A chat between SIRUP and ROMderful- the UK artist who produced “Overnight”, “Online” and “Sunshine” off of SIRUP’s most recent album cure. The two (so close that they call one another “brother”) were asked a series of 10 questions that tie to cure, with their answers giving us more insight into their close friendship. They shared with us the process of working together from different cities, what the phrase “Love & educate yourself” means to them, and what they want to do when they finally get to meet in person.
ROMderful： The first SIRUP song I heard was “LOOP”, and that’s how I found out about him. I remember thinking, “Wow, this guy’s voice is amazing. I would love to work with him.” Right now one of my favorite songs is “HOPELESS ROMANTIC”.
SIRUP： Thank you! I became a fan from listening to his album Press L to Continue, but his song “Run Tings” with Shakka and Dounia is one of my favorites. Recently, there’s one song that really surprised me and it’s his track “MESSAGE ME?” (the Windows track). I also love all of the songs he did with me.
ROMderful： Me too. I wasn’t sure if it would be narcissistic to say that, but I love everything that we made together.
ーWhat other aspects do you like about the other?
ROMderful： It’s crazy because we can’t fully communicate with each other because he doesn’t fully speak English or I don’t fully speak Japanese, but I love that we can still maintain a really cool relationship because of the international language of music. We vibe with the same things, listen to the same things and love and appreciate the same kind of music. I remember the first time we went on Zoom, after I made a song for SIRUP, and he shared with me his influences from the gospel scene. I remember thinking,”Wow! That’s the kind of music I grew up with,” and was surprised to hear that people were listening to it in Japan. I really like how open-minded he is, how colorful he is and how amazing he is at music. It’s almost like having a brother, but just trying to find ways of communicating. It’s also made me want to learn Japanese more and I think that’s also really cool.
SIRUP： Honestly, I want to say the same! After meeting ROM, I felt like I wanted to learn English more and be able to speak it. Touching on gospel and neo-soul music, though I may not have had the same experiences as ROM, once I started getting into gospel, neo-soul and R&B, I started going to gospel choirs in Japan and joining in them as well. I wanted to do my best at experiencing the closest thing I could here. I really love gospel so I’m happy that we had that in common. Though we express ourselves differently, being able to connect through our musical roots made me realize that music really is bigger than language. In regards to being an open-minded person, ROM is too and I also see him as a brother, as a part of my family. I just want to see him in person already!
ROMderful： I don’t want to say change his sound, but I felt like I could add an element to his sound and make him sound different than what he might be used to. Whenever I make music with other artists they have an expectation of what I’m going to give to them. Producing for SIRUP, I feel like what I’ve made for him is so unique and unlike anything that I’ve made so far. It was really cool that I could send him different music. From there he would send me back crazy demos and surprise me with how cool they were. I’m not sure how SIRUP felt about it, but I didn’t set any expectations going in. Then for me to be a part of almost a quarter of the whole album, to create three different songs with different sounds and styles, shows the versatility and open-mindedness between the both of us.
SIRUP： Though he was sending me a lot of different sounds, I always was able to find something in there that I liked. The way ROM can put together the demos I send him into one thing is a talent that I’m truly in awe of, and on top of that I feel like he always sends me a good surprise. There’s this thing I call the “ROM groove” and it’s this amazing feeling that you get from the kick and groove of his guitar. That sound also represents who he is as a person. I felt really inspired by it, and that’s why I was able to make so many songs.
ROMderful： Orange! Orange is brightness, happiness and fun. It also reminds me of Nickelodeon which is a children’s TV network that broadcasts cartoons. Orange isn’t dull. It’s soulful and relaxing. It’s all good feelings and it’s also one of my favorite fruits. For me, SIRUP’s music feels orange as well. It’s weird, I don’t really know how to describe it, but I feel like you could look at an orange painting and listen to SIRUP’s album and it would make complete sense. It may sound weird, but I like looking at visuals while making music and that’s how music makes sense to me.
