Slander is Scott and Derek who hailing from Los Angeles. Last weekend, we saw them perform at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco with the bass-fueled tracks such as their remix of Major Lazer’s “Know No Better”. The rework of the record absolutely made the crowd go crazy with hard hitting beats. The duo is known for pioneering their own unique sound dubbed "Heaven Trap" and we got a chance to meet with them in person as they discuss their beginnings with NGHTMRE, production, tours and more.
How did you get into music in the beginning?
Scott: We started as DJs. Derek and I met at UC Irvine, we were in the same fraternity. Right when electronic music was at a surge and hit Los Angeles, back then it wasn't mainstream yet. So if you met someone who was into electronic music you instantly bonded with them. Our group of friends that was coming together around electronic music was the glue that held us together. We were going to shows at least once a month. We decided that was not enough and started DJing together naturally and organically. We became pretty big as local DJs in Orange County. When we both graduated college Derek called me and was like, "Yo, I don't wanna a 9-5 for the rest of my life. I wanna DJ." So that way we get there is to start producing because that is how we get to EDC and festivals we were going to. So Derek went to Icon Collective which is also where he met NGHTMRE. That's where everything got started musically.
Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration?
Derek: Yeah, I mean when we do get the time to be in the studio I think most of the time when I am away from the studio is when I get the most creative. I feel like there are months when we didn't book shows and we are in the studio every single day. Just because of our schedule I feel like when we go somewhere we're taking in everything that we see, all the people that we meet, everything that we hear, art is just a reflection of you. Everything that you take in is just going to go in your music automatically. That is why our music is growing and changing because we're going to and seeing all these new places, new influences, etc. Just being creative is about trusting yourself and saying I know it's good and I don't care if people don't like it. When you go in with that mindset, you can be creative at any time. When you get bogged down it's when you think if someone is going to like it or if it's going to be popular. That's when you stop being creative and start judging yourself.
How do you get out of writer's block?
Derek: Writer's block is just fear. If you're not scared you won't have writer's block. If you feel like you have it, just figure out where the fear is coming from and get over it. There's no reason to be scared of anything. Life is just a game for fun.
Do you get nervous before you get on stage?
Derek: Sometimes, it just depends per show. There's some shows that are really important to us. Then there's shows we've never been to before. Most of the places we go we've played there before so. Like if we've gone to a city before we kind of know what to expect. Every time we go somewhere new or where it's a huge thing then yeah a little bit of butterflies.
Scott: The last one is EDC main stage. That was the culmination of our last seven years of work. Our goal was to play at EDC main stage. When it actually happened, it was the most nervous we have been in awhile. We still felt comfortable because it was our third time playing EDC. Playing that stage was a big thing for us because we're Los Angeles natives and we've been going to EDC before it moved to Las Vegas you know.
What city or crowd stands out in your memory?
Derek: There's this one place in Germany called Cologne. The culture that they have created there on their blacklist nights is unlike anything else in the entire world. It's all these kids from come together from different parts of Germany for DJs they are excited to watch. Every drop they open up the pit and they bounce together like a single cell organism kind of like a moshpit. It's like a crowd that is consistently super crazy.
Is it true you have roots in house music?
Scott: Well we got into music when trance was at the main stage. Like when ARMIN VAN BUUREN and ABOVE & BEYOND was the main reason people were going to these shows. When we started DJing there wasn't like trap music or anything like that yet. That was a really cool thing when songs were like 8 or 9 minutes long and we played the whole track. We got into house music and that started getting big like progressive house like Swedish House Mafia. We were DJing and the crowd loved that. That's the music that people wanted to hear. When the trap movement started in late 2012 or 2013, that's when we got inspired to do more than just DJing. It's kind of like future bass, we wanted to make people cry at a trap show. It's always been our goal. When we released "Heaven Trap" type of tracks or "Superhuman", we want the vocals and drops to reinforce those emotions.
Derek: It's more trance and future bass, with trance it's super emotional and its really about how songs making you feel and not necessarily how it sounds. There's a lot of future bass songs that are super emotional but ours is like to make you cry.
Scott: We dubbed it "Heaven Trap" because at the time that's when "Festival Trap" was a big coin term or whatever. When you're going on SoundCloud and see "Carnage Festival Trap Remix" the "Festival Trap" aspect of it, you already kind of knew what to expect from the song without listening to the song. If you go to a car dealer and were like I want the fastest Porsche ever and all the Porsches were 911, then I wouldn't know the difference between the fastest model or the base model. Derek wanted a way to tell people this was the emotion of the track without you having to listen to it. "Heaven" was the word that described the emotion that was given. That's how it all came together.
Lets talk memes. What is one you absolutely love?
Scott: Probably the super hot fire one. Where all the boys were like ohhhhhh. I also like the victory baby too.
Derek: I'm not super deep in the game. I'm into social media though.
Do you have any upcoming releases you can share with us about?
Derek: Yeah, we have two songs with KAYZO coming out this month. One comes out next week on Friday, September 29. Other comes out on Halloween. He's been our friend for a very long time and we made songs with him five years ago. Excited to reconnect with him and happy for his success. He was there helping us in the beginning. It's good to see someone working so hard for so long and finally getting what he deserves. He was the person who showed me Icon Collective.
9/29 - Lost Lands Music Festival - Thornville, OH
9/29 - Elektricity - Pontiac, MI
9/30 - Lost Lands Music Festival - Thornville, OH
10/1 - Lost Lands Music Festival - Thornville, OH
10/5 - Vulcan Gas Company - Austin, TX
10/6 - Stereo Live - Houston, TX
10/7 - Stereo Live - Dallas, TX
10/27 – 10/28 - Escape - San Bernardino, CA
11/10- 11/11 - EDC Orlando - Orlando, FL