Exclusive Interview With Darius Syrossian
“Ok let’s face it, nobody reads DJ bio’s, I don’t care to read anybody else’s, so I don’t expect anybody to want to read mine. All I care about is true house music, I don’t believe in genres, it is all house music to me. That is already more info than you need, now stop reading and listen to some music instead.”
Having a slightly different view toward the entire idea of the dance music industry today, Darius Syrossian always spotlights the fact that it’s not about the achievement as a DJ/producer rather than the music one plays and strives to bring to the masses. Would we get answers to our questions? And if so, would they be any different than “stop asking and listen to some music instead”? We decided to approach Darius Syrossian and better understand why his views are so different than the mass of producers today. Darius isn’t just someone, he is one of the leading UK house DJ’s and producers. First as a vinyl record store owner, later as a DJ/producer, he has been active in the house scene for more than 20 years.
So far he has released records on labels like Get Physical, Viva Music and Hot Creations and set dance floors on fire in the world’s most prestigious clubs, for example as a resident at Sankeys. This month a unique album is released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the legendary Manchester club, mixed live by Syrossian. While disc 2 is a selection of Sankeys classics from over the years disc 1 contains exclusive unreleased tracks by the Leeds based DJ. This is really something special, because never before an album was produced and then mixed live at a gig to be recorded and come out on CD, including crowd noises.
Darius, I have been so lucky to prelisten the live recorded album and it’s quite something. Where was this idea born?
Well, when Sankeys-owner David Vincent asked me to start up Tribal Sessions again he also came up with the idea to mix the 20th anniversary album, which was going to be a mix comp like the 10th anniversary CD. Instead I said I was thinking about doing a debut artist album at the time, so we decided on merging the two together, DISC 1 being all productions made by me, and DISC 2 being loads of Sankeys classics from the last 20 years all mixed together by me. David also had the idea for me to mix all my own productions for DISC 1 live together in one take, on a TRIBAL SESSIONS party in Manchester at Sankeys. Because I like a challenge I accepted, and the night we recorded it was so special and everything feel in its right place. I’ll never forget it.
There was literally no room for errors in your set. How did you minimize the chance for them to happen?
There was hardly anything. I don’t mix with a laptop, I have never taken a laptop into a club, even on CDJ’s I hit the Vinyl mode option, so I’m mixing manually completely. For me that’s the ART of DJing. I wanted it 100% live and 100% raw. It has come out pretty smooth, so I am really happy with it.
The album was recorded at Tribal Sessions, a legendary Manchester based party that stopped a few years ago. You and Sankeys owner David Vincent however, decided that it was the right time to bring it back. Why didn’t you create a whole new concept instead?
I was going to start my own project and one day I will, but Tribal Sessions was and is David Vincent’s baby. I know what it means to him, so it was a honour to be asked to help bring it back for him. All the kids now know about its history and it was such a legendary night that did so much for the scene. It deserved it in my view.
Guest DJ’s have included Adam Beyer, Joseph Capriati, Martinez Bros, KiNK, Sidney Charles, Hector Couto and wAFF. What do the artists have in common and how do you select them?
They are all 100% true artists that do things for the right reasons, not media hype or press hype, and they all have their own sound and have real followers. This is why we picked them. All parties with these DJs were sold-out shows, those were nights that I’ll never forget!
Here is footage from the night I recorded the mix live, and also the night Adam Beyer & wAFF played.
The album will be released on the new Sankeys label which you will be heading. What are the plans for this new imprint?
It’s going to give an opportunity for some unsigned talent to get their music out, but also feature remixes and originals from artists that we have booked to play Tribal Sessions
What producers would you like to sign?
Well I would love to keep it varied, with interesting producers that make up a nice collective. Like Axel Boman, MR G, Francois K, Rodhad, but also my own close crew of people like Sidney Charles, Hector Couto, Shlomi Aber and so on.
After Manchester and Ibiza, Sankeys have opened a venue in New York. Are there more plans you know of on extending this ‘empire’?
I think Miami is on the cards and also Malta, but David is a perfectionist and I know he won’t do anything unless it is 100% how he wants it. For example, New York in Manhattan was great but there were a few things that David wasn’t happy about. So as I write this he is in Brooklyn designing the new Sankeys New York.
