On The Rise: Syz

Brighton-via-Bristol now London-based music producer and DJ Syz has been making serious waves over the last few years. With releases coming thick and fast via the likes of Method Lab, Pressure Dome, Shanti Celeste’s esteemed Peach Discs and are more recently Banoffee Pies, Syz has set the standard for emerging talent in the UK — already garnering serious co-signs from heavyweights Mary Anne Hobs, Pearson Sound, Zenker Brothers and Peverlist to name a few.

Combining intricate percussive rhythms with lush ethereal pads and textures, Syz’s output is unique in its own way. Not pinning himself down to one single genre, the rising star has been busy showcasing his sounds across the world including this months debut appearance at the infamous HÖR Berlin. We took some time to catch up with Syz…

Can you tell us about your musical background and how you first got into music?

I don’t come from a very musical background whatsoever. My first introduction into electronic music was through exposure to my older brother’s taste. Old CD’s and tapes of  So Solid Crew, Dizzee and mostly grime/dubstep and rap, as well as early Four Tet and leftfield stuff like Moderat & Aphex Twin. Around this time I started making tracks around 140bpm on FL Studio, as I wanted to make tracks to spit bars over (a story for another time lol). After a couple of years I leaned more into the Dubstep realm and the progression went from there.

To someone who’s just discovered you, how would you describe Syz and your overall sound/ direction?

Always a hard question as I take influence from everywhere, but in a nutshell I’d describe my production sound as percussive, drummy techno / grime tinted broken beat steppers / UK sound system rollers! Another side to my creative output would be ambient/textural/organic sounding sonics which I also combine with my more beat driven material at times.

With DJing I like to keep things energetic, groovy and ever evolving, and try to stray away from just playing one particular style from one particular scene for example. I love to play groovy techno, with soulful and deeper tech/house and UKG moments. I love a good curveball! I feel that DJing is a separate art form altogether to production, and like to reflect that in my sets but playing stuff that might not necessarily be associated with the ‘Syz’ sound. Saying that you can always expect a hefty dose of the bass-oriented sound I’m known for in my sets! 

Recently you dropped “Headspin EP” via Banoffee Pies. What was the creative/ production process behind the record and how did your relationship with the label come about?

I was writing a lot of more introspective and conceptual music throughout the pandemic (e.g my self released Mindforms EP – which will be getting a full label repress later on this year). Once restrictions were lifted and clubs began to open, my mind was fixed on crafting a record that was built solely for the dancefloor. The production process was over a year or so, and I wanted the tracks to be a hybrid of styles. The production on this record was very sample based, using choppy/processed percussive drums, with bass synthesis, strung together with rough cut  sampling using audio from old Bristol pirate radio snippets and off key vocal chops in tracks such as ‘Burner FM’. 

The relationship between the label came about after vaguely knowing El for a few years (we both lived in Bristol for a while), and after connecting more online he emailed asking for demo’s. For months I never really had anything ready to send that wasn’t tied up already. I sent over some demos here and there but nothing really clicked. I had these 4-5 track skeletons I kept coming back to, and I remember over a space of about 3 weeks I went to town on them and basically ended up with 4 finished tracks, sent them over to El and he snapped them up! There was a little bit of healthy A&R from El’s side with tracks like Spiralisza and Burner FM which was really beneficial to completing the tracks, and I am really grateful for the patience and constant feedback loops between us that created the final product. ‘Spiralizsa’ was a track that I had lost the project file for, but El loved the vibe of it, so I had to do some vigorous editing and revamping to shape it into a new version, and I’m super happy with the outcome. El was really accommodating and didn’t want to rush into anything, which made the process super natural and organic, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

You recently took over the infamous HÖR Berlin for an hour mix. How was the experience and what vibe did you want to bring?

It was great being in the infamous bathroom studio. I had been over in Berlin for work for 5 nights and the session was on the last night of my trip. I was feeling very inspired from a weekend full of music in clubs such Tresor, Renate and Berghain, so the direction I took naturally went towards playing club ready and techno leaning gear, with some UKG curveballs and a few other twists and turns.

Already garnering serious attention, where do you see yourself this time next year and what’s next for Syz?

By next year I see myself gigging more regularly / sustainably, with more solid releases under my belt. My main focus is to carry on making consistent records, and I am toying with the idea of starting up my own imprint and clubnight to facilitate not just my own music but friends and new talent. 

Production wise, I want to focus on another conceptual record that blurs the lines between club/home listening tracks for my next project. I have a remix I am working on for one of my favorite artists / vocalists, plus a couple of single tracks coming out as part of compilations. As mentioned earlier, after my Headspin EP drops, I have a full label repress of my Mindforms release which will be accompanied by a 5 track remix EP ‘Clubforms’, with remixes from myself and some of my favorite producer friends on the circuit at the moment.

Quickfire questions… “WHICH”

Which song did you last listen to?

Vanoni – Rizoma (Claudio PRC Remix)

Which artist inspires you the most?

At the moment, I think Dorisburg & Arkajo inspire me a lot. Individually their sound is so perfectly crafted. They also are a duo under Genius of Time of course, for which they push an entirely different sound. The consistency and versatility of the pair’s output is very inspiring. 

Which club night did you last attend?

Berghain Klubnacht at the start of February.

Which DJ would you most like to go B2B with?

BUFO!

Which club would you most like to play at?

On home soil it would be FOLD. Aboard – Panorama Bar/Berghain or Blitz Club. The soundsystem’s, the programming and the crowd being the key factors. 

Which London restaurant do you recommend to someone visiting?

The most memorable meal I’ve had recently was at Cornerstone in Hackney Wick. 7 course tasting menu, bare oysters, was very decent. For a cheaper option, my local Istanbul Kebab – proper kebab tackle there.

Which record would you save from your burning collection?

Wesley Jay & Shimano – Jazz Music. Garage/breaks weapon.

Which DJ do you look up to the most?

One DJ that always blows my mind is Identified Patient. Very solid, hard hitting selection whilst keeping things very fun at the same time. A proper gentleman also!

Which city is better, London or Bristol?

London.

Which do you prefer, club nights or festivals?

Hard one, as I’d say I prefer to club nights to experience DJ sets for sure. But experience wise, I’d choose festivals hands down. Nothing better than completely shutting off from your usual day to day and getting stuck in to a 4-5 day vortex in a field! So yeah, I’d say festivals.

Check out the latest Syz release below…

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