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Jerome Sydenham: Ibadan style
Written By: BenGomori

Jerome Sydenham is one of the hottest tickets in the world of house and techno music in 2008. Born in Nigeria to Jamaican and English parents, raised and schooled in England and then educated further by the streets and clubs of New York, his first major forays into dance music came when he worked in the A&R division of Atlantic Records in the late ‘80s, working with the likes of En Vogue, Das EFX, and breaking vocal house group Ten City. Soon after he met emerging producer Kerri Chandler – one of his closest friends and a former collaborator, and his name as a producer and DJ gradually built over the ‘90s, with his superb label Ibadan Records launched in 1995.
He is best known for beautiful, emotive, sunkissed deep house tracks like ‘Swimming Places’, and his timeless collaboration with Dennis Ferrer Sandcastles, both on leading house imprint Defected. However he also shares Ferrer’s love for hypnotic, soulful, sexy techno – bringing an undeniable warmth to an often emotionally cold genre of music. His collaborations with Get Physical’s Swedish talent Tiger Stripes - like the hugely acclaimed ‘Elevation’ and their joyous remix of Faze Action’s classic In The Trees -should likewise be added to the cannon of great house music history.
His DJ sets are nothing short of phenomenal – veering from deep, intricate, chugging techno, to jackin’ tech house, into huge anthemic house moments in the classic vein. We witnessed him take the legendary Panoramabar in Berlin to pieces at secretsundaze’s during our trip there in February, and last Friday he showed Twisted Disco at Pacha London what all the fuss is about.
In short, Sydenham sits alongside contemporaries like Kerri Chandler and Dennis Ferrer as one of the most exciting producers in dance music today, with his tracks played by everyone from John Digweed to Francois K to Green Velvet. We caught 5 minutes with this hugely in-demand house music hero.
You were born in Nigeria and one of your parents was Nigeria...do you get many chances to go there these days? Does dance music as we know it exist there?
I try to get there whenever I can. I am planning a trip in the next couple of months. The scene there is dominated by hip hop and R&B but there are a few heads about.
Did your time working in the A&R department at Atlantic serve you well for your years ahead in the music industry? What valuable lessons did you learn?
It was an invaluable experience working with megalomaniacs, egomaniacs, overnight sensations, riches to rags, gangsters, shady lawyers, xes, drugs you name it!
People like yourself, Kerri Chandler and Dennis Ferrer have really helped to bring people’s focus back to real house music after years in the electro and minimal wilderness. Is this something you’ve really thought about or noticed?
People bring it up but the truth is we just love what we do and are still having lots of fun. I think the next 2 years are going to be very interesting musically as there are so many cross-influences going on.
What do you see as the musical differences between the three of you?
I wouldn’t put it that way; I think we are just individuals and great friends. Our musical appreciation and ranges are vast!
What’s the Ibadan Records ethos? Obviously it isn’t tied to one specific sound, but do you have general criteria you judge things by?
High quality tunes! I also try to keep an open mind even when it initially gets me in trouble as in trying thing that are a little ahead of their time. No regrets though.
I witnessed you take Panoramabar to pieces in February (a set that actually led to this booking!). Does it phase you playing somewhere that is so...”debauched”, if you see what I’m saying??
Absolutely not! I love the Panoramabar and I became one of those people after I finished my set. It was a crazy night!
We were really impressed with how your set built up over the 3 or so hours. Do you usually have a game plan when you play?
I actually never have a game plan. I do try to bring enough weapons for strategy changes as crowds vary and a DJ should always be in touch with the crowd.
What’s your ideal DJ set up?.
GSA as in Gary Stewart Audio in any form (his is the best sound out there). Big ass monitors, refurbished Urie rotary mixer, left and right isolators and an EFX machine with my vinyl of course….
So, who’s really impressing you on the production front right now?
Dennis (Ferrer), Kerri Radio Slave, Dubfire, Len Faki, Sammuel L Sessions, Osunlade, Mark Mendes and Marc Antona  just to name a few.
What was the last record you heard that you thought – “Damn, I wish I’d made that!”?
Tracks by all the guys I just mentioned!
How is the club scene in New York these days?
I think it’s going through some sort of recalibration...
Which are your other favourite countries and why? Do you love travelling?
I love travelling and I have a thing for Asia in general. Japan takes the cake. As for Europe, I seem to have a good time everywhere I go (no kidding).
What have you got lined-up production wise? Can we expect an album from  you? Mix CDs and so on?
I just did a mix CD for Need2Soul in London which is coming out shortly, and later in the year my Deep Tech series will launch (mix CDs). The album should be sometime early next year. Also look for some new tracks from my new labels Apotek and Avokado Records.
And what are your plans for the summer? Ibiza? Festivals etc?
From now I will be touring Europe. I’m booked in Ibiza in June and some festivals in July and then I hope to hop over for an Asian tour for August and hit the studio after the summer.



 *bgs* *bgs*


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