SIRUP： Oh my god. I have the same image of you and I thought of orange as well. Particularly the orange on your t-shirt! I feel like ROM beams bright colors like orange and yellow. When I listen to his music, rather than imagining midnight I imagine an orange sunset as well.
ROMderful： That’s a good question... If it was possible, we would be in front of green screens, there would be really bright colors and we would be performing on clouds in the sky. The beginning of our set would start off like a sunshine and then towards the end of our set the sun would start setting.
SIRUP： I had basically the same idea again! Using a green screen, I imagined something like our music video for “Overnight” where we performed in a space-like environment. I also imagined a Daft Punk-type video, where we would be somewhere in space and it would look like we were moving forward, kind of like going into the galaxy.
ROMderful： That sounds about right!
ーHow did you collaborate for the “Overnight” video? Who’s idea was it?
ROMderful： There was a Zoom call between me, SIRUP, his manager, and my manager. Because I had produced so much of SIRUP’s album, we were talking about cool and unique ways we could promote the album. At the time, we were thinking of making “Overnight” the second single after the first single “Online” which was also a song we made together. I was already making similar videos where there would be 50 of me in one backdrop, so I suggested the idea of making something where we were being goofy together if he could get access to a green screen. I’ve actually never done this with another person before. Then we got on another call where I helped him by directing him to face a certain way, look into the camera for one minute, to dance. From there when I shot my part of the music video, I could make it look like we were standing back to back or looking at each other or crouching in front of him playing my guitar. Like I said earlier, when I work with SIRUP it always ends up to be something unique and something I’ve never done before. Luckily, the video turned out great and I’m not sure if this is the same for him, but I’ve had a lot of people message me telling me that they think SIRUP is really cool and that they thought the video was really cool and that they were going to check out the rest of his music. It was a cool way of introducing SIRUP and I know that he had never done it on his social media platforms before. It was like bringing him into my universe and it was a lot of fun.
SIRUP： One of my goals was to be in one of ROM’s videos using a green screen, so being able to do this was fun. And I’m really happy to hear that some of ROM’s followers were able to discover me through our project, and I hope I can do the same for him.
ROMderful： Oh, you definitely have.
ROMderful： Playing video games, walking around for hours with no particular destination listening to some playlist. That helps me to detox and clear my mind. I also think crying is awesome. I don’t think it should be weird for men to cry or show their emotions and it shouldn’t have to be labeled feminine or masculine- it should just be something that everyone can do. Whether it’s a happy cry or a sad cry it’s a great way to release stress. Retro video games remind me of the happiness I felt as a child. I feel like video games in the early 2000’s, late 90’s tend to be more colorful than they are now, so sometimes when I feel like I need to detox I’ll play some old games and just get into the story.
SIRUP： I also agree with ROM where he feels like something doesn’t have to be a certain way because it’s masculine or feminine. I think those sort of standards shouldn’t exist. Particularly in Japan, there are a lot of standards like that and I’ve been doing my best to speak out against them, but of course, try my best to do so without hurting anyone. On top of that, I tend to cry a lot though it’s usually done without thinking of it as detoxing. Recently, I’ve been watching this anime series “Zatch Bell!” and every 2 episodes I find myself crying. Yesterday I watched a movie and cried too. I like working out as a way of detox as well. I also listen to music when I’m working out.
ーSIRUP, was there a reason behind titling your album cure?
SIRUP： Like we touched on earlier, writing songs is somewhat like a detox for me. I didn’t have a theme in mind for the album when I first started working on it, It came to me after all the songs I made came together. I decided on cure because being able to put this album together was like a big “cure” for me in 2021. With the way things are going in the world right now, I feel like it’s going to become a time of finding “cures” as well.
ーROM, in what ways do you feel like you integrated the theme “cure” on your part of the album?
