On February 14th, a new release came out on ETS, the legendary label led by NKC, the King of Hard Drum himself. We had high expectations for this brand new EP by Syn, as her tracks have been saved on our USB keys and played on our DJ sets for years, as the secret bangers we played on peak time. The result is beyond what we were expecting: a milestone in drum-based club music set by the priestess of the genre, a vision of what lies ahead, and an extended interview.
First of all, could you tell us a bit more about your affiliation with NKC’s ETS? How did you get involved with the hard drum scene?
I’ve always been a fan of the style since hearing stuff off Her Records, I’d never really heard anything like it before MM’s 9th Ritual and NKC’s Hague Basement. I also went to the very first ETS night in London which was a bit of a life-changing moment for me. I got to meet the crew but it was a while after the night that I got involved with ETS. I had heard NKC was playing out an early dub of my collab with TenTwentySeven, ‘Dysphoria’, so I sent him my Syn EP and he played Demon (collab with Tension) in his Boiler Room set shortly after. I was a bit star-struck and amazed that one of my favourite producers was feeling my stuff. In 2019 ETS did a collaboration night with Club Comfort in Dublin and NKC invited me to open and it’s all just gone from there. Since then I’ve played with ETS once in London and twice at Dual Power (ETS and Super Kitchen collab night) and had been working on my ETS ep for a while for it.
What are your influences music-wise?
So many influences, it’s kinda hard to list. When I was a young teenager I listened to A LOT of trip-hop. When I got a bit older I was feeling garage, jungle and dubstep and especially stuff with a darker edge. I’ve always been drawn to darker and moodier electronic music. In the last few years, I’ve been more into almost EDM verging yet still moody styles. It’s kind of impossible for me to put it across in genres because over the years I’ve been influenced by pretty much everything. My friend has coined what I play out as ‘evil but uplifting’ and I think that fits. High energy but dark and anxiety-inducing.
Your new EP just got released, could you tell us a bit more about the process behind this EP and the intention behind it?
The initial intention was to just make some very functional hard drum EP. During the creation, however, I really struggled with my mental health. I had just begun transitioning which was a difficult time for me. When the EP was finished I thought more about the ideas that had subconsciously played into its creation. Frustration at the HSE’s mismanagement of trans health care as well as discrimination had been major points. When we were creating the artwork NKC asked what ideas fed into the EP and I spoke with him about what I was going through.
I’ve begun a new project called Bodies in responses to the emotions that influenced my EP. It’s starting with a series of fundraising nights in various cities in Ireland for myself and some friends who also DJ and have a hard time with their transition expenses. I’m leaving it open to expand in the future to other types of projects but at the moment is just the fundraising nights and a mix series called ‘Contributions’. We just had our first mix by the amazing Dream~cycles, one of my all-time favourite Irish DJs.
With you being a founding member of Flood, why didn’t you release ‘Temper’ on it?
When NKC asked me to make a release for ETS I was really excited since it was one of my favourite labels. There wasn’t really a thought process of where to release as much as Temper was made for ETS. I’ll be releasing more with Flood in future but at the moment I’ve taken a step back from the management for personal reasons. As I mentioned previously I’ve been going through a hard time in the last couple years so I’m happy to leave it in the capable hands of Doubt and Tension while I focus more on my life and transition.
This EP on ETS seems almost like the end of an era with you switching to a faster style, how do you see yourself evolving music-wise?
I’ve been really influenced by MM and Nara in terms of musical evolution. I love how they’re combining ravey styles with drum music and that’s been my goal for a while now too. I don’t really want to get pigeonholed into Hard Drum as I think my influences are more diverse and there’s a lot more I have to express although I love the style. Even my EP prior to Temper, Syn EP felt a lot more experimental and I want to get back to that energy more in future.
It’s mostly a joke but I’ve recently “created” my own genre called Raptor Donk. It’s the combination of Donk with Raptor House. I play out a lot of Raptor House and fast percussive tracks in my sets and I also play a lot of Donk which has seen a bit of a surge of popularity amongst DJs in Ireland so it was a natural progression for me to combine the two. I want to play around a lot more in future and “create” even more “genres”.
There seems to be a hyperactive queer/club scene in Ireland, how do you feel about its evolution and future?
There’s a lot of really great nights happening right now like Thrust, Grace and Limerick is Burning. Of course, Club Comfort as well who I feel really had a big hand in starting this trend of queer and clubby nights.
It’s hard to say about its future as a lot of people have been moving out of Ireland recently. Most of the nights are still going strong but it’s hard to tell what the future will be like with Ireland’s terrible licensing laws, the housing crisis and our poor healthcare. Over the next few years, I see a lot more of the key figures leaving as well.
Could you tell us more about CXNT and you being involved in it?
Cxnt is a night in Cork I started with Capricorn and Doubt to emulate the inclusivity and energy of nights such as Club Comfort. We also have a hard music policy which many nights in Cork do not. It was really a big niche in the scene I saw here, there’s no alternative queer nights at all, and no queer venues in Cork. There is one venue that postures as a queer venue and holds many Drag events. However, being on the receiving end of homophobic abuse isn’t uncommon there so I wouldn’t call it a safe or inclusive space. I think it was just something Cork needed and I needed in Cork. We’ve had some amazing nights so far, and am looking to many more.
What can we expect from you in future?
Fast drums, hard synths, sexy vocals and phat bass until I die.