Things haven’t always been so bright for Syrossian, though. Only a month before opening his planned Tribal Sessions residency in Ibiza last year, he was publicly fired for “bringing the brand into disrepute” over a five-month old tweet. The social media shitstorm that ensued saw five other regular DJs sever ties with Tribal in support of Syrossian, including Sidney Charles and Santé.
“I was hurt, but didn’t want to retaliate,” says Syrossian. “I just wanted to channel that frustration into something positive.” He was already booked to do a Road To Ibiza tour with Sidney Charles and Santé before the season started, a commitment the trio upheld. After staring down the barrel of a gun, Do Not Sleep was born.
Syrossian says that being able to tackle adversity comes from his upbringing. Born in Iran in the 1970s, he grew up with three brothers during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war which would eventually kill over one million people. His dad was a doctor and mum a teacher, and the area where he lived in Tehran was regularly hit by air raids; towards the end of his time there, a bomb landed next to his house. Fortunately, it failed to detonate. “I’ve had a lot more shit than the Sankeys thing,” Syrossian laughs. “When you look at it against the fact that bomb should have killed me,” he pauses, “it’s just not important.”
Iran was where he was introduced to synthesized music too, listening to Eurythmics and Human League on road trips with his uncle. He’d later get a tape-to-tape recorder in 1985 and start making his first mixtapes. But as the war worsened, his dad was offered a job at a pharmaceutical company in Manchester in 1987. “We suffered a lot of racism when we moved,” Syrossian says. “Suddenly I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.” Two years later his dad became a lecturer at the University of Bradford and they relocated to Leeds. There, he would find solace at his first rave at York Racecourse in 1991. “I felt a part of something again,” he says. “There was a togetherness there I’d never experienced.”
In 1993 his family moved to Canada, but Syrossian stayed on to study at Leeds School of Art and Design and invested in his first pair of decks the same year. Desperate for new music, he worked for vinyl on Saturdays at Global Beat Records in Bradford. He went on to become the shop’s manager, eventually counting Nick Warren, Sasha and James Zabiela as customers.
It was through Global Beat that Syrossian got his first taste of Ibiza, too. Skint, he’d fund holidays there by driving a van packed with crates of stock to the island (there was a lack of record shops at the time). “DJs would meet us in Café Mambo’s car park,” he explains. “We’d just open the boot and start haggling.” He moved to Leeds’ Crash Records in 2004, but as the wax industry slowed towards the end of the 00s he focused his attention on DJing after years of playing around the city. “I was about a decade too late to get a design job,” he says. “So I turned my attention to production.”