The two biggest names in the house music dancehall met 11 years ago and have since graced major stages of Tomorrowland, Creamfields, ADE and more. Unlike many other DJs who have come up with stage names, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are perfectly comfortable in their own skins.
They believe that “To stand out, doesn’t mean being someone else but yourself”, this authenticity flows through in their tracks such as “The One That Got Away” that is filled with emotions and is likely inspired by something in real life. Though this is something the boys have declined to comment on.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, they wish to create a platform for budding artistes and have since created their own label, SONO Music.
We speak with them ahead of their show tonight to find out what their inspirations are growing up and how they prepare themselves before gigs.
Popspoken: How did two dudes of Suriname descent come together to become one of the biggest names in dancehall today?
Sunnery: Sometimes life just happens one way. We both had a different career in our minds, but when we met back in 2006 and those careers didn’t work out, we slowly but surely started to think about a musical career together and it all went from there really.
Ryan: It’s quite funny because we met at a store Sunnery was working at, I was interning there, in the first two weeks of working together we found out we shared the same humor. Slowly we started throwing parties together and we started noticing how expensive DJs are and we just started doing it ourselves!
Sunnery: And look at where that took us.
Popspoken: Which artists were your inspirations growing up and how did they affect your music?
Sunnery: While growing up, my influences musically were Motown, Caribbean dance for their drums and melodies. But, also the soul of Stevie Wonder and of course, Michael Jackson.
Ryan: I got my inspiration growing up from a wide range of music, varying from rock to reggae, and I started becoming inspired by house when it started coming up in The Netherlands and the fact we listened to so many different music styles also influenced our music, we love to take the audience on that trip through genres with us during our sets.
Popspoken: How do you guys prepare for a performance and what would you do to stand out against the big solo acts in Amsterdam?
Ryan: For a performance, we love to get our energy up with some family time, especially during a busy schedule. Of course, we need to prepare ourselves a bit but most of our decisions are based on the energy we get from the crowd during our sets.
Sunnery: During the performance itself, we make sure we radiate a lot of fun the audience will pick up on that and it will have a positive impact on the entire show. I’d say it’s a balance of working hard and having fun.
Popspoken: In your opinion, do think that you’ve done it all for your career? If not, what else are you looking to achieve?
Ryan: We’ve already accomplished more that we could ever wish for, but that doesn’t mean we’re taking it easy. We like to challenge ourselves and set new goals so that we have something to strive for. A good example is our own label SONO Music, it’s something we wanted to do for a long time next to our own music and now we finally realized it. It’s cool that we create a platform to help other artists next to all the other things we do.
Sunnery: I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that this year so far is filled with highlights, our residency at HÏ Ibiza, playing the mainstage and our Sexy By Nature stage at Tomorrowland, our own stage at Creamfields, a sold out Sexy by Nature show at AFAS LIVE during ADE and so much more. Looking back at all of that gives us the motivation to work even harder and do more!
Popspoken: What can fans look forward to when you play in Singapore?
Ryan: We want to inspire the people coming to our shows with our music, so also the one in Singapore. We hope they are ready for a party, because one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a party for sure.
Sunnery: It’s going to be a night full of dancing and a lot of smiles we can promise you that and we are very excited to play for you guys.
Catch Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano at Zouk Singapore tonight, 18 Nov 2017. Details here.