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Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano open up on wild summer and Ibiza

Dutchmen Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano opens up on their summer, new residency, future and more ahead of their weekly set at Hï Ibiza.

Dutch duo Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are in the midst of one of their most monumental years yet. The Netherlands natives have headlined some of the most prominent festivals in the world, not only playing them but also hosting and curating their own stage as well. That, however, is only the surface of their busy summer which included a number of different shows all around the world and of course, their debut residency on the island at the new Hï Ibiza with U R with Armin van Buuren, which they share with fellow Dutchman Armin van Buuren.

I had the opportunity to interview the two outgoing DJs before their set in Hï Ibiza's Club room on Wednesday night where we had a jovial chat about their summer, their residency, Ibiza and more.

Let's start by talking about your residency here at Hï. What are your thoughts on your first Ibiza residency now that we are well past the halfway mark?

SJ: It feels like it's been a full summer already. I think in the last two months we've had more than 60 shows so it's been a crazy tour so far. There have been a lot of good things; I mean we did all the big shows. We played and had our own stage at Tomorrowland, we are going to do Electric Zoo in New York City and Mysteryland soon, but if the summer stops now, we've already had one of our biggest summers yet. It has been an amazing time going through the last few weeks.

As you mentioned, you guys played three sets at Tomorrowland, two on the main stage and one at the Sexy By Nature stage which you hosted. Sexy By Nature has blown up in recent years, and having your own stage at Tomorrowland is a huge milestone. What do you think is next for Sexy By Nature as a brand? What are you hoping will come out of it next?

SJ: The thing is that Sexy By Nature was built as a platform. It's the name of our weekly radio show where it's been used as a platform for guys to play out their music and see how people react to it. Now, we also have our label SONO music and actually want to have the artists releasing through that. This way they'll have a platform to release music and a platform to play music, which is what we're trying to do. When we started Sexy By Nature, we didn't have SONO music but now we do, and it's been amazing to help get artists to release through our label and also give them a place to play on through Sexy By Nature.

RM: If right now we would have had to choose right where we would want to be next year, we would say we would want to have our own stage at Tomorrowland but we had it this year, and we're also doing one at Creamfields. It is all going so fast.

What do you think is the next step to take it to the next level and what do you see as the next level?

SJ: The biggest thing that is coming up right now is ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event). We are going to be playing a Sexy By Nature show at AFAS Live for about 5,000 people with a lot of great artists so that's a big show for us and the brand as well. We will be streaming it worldwide, which is what we are hoping to do more of, seeing the interaction and reaction we get from everyone.

Now that you have you have your new label SONO, what is the direction that you guys want to take it in musically? Obviously you are well versed in a multitude of genres and very flexible with what you play, but generally what is the feel or the vibe you are aiming for with the label?

SJ: The music has to be diverse. I mean we are really diverse in our music taste. Our house sound that we still have, a lot of people call it eclectic because it's progressive techno, but what's important to us is that we want to bring out a lot of sophisticated music. I mean the last couple of years we had a lot of promos of frustrated and talented producers who couldn't release music. That's when we found out we needed to create a label: so we could have all those talented guys on our label with their great music.

RM: And now it's even harder because when you have a label you get even more music so you almost want to release a track every day because there's so much. It's hard to keep track.

SJ: More importantly the track has to have an identity. I mean sometimes you have ten of the same tracks, but one of those tracks has, you know, this feeling. It has to have soul, at least for us. We have to feel like that. Maybe not every label works that way but that's what we like and what we are looking for.

You share this residency with Armin van Buuren and you guys are obviously very close both as professionals and as countrymen. Stylistically between his trance and your type of house, I'd say it's fairly different. How did this idea of sharing a residency where trance meets house come to be?

SJ: Actually we've been touring with Armin since we've first became internationally recognized. We did some tours with him and play a house set and he'd play trance so it's always kind of clicked, because in the whole EDM scene there was only “one” genre, even though both trance and house had their own styles. When those two things came together, people would just react because it was pure. For those new kids, it wasn't like “Oh I know this.” Everything just sounded new to them, so we knew we could host this night together.

