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Sitting Down With Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano
We caught up with the fierce twosome to hear about their origin, their experiences overseas and their studio strategies

Interview by Haley Edelson

The unique and funky house duo of Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano laid down a powerful set at this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Orlando. We were privileged enough to sit down with them and talk personal taste, humble beginnings, and the key ingredient to get the crowd on their feet. 

So let me start off by saying you guys played quite the high energy set this evening and I could definitely see it effect the crowd. What's different about playing shows in the States compared to Europe? The reason why it's a different experience in the United States and Europe, is because the people in the United States are really enthusiastic and have a lot of soul and a lot of passion. It's a cultural thing I guess you could say, while in Europe everyone is able to party and enjoy where ever and when ever they want. So for the DJ to get the energy for the people in the United States is insane because you get so much energy back and in turn you play better.

I feel it's due in a large part to the fact that the people aren't quite as jaded yet to the scene considering every type of music genre comes in a wave. Europe gets to experience a lot of the music first. That's why every genre of music i.e. disco, hip hop, rock and roll, has always had this giant movement and enthusiasm; the hype. That's what this culture thing we experienced, especially now that we've basically been living in New York right now and the different in the whole culture is that people are really passionate and when they go for something they really have to hustle. In Europe everybody is kind of like "We're good, We're chilling"

I definitely can get the sense that things are a lot more laid back in Europe. Yeah, to play in Europe you really have to work to get that excitement out of the crowd, which also makes you a better DJ as well.  

When I've asked musicians in different genres what their favorite part of performing is I've gotten similar answers. Many say that they love when they don't have to sing or play their own song and the crowd sings it for them. What would you say is your proudest moment during a show? When everyone is just steady moving, enjoying the music, and having a good time. When you can build it to a big climax and just smash it. We did a cover of Tiesto and the funny thing is, when a break down is about to come on and we don't make a change in the music, yet the people know what's going to happen, and they start clapping without any heads up from us. 

Do you head into the studio with that in mind? When we made it in the studio that was the whole purpose, we want the people to recognize the beat before the beat comes on.

And you guys are kind of known for your funky, tribal style and personally I love that and love the music you can just get down to. Yes, and you know when we do longer sets, we do our best when we can play 2-3 hours because we can build it, break it down, and then build it again. One hour sets are sometimes difficult because you really have to play all your big records every two tracks so it's different for us. The moment we really get into it is 45 minutes deep and by that time we almost have to quit. (laughs). We have to create a sort of relationship with the crowd.

Almost feel them out and build a bond? Yeah, then we can play together and have a party together. Especially because we play in so many countries with so many different types of audiences you need to get a feel for each different group of people. It's easy to play all the big tracks of Calvin Harris and whoever. That;s easy, but we wanna do our own thing.


A lot of people don't need words they just need the beat, and that's what I've grown to love about your music too. That's how you know when someone is really DJing. When the beat is hard. It's really easy, in our opinion - you know, to play what works now. All the big records sets, all the big DJs because everyone knows the songs- but it's not the big privilege (of DJing). In our opinion, it's best when you play a beat that no one knows and they still go wild. 

RM: That's what we love to do, we love to make the beats and then lay the vocals down on it. Sometimes big vocals, sometimes vocals nobody knows.

SJ: We want to keep our own Identity as DJs, in the long run that's what we think is the best thing you can do.

So I know that you guys first met each other at a sporting goods store where Sunnery was working and you, Ryan became an intern. How exactly though did you guys discover your mutual passion for music?  The funny thing is we basically just began talking and we noticed we had the same sense of humor, and it all started with humor. Then we began hanging out and noticed our similar tastes in music and you know, I was kind of like "Oh, so this guy likes music huh" And I was  always growing up with music and we were listening to the funky house, and once we started playing and collecting together we realized we had the same kind of feel for music. 

Were you already involved with music in a professional sense at that point? SJ: Well I was always around music, my dad was a musician and he did a lot from music (pointing to Ryan) and it was crazy that we had the same taste when we were buying records at the record store. I was even getting annoyed like, "Oh, fuck this guy has the same interests! I thought I was special."

I think you can see that special bond when you listen to your sets. Yeah. This is definitely a friendship for a life time.