Artist of the Week: Arnej
Arnej Secerkadic's name is one to remember. Over the past years, Canadian wonderboy Arnej has been tipped as one of the fastest rising, talented producers around. As his productions got picked up by the big DJ's, so did his name. Not only did his 8Wonders 'Rendesvouz' rock thousands of people at clubs and festivals, so did his 'Sex on the beach', 'They Always Come Back' and 'The Ones That Get Away'. But even after these successes, Arnej's unstoppable thrive to create music hasn't weakened. An be sure, this guy doesn't have an attitude, just a bit of sarcastic cheekiness. Arnej:' Out of respect for Armin, there will not be an Arnej Only. It will not be called Arnej Only, but rather Only Arnej!'
A new beginning
Arnej's fascination for music reigns from an early computer-composed electronica track, which resulted in a 14-year old kid exploring Euro Dance and all its subgenres. In the mid '90's Arnej discovered Psy and Goa trance and eventually the proggy type of trance we know nowadays. Being completely 'entranced' by all the complex soundscapes and harmonies, he finally started a journey into music production. Arnej: 'I think it's essentially just a natural progression and evolution of the genre, and of course, my own progression as an artist. Rarely will you see an artist making the same thing for their entire career, progression plays a big part in your own personal growth as an artist. I first took the 'plunge' into music production probably in early 2002. I've always had a fascination with how all the big boys did it. Like that Armin guy, you may have heard of him, I think there's a person here and there that might have heard of him. I haven't had any formal music teaching, but I've always been a creative person, growing up with traditional arts, like drawing, painting, sculpting. I firmly believe that if you have any degree of creativity that it aids greatly in any creative field that you throw yourself in, the rest is just a matter of learning the tools of the craft. Needless to say, my first production was terrible, but as with anything, practice makes perfect! ' And the hard practice is definately showing, and paying off.
Time waits for no one
No matter how creative one might be, one of the keys to success will always be determination and a big dose of confidence. We wonder if Arnej had ever thought he'd grow out to be this successful. Arnej: 'Absolutely not! Initially producing music was just something to fulfill my thirst and to actually try it. Little did I know, or expect, that I'd end up doing this on a semi professional level and even more so, that there'd be people who actually like it! It most certainly was just a fun little hobby, but that's the funny thing about life: you never know where you'll end up. But one thing is for sure: if you give up, you'll end up nowhere!' That's the spirit, Arnej! The guy continued testing his skills, finding his own sound and falling in love with music a bit more every day. Until eventually he found what he was looking for: a diverse, yet characteristic style that fitted his person. Arnej: 'I really believe that what makes my 'sound' stand out is not so much the sound in its technical definition but rather my melodic style. To me music is art, and art is about self-expression, so maybe what makes me stand out from everyone else is just the way I choose to express myself musically, rather than actual sounds, because I most certainly did not invent strings or saw leads, etc.! I find that if you put a little bit of yourself into the music, it gives it more worth and more people can appreciate your artistic expression, and who knows maybe there's 1 or 2 people who actually feel the emotion that's hidden in there.'
The beauty that lies behind those green eyes
Anyone that has heard Arnej's music, knows it's layered with melodies, hidden emotions and a certain message. Can we conclude Arnej's a bit sensitive himself? Arnej:'Sometimes I watch birds migrate across North America and then when some of them don't make it, I lock myself up in my bathroom and just cry, till there are no more tears to cry, that's how sensitive I am, haha! I stated this earlier, to me music is art and therefore is an expression of one's self. With that comes an array of things, feelings, emotions, likes, dislikes, etc. So, if I am dealing with a certain situation, I may put it into a song, and someone else may relate to it as well and that to me gives longevity to the music rather than it just being some random track about some random thing with a random title.' He didn't lose his sense of humor, that's for sure. But as is the case with every human being, love sure has impact, especially if you lose it and you're a producer that puts his emotions in music. 'The Ones That Get Away' is the perfect example of that. We wonder if he was inspired by a certain special person. Arnej: 'Well, it's a somewhat complicated story and I most certainly don't want to give it all out, but I will say that everyone meets a person that changes them in some kind of way, and the footprint of that person is left even after they leave, whether by choice or other circumstances, but nevertheless that impact the person makes on you remains. This is the feeling that I tried to capture with this particular track.'
