Octopus Recordings label boss Sian is more alternative than your average electronic artist. His label launches some of the most cutting-edge acts and chart-topping releases, not to mention his own exciting forthcoming album, Capital Crimewave, due out this April. Here, Sian talks about his health-conscious move to LA, why vegetarian is king, and his new album…
Your DJ name is ‘Sian’, and your label is Octopus Recordings – how did you decide on these names? And do they have any special or particular meanings to you?
Sian is an old Irish word that means something like ‘Echo’. I think it’s simple and clear. I like four letter words and minimal names. I guess it’s memorable, straightforward and has a deeper historical significance to my heritage. Octopus is related to my love of marine biology, which I studied for a very short time before music happened. Octopuses are absurdly interesting creatures constantly surprising science with their alien DNA!
You moved to Los Angeles last year after being based in Barcelona, what prompted the move? Has this helped influence a healthier lifestyle for you?
Absolutely, I had so many great times in Spain, but LA is where it’s at for me now. I felt like I needed to be in the States during this explosion of the electronic music scene, and touring has taken me over here more and more lately. The EDM kids are growing up and getting into more intelligent dance music, so it’s important to be here and build both mine and the label’s profile. I had always wanted to live here, for reasons outside music too; sun, surf, food and culture. It has definitely promoted a healthier lifestyle. I’m vegetarian and Spain is in the middle ages when it comes to food. California is like a Mecca of healthy food.
I also cut down on the partying, which is a huge part of living in Barcelona, the most hedonistic city I have ever lived in!
Your last label compilation, Octopus100, was released back in December. You collaborated with Aaron Jaws Homaki on skateboard decks for the release – is skateboarding a sport you have always enjoyed, or something since you moved to the USA?
I skated for 16 years of my life – every day! I vowed to stop skateboarding at a certain age without injury, so I stuck to that and focused on not getting smashed up or sustaining a long-term injury. People don’t get how lethal it can be. If you watch Jaws railing huge steps or doing tricks off the second story of a building, it really shows how fearless skaters are; they’re super hardcore and they have a defiant attitude. You don’t think about that when you’re young. I quit while I was ahead, but I’m still a huge fan and advocate of the skate culture. That’s why I wanted to connect our Octopus100 project with skating, linking the two worlds I love.
Being on the road must limit the time you have for fitness – are you a gym man or do you like to do outdoor sports?
I try and hit the gym every couple of days and luckily most good hotels have decent facilities on the road, which really helps. Getting in a workout while away from home keeps my energy levels up during those death-by -boredom travel periods, and can break up the monotony and unhealthiness of air travel. I also box, have done so for ages, which gets that extra demon aggression out.
It’s something that replaces the form of partying, I guess. It’s definitely hard to keep to a routine when your world and time zones are upside down. But I try!
You mentioned earlier that you’re vegetarian, do you find this hard work when travelling? Was this a decision made since living in LA?
We’re spoiled in LA for healthy and outrageously tasty veggie food; even the modern street food and food truck culture has now morphed into mad healthy pseudo -gourmet food all over California.
If I go to places in Europe or South America that are a little behind culturally, I end up eating anything other than their staple dishes, which are usually meat-based. I also have to get creative in airports, they can be a challenge since their options are either fast food or basic croissants and coffee everywhere. I have lived off granola bars for days in airports.
Your next album is due out in April, with a note to ‘expect the unexpected’ – what’s the difference with this production and your last?
It’s the first time I have ever ventured further into a bigger sound and collaborated with artists from the hip hop world, and fused some of that into my sound. I had two LA-based artists, AG Fernandez and CL, join me for a number of collaborations on this LP. It ranges from dubbed out spacey tunes, to harder acid-based techno sounds, combined with the guest vocals of some LA-based artists. It’s pretty raw and energetic. It’s kind of a bold step into new territory for me.
With techno being such a growing genre of music, and many thousands of people every year flocking to Ibiza, demand only gets higher. More gigs, more nights out and more travel, and we are all getting older. How do you think artists can sustain a career and longevity, and not destroy themselves along the way?
It’s a big topic of conversation now as people in the scene become casualties of the party lifestyle. A DJ is doing what most people usually only do once every few months. Flying around in hectic stressful ways, running to a club, airport and home with no time for proper nutrition or sleep, and it definitely takes its toll. I realised recently if I want to do this long-term I have to plan and take care of a few basics. Cutting out the party nonsense when I have responsibilities was essential. Anyone that burns it at both ends long-term will compromise their health or their career fast.
Sian’s Workout Playlist
Can you give us the top five tracks you’d recommend for a workout, or a boxing session?
1. Gessafelstein – Pursuit
2. Gucci Mane – Aggressive
3. Louisahhh & Maelstrom – Ready
4. 21 Savage x Brodinski – No Target
5. Cold Burn – Molly (Gregor Tresher Remix)