Get to Know SyRan, the Drum & Bass Brothers Signaling
the Next Generation of RAM Records
Get to Know SyRan, the Drum & Bass Brothers Signaling
June 28, 2022
the Next Generation of RAM Records
Hailing from Peterborough, UK, Josh and James Ransome of the brotherly drum & bass team SyRan are pushing their way forward and establishing a reputation as one of the British D&B scene’s freshest duos. After years of honing their production skills via their individual monikers — James as SynthForce and Josh as DJ Ransome — the siblings eventually combined to deliver a monstrous sound all their own.
Their journey as SyRan began in 2019 with the arrival of their Paradigm EP on Andy C’s storied imprint, RAM Records , which is Beatport’s Label of the Month). Knowing their adrenaline-fueled debut was a taste of what SyRan had in store, the RAM Records family wasted no time in bringing these brothers into their inner circle. Since then, they’ve pushed out a healthy stack of records on the label with earth-shattering tracks like “Guitar Dub,” “For You,” and their latest two-tracker, Rip Your Face Off / Beyond The Heavens — an aptly named EP that hits hard with a full frontal assault of colossal breaks and potent bass.
As SyRan continue to solidify themselves as one of RAM’s most auspicious acts during the illustrious label’s 30th Anniversary, we spoke to Josh and James to learn more about their drum & bass origins, how they first got linked up with Andy C, and what new music they have on the way, and more.
Thanks for joining us, James and Josh! How has the first half of your 2022 been?
James: It’s been wicked! A little bit of everything has happened; gigs, a new release, going to events, travelling on the train back at 7 am after a night out. Haven’t missed that part! We also saw Andy C at Cambridge in March and he smashed it. We got to witness our tunes being played out first hand and the buzz and excitement of seeing your tune getting reloaded is a memory that will never go away.
Josh: Very busy, and I wouldn’t change any of it! We dropped a new release at the start of the year, which went down so well. The sheer number of messages, comments, and support was insane. We’ve been finishing up some new music and the weekly radio shows that we do have been great. There’s so much great music that we get to play each week. D&B has never been stronger in my opinion.
You are brothers, and you have been producing D&B since 2012. How did you eventually land on the decision to form SyRan together? Is there a story behind the name of your duo’s chosen moniker?
James: There is! We were writing D&B under our solo names, SynthForce and DJ Ransome. I was making more liquid styles but was starting to get into sound design, especially bass sounds. I was then writing heavier tunes from 2017. Looking back, they were good, but not great. Then there were a few days between Christmas and the New Year spent with Josh at his flat where we wrote some of our best tunes together at the time: heavy basses and jungle with that old school vibe, yet it had this modern production twist to it.
We knew at that point that we were better working together as we were able to bounce ideas off each other and we both brought different strengths. Since then, we worked together under SynthForce & DJ Ransome.
Josh: Once we were speaking with RAM, it was suggested that we needed a catchier name as SynthForce & DJ Ransome was a bit of a mouthful. I spent a good week jotting down ideas of new names in a back of a notebook. There were loads, most got scribbled out eventually as they didn’t sound right. I would say them out loud three times to James and if it didn’t sound right, it got crossed off.
Conveniently, we were both at Clashmouth at the beginning of 2018, a big D&B label vinyl market event in London and Ray Keith was there. I gave him a USB stick with some tunes on it and said that we were about to go under a new alias and I said to him “what do you think about SyRan?” I remember his exact words. He went, “SyRan, SyRan, SyRan… yeah that works, go with that.” So once we had the Ray Keith seal of approval, it was done! He joked afterward saying that we owed him an EP for Dread Recordings. From then on, SyRan was born.
The name incorporates parts of our solo names, and that was something that I always wanted it to have, but it was a much-needed change as we had come from writing mainly liquid D&B. Our original fanbase was used to that sound. The new name allowed us to go in a different direction and start this new era with RAM.
What would you say has been the most memorable gig you’ve played or performance you attended together?
James: Our most memorable performance we both went to by far has to be the time we were packed in like a can of sardines at the final week of Andy C’s second XOYO residency. Andy C opened up with a triple drop: “Signal” by DJ Fresh, Pendulum’s “Masochist,” and Skantia’s remix of Loko’s track “Bassline Secret.” Everyone in the room went crazy! There wasn’t any room to dance around; just pulling bass-faces and bopping your head! What a night!