People don't change
It's a well-known fact that Arnej suffers from musical schizophrenia, also producing under guises 'Arney S.' and '8 Wonders'. What's the story on those? Is the 'Arnej' one not sufficient enough? Arnej: 'I produce under these guises cause my mama always said I was 'speshul'! Actually, each name represents a somewhat different style in music. 8 Wonders is for the more high tempo trancy records while Arnej is for the more down tempo progressive and sometimes techy productions.' One of the Arnej's biggest successes was 'They Always Come Back', which was being played from Mysteryland to almost every club event around and radio show being broadcasted. Arnej's a happy guy. A happy guy, that, like most of the DJ's, only dances when he's really drunk or, when he hears his own song being played. Arnej:'There have been quite a few DJ's supporting 'They Always Come Back', and a few that I would have never expected to, like Judge Jules and Pete Tong. But I am definitely grateful for all the support! It's quite a special feeling that I believe most artists can relate themselves to, you get most unimaginable 'kippenvel'! A-ha, impressed I know the Dutch word for 'goosebumps!? The expression of the celebratory dance I think mostly depends on the amount of vodka in the body, with quite a bit you might get ...well, quite a bit!' A tip from Armada: provide Arnej some vodka, and you might be lucky enough to see his moves.
Arnej Only & Armada
Releasing his track at Armada, was a logical choice for Arnej. In fact, he wished all of them would be on our label. Arnej: 'If it was up to me, they'd all be on Armada, but it looks like I'll have to have a serious talk with that Sander guy, maybe straighten him out, haha! In all seriousness, Armada has become my home label. I enjoy working with the guys, occasionally bothering some employees while they pretend to be working hard. cough no names mentioned'_' No, Arnej better keep those names to himself, or some might be in trouble. Another person who might be in trouble is, according to Arnej, Armin van Buuren. Arnej runs his own 'Arnej Only' campaign, spreading t-shirts and other merchandising to get the concept running. Arnej: 'Since Armin is a big fan of my concert, so much so that he created his own with the same name, I figured I'd get him a t-shirt, because they are very very hard to come by and are super expensive. He could simply not afford it, so being the internationally known superstar that I am, I did him this one favour, because sometimes he would play my records on his show. So as a sign of respect I gave him this shirt. I was going to take legal action against him for the use of the name, but you know he has a degree in law and he might have put up a big fight and I just don't need those kinds of distractions in my 'super busy' touring schedule... I just couldn't do it!' Another example of Arnej's ever present sarcastic humor. A couple of weeks ago Arnej played alongside Armin in Canada. Arnej: 'It was immensely fun! Also, this is not a well known fact but I will let you in on a secret. The 'Armin Only' show in Utrecht, the part where Armin was behind the curtain, that was actually me. Armin saw how good of a job I really did behind that curtain and he just had to have a piece of the action, and seeing how it was his show at the time, I did the right thing and said: "Ok. Here Armin, take the headphones". Oh and another thing; the pose where Armin raises the headphones and calls upon the gods of trance? He actually got that from me, true story.'
People come, people go
Even though some producers turn out to be one hit wonders, Arnej definitely proven he isn't. Arnej: 'The future is unwritten and you are the writer! I have quite a bit of things that are planned in the future. A new 8 Wonders EP on ASOT, which includes 'The Return', that is featured on the ASOT 2008 CD, my first vocal single coming out on Armind, featuring the vocals of Josie, Jaren's sister. The follow up to 'They Always Come Back' on Coldharbour, the follow up to 'The Ones That Get Away' on Armind, and of course my album. There's a story that I am going to tell with it, so if you are a fan of the direction of music I've been headed towards lately, you will not be disappointed! In the meantime make sure you head over to my MySpace as I try to update it with goodies often, and I try to answer as many messages as I can!' With these releases coming up, and Arnej not even near the end of his 'lean mean producing machine'-plan, an 'Only Arnej' might just be more than a story or sketch of Arnej's imaginable fantasy.
Exclusive Mix (October 2008)