HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Jerome Sydenham

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> Interview : Eri Nishikami


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : First of all, let me congratulate you for the label's 10th anniversary.

Jerome Sydenam : Thank you very much.

HRFQ : I know running a label isn't easy, but what do you think is the primary reason for being able to stand as one of the best house music labels in the industry?

Jerome Sydenam : Thank you very much first of all, I think the simplicity, we as a small operation, we like it that way and the quality of music is obviously our priority. So it doesn't really matter per say what kind of progression that occurs over the years. It's more like just focusing on quality, quality, quality. And then whatever happens after that, we don't really have any other plan except just to putting out quality music. The focus is always on one quality material at a time.

HRFQ : So, what's your most favorite track out of all the quality music you have?

Jerome Sydenam : Oh, ah, my favorite track at the moment, I mean I like many of them but Sand Castles, even I'm the producer of it, definitely one of my favorite tracks. Espirito du Tempo, that's another one of my favorite tracks. There are quite a few, so that's a very difficult question to answer.

HRFQ : What do you think is Ibadan's position as a dance music label?

Jerome Sydenam : I like to call it like a mom and pop business, like a boutique label. We do it for fun, we enjoy music. We don't feel we have any role, we do it for ourselves and we just hope that other people will like it and enjoy it along with our journey. So we don't feel obligation to anybody or anything. We don't have any duty except to, again, going to the studio to make nice music and releasing it. Hopefully other people will want to enjoy it and that way, we can sort of stay alive, have a business and to enjoy at the same time.

HRFQ : How's the tour this time?

Jerome Sydenam : It's still going on. Recently I was in South East Asia. Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Cambodia, recently Tokyo, and passed through Shizuoka city as well. There's going to be a continuous Japanese tour but not this time because next week I'm going to have to go to Brussels, Belgium and we're doing London at some point, Paris at some point, hit most of the other areas like Greece and Italy. So it's going to be a world wide tour for sure but I think at a time I have to go back to NY to finish up a couple of remixes and productions then I'll continue with the tour. So it's not one continuous journey.

HRFQ : Where do you like to play the most? You don't have to tell me it's Japan...

Jerome Sydenam : (laughter) uh let's see, I like traveling and I like everywhere in the world, but recently I had a really good party in LA with Marcus Wiatt at Deep, because he has a really good new club with the Function One Sound System. So that's always wonderful to have a wonderful sound and great crowd. Yellow's always great, I always enjoy myself there. Moscow is particularly interesting because all what's going on there, so that's the another good location, and then NY's always good, that's my home, so we got a nice home crowd.

Jerome Sydenham Interview

HRFQ : I heard the play list at Yellow this time included more electro stuff compared to house. Why was that?

Jerome Sydenam : Where my head is at the moment is, I like music first of all, let's just clear that up, so I have an extensive record collections, I listen to all styles of music. Even though I may work predominantly with house music, it doesn't necessarily mean I have to stick to any style. It can be some of the foundation for sure, the foundation is still there but then there are some really nice electronic stuff coming out right now. I'm enjoying some new producers like Matthew Johnson and Henrick Schwartz and all the boys. There are some good Detroit stuff that always works, and the bit of Afro, bit of traditional house and a few vocals in, there it is, and you have a nice little mix. And the contrast is not so different between the styles, they actually work very well together so it's not like going all the way from here to all the way from there. It blends in all together even though they are supposedly all different sounds. And to be honest, there's not enough of one type of genre, even whether it's vocal house or whatever kind of house, there's not enough sound. So if you are stuck to one sound, half of your set will be crap anyway because there's not enough on one genre to fill up the whole night. You have to go to the record store to see what's happening and find out that fits into what you want to do.

HRFQ : So what do you think is the hottest genre?

Jerome Sydenam : I think it's a song - to - song thing. Because whatever the hottest track is, or hottest house track is, or hottest tech track or Detroit track... I think there are few good things out right now that you can spend some money. It's been a little dull for the past year or two I think, that's why even the song Sandcastle stood out. I mean I like the song but I don't think I had much competition so it stood out more than it normally would do. So yeah, there are a lot of poor quality music hanging about and the pipeline gets clogged with all those garbage. So, thank God the people are working and the mood is changing. People are playing more variety of music. I think it's picking up again. For me, so I'm very excited. Definitely looking forward to the future very very much.

