Syrenz is the brainchild of one of the scene's most respected and revered female members Lisa Nyx. Set up to support and nurture female production and performing talent, Syrenz is collectively tackling the scene’s traditional female stereotypes by creating a new blueprint for female representation within drum and bass music.
Behind the scenes Syrenz is run by a formidable team of the scene's finest talent and businesswomen including Adi-J (Renegade Hardware/Cheeky Mondays) and Keira Vassallo (Essence of Chi/Kane FM). Syrenz introduces a new dawn for the genre and heralds a long over due shift in focus which firmly places emphasis on the highest quality music combined with an uncompromising attitude towards talent and success. Syrenz offers a new home and movement for female producers and DJs offering them an outlet to showcase individual musical merit above all else.
The first Syrenz release clearly stamps the label’s heavy hitting intent with Kyrist stepping up with her debut release "Revolt" a heavy, dark stepper, loaded with two killer remixes from both Gremlinz & Genotype. Already shown support by drum & bass legend Loxy (Exit/Cylon/Renegade Hardware), Syrenz starts here and the revolution has begun! We spoke with Nyx to find out more, and we've also been treated to a very special mix which you can catch below.
So… Can you tell us the whole ethos behind Syrenz?
Our aim is for the Syrenz brand to be synonymous with developing and promoting female talent so we can see more active female artists in the scene. It’s important that d&b continues to evolve both musically and procedurally and we hope to bring some really interesting artists with longevity to the scene.
Why did you decide to start Syrenz?
Syrenz was born out of a number of conversations I’ve had over the years with both men and women about the distinct lack of successful female producers in D&B. Most people that know me, understand I have never seen the need to draw any distinctions between men and women in music, particularly when it comes to either genders’ ability to mix or produce, so why weren’t there more female producers around? As time has gone on what has become apparent is that there are a lot of great female DJs, and more interestingly, producers, out there, but they’re just not confident enough to push themselves or their music out into what is a very male dominated environment.
Syrenz is somewhere safe and creative where all female performers can be involved, even if they want to learn to mix, and need advice on what equipment they need! At the end of the day what matters most is the music, not who’s playing it or making it, but the more people who feel confident to get involved, the bigger, better and more interesting our scene will become and that can only be a good thing.
Can you tell us a bit more about the backgrounds of all of those involved?
This is really the best thing about Syrenz. When I was initially throwing ideas for the concept around, I was completely blown away by the number of people volunteering to be involved. All the girls come from a musical background, some as performers and some as business women behind the scene. Adi-J, who most UK people will know from our regular B2B’s at Renegade Hardware helps me co-ordinate the entire project and also has an incredible international network that helps us reach further afield. Adi’s been around the scene for over 13 years, and is one of the best known promoters in Israel and Amsterdam as well as having been involved with a number of music projects including Bassground/Bassground.com and the Dutch Cheeky brand. In addition to Adi, Keira Vassallo (Essence of Chi/Kane FM) is also one of pivotal team members bringing over 10 years of experience to the group. We’re so lucky that all the women involved have amazing attitudes towards creating success for not only the brand but for others.
There is such a warm and encouraging environment in the camp that makes me really proud to be part of it. I can’t name everyone involved but I definitely need to send shouts to the following women who have already made so many contributions to getting us on our feet: Temi, Lindsay & Robyn Chaos (Therapy), Kirsty Clarke, Carla Solstice, Elis, Kredo, Girl X, Kezz Soulculture, Collette Warren, Anna AnnGree, Natasha Sweetpea, Lucy Isobel Bailey, Yoko, Shakira Elliot, Jenny and a whole heap more.
Syrenz isn’t just a label is it? Can you tell us more about what your intentions are?
