had a connection and for “Extreem” we used all the sounds I recorded with my analog modular system. I showed it to him and he was like “Wow, this is fat and amazing!”. We cut up all the pieces into an arrangement and so the track was made.
You are mainly and always have been known as a live artist, how do you feel it differs from DJ’ing and what are the pros and cons of playing live?
Yes, I used to play live a lot! For 15 years, most of those tracks I was playing were 135 bpm peak time techno tracks and when minimal came, I had to change and adapt to the times. For me the best decision was to become and DJ and play all the demos and music I received, as well as what I found myself online. I often search for new artists and music on my own, and that bought me to Egbert, Enrico Sangiuliano and Reinier – now all artists on our Gem Records and Bookings roster. Bes decision ever! I occasionally play live, but I am still searching for the right piece of equipment to get that same feeling I had when I played in 2001.
Dan from Pig and Dan told us he was digging Matador’s live performances. Who else do you love to see live?
Egbert always has that energetic groove and I can spot his new tracks and mash-ups while listening to it. I saw Lucy play a more tribal and left field live set with visuals and a percussionist which I really loved as well. A lot of acts are interesting, but can get boring after a few tracks. It’s hard to find good live artists that know how to intrigue without falling into cliché.
You’re based in Amsterdam, which has been a global hub for dance music in recent years. You’ll be playing at some of the biggest festivals in the Netherlands this year, including Loveland Live and Awakenings. How do you think the industry has developed as a whole? Do these events, still stand out as the best above the rest?
I think the Netherlands is at the forefront of it all. Many organizers from around the globe come check us out to learn and see how we party. We have 800 festivals with more than 2,000 people attending every year. And think about how short our summers are (very short) – we like to party, it’s all I can say! And most of the music and parties here are all still techno, which obviously I like very much. Something else which we pride ourselves on is how organized Holland is when it comes to artist liaison, ticketing and stage management. Generally, all our clubs and events are run really efficiently, and I think people like that when they come here for festivals. I have seen the scene grow here, year after year, and now I feel like I know everyone which is always fun!
After 25 years in the industry – you are just now heading off to the USA for your first major tour. Are you nervous for this tour? The US is a very different market, and of course has always had an affiliation with EDM up to recent years.
Yes, I am very excited about it. I think the timing is perfect, with EDM going down and techno becoming more mainstream. It could have not been a better time for me to explore the states and get invited. Hopefully people will like the music I play and we can all have a great time together!
Anything else you wish to tell our readers……
“Throw away your television and start to create art to communicate” – Secret Cinema