Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are not your ordinary main stage headliners. They're an act whose persona came together through a business relationship that has transformed them into a duo famous for their dedication to their music, fans and energy on stage. The Dutch duo has been able to maintain a long history of something that’s been fading in the newer dance music generations: a dedication to dance, house music history and the environment in which it flourishes. Their performances aren’t lost in production or lights, and their own productions are timeless. For long many, James & Marciano represent the reason why many of us initially fell in love with dance music.
At Electric Daisy Carnival NY, SJRM brought that same energy and current but tribal style that we love them for on Friday. Following an electro heavy performance by fellow Dutchman and friend Chuckie, the duo brought some serious groove to the EDC main stage. Afterward, we got to sit down with the guys to chat about their performance and upcoming projects.
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Earmilk: How as today’s performance for you guys? You seem to be the absolute festival pros: you’ve done Sensation, EDC, Tomorrowland, Ultra; the list goes on.
Sunnery James: Today we came in running a little late, and the love we got from New York City is indescribable. It’s amazing. From the minute we came into the DJ booth everybody was excited and hyped. What can we say? EDC New York was great once again.
EM: Do you have a strategy when you’re up there together?
SJ: Not really. We just feel from the crowd and enjoy it. It’s not even like we prepare anything: we get in there and try to get the best out of the experience.
E:; Back when you were first starting out, how did you decide that you wanted to go into this together?
SJ: It started around 15 years ago, where found out we had the same interests in life not just in music. We really wanted to do something for ourselves and started doing parties and getting bookings, and all of the sudden we just thought “Let’s get our records together and just play.” And then a friend of mine gave us the opportunity to get in to play in a club, and that’s when things really got started. The particular party that we played became really famous throughout all of Amsterdam. It was a small club that fit about 400 people, but where every big promoter (like ID&T) came to check stuff out, and they immediately picked us up.
Ryan Marciano: It’s not like we decided something. It just happened and we made something out of it.
SJ: We had a lot of fun doing it then and we are still having a lot of fun. It’s what we do. Now it’s getting more serious, and with all of the people following us we really have to deliver and perform well on big stages like this. We’ve really got to be on point, and though the pressure is on we still have fun.
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EM: I think my favorite part about seeing you both live is the energy that you have up on stage. You’re famous for that, and without saying, the hair.
RM: Sometimes we see it in movies or videos and we’re like “Oh we look ridiculous.”
EM: No but it’s true – some guys who become as successful as you lose that edge on stage that made them famous in the first place.
RM: It’s really the people that give us that energy. It’s the people that make the shirts with our names, and we can’t help it. Music is our life and when we can share it on stage, from the first second we drop the first track and until we end our performance we’re in our zone. We can’t help it.
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EM: In the 15 years you’ve been working together, has your taste in music changed?
RM: We collect music from up to fifty years ago that includes a lot of different styles, but always danceable. Through the years, we’ve definitely had the same taste but trends really change every four to five years. But we try to include new great stuff but really try to stick to our own tribal sound. It just has to be danceable: that’s what we like. Music is getting really loud and really hard now, but still we try to keep that certain groove to our sound. I think you know, throwing your hands up to the music is nice, but really creating that atmosphere just lasts longer.
EM: I can say that danced and had the most fun during your set and noticed a huge change in the atmosphere when you came on stage. It’s great to have a recognizable style. Are you working on any projects coming up?
SJ: As we speak next month our release with Chocolate Puma is coming up called “Stiffness,” and we even had a chance to play it today. Then the month after we’ve got a release out on Spinnin’ Records that’s going to be called “Ultronic.”
RM: That one went wild today.
SJ: We also did a collab with Nicky Romero that’s coming out sometime in August I think on Size Records. And then we have a lot more collaborations we’re working on and our own records as well. I don’t want to give too much but there is going to be a lot of exciting new music.
RM: Aside from the music we also have a backpack line that we’re working on, and it’s actually out in the market already called Mojo. We’ve given it to Armin van Buuren, Steve Angello and David Guetta and of course are supporting it ourselves.
SJ: Actually it started out at EDC Vegas last year. A friend of ours has a company and suggested maybe we do something together. He kept seeing us mess around with our headphones and carrying things so it seemed perfect. And we wanted it to be classy (I mean, it has to be nice). We don’t want to walk around with a dorky bag. This works for us, works with the swag and for both men and women.
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