Yeah the label focuses on promoting female producers/vocalists etc but we also have a really strong roster of female DJs, an online promotional network in development, and a branded club-wear label. We wanted to bring together as many creative skill sets as we have between us to build a viable and durable business. People complain that there isn’t a lot of money in drum & bass but if you treat and run your brand like a legitimate business with a variety of products and services, you stand a chance of being here in 10 years’ time. In terms of live, we have some exciting nights coming up where we will be hosting rooms in conjunction with other promoters, and eventually we’re keen to hold our own nights. We’re also working on creating a quasi-agency to give as many of the girls opportunities to play-out under the Syrenz brand as possible. The online promo network is going to be run from the main Syrenz website and will aim to be a hub where you can access all dates, info, releases and more, for not only the signed artists but ALL female contributors in the scene. Finally we’re incredibly fortunate to have some designers amongst the ranks, who are working on a collection of branded women’s club wear that will be available exclusively from our forthcoming online store.
Do you think it’s harder for female talent to breakthrough?
I do and I don’t. If you’re talented you will get a break. I don’t know any male producers, label owners or DJs that would turn down a great tune, or deny a sick mix just on the basis that it was created by a woman. In fact, there is an argument to say that because there are fewer female producers and DJs, that it’s still exciting to both hear and see them. The problem mainly lies in giving the girls the confidence and the access to get their musical ability to a wider audience. It also has a knock on effect in terms of the crowds we’re seeing at dances these days. Even in the last 5 years I’ve seen a significant increase of girls on the dance-floor and it all equates to money for promoters, DJs and producers – well everyone hopefully!
What kind of feedback have you had on the project so far?
It’s been amazing, and that just makes me feel like we’re definitely filling a gap in the market. The support has come from both genders, different countries and across the sub-genres of d&b. For example, when I received Revolt/Prophecy from Kyrist, I sent them out to a couple of people to get a feel for how DJs would receive it, but didn’t expect to get 2 of the scenes most respected and competent producers offering to do remixes. It’s been a real honour. Having Gremlinz and Genotype on this release also showed that Syrenz is not about creating a feminist movement, we’re not exclusive and we welcome the support and contributions from the guys in the scene. Hopefully, we can look forward to some more really strong collaborations with many other male artists moving forward.
The first release certainly shows your intent – What else do you have in store release wise?
Yeah Kyrist is definitely one-to-watch! This is only her debut release and we’re all excited to see her develop over the next couple of years, she’s got an excellent attitude, works really hard and has a lot of potential to do big things. We also have a couple of releases lined up with Kezz Soulculture, and then I think we’re looking at a Kyrist/Soulculture colab. I’m also really excited about Hannah, a vocalist who’s most recently been working with Lynx, she’s got a great voice, and is a great top-line writer. That’s all hopefully on the cards before Christmas. We have more demos to go through, but we’re definitely not short of material so we’re hoping the label will have a busy schedule over the next year.
The first release is on the darker / techier side of the genre will you just be sticking along these lines or will we see different styles on the imprint or even different genres?
Absolutely – this label is about the artists, and as long as the music is excellent it will be released, it just means we have to do our job on the label side, to make sure the music is going to the right DJs and each release is marketed to the right fans, but that’s what the team is here for. In terms of other genres, right now we’re sticking to what we know, but again, if we feel like we can do a good enough job with another genre we’ll do it in heartbeat.
Ok thanks … Do you have any words of advice for females just starting out in drum and bass ?
Don’t be afraid to get involved, talent isn’t defined by gender, and you’d be surprised how intuitive people are. If you’re a genuine person, with the right attitude people are more than happy to help you. Just work really hard and dedicate yourself and good things will happen.
Couple of shouts if we may….
Clayton, Yoko, Scott, Loxy, Ink, Flight, Alley Cat, Alite, Riya, Chef, Fats, Kool London, Tim Waight, Gremlinz, Genotype, Paul Jungle Syndicate, DJE, Smyla, Kaizen, Priors, Hemp Hoodlamb, Loz, Cheeky Crew,……
Download the mix here
Words: Jonathan Swan
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