Slander Talks EP, Dream Collaborators and Tomorrowworld
A couple of weeks ago, I had a huge opportunity to sit down with one of the quickest rising acts over the last year; Slander. These guys, Scott Land and Derek Anderson, first broke onto the scene with their huge remix of ‘We Like To Party’ alongside NGHTMRE, and since then it’s been nothing but up for this duo. They are already having a huge year after releasing their EP, playing EDC Las Vegas and just sold out their headlining show at Exchange LA. So sit back, listen to their EDC LV set and get to know a little bit more about your new favorite duo, Slander.
OTB: First off, thank you guys for sitting down with me for Only The Beat. So, what first brought you guys together to form Slander?
Scott: “Derek and I both went to UC Irvine, and I’m actually two years older than Derek. I was in a fraternity at the time, the fraternity I was in was Kappa Sigma, and right when Derek joined is when I guess you could say the electronic movement in Orange County was starting to catch on. So, we both shared a love for electronic music and it was still pretty new at the time, there weren’t a whole lot of dj’s in our area, and there definitely weren’t a lot of duos, that was kind of a weird thing still then. We just decided to start doing everything just for fun… I think that was back in like May of 2010.”
OTB: Right, that was just at ‘the boom’ of electronic music I guess. So you guys were new to producing and all that; Derek, were you the one who went to Icon Collective Production School?
Derek: “Yeah I guess I started about two years ago, and I finished a year ago and now Scott’s going right now. Icon was definitely the turning point for us musically, and networking-wise and just the experience really. Once we did that, there was like no turning back for us.”
OTB: Once you guys did that and started to see some of the positive response from your tracks, did you realize that Slander was something that could go pretty far for you guys? Or was it a certain remix or show that made you feel that way?
Derek: “Yeah I mean I knew we had something special when we released the Showtek remix (We Like To Party). Before we released that, all of our songs had only like 50k plays max, and then we released the Showtek remix with NGHTMRE and we got like 300k plays in the first week. And we hadn’t released anything for a while partially because I had been going to Icon, so there was definitely a jump in our creativity and the quality in our music. After that, the ball just started rolling and once you get it started, you have to keep it going. So for the first year we just released all these remixes to get our name out here, and it was kinda our plan to only do remixes until people cared enough about our name and our music to appreciate the originals we would start to release. And that’s led to us releasing our EP with NGHTMRE and it’s gotten like 700k downloads so far. We’re just blown away, because we’re getting support on the EP from people like Porter Robinson, DJ Snake, Skrillex, Diplo, all these guys. And all the goals we achieved have been achieved and more, and we’re just so thankful to our fans for being so supportive.”
OTB: You guys have gotten to play some of the craziest shows and festivals in the world, such as Tomorrowworld; what was it like getting to play at those festivals after years of attending?
Scott: “Doing Tomorrowworld was….it was bananas. We had like a 3 PM set time and there was only one other person before us, so we thought we were going to get there and there was going to be no one there because it was early and at this side stage. And we get there and we couldn’t even see the back of the crowd. It looked like there must have been 6,000 people there at 3 PM, and it was just insane. Just going from thinking that there was going to be no one there to that, it was one of the greatest feelings. One of the biggest shows we’ve done was when we stepped in for Nicky Romero at Nocturnal Wonderland and got to play from 12:00-12:30, which is like literally the best set time of the whole festival. We got to play earlier in the night, but that’s always been a dream show for us. It was just bonkers for us, because we got to play trap on a main stage and we got to play our style of it which was even cooler. That has been our goal all year, was to transition from the bass stage to the main stage, and now all the shows we’re playing at we’re playing main stage and we’re just really, really happy with the trajectory of our audience and our place in festivals.”
OTB: Yeah I think I remember seeing a bunch of videos you guys posted of that. Isn’t that where you debuted ‘Ascension’?
Scott: “Yeah! For sure, I remember that. It was such a crazy feeling seeing the crowds reaction to that.”
Derek: “It was a night I will never forget, that’s for sure.”
OTB: Speaking of ‘Ascension’, you also have ‘New Monarchy’ and ‘Vanguard’. Are you guys pretty big Destiny fans?
Derek: “Yeah definitely. Scott used to play a bunch and I used to play a bunch. I don’t think we play as much anymore though.”
Scott: “Yeah that game got really old, really fast haha.”
OTB: One obstacle that artists have a hard time overcoming is trying to evolve their sound, and not let one sound define their name. Obviously you guys don’t have any problems doing that with all the different styles of releases that you’ve had. Where do you find the inspiration for all these different styles?
Derek: “I think um…well my creative process is just that I make whatever I want to make. Because if I’m making something I don’t want to, it’s not going to be good. I see our songs in two different spectrums kind of; the heaven trap/more emotional side of things, and then we have all the other genres that are kind of the ‘turn up’ songs or ‘bangers’ or whatever. And we definitely see the line between emotional music and bangers. For us, I don’t really see the genres in that, I just pick one of those two directions and then just go for it. Like with the ‘bangers’ territory, there are so may different genres and so many good elements and I think being an EDM producer nowadays, you’re always pushing it as far as you can go. But, we like to combine them all, so when we do a house song there’s going to be tons of trap elements and when we do a trap song, theres going to be house and big room elements. And it’s just a matter of mixing the shit that you like. And EDM evolves so quickly, anyone who likes electronic music, their taste changes so quickly. So it’s just a matter of our taste constantly changing and continually making what we want to make.”
