Stephen Emmer

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Stephen Emmer
Born Amsterdam, Netherlands
Genres New wave, soundtrack
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Keyboard
Years active Late 1970s–present
Labels WEA/Idiot, Allegro
Associated acts Minny Pops
The Lotus Eaters

Stephen Emmer (born 28 January 1958) is an independent Dutch composer/arranger/artist hailing from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He's the son of former news anchorman Fred Emmer and balletdancer/actrice Roekie Aronds.

In the early 70s he started writing avant-garde type music whilst playing in various English bands. Next to that he's known for being a music composer for documentaries, tv stations and broadcasting organizations, both in the Netherlands as well as abroad. He composed leaders and designed musical identities for shows like RTL Latenight, RTL Boulevard, RTL Nieuws (RTL News), NOS Journaal (NOS News) and NOS (Dutch Broadcasting Foundation) in the early 90s. Next to that he initiated the Dutch Music and Sounddesign Award.

Emmer has recorded for and written, performed and collaborated with a variety of great artists such as Lou Reed, Midge Ure, Julian Lennon, Glenn Gregory, Billy MacKenzie, Mary Griffin, Peter Coyle, Claudia Brucken and Martha Ladley to name but a few. On top of that he worked with legendary producers like Tony Visconti, Flood, Trevor Horn, Steve Power, Martin Hannett, Nigel Gray and Bob Power.

The Early Days[edit]

He spent the majority of his childhood living with his mom, with whom he traveled abroad due to the nature of her work. She initially took him to India where he learned how to play a local wind instrument in an ashram. They then moved to the Caribbean. In Aruba he was taught to play voodoo infused percussion whereas in Suriname he learned how to play the guitar.

In the early 70s they returned to Amsterdam. After having finished his education at the Amsterdams Lyceum, where he played in several schoolbands, he got involved in a variety of bands such as an experimental free jazz group called the Chris Frankemoller Trio and a symphonic rock group with legendary Dutch singer Mathilde Santing and Dennis Duchart.

Minny Pops[edit]

In 1979 Stephen decided to join an avant garde new wave electro-noise band called Minny Pops, where he played the guitar. Soon the band got signed by Factory Records in the UK next to Joy Division and played alongside New Order, which gained them considerable cult status ever since.

Vinyl and Radio[edit]

In 1980 he was co-founder and chief editor of Dutch music magazine 'Vinyl', next to hosting and producing various radioshows, like for instance RadioNome for Dutch broadcasting organization VPRO. In 2003 Emmer starts hosting his own radioshow Synsation (Concertzender). Next to that he acted as compiler for NPS Blackbox on Dutch channel Radio 4 and presented 'O.S.T.' on KX Radio, a program with a clear and distinct focus on film music.

Vogue Estate[edit]

Back in 1982 Emmer's musical idealism led him to create and produce a solo mini album called "Vogue Estate,". It got signed to and released by WEA/(Idiot Records) as part of their new mini album series. The idea behind the album was to create a soundtrack for an imaginary film. Whereas it mainly consists of instrumental work one track is with vocals from the late Billy MacKenzie (The Associates), who appears on 'Wish on', whereas Martha Ladly, known from Canadian new wave band Martha and the Muffins contributed to 'Eleven and then left'. Stephen's good friend Michael Dempsey, former bass guitar player of The Cure also appears on the album. It got produced at Trident Studios in London by no one less than legendary producer Flood, aka Mark Ellis, known for the production of albums for amongst others (Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, U2, Smashing Pumpkins. In 2015 'Vogue Estate' got re-mastered at Zownd Studios in Leiden (NL), resulting in a fresh and now sounding timeless masterpiece of new wave.

The Associates[edit]

That same year he joined Billy MacKenzie's The Associates from Schotland, where he played alongside Alan Rankine, Michael Dempsey and Steve Goulding, former Elvis Costello drummer.

Lotus Eaters[edit]

1984 sees Emmer and Dempsey join the Lotus Eaters from Liverpool, followed by Act with Claudia Brucken (ex-Propaganda) and Continental Cast from Amsterdam. As a guitar player Emmer can also be heard on the successful Richenel album 'Deep As Blue'.

Royal College of Music[edit]

That same year him and Dempsey decided to follow a Summer course called 'Scoring for Television' at the Royal College of Music in London.

Prix de Rome[edit]

Throughout the years he won several awards for artistic excellence, such as an award at the prestigious Prix de Rome back in 1988.


Around 2006 Emmer felt a sudden urge to be liberated temporarily from this "musical warzone" and decided to return to his musical idealism of the early years to find what he was searching for; inspiration through catharsis. To that end, he created 17 compositions based on literary text fragments for a project called 'Recitement'. The album features music and modern spoken word performed by famous writers, singers and actors. The album got mixed and produced in New York by Tony Visconti at the legendary Looking Glass Studios owned by Philip Glass.

The album features vocal contributions by Lou Reed, Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead, Richard Burton, Andrea Piovan, Sylvia Kristel, Ken Nordine, Michael Parkinson aka Shyrock, Jorge Luis Borges, Tony Visconti, Alan Ginsberg, Michael Lonsdale, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Sylvina Ocampo and Kurt Schwitters. On top of that it contains lyrical contributions from Yoko Ono, Jorge Luis Borges, Remco Campert, Hugo Claus and even Vincent van Gogh.