Josh: As for our most memorable gig, playing at XOYO — one of London’s iconic nightclubs — last year for RAM’s Xmas Party. The vibes were excellent for a winter event and with everything that was going on in the country at that time. We were testing out some new tunes and they were getting an amazing reaction. They also sounded weighty on the club sound system, which made me pull some faces. It was also great to meet other artists who are on the label for the first time, people like Calyx & TeeBee, Audio, and Upgrade.
How did you get linked up with Andy C and his RAM Records imprint?
James: Andy C and RAM posted on their socials that they were looking for new artists to submit their music for the Nightlife 7 project. Our friend (big shout out to Geekcroft) sent us the info saying, “you should send some music across.” At the time, we were just putting the finishing touches to our track “Paradigm” which we had written with a few others off the back of attending some D&B events. They had given us some inspiration, so we finished up Paradigm and sent it through via the Nightlife 7 website.
Josh: Then we waited. The deadline came and went, but we heard nothing back for a few months, so we just thought that we weren’t successful this time. We continued writing some more tunes until one day, I did my usual check of emails, and there it was. An email from Jim, the label manager at RAM, saying that they loved the tune and if it didn’t make the final cut, they’d like to release it on Program or as part of a RAM compilation. They also asked if we had any other unsigned tracks to send through. When I read that email, my jaw dropped to the floor and I remember getting super excited, ringing James to tell him the news.
From that day on, emails started going back and forth between us and RAM, and that’s how it started! We sent some more tunes over, and together with “Paradigm,” they formed our debut RAM release!
Do you have any new music on the way that you’d like to tell us about?
James: Yes! Our next release is out at the beginning of next month. Funnily enough, it’s being released on my birthday! It wasn’t planned but it’ll make a great birthday present.
Josh: It’s a single track called “Listen Carefully.” We had so much fun making it, and it’s one of our hardest-hitting tracks to date! The artwork is amazing, and it’s continuing the cartoon-style theme we have on our releases going forward from this year. From a production point of view, it’s one that really pushed us. There was a lot of time spent designing the bass sounds and re-sampling on this one. I remember spending a while getting the mixdown right for it. It’s one of those tracks that just has the attitude to it. When it drops, it has this “in your face” vibe, but I found it was important that it didn’t just turn into a “wall of noise” type track. Every producer’s nightmare, that is, finding the right balance.
What are three of RAM Records’ most essential tunes?
Loadstar – Be There
This tune is what we are about. The different wobble basses all playing off each other plus the old school jungle breaks, some that roll and some that are chopped up. When the second phrase kicks in with the Reese bass, the synths and the vocal sample it gives off a lovely euphoric vibe. A simple yet powerful tune that we will never stop playing.
Wilkinson – Moonwalker
The intro on this… That synth lead hook is super recognisable and the long riser sound in the build up lets you know that something big is going to happen. Then it drops. The long pitched down scream-like bass and the high rising bass on a call and response pattern causes bass fuelled carnage! It’s a sound system banger and one that catches out people every time.
Chase & Status – Streetlife (feat. Takura)
More Than A Lot by Chase & Status was one of the first D&B albums that we had ever got so this track holds a lot of nostalgic memories. Memories of us cranking up the car stereo when Streetlife came on and the wobble bassline causing everything in the car to rattle! The track also features the Sandman break, one of our favourites that we like to use. Still stands up to this day and turns heads when we drop it in our DJ sets.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
James: I’m looking forward to enjoying the lovely, hot weather by staying indoors and finishing off projects! We’re always trying new things and pushing ourselves to expand our sound. At the moment, we’ve been doing a lot of sound design sessions, pretty much making our own sample pack! Drums, basses, evolving pads and synths. These will go in future tracks, so watch this space!
Josh: As well as writing more music, I’m really looking forward to getting out and about. Going to events, meeting people face to face that I have spoken to across social media. I am a social animal and I love meeting people involved in the scene. I’m also looking forward to seeing a big project that we are involved with, come to life. I cannot say too much about it right now but working with others outside of the normal Drum & Bass hub is an amazing journey to be a part of. All will be revealed later in the year!