House and techno from the steady hand of a veteran.
Nigerian-born Jerome Sydenham has been involved with music in one form or another since the mid-'80s. He found his feet in the industry after moving to New York City, holding down a residency at an up-market celebrity hang-out called Nell's. After a stint doing A&R at Atlantic Records—a long-held ambition of his at the time—he grew disillusioned with major label culture and left to set-up his own imprint, Ibadan. 17 years and well over 100 releases later, it's safe to say he made the right move. Some of the city's best house artists—Kerri Chandler, Dennis Ferrer, Joe Claussell—became regulars in the Ibadan discography, while Sydenham's own prodigious work-rate, not to mention hits like "Sandcastles" and "Timbuktu" (alongside Ferrer), ensured his own place in the annals of NYC house.
The more recent chapter of the Sydenham story could be titled "techno." After relocating to Berlin around 2007, Sydenham found himself increasingly drawn to the sound, formalizing his fascination with transmissions for labels like CLR and Drumcode, and collaborating with Function of Sandwell District. It's a case of past, present and future on RA.346, a mix that brings to bear all sides of Sydenham, with the veteran editing the majority of what's on offer.
What have you been up to recently?
First and foremost, I have just completed my Animal Social Club album, released on Ibadan Records / New World Records (Japan). In addition, I've been really busy the last couple of months getting ready with spring and summer releases. The next couple of releases on Ibadan will include the No Shade EP featuring Sylvie Forêt and Aschka, followed by Quell's debut solo album.
Beyond the scope of Ibadan, my remix of "Grounded" by Sin Sin is out now on Ground Factory Records. In addition, my remix of Ben Sims "Smoke and Mirrors" is due out on Drumcode shortly. Finally, Desolat will be releasing a Jerome Sydenham original four-track EP, slated for early summer.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The DJ mix was recorded in my Berlin studio. I used a combination of vinyl and CDs, a Urei rotary mixer, some delays, and Genelec monitors.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I was looking for optimism with movement rather than a flat homogenous mix. Also keeping a focus on blurring the lines between house and techno, with tinges of old-school and a touch of soul, while maintaining a captive audience. Ultimately, having fun and being deadly serious at the same time.
Are you still as enamored by techno as when we last spoke to you in 2010?
Absolutely! In general, in my opinion, techno is going through a bit of hard and slightly cheesy phase. However, there is still a great deal of superb new releases every week, saddled with bright new talent. So I remain happily optimistic about the future.
How is your piano playing going?
Unbelievably well. It makes such a big difference to have a good tutor.
What are you up to next?
I am working on finally finishing my special sound EFX project for Ibadan Records. It will feature an illustrious range of DJs and producers in various genres of electronic music. I am also finishing up the next Nagano Kitchen album for the Apotek Records/New World. Nagano Kitchen is a collaboration between myself and my Japanese counterpart Hideo Kobayashi. I generally work a lot and am now looking forward to the Animal Social Club world tour.
Photo credit: Rene Passetti