HRFQ : What was the concept for your latest album " explosive high fidelity sound "

Jerome Sydenam : It's just kind of reflective of my states of mind at the moment. It's kind of personal and it's very difficult to do a mix CD I don't really like to do a mix CD to be honest because it's hard to do something to represent you in an hour and 10 minutes. It's like how do you represent your style or your tastes in an hour and 10 minutes. It was particularly hard to do that cd, so when it was completed, I felt a nice flow and few styles were reflected so I was satisfied with it. But mix cds, I find it difficult. If you are trying to do something interesting, it gets tough to make it flow. It reflects where I am right now basically.

HRFQ : As a creator, you've worked with many producers like Kerri Chandler and Demalicious what's your role inproducing.

Jerome Sydenam : It's usually collaboration. For example, the reason why Kerri Chandler and I work so well, I'll have a concrete idea, Kerri is an amazing programmer and a keyboard player, and he's a great producer anyway, you know, any kind of collaboration with somebody who's contributed to dance music so much over the years is such a privilege in the first place. So first of all, I like to work with him the best. Working with Kerri is enjoyable. I basically articulate what I want out of the music and present some ideas. Kerri is excellent with the programming, I'm excellent with the arrangements and we mix together. So it's like programming versus arrangements, Kerri says I'm a good arranger at least, anyways, once you put those two together very carefully, usually the result is very good. Especially if you can read each other. So the same thing with Dennis, he's also an amazing producer in his own right and technically a genius as well. Everybody bring something original to the table and nobody's stepping on anybody's toe. If I do a track by myself, it'll be very very acoustic with lot of live instrumentation. I'm a producer in the old school sense of the way. You hire the musicians, tell everybody what to play, you arrange it, you mix it, that kind of thing. But I'm not really good at computers and stuff, I'm just learning now. So, right now, it's a combination of technical expertise and sort of old school mentality, which will be me. I like to work with electronics and acoustics live instrumentation and combine the two.

Jerome Sydenham Interview

HRFQ : Are you interested in working on your own?

Jerome Sydenam : I am working on my album at the moment but it's just very expensive with live musicians. So, that's probably a next year project. I also work with Hiroshi Watanabe, we are working on an album called 32 Project, which is the concept, so I was actually working in Tokyo this week.

HRFQ : Do you have anybody else that you'd like to work with?

Jerome Sydenam : Dennis Ferrer and I are finishing an album as well. So between my album and Ferrer Sydenaham Inc album which is kind of an African electro thing, and those first two projects will at least take a year, so after that, I'll start thinking about who else I'm going to work with. Mickey in Sweden who I did the Stockholm with, Dj Malicious(D-malicious), we'll do a couple more singles together for the moment, and may be an album after that and sometimes, things just come up and so many people I want to work with. I want to work with Roger Sanchez, an old friend of mine, but it has to be something interesting I don't want to do something too obvious and basic.

HRFQ : You've just mentioned about working with Hiroshi Watanebe. How did you two complete a song in such a short time?

Jerome Sydenam : That's usually how, I mean he's again technically really amazing; we communicated very well in the studio. Actually we completed a track in one day from beginning to the end and it came out nice. So, that doesn't happen all the time. It was first time working with him and it just was like an instant in the studio I knew where he was and he knew where I was and we just flowed you know, ideas, execution, ideas, execution so it was excellent.

HRFQ : Does it depend on whom you work with?

Jerome Sydenam : Definitely, a personality has a lot to do with it, you have to connect as opposed to just technical thing. It has a lot to do with feelings and clarity. Having a clear and simple direction and having an imagination and being able to articulate it. For me it's very important cause if you are working with other people, you have to know what you are doing. I like to work quickly. It doesn't usually take more than three days, if anything at the most. Two days tracking and one day mixing. If it takes longer than that, it usually doesn't happen. Everybody works differently. After a week, just forget it. Damp it.

HRFQ : What's in store for Ibadan as a label and for you as a creator?

Jerome Sydenam : Well, nothing in particular, we have sub labels but we're just going to keep moving and keep experimenting and ah, you know, executing ideas suddenly come to mind, go to the studio, try it out and put it out on the market. I think overall, in terms of a small community like ours, our only problem is how to penetrate the CD market, but that's more of a business problem as opposed to a creative one. Creatively, I'm going to just behave as freely as we've been behaving and just continue. You know, not to feel pressured by anything. When the market goes up, we hopefully do a few more things and if things go down, we do fewer things. Depending on the economy. I'm going to keep it simple as just moving. Nothing special.

HRFQ : What's music for you?

Jerome Sydenam : Music is my life. Simple as that.

End of the interview

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