Scott: “Yeah, and I mean the first event I ever went to was EDC 2009, and that was Derek’s first EDC as well, but a little bit before that I think he went to Together As One, but that’s when trance was really big, like trance and house was the main stage music. And you know all those guys like Swedish House Mafia had a high influence on that. We just always been flexible with our djing, and when we started making music we didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into one specific genre, because we didn’t like djing one specific genre. A lot of people, especially when we first started touring, a lot of people didn’t realize, because of our heaven trap releases, that we went pretty hard in our live sets. When they saw us live, they realized that our set was a multi-genre set with heaven trap thrown in at the end haha.”
OTB: Yeah, well we definitely experienced that when I saw you guys at Lucky. I remember you guys saying something about how you like to tell a musical story with your sets.
Derek: “Yeah and we try and make it memorable, ya know? Like, if you play bangers the entire time no brakes, people are going to have a good time, but they’re not going to remember shit. So we throw in bangers, but in between the bangers we play songs that we know you will remember no matter what. Like we play Aerosmith and the song from Armageddon in our sets. Of course, when you think about it, it sounds like the cheesiest thing of all time, but when everyone in the crowd is having a good time and singing along, you know everyone there is going to remember that. It’s just all about leaving a positive memory in peoples minds when we leave the stage, instead of just getting them to rage for an hour. And that’s what we’re trying to do, is creative a positive memory. Which is what I think makes us different than other dj’s sets.”
OTB: By now you guys have played so many different shows, from huge festivals with thousands of people, to intimate club shows with just a few hundred. Is there a certain show environment you like better?
Scott: “Well for me, and maybe for Derek also, I like the indoor arena shows. Those are definitely my favorite. I mean these arena shows go anywhere from 3,000-10,000 people. I don’t know, I feel like it contains all of the energy when you play in a place like that.”
Derek: “I think playing at a festival in front of thousands and thousands of people is kind of the same high as playing a smaller club show, but when you’re playing at a festival you’re so far away from everybody and so detached from the crowd that you can’t really interact with them. But there are just so many people at these festivals that you can feel their energy all the way up on stage. And when you’re in a club, you’re just feet away from people and you can reach out and high five them and stuff, they can feel your energy and you can feel theirs, kinda just bouncing back and forth. With festivals you definitely have to do a little more crowd control to get people engaged, but when you’re in the club you can just look at people in the eyes and get them pumped. But that’s what makes a good set is the feedback between the dj and the crowd. The tough part about festivals though is that you’re just one dj set in a lineup of like 20 other dj sets, ya know? And when you’re in a club, they usually come just to see you or you and a couple people.”
OTB: Being a duo, do you guys ever have any issues or disagreements in the studio?
Derek: “Well right now, I think our tastes are musically aligned perfectly because we’ve been djing together for so long. I feel like when we start working on ideas, we work on ideas on our own and then will send it to each other and then work on it from there. That’s just kind of how we’ve done it. And now Scott is going to Icon, and we’re going to be like the only duo who has had both people go through Icon so we’re really excited about that haha.”
OTB: What are some of the other necessities that you guys have to have in the studio when producing or when on stage?
Derek: “Um, I think we’re pretty easy going. We try not to be the guys who ask for like, magic cards or stuff like that haha.”
Scott: “Haha yeah we’re pretty easy going when it comes to stuff like that.”
Derek: “Yeah, but when we produce, we’re trying to be as portable as possible because we’re always on the road, and Icon basically teaches you how to get by with just a laptop and headphones. So that’s kind of been our thing, so you don’t have to worry about setting up your whole studio set up, you can just be in the hotel room or in bed and open up your laptop and be in Ableton. It makes it a lot more covenant. And then we just use CDJ’s when we dj. And then we’re getting new visuals done, so we may get a second laptop to control our visuals on and all that, but that’s about it.”
OTB: If you guys could do a b2b with any artist out there, who would it be?
Derek: “Scott, you go first haha.”
Scott: “Ah okay, well how about this, I’ll give you two of mine. I guess if we could do it with anyone in history it would probably be TNGHT. TNGHT was, like, one of our favorite electronic groups, and watching them was just next level, and to be able to do a b2b set with Hudson Mohawke and Lunice would just be insane. And for right now, I would probably want to do a set with DJ Snake, even though he’s on vinyl and we’re not haha.”
Derek: “I would definitely agree that TNGHT would be the most epic thing ever haha. Did you ever get to see them perform?”
OTB: No, I didn’t. You guys are making me wish I did though.
Derek: “Yeah they put on the most gnarly performance I’ve ever seen at a festival. But I guess nowadays, I would either say either Skrillex, RL Grime or DJ Snake.”
OTB: What about any dream collaborations that you would want to work on?
Derek: “I think DJ Snake would still be pretty sick to get in the studio with, him or maybe RL Grime. Maybe even Porter Robinson.”
Scott: “Yeah Porter Robinson would be really cool. Someone in that realm kind of.”
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