International Blue[edit]

In 2014 Stephen released International Blue, the successor to his 2007 Recitement album. What initially started as a plan to release a new EP eventually resulted in so many song sketches that he simply couldn't resist creating yet another album. The idea behind International Blue was to pay tribute to the art and elegance of the pop-crooner. Emmer's latest album infuses a modern twist to the genre with contemporary sounds & beats, studio techniques, insights and lyrical meaning in ten new and original compositions. The album was inspired by and meant as a tribute to the epic chamber music of Burt Bacharach, Scott Walker, Nick Cave and David Bowie.

Emmer's ultimate search for the right voices for International Blue resulted in inspiring collaborations with 4 of the great baritone voices the UK had on offer, like Glenn Gregory (Heaven17), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Liam McKahey (Cousteau) and Neil Crossley (Furlined). The album again got produced by Tony Visconti, the man behind Iggy Pop, Morrissey and David Bowie, amongst others. Production took place in legendary studios like Avatar Studios in New York and Abbey Road Studios in London.

International Blue was very well received by the press, resulting in amazing reviews in The Times ("as classy as a gleaming vintage Rolls"), Mojo Magazine ("International Blue is about its instantly timeless songs"), Q Magazine, Der Spiegel and Classic Pop Magazine. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on top of that listed the album as No. 2 album in 2014, and on top of that described it as "The most beautiful orchestrated, arranged and composed album of the year."

Holiday on Ice[edit]

Early 2012 Stephen got invited by Stage Entertainment to become music supervisor for the upcoming international 'Holiday on Ice Show'. He then produced the entire musical soundtrack for 'Speed', which traveled the globe throughout 2012 and 2013. Following this success he again got invited, resulting in intriguing soundtracks for both 'Platinum' (2013) and 'Passion' (2015). 2015 saw him finishing the soundtrack for his fourth consecutive 'Holiday on Ice' show, 'Believe' (2016). Yet another milestone on his already impressive cv as a music director.



  • Vogue Estate (2015 Remastered) (2015), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • International Blue (2014), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • Time To Face The Music (2009), eStation
  • Recitement (2008), Supertracks
  • Vogue Estate (1982), WEA / Idiot Records
  • Minny Pops 'Drastic Measures' (1979), Plurex Records


  • Sleep For England ft Julian Lennon (2014), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • Let The Silence Hold You ft Glenn Gregory (2014), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • Taking Back My Time ft Midge Ure (2014), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • Untouchable ft Glenn Gregory (2014), Electric Fairytale Recordings
  • Passengers ft Lou Reed (2007), Supertracks
  • Continental Cast 'End of the Affair' (1985), Epic / Sony
  • Lotus Eaters 'Endless' (1984), Sylvan Records
  • Pedalenproza ft Richard Zijlstra (1982), Vinyl/Sonopresse
  • Never Share ft Martha Ladley (1982), WEA/Idiot Records
  • Minny Pops 'Dolphin's Spurt' (1981), Factory


  • Det Wiehl 'Brave Voeten' (1992), Staalplaat
  • Det Wiehl 'Blonde Caravelle' (1992), Staalplaat
  • Richened 'Don't step on my heart' (1989), CBS

Music Director[edit]

  • Holiday on Ice 'Believe' (2016)
  • Holiday on Ice 'Passion' (2015)
  • Holiday on Ice 'Platinum' (2013)
  • Holiday on Ice 'Speed' (2012)

Media Music and Sound Design[edit]

Stephen then got involved with media music for most of the '90s, becoming the first in-house composer for both the main public and commercial TV broadcasting companies in the Netherlands, as well as composing for several European TV documentaries, short films, art installations and feature films. For certain special media music projects he teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London, members from the London Symphony Orchestra as well as the Dutch Metropole Orchestra Metropole Orkest conducted by David Bedford.

In a close collaboration with dj Joost van Bellen, Mathilde Santing and multitalent Fay Lovsky he also produced the soundtrack for two consecutive fashion shows for Marlies Dekkers.

Music in Motion[edit]

Emmer is the founder of the Dutch media music prize Music in Motion, in association with Dutch copyright society Buma/Stemra and became president of the best Dutch Sound Award at the Gouden Beelden Awards. He was the Dutch representative for Eyes & Ears of Europe, and acted as speaker and panelist at various Promax-BDA events in the US and Europe, a Promax-BDA judge, next to being a frequent guest lecturer at colleges of music, art and media academies.


Back in 2002 he then founds eStation, a media music and sound design boutique shop for (interactive) media productions for both television, radio, internet, computergames, events, mobile phones and dvd. Emmer designed sound and music for a variety of expositions at museums, like for instance for 'Van Gogh-Gauguin' and Monsieur Bing at the Van Gogh Museum.

In a close cooperation with Dutch Broadcast Magazine he initiated the Dutch Music and Sounddesign Award, an annual award for the best tunes on tv, radio and in commercials.

2006 sees him design both the identity as well as all sound and music for all interactive installations as part of the Dutch institute for image and sound Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid experience right in the heart of the Dutch Mediapark in Hilversum. He was also responsible for designing the first ever polyphonic ringtone in the Netherlands, for Vodafone.

External links[edit]

Stephen Emmer