Blessed with a natural penchant for experimental and diverse soundscapes, Stephanie Sykes has been one of the most exciting artists to bubble to the surface in the techno scene. Developing her highly unique musical voice, Sykes is unrestricted by previous norms and boundaries that commonly typify other electronic artists.
Born in Germany, it was moving to Manchester that ensured Stephanie discovered and explored greater musical virtues. After being introduced to the multi-faceted Dasha Rush, it was only a handful of demo tracks later that Sykes signed on as an artist to Rush’s revered Fullpanda Records. From there, her growth has been consistent and remarkable, with invitations to the Berghain and Tresor, as well as her own residency at Corsica Studios in London and Khidi in Tbilisi.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Stephanie ahead of her Australian tour this month. Full interview below.
What have you been up to recently?
Things are going great, I’ve been enjoying travelling and gigging all over the place, meeting new people, it’s a lot of fun! I also recently moved back home so I’ve also been enjoying spending some time with the family. Work wise I just recorded a podcast for Invite which came out this week. It’s a 60 minute mix with future releases from myself and music from friends who are currently really inspiring me. I’m also working on a collaboration with another female producer from Berlin. We both really like each others production styles and have been trying to get round to doing this for a while now so keep an eye out for this project !! I think that’s it, oh, Last month I fell off a bike and fractured my wrist but other than that, everything is fine. I was a little drunk!!
How has living in Manchester, one of the most music-rich cities in the world both currently and historically, influenced your perception on music?
Living in Manchester was really amazing. I studied commercial sound engineering and music production at the Manchester Midi School so I met a lot of like minded people. I learned a lot about music in general and how to approach the industry. It basically evolved me as an artist, I mean the foundations had already been set over the years but this was the fine tuning so to speak. I was constantly discovering new and old music. I think within the first week or so of moving there I went to an Autechre concert back in 2009 and still today it’s probably been one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too! Ive always been really open minded when it comes to music but Manchester sort of reinforced that even more. I’m happy to be a among some of the many talented artists coming out of this city.
Did you ever think you would end up in a career in techno, or dance music in general? What led you to pursue it?
Oh my god no…. Well I mean, I always lived in a bit of a dream world thinking about what it would be like to tour the world and playing in front of thousands of people but I had been Djing for years and never really got anywhere so I just accepted that it was a hobby. It’s super hard to break through into the scene if your an up and coming DJ. That’s why I worked extra hard to make sure I gave it a good shot. I found something that I was deeply passionate about and really good at so of course I needed to work hard and be persistent! For years and years I was always working in either fashion retail or cosmetics or in an office environment. Ive even worked as a florist! I’ve had more jobs than hot dinners, you name it I’ve done it haha and probably got the sack or walked out!! I mean I was Djing for nearly 12 years before I ever earned a penny which is pretty sad but a good example of how people take advantage of young up and coming DJs.
You currently hold a residency at KHIDI in Tbilisi. How did that come about, and how has it been? Is it difficult to juggle alongside your residency in London?
The residencies aren’t hard to juggle at all. I play once a month in London at Corsica Studios for Jaded, where I played yesterday actually, we had our 5th birthday at Corsica Studios so we had a really cool line up with Pfirter, Cleric, Ayarcana etc, was nice. Then I probably play 3-4 times a year over in Tbilisi. I’m actually going back out there on June the 8th to play the 47 showcase alongside Tommy Four Seven, Headless Horseman and Killawatt. I’m super excited too, we always have a really good laugh together and I absolutely love my Georgian family to pieces! I was asked to be their resident after playing my debut gig in Khidi. They just really loved what I did and surprisingly over there the Georgians really support my sound so I’m happy with this. I feel really lucky to have these residencies because you get to build up really good relationships with people and the crowds. It’s difficult and a little bit nerve wracking to just turn up, play a gig and never go back. I feel like at both residencies the crowds are totally amazing and up for anything I throw at them!! They’re so supportive, sometimes you just need this validation in your job. I mean I play the music I like but it’s great that everyone else likes it also haha.
You recently spoke at Soma Skool alongside British Murder Boys, Slam, and I Hate Models, among others. What’s some of the best advice you’ve been given in your career? Why?
To always dream big!! Work Hard!! Keep your head down and no matter what always believe in myself because if I don’t even believe in myself then its never going to happen.
You’ve had a pretty meteoric rise since your first EP in 2014. Through your experiences, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions about DJing and the industry in general?
It’s definitely not as glamorous as it seems. All the travelling can become a bit of a grind and it really does take it out of you. You have to stay super healthy. It’s not all party party haha.
As a prominent contributor in UK techno, what’s your current outlook on the local scene going forward?
I think the scene is really strong, lots of people, especially women are now having their place, so here’s to longevity!!
What are you most excited about for your Australian tour?
I’m most excited about seeing a Kangaroo and holding a koala…. I have heard there’s this animal sanctuary sort of 40 minutes outside of Melbourne and I really want to go there and see all the animals. Anything animal related and I’m in!!
Stephanie’s Australian tour starts next week, where she will be joining us at The Substation for our 5th birthday alongside Ansome.
Full Tour Dates
15.06 – Melbourne, The Substation (http://bit.ly/bunker5bday)
16.06 – Sydney, The Civic Underground (http://bit.ly/bunkerdarkroom)
23.06 – Melbourne, Xe54 (http://bit.ly/xe54ssykes)