Star Slinger is one of the most exciting young producers in electronic music today because of his eclectic combination of hip-hop, dance and soul music, tweaked and twisted to create a new sound with a style of its own. We’ve had our eye on him ever since his standout remix of P&P-approved “Freaks and Geeks,” by Childish Gambino, and he’s done nothing but impress since.
His first bonafide single, “Dumbin’,” is a sunny head-nodder with a Diplo remix on the way, and we figured now was as good a time as any to talk about what he thought about us wanting to hear him produce for Common, his collabs with Emay, and how he would describe his incredibly difficult to categorize sound.
Hit the jump for the interview, and for the download for “Dumbin'”…
So your name is Star Slinger, do you have a favorite constellation?
My favorite constellation? (Laughs) I actually don’t know that much about stars! I don’t know, actually. I read Stephen Hawkings when I was a kid, but that’s more about black holes than stars… I know, roughly, what Orion’s Belt is. So, I guess I’ll go with Orion’s Belt (Laughs)
What was the first album you ever bought?
I think it was like a dance compilation, the first thing I actually bought. Dance Hits 4, or something like that. I can’t really remember.
Ketchup, Mustard, or Barbecue Sauce?
If someone had never heard Star Slinger, how would you describe the music you make?
I would say I’m trying to create this party I have in my head. I don’t want it to be all about beats per minute or anything like that. Like, when you go to a house night and it’s all the same speed the whole night, and time doesn’t really matter. I guess eclectic, party vibes. It could be hip-hop orientated at times or kind of carnival-sounding, but it’s all over the place.
What do you usually use to produce?
If I’m using something sample-based, working with another original track, then I usually chop it in Logic—the audio editor—and then I’ll fire it up into a MLR Max P, which is just a Mac patch [I have no idea what that means], and then I play the chops live on Mono, record those chops when they’re played the way I want them, and then I’ll export the wav files of the sample chops back into Logic. That’s what I’ll build the beat around, the synths and drums and everything are built around the sample. And that’s how I produce sample-based stuff.
The other stuff, I basically do all of that just in Logic, with a bunch of plugins and stuff.
You’re more well known for your remixes as opposed to your original work, did you start of working with other people’s songs first or was your start on original production?
Yeah, original. I used to write songs. I don’t know, the first time I produced was at like 14; got a computer, got Fruity Loops and started making some really shitty house music (Laughs). Yeah, I wasn’t sampling much back then.
Does it feel any different when you release a remix as opposed to an original song?
Yeah, I just released “Dumbin’” recently, and it’s got a lot more airplay then my other stuff, which is great. And you don’t have to worry about things like royalties and licensing and the stuff that comes with working with other artists’ songs.
But you also feel bit more proud, when it’s all your song and you’re not using any samples.
When you are sampling, it seems like you are digging up some very obscure stuff, I certainly don’t recognize any of the source material. Where do you find that kind of music?
I don’t know, it could be from anything, really. The stuff from Volume One [his first release] I got them from like Granny’s records and thrift stores. And there’s a Love & Soul record shop in Manchester. Love & Soul is a movement that happened in the 70’s in the UK, where people would buy rare and bootlegged soul records. So we still have a few stores that sell that shit. So occasionally I’ll pick up a bunch of records, listen to them all, and then buy the ones I want. So, I guess that’s how I find a lot of my stuff.
What do you listen to in your spare time then?
Spare time? What spare time!? (Laughs)
We just did a post where we paired up electronic producers with rappers, and you immediately sprang to mind as someone who would go well with Common. We were wondering what you thought of that combination?
Common? Awesome! I love Common, having him rap on a beat I made would be sick. I’ve actually got one of the songs that he did with Dilla, do you know “The Light”? It’s been in my head constantly this week. So yeah, that’s a good pairing.
I’m also a big fan of Emay, and your Seeing Suge project with him. I was just wondering how that all came together, because he’s a very underground rapper from Canada and you two seem worlds apart.
Yeah, I noticed him on Myspace and, at the time, I was noticing a lot of other shit that was like… I’m a fan of things like the Cocteau Twins and a lot of shoegaze, and I was just browsing Myspace looking for new artists. I found Emay, and he had a lot of artists in his friends list that were making sort of modern day shoegaze and dream pop.
