Secret Cinema: “Power cut in my ‘live’ set”

Secret Cinema & Marceline ADE 2017
Jeroen Verheij a.k.a. producer & live techno artist Secret Cinema is refreshingly down to earth and open. In May 2017 I interviewed him about his DJ debut. “After that first gig, it was ‘live’ or die!”

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Dutch Jeroen Verheij a.k.a. techno producer & live artist Secret Cinema is refreshingly down to earth and open. In May 2017 I interviewed him about his DJ debut. “After that first gig, it was ‘live’ or die!”

“My very first ever gig was at the Ultimate Seduction Party at Tomorrowland, Rotterdam. This was a club where the first hardcore gabber artists were performing. I was just 20 at that time!”

1994 The bedroom studio in Jeroens parents house where Timeless Altitude and Mengs Theme were made 1024x738 - Secret Cinema: "Power cut in my 'live' set"

Faking my set

“Was I nervous? Yes, I was nervous! Mainly because I was basically faking my live set. I didn’t want to DJ, I only wanted to play my own music live on stage the way a band would. But at that time, it was not possible to play live with an Amiga 500 computer, which is what I used to make all my music.”

Power cut

“So, I went to Paul Elstak and learned from him how to play ‘live’ with a DAT tape running in the background. It felt horrible, and there was a power cut during the set, so everyone could see that the music continued while my keyboard was off. The funny thing was that all of the ‘live’ acts that night were doing the same thing. But because the power only went out during my set, it was only then that it became noticeable.” (laughs)

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Wider spectrum

“It was a really varied crowd. At that time electronic music was still developing, so you got people who were into a wider spectrum of music that had not yet been narrowed down into many sub-cultures and genres. They all just came for a good time!”

For the better

“So, there I was, standing behind my Roland W30 keyboard pretending to play! It made me want to really play live on next occasions, so I guess the experience was for the better. I didn’t like to fake the performance, but it was what everyone was doing at the time. It was my first gig ever, and I learned very fast to never ever go down that route again.”

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“At the time, I had a lot of people from school and friends from my teenage years supporting me. My mum was skeptical when I left school to make music. But she supported it when my career took off. She didn’t come to that first gig though, thank god!” (laughs)

Paul Elstak

“As far as having a mentor goes, it was Paul Elstak who gave me some of my first advice. He was also playing ‘live’ that night, under the alias Holy Noise I believe. He was using the same trick I used.”

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Make a living

“Nope, there wasn’t really a girl present at that gig that I wanted to impress. At that time all I wanted to do was focus on music, and be sure that I could make a living from it. I knew from the moment of the first gig that playing that way, was not the right path for me. I chose not to produce the hardcore style of music which was really popular at the time. I went down the techno road instead, and it’s been a good one since.”


“How I felt after that first gig? Well, I think you already know the answer to this one. It was terrible! But maybe it was the best thing that could have happened to me, just in disguise. After that night, I decided to go ‘live’ or die basically. I came away from that gig feeling a little deflated but also determined to learn a lesson and change things for the better.”

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“A few years later I worked on a new set up, I had a DJ booth full of equipment, and played my sets with an MPC3000 and a Kurzwell 2000 with effects and so on. It felt amazing and exactly how it should feel to play live.”

Photo credit Loveland: Dennis Bouman

This interview with Secret Cinema is originally published on in May 2017.

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