The EDM Life interview: Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano


We caught up with Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano just minutes after they completed their EDC Las Vegas set on Saturday night that weekend. SJ & RM are known for their signature house sound and are another of the Netherlands prime export – house djs!

EDM Life: You guys play a lot of festivals all around the world. EDC is one of the biggest, and you’ve played it before. What would you say was special about this one, or what was different compared to the other big festivals?

Sunnery: When we first started playing EDC… I think it was 3 years ago, and at that point the whole scene was just blowing up in America. There was a real hype around dance music and the first stuff was really mainstream, actually. What you can see now after 3, 4 years is that Americans have gotten more educated in dance music and you can play much more sophisticated. You can play more into deep house and that kind of thing. Not really deep… keep it big, but you can be more sophisticated.

EDM Life: Right.

Sunnery: … and that’s good for us. We play really diverse and today we had a great set. I mean, we played really different and we tried a lot of new things and people reacted really nicely to it. It’s always a risk to do something new, but it’s also a good way to get started at a festival. We had a great time today and you could see that America is ready for the next step in dance music.

EDM Life:  Were there some new tracks played tonight in your set or have coming out soon?

Sunnery: Yeah, we have a remix we did for Alesso and Calvin Harris ‘Under Control.’ (editor note: see 10:00 mark at Soundcloud player at the end of this article). We have a new track on Spinnin’ coming out a few weeks from now, ‘Salute’ …and there’s another track I can’t say a lot about, but it’s coming out on Spinnin’ as well, and it’s going to be a big one. It’s more radio-orientated, but it’s still us and we’re really excited because it’s a vocal track, and we don’t usually bring a lot of vocal tracks on. So, it’s going to be interesting and really exciting.

(Note – Available June 21st)

EDM Life: You seem to be effectively resident djs at the Sensation parties. Is that accurate, or do you just play them a lot?

Sunnery: I mean this year yeah we did it, we go to Sensation Ryan?

Ryan: I don’t think so maybe 2, well we did a lot.

EDM Life: It sounds like you do not play Sensation as much now then compared to the past?

Ryan: Yeah, before this year we did a lot of Sensation. We don’t actually like to dress in white. Sensation is a big, big concept. We started in Amsterdam when we first did Sensation, and we were like, “Fuck, we’re on Sensation! You know?” Then, they took us on tour and it was really good for us, but at some point we kind of grew out of it, and we still do well.

Sunnery: I mean, we have a lot to be thankful for. They gave us a lot of attention when it came to America. We started in Amsterdam and when you do more than 15 Sensations you have to back out a little bit, you know? Otherwise it’s going to be the same thing every time.

EDM Life: Are there any other festivals that you guys could name that you love playing at? … or that you love being a fan and just walking around and checking out?

Sunnery: I must say Tomorrowland  last year, we played twice and we partied the whole weekend for a few days. We partied on the Carl Cox and were just around the party people. We’d be just running around and people would be like, “Whoa! Are you… ??” “No, no we’re not… we’re just partying, see you later!” …and we’d just hang around with friends. Yeah Tomorrowland is a nice place for us to do that.

EDM Life: You guys play you guys tend to do a lot more quick mixing, scratching, and cutting… more of your own edits than a lot of other big names you can see on the Main Stage. Where did that kind of come? Your style is a little different  in how you two like to mix and play more songs per set than some of the other guys.

Sunnery: I think we want to keep our set lively, and we think if you play a song from the beginning to the end, at a certain point your set’s going to get boring. For us… we need to get moving immediately. We have to do something and we always try to do live edits and we always mix with all the channels open. We don’t even know where we’re going, but we keep on mixing, mixing, mixing, mixing, and we see what’s going on. Out of that, sometimes surprising things are happening and that’s what we always try to achieve… to surprise ourselves in our sets. That’s always our purpose.

EDM Life: Sets at festivals are usually short… about 60 – 90 minutes. If someone said you could play as long as you wanted to, how long would you prefer that is best for your sound?

Ryan: Actually during Amsterdam Dance Event event last year, we went up to the Tomorrowland guys and we were taking some shots and having fun. They said, “Maybe you guys should do a three hour set on the main stage?” We were like, “Yeah, why not? We love to play longer sets.” Now we’re doing 3 hours on the main stage.

Sunnery: I think a three hour set is perfect.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s the best.

Sunnery: Actually it’s a funny thing… at Summerland festival in Cartegena this year we played with Afrojack and Armin. Afrojack missed his flight, so we had to play for four hours at the festival. It was our festival, by then, and everyone went nuts. We had a lot of fun there.

EDM Life: You guys are residents at Hakkasan here in Las Vegas. How do you like playing Hakkasan?

Ryan: It’s great. I think it’s one of the best clubs in the world. The first time we walked through it we thought, “It’s not a club… it’s more like a small festival or something.” We always have so much fun there. The whole setup was great, the people we work with are amazing, the sound system is great, and I think it’s the best DJ booth in the world. you have so much space. I don’t even smell Sunnery, so that’s good (laughter).

Sunnery: I smell so good that’s why he starts kissing me all the time (more laughter).

EDM Life: That’s it. Thanks guys for your time and enjoy the rest of EDC!

Check out their EDC Las Vegas set here:



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