Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano give us the 411 on their new track “Avalanche”, their signature sound, and what it’s like to be the world’s first underwater DJs.
Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano have a date with destiny. The pair met by chance in 2006 when Marciano applied for an internship at the clothing store where James worked, and the rest, as they say, is history. Despite their relatively humble retail beginnings, James & Marciano are widely lauded as one of the most energetic duos in dance music – they have made a name for themselves with their unique spin on house music that fuses together catchy hooks with thumping tribal beats. Kismet or not, their meteoric rise to the top seems primed to launch into the stratosphere this year.
Lately, the duo has been hard at work, and their new single “Avalanche”, a collaboration with singer-songwriter Luciana, has been an early 2017 highlight. Released on their own SONO Music imprint, it features a bright, harmonious vocal track over a rumbling, driving build-up that is a bit of a departure from their typical sound. These past few months have seen Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano traveling the world and playing epic events and throwing their signature Sexy By Nature parties. Fans across the world will have a chance to catch one of their singularly funky sets at events like EDC Japan in Tokyo, Sensation White in Amsterdam, and Tomorrowland in Boom. We had an opportunity to chat with the dynamic duo about their new track, their upcoming plans, and their signature sound!
Stream Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano – “Avalanche” on SoundCloud:
Congratulations on the new track! What has the reception been like from fans and fellow artists so far?
The reception has been great! We know the track is a bit different than you might expect from us, so we’re really glad the fans are open minded and loving it.
“Avalanche” features some pretty massive vocals from Luciana coupled with some intensely danceable beats. How did the track come together? Did you start with the vocals and work from there?
We had a rough idea for the beat lying around but we didn’t know what to do with it. When we approached Luciana and asked her to send us an idea for the vocals we knew it was perfect for this track.
One pretty consistent element in a lot of your productions is a tribal house sound with a lot of really unique drum beats and instrumentation. Where do you draw your musical influence from?
The house sound goes way back, from the days when we first started playing in Amsterdam. Other than that, we get influenced and inspired by a lot of different kinds of music from R&B to house.
You made history this year with your underwater live set on Radio 538. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?
That was an amazing experience, haha! Radio 538 moved a whole studio into the submarine which was absolutely nuts. Fun fact: it was the very first DJ set that was played underwater so achieving that makes it extra special to us.
Do you have a dream venue that you’d love to play someday?
Selling out a big football stadium would be really cool to do!
You have a pretty varied style, but the signature always seems to be upbeat, fun music that people can really dance to. How do you select which tracks go in your mixes? Does it differ depending on where you’re playing?
We always want to feel off the crowd. We just select the tracks and then see what happens. For venues it doesn’t really matter, we prepare the same way. But during festival sets we select tracks but we don’t know the order we’re going to play. We only have an hour to show ourselves so we prepare a little bit more. But during club shows we just go, we don’t even think about it.
How do you stay inspired when you’re on the road for long stretches?
It’s all about being able to draw inspiration from a lot of different things even though you’re not in the studio. Even the smallest sounds or things can give us such great, new ideas for tracks. There’s never a moment in our lives that we’re not busy with music.
You’ve played together as a duo for quite some time. What are some of the advantages to touring and playing together?
Two is always better than one and great minds think alike, haha. But in all seriousness, it’s great to have someone next to you that can also use his ideas and input while you’re playing or trying to determine which tracks to use for your next show.
Do you have any advice for new DJs trying to make it in today’s scene?
The key is identity. When we broke through in Amsterdam we had this unique house sound. Nobody was playing that back in the day. People told us ‘play more electro’ but we did what we wanted to do. As an artist you got to play what you like, you can’t copy anyone. Let artists inspire you but always be yourself and believe in yourself.
Finally, If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three things, what would they be?
A bed, a fire starter and a fishing pole! And our families of course.