Interview with Star Slinger
Fresh out of the swimming pool after a hectic start to 2013, Star Slinger (Darren Williams) is taking a day off after a busy few months DJ’ing around the world and compiling his forthcoming LP. A remixer, producer, DJ, club night curator and all round nice guy we talk about Slovenia, his forthcoming album and the future of hip-hop.
Originally from Nottingham, Williams studied Music Tech in Leeds before settling in Manchester. As Star Slinger he produces a broad spectrum of music from hip hop club tracks to warm soul-inspired instrumentals and dancefloor-ready remixes.
No stranger to hard work, Star Slinger spent the last few months of 2012 supporting DJ Shadow in Istanbul 2013, playing in France and ending the year with a midnight New Year’s Eve DJ set in San Francisco. All of this while taking his Jet Jam club night around the world. Darren tells me about the night which started in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I mentioned that it seems a strange place for an Englishman to start a club night – “it all started two years ago, the two guys in Slovenia were the first people to book me in Europe. We stayed in contact and became really good friends. I really liked the city and the clubs and it just seemed like the right place to start things off. My girlfriend Michaela was the visuals girl for the night; I felt ill the first time I met her so I didn’t try it on, but the next time…” He breaks into a laugh and we change the subject to the other destinations the night has taken place in, “we’ve taken it to London, L.A., New York and Seattle so far, the only focus was taking it worldwide. With me curating the night, I can choose who I want to play whilst the promoters deal with everything else. It makes it so much easier to take on – and ensure everyone gets paid!” Supporting the DJ on his London and New York dates were teenage duo Bondax. I asked how Star Slinger got to know the boys – “they sent me a demo when they were unsigned, they really have their own sound – it’s like dance and pop but in a good way. They’re just really good guys and I thought it’d be good to have them come as support for the Jet Jam nights. They’re getting a lot of attention now which they deserve”.
Along with releasing a constant stream of remixes, Star Slinger released the full length LP ‘Volume 1’ in 2010. An instrumental mixtape sampling old soul, funk and disco records like Black Pepper’s “Keep Running Out of Gas”, it was a warm and human collection of hip-hop beats. With a few tracks already recorded for the follow up, I asked him what we can expect for the next release – “I’ve gone back to the same production techniques as ‘Volume 1’, I’ve got this big sampler – you can programme in 16 separate samples, but no one apart from Daedalus, Daft Punk and me seem to use it!”. The musical direction will be slightly different even if the production remains the same, “my music is influenced by what I’m listening to at the time. I think it’s going to be less hip-hop based and more dancefloor orientated”.
A prolific remixer, with the likes of Jessie Ware, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Drake and Gold Panda all receiving the Star Slinger treatment, I asked him his thoughts on such big names – “I’m honoured when I’m approached to remix these people who are so big in my eyes”. Star Slinger’s solo productions often feature guest rappers, such as 2011’s “Bad Bitches” ft. Stunnaman and Lil B as well as “Chain Dumbin” ft. Juicy J, Project Pat and Reggie B. “It’s pretty awesome that these guys are on my tracks… I’m a huge Three 6 Mafia fan so I play the fuck out of the Juicy J drop he recorded for me, it’s just a huge fanboy moment”. With one eye on the future, he did concede, “I’d prefer to slowly start making my own good songs without the guest spots”.
With a stream of producers such as Clams Casino, Harry Fraud and Hit-Boy producing thoughtful, layered and textured hip-hop beats, instrumental tracks are getting more and more mainstream attention. Star Slinger as an occasional hip-hop producer had an interesting take on the matter. “Everyone’s kind of doing their own thing now, but Kendrick Lamar is the most credible, most true. I think now you can’t just be street to be cool and be successful. Also, Kendrick has these beats that move away from the typical hi-hats and 808 snares – they’re dying out. I mean, talking to producers and engineers in New York, L.A., it’s a widespread opinion that they’re over, everyone is bored of them. I’m ready for a change, I think 2013 will be more substantial in terms of beats”.
I asked about future plans for the year apart from his upcoming album but Star Slinger’s modesty shone through, “Right now, I’m thinking my dream has already come true, I’m loving what I do and just want to keep doing it”. With a new album on the horizon and remixes always in the wings, 2013 is sure to be Star Slinger’s biggest and best year to date.