ROMderful： There were two or three different occasions where I sent SIRUP instrumentals. The first time was when the song “Online” was created, but I wasn’t sent translations for what the song meant until after. The second time around, he asked for more instrumentals to make more songs to, and that time I felt like I made more beats that sounded happy, like a cure and like a release of emotions with different energy. Initially I was going to send more tracks similar to “Online” to keep some sort of consistency, but after reading the explanation of that song and talking about mental health, love and happiness, it made more sense to direct the beats to have a different vibe.
ROMderful： I need color in any aspect, whether it's plushies, like this one I got from the Daiso (which I am addicted to now) or colorful clothing, video games, a phone case- like this one I have that's like a Pringles. I can’t live with anything that’s not colorful.
ROMderful：Obviously music. I couldn’t live without at least one instrument- probably a guitar. Wait, is this only one item?
ーAs many as you want!
ROMderful： I’ll keep it to three. So the guitar, colorful clothing and… food. I can’t live without food.
SIRUP： This is hard. If I had to choose 3… it’s basic but friends, music, clothing and food. Ah, that’s actually 4!
ROMderful： I feel like people are learning to appreciate human connection and affection such as hugs, especially because there’s been separation for so long. From what I’ve experienced, people have been more into their feelings and talking about them more and the conversations I’ve been having are more deep. People have started to do things they’re passionate about because there aren’t many other things you can do right now. For example, for me, I’ve wanted to move to Asia for so long, but I didn’t have the time to focus on that and then covid happened and luckily I’m able to live in Seoul now. People have also had more time to focus on other issues in the world and rectify them, which I feel like the past year has been intense, with Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate; and it’s bringing a lot of widespread attention to things we weren’t as focused on. I think in general people have just been learning to understand each other better, and I think that’s really beautiful.
SIRUP： In Japan, there aren’t a lot of people who speak up on issues such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. Now that these issues that we’ve always had are more apparent, there are more people who are realizing and learning about them, so in that sense I do think that the world is getting better. We’re still in the stage of getting more people to speak up on these issues here in Japan, but I think that it’s a good step forward, and I personally will continue to speak up and spread the word. And just as ROM was saying, it’s been easier to express thoughts and feelings with those around me. Even if something is tough, I’ve become more comfortable talking about it, and I feel like I’ve made an environment where my friends can discuss their issues with me too.
ROMderful： “Love & educate yourself” to me means that we all make mistakes, and the only way to grow from any mistake is to talk, research and find answers for yourself. It’s about trying to understand things from different perspectives, whether it's about Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate or harassment. As for the “love yourself” part, I feel like loving yourself is really important. You can’t love anybody else or anything if you don’t love yourself. I’ve also been learning to be more self aware and learning about the issues that I have and in terms of communication, learning how to express my emotions in more ways than one. Most people see me as this happy, colorful person, but I get sad and have other emotions too. Sometimes when I feel sad, I get confused too. For example, say that something bad happens to me. I’ll feel sad, but I won’t know how to express it and I’ll feel confused and wonder what I should do. I’ll then disregard the fact that I feel sad and try to move past it without figuring out what the issue was. I would like to understand my own emotions and others emotions and to be able to read body language better. I feel like it’s been something that I’ve been working on the past year and it shows in my relationships with other people and my relationship with myself too. Moving to Korea, there is a major language barrier and you definitely need to learn how to communicate things a certain way, especially as a foreigner who doesn’t speak Korean natively. Moving to Asia has been really helpful with all of this.
SIRUP： “Love yourself” is something I say often and it’s something I learned a lot about over this past year. In the case of Japan, I feel like discussion on this is something that there’s not enough of. Just as ROM said, the more you learn to love yourself, the more you’ll be able to see things differently and understand those around you. For example, I’ve learned that there are multiple emotions within the feeling of “anger”, and it’s not just one simple emotion. I found that I used to panic from not being able to understand what I was feeling. This also ties to “educate yourself”, because by knowing that your emotions are multifaceted, you’re able to better manage your stress, and you can better understand why you’re feeling a certain way.