Aside from sharing a residency together, the two of you and Armin recently collaborated on a new track together, “You Are,” your Ibiza anthem of sorts. Tell me about your creative process behind that track, how between the three of you guys, you envisioned it from the start and how you approached its production from start to finish?

SJ: You'd be surprised how fast Armin is in his ideas. You know in the beginning with Armin, he has so many number 1 hits and we know what we want, so there could have been more of a disagreement? But we came in and he was really open minded and said: 'Listen, whatever you like or don't like tell, me and I will do the same.' In the beginning, we were just feeling each other out. We'd add this beat and ask 'okay do you like this?' No reaction from him meant he didn't feel it. Then he would react to a beat we did, he did actually, and ask “Do you like this better?” And we said 'you know this is sick' and he put a melody on it. Then he was off for two weeks and we were on tour so we started playing it out, changing it along the way. We sent a new arrangement to him and he said “Oh this is fun, we should do it like this,” and so we went to the studio from that point and finished it.

RM: Yeah he'll tell it more like it is. When it's good he'll be like 'Oh yeah, it's good, good, good,' but at other point, it is like 'No, no we need to take this out right now. This, we need to take this out we can not have this!' haha. But you know he is very open-minded and he is very flexible. He's very straightforward and told us to if we didn't like something to let him know, because he wants us to really like the track, and in the end it all worked out perfectly.

What's the biggest difference between playing a club show in Ibiza and festival or club set in the U.S?

SJ: No the club is always different. In the club, you can fight a little bit more. Like tonight you might go in and not have an idea of what you're going to play. Festivals, normally you have one hour to play, 90 minutes if you're lucky so you have to be more on point with what you're going to play. We want to make sure we can show everyone everything we want to show them. In the club, you can adapt, go left and go right and wherever else you want to.

Would you say there's a difference between playing here on Ibiza than in other parts of the world?

SJ: Uhm, to be honest dance music nowadays, if you asked this question seven or eight years ago I would have said yes. But I will say within the last two years, it's quite similar. Everyone knows dance music so it's almost the same.

RM: Yeah, the same people who see Armin van Buuren can also be going to see someone like Claptone or some techno because they know music right now. They know techno, they know trance, they know house music so they know what they are going for.

This next one is for you Ryan since you had a child a few months ago. You guys have a very busy schedule, constantly touring and flying across the Atlantic. How do you balance your busy tour life with your family life especially when raising a newborn?

RM: Well people actually think that we are never home but that only really happens in the summer for two weeks when we're driving and driving everywhere everyday, FaceTiming and calling to talk to our families. But the rest of the year? We are really only leaving the house on the weekends and when you have a good relationship with your home base everything is fine.

SJ: Yes, we have amazing wives.

Okay so some Ibiza questions. What is your most unforgettable, memorable, or most outrageous Ibiza story that you have?

SJ: I got thrown out of a club called DC10. There was only 35 minutes left of the party but I got thrown out because we did some damage. After I got thrown out I paid the full 80 euros to get back in because the party was so good.

Was this before you started DJing?

SJ: When we were just starting out.

RM: That party was actually pretty sick because we came in and at the time didn't know anything about Ibiza. We knew that there was clubbing, nice beaches and all that stuff. But someone told us 'Hey you need to go to DC10 it's amazing.' So we went with our friends. Afrojack came with us, because we were all really close. We had a big group of guys who went there and it was totally crazy. At one point, we were just dancing on the floor and all of a sudden everyone started sitting down and we were like 'what the heck is this, what is going on?' and there was toilet paper all around the room.

SJ: Yeah that's why I got thrown out, the toilet paper around the room was me.

RM: Also one of the best memories was when we played together with Swedish House Mafia at Pacha for Masquerade Motel. Back when they were still partying a lot themselves, you know?

Last question, you have the night off here in Ibiza, what party are you going to that isn't yours?

SJ: Probably going to end up at some party with Nic Fanciulli, love him and his sound

RM: I just go where the booze is man, I'm easygoing haha!

You can catch Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano in the Club room at Hï Ibiza every Wednesday until 23 September.

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