Techno legend Jeroen Verheij, better known as Secret Cinema, has been bringing the funk to dancefloors across the globe since the early 90s. This Saturday he is returning to Shanghai to play Arkham; a show that promises to be an absolute slobberknocker to say the very least. We managed to grab five minutes with the man himself ahead of this weekend show to get a glimpse of what life is like as an international superstar DJ. Pretty cool it would seem...
You started out over twenty years ago as Meng Syndicate. Do you think you have left this era behind or do you still find yourself bringing out Sonar System at shows every now and again?
Yeah funnily enough, last Awakenings, the biggest Dutch Techno Festival, I played Sonar System on the main stage before 10.000 people! Some of the people in the crowd weren't even born when it first came out, but they all went crazy! It was fun to see so many people go wild in a track I made in 1990! For the record, the memory of the computer I used back then was 512kb!!
It's well known that you take a lot of influence from old school funk music. Who are some of your favourite funk artists from back in the day?
Well funk...yeah also funk...but funk with beats, funk with synths, funk in a rock song, funk in an electric song... As long as it has a story and a soul, I am down with it, haha! I sampled Jimmy Castor Bunch and they sound quite funky to me!!
In 2001 you released your first album as Secret Cinema, titled 'White Men Can't Funk'. Having played countless shows over the past twenty years, is this a conviction that you still hold, or have you ever seen a white guy who can indeed funk?
It was my first album yes, but my first record as Secret Cinema was in 1994! Timeless Altitude was the title of the main track from back then. It was a joke of course, referring to the movie 'White Man Can't Jump'. I think the album itself was super hard techno but also had the 'funk' in it...in a scary good kind of way. And through time I have heard a lot of white man that could funk...DJ Koze, Frank Zappa, the Doobie Brothers, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk and loads of Techno guys as well!
'White Men Can't Funk' and 'SC002' are often seen as your breakthrough records. Since you've made it big on the international stage, have you noticed that your audience has changed since back in the 90s?
Obviously a lot has changed. The audience always changes, but I noticed the techno lovers are usually the curious people who are interested in the world and go deeper in their thoughts. They like to fantasize and have a lot of dreams and creativity inside.
You have collaborated with Adrian Lokman on a number of occasions, creating the soundtracks to his films. Do you see yourself getting involved in these kind of projects more in the future?
Definitely, but I need to grow a bit more in that. Funny enough I will see Lokman again soon to talk about how some projects we are developing. And also I have some opportunities waiting for TV and film sounds and tunes...let's see if I can play with the big boys!
With so many hits in your DJ arsenal, which tunes do you often find get the best reaction from the crowd?
Egbert's tracks always hit the spot, but also my own hits are often more well-known than I expect. Whenever I drop some of my own, reactions are usually very good! And I always have some nice demo's to play from my label which do the dance floor job well!!
Your exploits at Awakenings Festival are legendary. Which European festivals do you think are doing the most exciting things at the moment, both as a DJ and a fan?
Awakenings is 2 days this year so that's gonna be interesting to experience. Monegros has always a high profile of DJ's attending. I also think ADE is one of the best festivals in the world right now, for interest, quality, quantity and the great vibe throughout Amsterdam during that time! I heard Fusion is really nice, but that's on my bucket list!
Tell us more about 'Gem Records.' How did the idea come about and where are you planning to take it next?
Well our arsenal of great artists is slowly expanding and we like to go with the flow on things. Don't force too much. And quality is the first priority. The tracks for Gem should be timeless, and yes...be Gems of records.
You have played in China, and Asia generally, several times before. Have you noticed anything about the scene over here that differs from Europe?
I have played in China and Asia many many times, and it's always an adventure when you play over here. Some have been amazing and legendary nights and others just didn't wanna lift off...but mostly I have always had fun playing in Asia. I’ve played in Japan 26 times, China at least ten times, Philippines same story and Singapore and Bangkok too! And here we go again, trying to show people my side of techno, which usually brings a smile and nice energy to the dancefloor! If you like to dance and have fun, I will not fail you....we are all part of the party together!!
Techno got huge in the early 2000s, but some people say that it’s had its day, what with the emergence of Dubstep and other dance music fads. What do you think the future holds for Techno music?
Eventually everybody will love techno. There are many that just don't know it yet....
Secret Cinema plays Arkham on Saturday 5th April. Click here for more details.
Words: Arvin Mahanta
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