Sem Dieke is a House DJ/Producer from the Netherlands, mostly known for his work with Damon van der Waal as DJ duo Silk & Fuss. Now in 2022, Sem will launch his solo career as Sem Jacobs with brand new music supported by his favorite artists. His first release and concept announcement by the end of March this year will only be the start of many new releases, gigs abroad, and other exciting projects. We talked with him about his journey so far, his label FUNKiMAN and his upcoming EP.
Hey Sem, thanks for chatting with us today! How has 2022 been for you so far?
Hey guys, my pleasure. Thanks for the invitation. 2022 has been a real rollercoaster I have to say. My former DJ partner Damon and I made the decision to stop with Silk & Fuss beginning of December 2021, so the first few months I worked towards the announcement of me going solo, which we announced in March. I really wanted to make sure I had a good kick start, so we planned my first releases and luckily got the chance to make my debut at No Art in March and my Printworks debut for Solid Grooves in April. Which was really cool. After the announcement and the first tracks being released, the support was way better than I ever expected. At the end of May with the release of ‘Pass Me The Wine Please’, I also launched my own label FUNKiMAN and that one is doing really well too. I had some nice first gigs in the summer and now I’m going to release my first solo EP this Friday (2nd of September), of which the support has been great, so I’m really excited.
How did you get to where you are in music? What has been your journey so far?
I’m going to tell it as briefly as possible haha. So basically I started DJing at the age of 11 and mostly played on friends’ birthdays and with my best friend Damon. We started a duo together, and eventually, this ended up being Silk & Fuss. We did a lot of experimenting and at some point, we played for United Ants and released our track ‘Funky Freddy’ on Solid Grooves, which was like one of the big dreams we had. Then we were supposed to have our first foreign gigs but because of covid, everything was canceled. However, these two years of covid were actually pretty good for us because we came to the realisation that we both had different ideas about the future. In December of last year, we decided to part ways and although this was of course very difficult because we both had this same dream since we were 11, it was the right decision in the end. We both had to get used to the new situation but we’re still good friends and it was the best for both of us. Then in March, we did the announcement of me going solo and now we’re here, with my own label, music that’s doing very well and some cool gigs coming up. I’m really thankful for that, but this is just the first year. I got way more plans and this is just the beginning.
You are the founder of the new label ‘FUNKiMAN’, what can you tell us about the label?
So I always thought of starting one but at some point, I got a bit discouraged because almost every person in the scene seemed to start a label. I came to the conclusion that this was just a reason to make it more unique, special, and suited for myself and my music. We (the team and I), were looking for a concept that would be telling a story of me and my roots, but without it being the big Sem Jacobs show. It had to really be something for other cool artists as well, and allow me to just be myself and show every aspect of this. The concept of FUNKiMAN has one theme; wine. I came from a hospitality family of bar owners and literally everyone is working or has worked in the hospitality business. Actually, my grandfather met my grandmother in the restaurant where he was working, and a few years later my parents both started working in the same restaurant and fell in love too. It’s something really close to my heart. Besides all this, I love wine, the different tastes, the stories behind it, the product itself, the process and love that goes into it, the treasure hunt for these rare pieces, literally everything. And I also saw a lot of similarities between wines and for example rare vinyl House tracks. These House jams got a lot of these aspects I just mentioned as well. We came to the idea to make a customized wine label as artwork for every single FUNKiMAN release. When also looking for a special artist logo we came to the idea to make a unique stamp, which is also seen on all the single artworks. Once we had the first idea, more and more ideas came up. I remember going to the toilet and thinking ‘Shit, that one release is called ‘Pass Me The Wine Please, that should be the track to launch the label’. Now the label is here and that’s way earlier than I had in mind but it just came out naturally and it felt like this was the right moment. FUNKiMAN is here. With music being played by all the big names, being supported by BBC Radio 1, more than half a million plays on just the first two tracks, and a great team behind me makes me really happy. It’s so much fun starting an idea and realizing it works, and what makes it even better is sharing this with others.
Your new release ‘Une Nuit À La Cour’ comes out on your own label on the 2nd of September this year. Can you run us through your creative process on this EP?
Yeah, so the EP will be released this Friday, and it’s a really special one because it tells another chapter in this story I’m trying to share with FUNKiMAN. The first track is called ‘Ça Va Sans Dire’ a real summer groover which was made really quickly while jamming in the studio, I remember the track was done after a couple of hours. For the title I chose (what I believe is) the most beautiful quote there is, ‘Ça Va Sans Dire’, which means, ‘it goes without saying’. It stands for the self-evidence of love and happiness with your loved ones. It is the quote my grandfather (which I’m named after, Jacob) always said, he passed away a few months ago and he was everything to me. With this track, I want to share the importance of good vibes and creating memories with your loved ones. The second track ‘Une Nuit À La Cour’ tells the story of ‘A night at La Cour’. La Cour was the Jazz Cafe of my other grandfather Anton Dieke and the place where my love for Jazz music emerged. The groovy french touch track contains a short vocal I wrote for Molamère, who actually is my lovely mother. I can’t wait to share this EP with you guys.
What are some of the key bits of music-making gear in your current setup?
Actually just a Mac, keyboard, Ableton Push, some speakers, or even a headphone sometimes and that does the job for me. I like to work with hardware but it’s not necessary and I’m also a bit too impatient sometimes. I just go to my go-to gear and for now, that’s fine. I would love to do more with hardware in the future but for now, I stick with this.
Besides making your own music, what music are you currently listening to?
Because I listen to house music all day when digging etcetera, it’s something I don’t listen to when I’m not working. I love a lot of different genres, mostly older / rare music. I don’t prefer the hits you hear on the radio, but my big love is Jazz. I can listen to it all day, it’s the music that really touches me. I also really love Latin and Italian music. My parents listened to all sorts of music and I’m really thankful for this.
What else have you got coming up this year?
So music-wise, the ‘Une Nuit À La Cour EP’ on FUNKiMAN is the first thing on the schedule. And after the first two releases I got a lot of messages from some very interesting labels so who knows what that might bring later. Just keep your eyes open, and one thing I can tell you is that I will definitely release some more tracks this year. We’re just starting but more and more gigs are appearing on the schedule. The first upcoming gig is in South America, Colombia in September, and I’m so so excited for this one. I will have some special guests lined up for my radio show FUNKiMAN’s SELECTION and who knows we might as well have some new FUNKiMAN releases coming up.
Thank you for your time today Sem! To round off, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you guys for your time. I just want to thank everyone for the early and constant support and can’t wait to share all the new projects with you guys. And last but not least, I’m just doing whatever feels right in music, don’t take it all too serious haha.