You know it’s great to be awarded with stuff like this. DJ Mag and RA for most charted artists are the two which are probably the most genuine, but honestly what does it matter? For example, RA’s most charted artist is more real than RA top100 DJ’s, because the charted artists are done by people charting their favorite tracks over the 12 month period and are unaware of this, then being compiled as an overall yearly chart. The other is decided by who has the biggest campaign and I am one of the few DJs who has never asked for votes on my Facebook or Twitter. You see some absolute legends and producers who have changed the scene not ever get a mention, but then you see a kid who made a Beatport number 1 who gets voted in, so it’s all silly really. having said all that, I love the DJ Mag guys because they are a magazine that are truly about the music.
If you could award someone. What category would it be and to who would it go?
David Attenborough for being the most amazing guy in the world. Nothing to do with music, but to say he is in his 80’s but still giving so much back with his amazing nature documentaries. All these years he has been doing them….. so the award would be, BEST PERSON EVER haha.
As a producer you are always evolving. What is different on your new tracks and what will never change as it is part of the Syrossian musical DNA?
What a great question! Of all the interviews lately I think this is the best question I have been asked! Well the tracks on my album were made to be a live mix right? So the tracks needed to be made to all flow together in a mix. Here is how I wanted it to go: start with impact, then go deeper and be groovy and low-slung but not too much of a drop from the first track to stall the mix, then build up from deep to more Chicago vibes which is a signature sound of mine. Then go more tech and then darker and lead to techno. After which go a bit more progressive and emotive and end like that.
But I wanted to also have one more tune and leave people feeling happy with a feel good track at the end and that was Jazztime. The stuff that’s different from me, were ‘Motivar’, there is a real crazy synth line which is something I haven’t really used much on tracks, and then an insane snare roll that comes in. There are a lot more darker tracks on the second half of the mix, and ‘Truth Prevails’ actually has synths from an 80’s analogue synth that I used. It’s very progressive and not at all what people know me for. But the main thing that will never leave my tracks is the drum programming and the conscious effort I make to give a lot of attention to the groove of the track.
Are you still happy with your older productions when you hear them now?
Absolutely, I sometimes listen and think “man i wanna play this again”. I am so happy that I never followed any fads, because if I did, I’d be cringing thinking “why the hell did I make that”. But people have often told me: “you are one of the DJ’s out there that we can instantly tell to have his own sound”. And that’s what I always wanted when doing this.
For your upcoming remix of Green Velvet’s ‘Bigger than Prince’ you used an 80’s synth to get an old skool acid groove. What do you feel is so special about this old gear that it’s still widely in use?
Well, no matter what anyone says, the sound you get from hardware and analogue gear can very rarely be matched by software synths. Also it’s just more fun to make the sounds with the kit rather than clicking on a mouse with your thumb.
Doing all the things you do, you must be a very busy man, especially during summer. Do you take a break after that or do you already have other big things on the agenda this autumn?
No I can’t stop, I am a workaholic, working hard actually keeps me sane. I spend a lot of time in summer chilling. I’m based in Ibiza but I don’t go out much. Honestly you won’t have seen me hanging around VIP rooms in clubs trying to hang out with loads of other DJ’s getting wasted. During weekends I’m away DJing, then Wednesday nights is my own night Tribal Sessions where I party and let loose, that’s enough for me. Also I actually prefer hanging out with the real people on the dance floor after gigs than going to exclusive private afters for DJs only. I have invited loads of people I met that very night at Tribal Sessions to come up to my villa and party with my crew. Anyway this autumn, I’m in the middle of planning a full weekly residency on Fridays in one club, then using Saturdays to tour all over the world, then midweek is for studio time. I try to keep myself as busy as possible.
And when can we see you in the Netherlands again?
ADE festival in October, I am in the middle of confirming playing with Sidney Charles and Sante at an Avotre party showcase. I love ADE and it’s a perfect way to say goodbye to summer and start the winter.
Darius Syrossian is resident at Tribal Sessions Every Wednesday at Sankeys Ibiza