SIRUP：But in terms of “educate yourself”, I feel like you just have to continue to actively absorb information. For example, in the entertainment industry, although you do have to think about what is going to be “interesting” and “enjoyable”, at the end of the day the best part is being able to figure out and learn what works best for you from trying out different things. I try to vocalize my personal experiences to help share these messages as well. After working on the album with artists from different backgrounds, it’s made me want to learn more about their cultures and languages. And within Japan, I’ve started by researching things like the history of the city I grew up in and the people who live there, and just trying to learn about things that are local and personal to me.
ROMderful： That’s really important too.
ROMderful： The cool thing about it is the mystery of not knowing what we’re going to make. I feel like we have a natural vibe where it never feels bland, and even though I don’t know what we’re going to make, I know it’s going to be good. It comes from understanding each other, our influences and our cultures. I never have to ask what kind of song we’re going to make. It’s more like, “We’re going to make a song!”. I would make every music possible with SIRUP and never worry what it’s going to be.
SIRUP： Exactly! All the music that comes from ROM’s ideas are always amazing. Also, if we’re going to make more songs together, I think it would be fun to decide on themes in advance and make tracks from there.
ROMderful： We’ll have to try that next time!
SIRUP： I just want to hang out.
ROMderful： We will definitely hang out at some point this year. In Japan and in Korea. At least we’re a lot closer now than we used to be. Get food, play PlayStation, explore, create in person and teach each other language. It would be cool to learn more Japanese and obviously I could teach him more English.
SIRUP： When you visit me in Japan, we’ll definitely hang out. And when I go to Korea, I want to play games, go to clubs, and have a session with Slom and SUMIN too. I want to do everything!
ROMderful： That would be amazing!
03. Keep Dancing feat. Full Crate
04. HOPELESS ROMANTIC
05. I won’t be
06. Online feat. ROMderful
07. Keep In Touch feat. SUMIN
12. Thinkin about us
13. Ready For You (Slom Remix)
SIRUP channel 01 @ Zepp DiverCity 2019.12.04
08. Slow Dance with BIM
09. Last Dance
11. Mirror (選択) with YonYon
14. PLAY with TENDRE
15. No Stress
18. now with showmore
20. Do Well
21. Ready For You
Although only two years into his career as “SIRUP”, with a vocal style that seamlessly intertwines rap and singing, packaged in a modern, edgy and innovative style, he is undoubtedly Japan’s fastest rising star in the independent music scene. With his roots going back to neo-soul and classic R&B fused with aspects of gospel and hip hop, his songs range from funky, dance floor-ready styles to soulful crooners, all bound by impeccably refined production. His music takes any listener on a trip of groovy bounces and refined production, that at the end of the day, immediately makes you “FEEL GOOD”.
SIRUP’s straightforward and piercingly honest lyrics resonate, move and heal the hearts of an immensely wide range of listeners, and his powerful voice constantly attracts and tightly grips the attention of those who take the time to listen to his message and his story. The outstanding quality of his live performances have been critically acclaimed, featuring a full live band with members of Soulflex (artist collective which SIRUP is also a member of), keyboardist Atsushi Inoue of showmore, and rising producer/guitarist Shin Sakiura. This has led him to perform at and even cause admission restrictions due to overloading Japan’s largest festivals such as SUMMER SONIC, ARABAKI ROCK FES, GREEN ROOM and ROCK IN JAPAN, as well as being invited to perform overseas in China, Taiwan, Korea, at events alongside internationally renowned up-and-coming artists such as SUMIN, 2xxx! and Karencici, constantly expanding his global fan base. Domestically, he was chosen as the opening act for Tom Misch’s Japan tour in 2019, and has performed alongside artists like Corinne Bailey Rae, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Yuna.