I first hit up Blackbird to collab, he was making stuff that was less dream poppy and more shoegazy at the time, I think he was actually using guitars as well. So I hit him up and he knew Emay, and he said that he would be willing to rap on a track as a sort of collaboration project. It took forever, like six months to get that done, but we did it just by sending parts to each other.
Is Seeing Suge still a project? Or is it a done deal at this point?
Well that’s the thing, we keep trying to work with Blackbird, so we’ll hit him up a bunch but he eventually just stopped sending parts and shit. So yeah, it’s basically just been me and Emay working together.
That’s still a promising combination.
Yeah, so we’ve got a track that might appear on the album. I don’t know yet, I’m still mixing it and trying to make it sound really sick. Because sometimes when you make a beat, and you think it’s right, but then you get the acapella and you suddenly know that you can make something better for it. That’s where I’m at right now.
Is working with rappers something you want to do more? Or are you concentrating on more instrumentals now?
I want to do everything. Working with rappers, I like making instrumentals, working with singers. The stuff I make is not always typically rap music, I do make some R&B stuff as well, hence the Reggie B feature on the new single. And I’ve got Roses Gabor, who’s done some work with SBTRKT and Gorillaz, she’s going to sing on a track.
I love “Dumbin’”, and was wondering whether that was going to be the blueprint for the album, or whether you’re trying to keep the project more eclectic.
Thanks man, appreciate it. But yeah, it’s going to be… nothing is going to sound like that one track. I know it sounds clichéd, but every track is going to be approached differently and I’m doing everything with huge gaps in between right now, it’s probably going to be—I’m trying not to make it too all over the place but there will definitely be a big range in the tracks.
And you’re on your first tour of America right now, how is that going?
It’s been going great.
How has the turnout for the shows been?
It’s been great. I think we’ve sold out like 3 shows, and last night was pretty close to selling out, it was really packed. So yeah, it’s been really good. Generally, the feedback has been great, definitely preferred San Fran over L.A. I feel like in L.A. people were a bit lazy, didn’t want to put themselves out there and dance all that much.
Is there any difference between American crowds and English ones?
American crowds, in general so far, put UK crowds to shame, I’d say. They actually go wild, more wild than I thought. And occasionally you might get that in London, but it would have to be really late. People there don’t go to the whole show, they miss the support acts on purpose, they’re really fucking… I don’t know. That’s something I don’t like about the UK. People will miss a support act. They won’t come out and see the other acts, they’ll just sort of turn up late. But this tour has been great with like Shigeto and Shlohmo, and they’re all well known over here. So that’s really cool.
What’s your live set like that? Is it more live instrumentation or Djing? Because you’re music could go either way.
Yeah it’s basically [technology I don’t understand]. I like to split my stems beforehand too. I don’t like to prepare too much, either. That means I like to arrange my set in speed order, and start slowly but end at about double time. So yeah, I would set it up like that, and I go with a bunch of beat repeats and weird effects (Laughs).
What’s been your favorite city so far?
I really loved Austin last night, the people were just second to none. I would say it’s been between Austin and San Francisco. San Fran was amazing.
And which cities are you looking forward to?
Well next is Dallas, which we’ve been told might not be as good as Austin. I’m looking forward to, of course, New York. New Orleans as well, not really for the following, I’m not sure how well known I am there (Laughs), but I’m looking forward to it. I’m very excited for Chicago, as well. Atlanta, we’re doing the whole of Florida and then North and South Carolina. It’s a crazy ass route they’ve got us on.
Your schedule looks really packed for this tour, how has it been dealing with that?
It’s been great actually, just getting shit done, you know? And the fact that this tour is so big probably means the next one will be a lot smaller and less daunting. The idea for me is to do a lot the first time and do a little less then next time. But it’s good.
What’s coming up next for Star Slinger?
The new single, “Dumbin’,” there’s going to be a few remixes dropping soon, and it’s going to be quite surprising. Because no one has ever remixed my stuff before, and that’s for a reason. And these next few are going to be really dope.
Pigeons or Planes?
Oh, planes, definitely. I don’t really like pigeons. They could have diseases.