Real house music from the heart: Darius Syrossian
Having worked for years and years, both as a record shop manager and a DJ, Darius Syrossian has finally been getting some of the praise he deserves over the past year or so thanks to his strong work ethic and his increasingly impressive productions.
This year has been probably one of his busiest so far, with residencies in Ibiza and the UK, plus lots of studio work and his radio show. I caught Darius during a rare quiet moment to reflect on his career so far and the house music ’scene’ in general… and he’s given me an exclusive mix, which you can download via my website HERE.
How did it all start for you?
We used to go to raves in the early nineties, when I say raves I mean actual raves in fields. My friend who used to drive us was the only, and I mean only, person who had decks out of all the people we knew who went out, and there was a big group of us. I really wanted a go on his, I was 18 at the time, I did my first mix and I was hooked. It wasn’t long after that when I started working at Global Beat records and ordering in and selling vinyl to people.
Whereabouts did you grow up?
I grew up in Tehran, Iran. My dad is a doctor and was invited to come to the UK to work when I was 14. Originally we lived in Wilmslow near Manchester then moved to Yorkshire. When my parents moved again I stayed, this is the time I had met my friends, and discovered house music, and I knew this is what I wanted to be involved in, I was hooked, and I knew house music was my passion.
What are some of your earliest memories of house music?
Ahhh, when I think back I get such good memories. I’m alot older than some people think and I used to go to these outdoor raves, and honestly I’m not just saying this, but the buzz of being in a crowd back then dancing to the music was so so different to now. You would go to these raves where all you had was DJs and a sound system, it wasn’t about the DJ, it was about the sound system who threw the parties. I remember DIY sound system, there was no DJ hype, no fancy lights, no marketing, no internet, nobody even had mobile phones, you knew which was a good party from word of mouth. We would meet at service stations and then convoys of cars would leave for a rave, and in the crowd there was all sorts of people, crusties, ravers, glammed up clubbers, techno heads, travellers, and everyone danced happily side by side. Now you hear people moan about ‘the crowd was a bit this or a bit that’. Then of course, when the Criminal Justice act came, it all moved to clubs, I remember dancing to Sasha at the Hacienda, was such a great buzz.
How did you go about getting your first gigs?
I used to sell records in my record shop, and a group of lads who put on a night called Brethren came in and said they loved the music I got them, and if it’s what I played they would love me to play. It was 1995, and I remember my first record, it was a Daft Punk remix of Chemical Brothers called ‘Life Is Sweet’, it was packed and I loved it, I was hooked after that gig.
When you did start to take it seriously as a way to earn a living?
Well I started working in the record shop part-time, but it wasn’t long before they made me the manager, head of ordering stock from distributors and so on. I was that into it, I never even took a lunch break, so house music was my living from very early on. But earning properly as a DJ, the last seven or eight years really, and since I started producing my name got known internationally and I had to leave my job at the record shop. It was always a dream to be doing this and I’m kinda now doing it. It took many years to get here but I did it through music and not through knowing friends in high places and I’m very proud of that fact.
In terms of production, what kind of sound were you aiming to produce when you first started making music?
I can hand-on-heart say the sound I’m making now… people say my sound is old skool, well it’s not, it’s just that I always liked this sound: house music with a strong emphasis on bass and groove, and that’s what I wanted to make and that’s what I make now. People who jump on bandwagons don’t really like what they make in their hearts, they just play or make that sound because it’s what the ‘IN’ sound at the time is. I love all kinds of music, jazz, funk, real disco, techno, house, all sorts, but as for producing the sound I make, [it] is the sound I always wanted to make.
Did you get any formal training at all?
[Laughs] No, everything I learned, I taught myself – even using the hardware kit that I have to make music with…
What would you say makes a perfect dancefloor destroyer?
A house track with a strong killer, the bass is the soul of a track, you can have all the other elements, but if the bass isn’t right, it won’t work. It’s all about the bassline.
What tracks in your box are smashing dancefloors at the moment?
KINK, with a track called ‘Express’ on Rush Hour. Jordan Peak has done a remix of Rhymos’ track called ‘Cancel Reality’ on Murmur that is cool. Dan Ghenacia’s remix of Anthea’s ‘Distraction’ is awesome, actually I could go on all-day about tracks that are smashing it, hahaha so I’ll stop there.
You have a real strong fanbase both inside the industry (from your peers) and punter-wise, too – to what would you credit your success?
Do I? I don’t know, I try to not concentrate on things like that. I think a lot of DJs have a massive ego but I try to stay humble. If anyone holds a phone up with a request while I’m playing I don’t push their hand away. People were asking stuff at my gig in London for example and I was on a stage, I put my headphones down and ran around to the crowd and asked what they wanted. Also whenever I can, I get on the dance-floor with the crowd, I’ve done it loads of times, people seem surprised but why shouldn’t I? I love music, that’s why we are at the club right?
I think more DJs know me than people in the media. It’s funny when I was at DC10 recently walking through the crowd on the dance floor I kept getting stopped by people from all over saying they love my music, but then I went backstage to chill and that’s where all the DJs hang out, and PR and media people and hardly anyone has an idea who I am. I love it that way, it’s the right way round. I was there for a couple of hours then Sneak arrived and of course we are good mates, and then everyone started saying, “Oh so are you Darius” [laughs]. To be honest as long as people know my music that’s all that matters, they don’t need to know me but I’m thankful to everyone who has supported my music this year. I’ve had some really good reviews and if these guys are reading thanks so much.
To read more of this interview go to marcusbarnes.comDarius Syrossian, Steve Lawler, VIVa Music
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