Sunnery and Ryan Talk Collaboration with Ableton Live, Favorite Plugins, DJing at ADE

Each October, DJs, producers, music publishers, labels and fans from around the globe converge in Amsterdam for one of the largest Dance Music festivals in the world; Amsterdam Dance Event or “ADE”. We had a chance to catch up with world renowned collaborators Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano to talk about their workflow as producers and DJs in addition to some of their ADE highlights.

Nate Mars: What were you most excited about for ADE this year?

Sunnery: For us, it is always special because we were born and raised in Amsterdam. We are from this city. When we were little kids we walked around these nice canals and everything. To be a part of ADE, it’s like we’re proud, because the whole worldwide dance community are all in our tiny city. We always want to try to show our best, and be really welcoming to our city. This year, we planned a smaller showcase, because we wanted to connect with our fans. At a lot of shows we have big stages, and we see the people there, but we just want to go back to the club. It all started in Escape in Amsterdam.

Ryan: We didn’t promote anything and sold out in two weeks.

NM: In terms of production what are you guys working on lately together?

Sunnery: We just finished a new track. Actually, we came back to Amsterdam for ADE, because we are based in LA for the next month. We’re working on a lot of crossover stuff and more radio-friendly music. The last two or three years, we’ve still been trying to find the sound that fits us.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s kind of hard, we’ve been looking for a new sound but still want to keep some of our current sound like the drums and the amazing vocals we get from some artists. We’re trying to do something in between.

NM: Can you tell us about the collaboration process? How are you guys currently working together? What DAW are you mainly working in?

Sunnery: Actually, we never went to school. Steve Angello showed us a lot of stuff in Ableton Live. He taught us, “Try this.” He never went to school, so he learned by himself as well. Now working with Ryan, he’ll come up with something and we work on it or I work with something…I’m the guy who likes to finish the track, and this guy is like…  We start a lot of ideas separately and then we come together to finish.

Ableton Live - Arrange View

Ableton Live – Arrange View

Ryan: I can never finish a track. [laughter]

Sunnery: But he’s really good…

NM: It sounds like that’s a good partnership as collaborators, because if you’re [Sunnery] starting a bunch of ideas and you’re [Ryan] finishing them…

Sunnery: I like to work the arrangement a lot. For specific sounds, Ryan will say “No, the sound is not good enough.” Then he sits for like three days on one sound, and it’s amazing. After that it works.

NM: What about plug-ins and soft synths? Do you have any go-to plug-ins that are your favorites?

Sunnery: I love ReFX Nexus. It’s quite easy to create a great sound, and Nexus combined with Sylenth1 is amazing. We also use Native Instruments Massive a lot.

reFX Nexus

NM: What draws you to Ableton Live? What makes that good for you in terms of workflow?

Sunnery: Actually, we started as DJs, and we make edits and make kicks, and that kind of stuff. At a certain point, we were aware that we needed to make music. As a DJ, you need to create something for your fans, and good friends.

Ryan: We started producing because we wanted to have something that nobody has. We have a track and we just have it, and nobody gets it.

NM: Any words of wisdom to share?

Sunnery: In terms of deejaying and producing, try to get inspired by DJs you look up to, but try not to copy. Try to find your own…what you like in a DJ booth. Because if you play what you think works, it’s not going to work for you, because you have to play what you feel. If you stand there like, “OK, this is a hit, so I’ll play it,” but you don’t feel it…don’t play it. If you feel the hit, play it. We still love ‘Reload’, everybody plays it. It’s a great song.

About the Splice Artist Series:

We empower music creators to create and collaborate fearlessly. Our goal is to build the best platform possible in order to enable that process. We hope that you learn just as much as we do, hearing from artists about their workflow and how they collaborate. Most importantly after reading, we hope you are inspired to make music!

October 28, 2014