In September 2017, SIRUP made his sensational debut with “Synapse”, produced by Tokyo Recordings (led by Hikaru Utada’s producer Nariaki Obukuro). “LOOP” from his 2nd EP “SIRUP EP2”, released in 2018, has garnered 15 million views on YouTube, and from the same EP “Do Well” was featured in a national TV commercial for Honda VEZEL TOURING, instantly securing his spot as most viral artist. His first full-length album “FEEL GOOD” was released in 2019, and remained at number one on the Apple Music R&B charts for 9 consecutive months. Counting from his debut EP in 2017, all three of his releases have retained their #1 spot on the Apple Music R&B charts.
Despite only two years into his career, in December 2019 he sold out his two massive Zepp solo act shows in one day. In 2020 he was awarded “BEST BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST” at the the SPACE SHOWER MUSIC AWARDS, given to the most prestigious artist of the year.
From his debut to today, SIRUP’s unique style has attracted attention in the industry, including genre-bending collaborations with up and coming artists such as STUTS, BIM, TENDRE, and Shin Sakiura, artists whose genres range from electro to hip hop. In addition to his own work, he has been featured on more than 10 songs in the past two years, proving his versatility as a vocalist, songwriter and lyricist. He is also actively collaborating with producers worldwide, dropping the dazzling house number “MAIGO” which he wrote in collaboration with UK future R&B producer and friend Joe Hertz in March 2020, featured on his latest EP “CIY”. On May 27th he will be releasing his newest single “HOPELESS ROMANTIC” in collaboration with Shin Sakiura and Grammy nominated producer starRo, which he states is for him “not only a love song, but is also a personal reminder for me to not get so caught up in the uncertainty of this era, and to remember to believe in love, hope and the beauty in the world.”
SIRUP OFFICIAL SITE：https://sirup.online/wp/
Rommel Donald, known by his stage name ROMderful (formerly ROM) is a British producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham He released his debut studio album, Press L to Continue, on Same Plate/Sony in April 2019.
Donald began producing music under the stage name ROM (or R.O.M.) in 2015. In late 2015, he collaborated with DEFFIE on a remix of Pharrell's "Frontin'". In early 2016, he released the track "I Just Want You To Know" which sampled the Snoop Dogg song, "Beautiful". In March of that year, he released a 3-track EP as part of his record label Soulection's White Label series. That collection contained the song "You Love Em" featuring Emmavie. Later that year, he earned a placement on the remix album for GoldLink's And After That, We Didn't Talk, reworking the track, "Late Night". He also remixed tracks from Raye ("I, U, Us") and Linden Jay ("Lose Again" featuring Shola Ama). In December 2016, ROM released a track called "Kiss and Tell" featuring the vocals of Naji.
In 2017, he adopted his current stage name, ROMderful. He also released several new tracks including "Only One" (with Tendayi)and "SoReal?" (with KayFaraway). Additionally, he produced the Jean Deaux record, "Wikipedia", and appeared on Kitsuné's Afterwork Vol 1 compilation album with the track "BeThere4Me" (featuring KayFaraway). In 2018, ROMderful continued working with Jean Deaux, producing her song "Energy" which was the lead single off her EP, Krash. That year, he was also signed to Same Plate Entertainment, a joint venture label with Sony Music.
In March 2019, he released a collaborative EP, Hours After Midnight, with KayFaraway. The following month, he released his debut studio album, Press L to Continue, on Same Plate/Sony. The album was preceded by the singles "Run Tings" (with Shakka and featuring Dounia) and "1 Missed Call" (featuring Dean and Tabber). The album also featured guest appearances from TOBi, Jay Prince, Devin Tracy, Wade, and KayFaraway. Vocals from ROMderful himself also appeared on the album. Music videos for "Run Tings" and "Tired of the Games" (featuring TOBi) premiered after the album's release. ROMderful also produced the Duckwrth track "KING KING" released in May 2019 and the Jean Deaux track, "Anytime" (featuring Kehlani) released in June 2019.