12 Questions Episode 95: Ryan Sullivan

The 95th episode of our 12 Questions segment features producer Ryan Sullivan.

ryan sullivan

1. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?

It’s real tough to pin it down to one track as it was the whole hard dance and jungle movement in the early rave days that hooked me but I’d say Prodigy – Everybody In The Place or anything from XL Recordings in that era.

2. What was your first and last DJ gig?

My first gig, other than house parties, was at a local pool hall in the suburb I spent my teen years in. It was called Smileys in Horizon View in Johannesburg. It was a real dodgy little bar and I was underage so I used to play for a whole night with my own sound system for a packet of crisps and a coca-cola. Clearly I was taken advantage of but I’ll never forget those days. My last gig was this last weekend playing back to back with Helmut J at a new venue in Cape Town called ERA.

3. What was the first and last record you purchased?

I was handed down so many weird techno records before I started purchasing so it’s hard to remember but I think it was a Sharp Boys remix of something. The last was just a few weeks ago when I found Halo – Future on Hooj Choons. It’s still one of my favourite labels from years back and every now and then I’ll find some of the catalogue in second hand record stores around South Africa.

4. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?

Each bit of positive feedback on a record is a highlight and every record I sign to a label feels like a huge step forward and gives me a great sense of accomplishment but the biggest highlight was playing my first gig outside of South Africa. I was invited to play in Switzerland and spent a week in the villages down South in Valais. It was incredible to see a different part of the world for the first time and experiencing another culture and their food was just awesome!

5. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?

I’ve never released a record that is less than three years old by the time it goes out. Some tracks I’ve signed are as much as eight years old when a label shows interest. The weirdest thing is that nobody seems to like them when I send them out shortly after finishing them, so when they finally get signed a few years down the line, I’m quite surprised.

6. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?

Siddeffects from India has just released a great EP on Triplefire Music and I’m loving his music. I mention him regularly but Helmut J creates real cool experimental techno. Ryan Murgatroyd has been discovered but he’s another excellent Cape Town artist who is on the rise. There are amazingly talented artists from South Africa that everyone out there should be aware of. Card on Spokes, Fever Trails, Original Swimming Party, Joshua Grierson…there are plenty amazing artists out there and I encourage people to dig around.

7. Which producers consistently inspire you?

My inspirations change regularly but Guy J, Ryan Davis, Cid Inc, Max Cooper and Electric Rescue come to mind and although mainstream, the sounds that Maceo Plex/Maetrik creates in his productions blows my mind.

8. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?

When it comes to remixing, I really like to work with very melodic music, so I’d love to remix for someone like Eagles for Hands, although I’m not convinced I could do the job as well as I wish I could. To be remixed by Guy J or Eelke Kleijn would be great.

9. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days, which ones if any standout for you?

Agreed, I think each label needs to be clear about what their agenda is and not just pump out music for the sake of it. Labels that have been outstanding for ages are Bedrock, Kompakt, Traum and sub labels, baroque, Bonzai and sub labels amongst others. Standout labels over the recent years are Lost & Found, Manual Music, Crossfade Sounds and Outside The Box amongst others.

10. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?

Sasha and John Digweed’s Northern Exposure. It changed my world completely. I also used to have a live recording on cassette from what I think was the first Fantazia rave in the UK in 92 or so. There was also a VHS video of the event and between those recordings and Northern Exposure, my life was changed forever.

11. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)

Food: A good braai with friends. A braai is a barbeque in South Africa.
Drink: Water, Aloe Juice and Beer.

Drug: Krokod…ok bad joke.
Animal: I have a dog and two cats, love them all but a giraffe is my animal of choice.
TV Show: I’m really into comedy. The Office (UK) is still one of my favourites along with Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Movie: I don’t really have a favourite. I watch movies to escape and relax so I often forget what they were about after a few days as I really just switch off when I watch.
Video Game: Not a gamer but Fifa is fun with mates and the Grand Theft Auto series has always been great.
Album: Peter Gabriel – UP. James Holden – The Idiots Are Winning. Portishead – Third. Leftfield – Leftism. So tough! I’ll go with Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite, The Planets.
Track / Song: This feels like punishment! There’s just too many. For now, I’ll go with Beck – Ramona for the non electronic sound as that chord progression just floors me, and the classic Space Manoeuvres – Stage One (Total Seperation Mix) for a dancefloor, of old nostalgic folk, haha. I also really love Holden’s A Break In The Clouds and 10101.
Producer / Band: Peter Gabriel is a great producer and I’ll go local with a band, I’m really enjoying Original Swimming Party at the moment.
Record Label: Bedrock is a mainstay but I think I play more from Truam and their sub labels than any other label right now.
Nightclub: Bullion is a great basement club in Cape Town and ERA is incredible. And Club in Johannesburg is awesome and Truth is an age-old winner there too.
DJ: I don’t really have favourite djs but Digweed has always been a master. I think Guy J might just be the one these days.

12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?

Having to select one feels like the end of the world. I’d have Digital Witchcraft – Fingerpaint, Petter – These Days, Underworld – Dark & Long, Angelo D’Onorio – Memories (D-Mand Remix) and Mr. Gelatine – Huan Ying lined up and we’ll have to wait until the end of the world to see which one fits best.

‘Far From Here’ is out now on Ingo Vogelmann’s L2MSC, you can purchase the release: here

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