Welcome to another addition of Music Meter Monday, where we profile bands who are climbing the MTV Music Meter. This week, we caught up with Darren Williams — a.k.a. Star Slinger — a hip-dop and dance producer who is constantly looking to bend and change the genre to his musical will.
Star Slinger first gained the attention of the music world with 2010′s self-released EP Volume 1, which he recorded in his bedroom and released for free via Bandcamp. That album treaded into a decidedly indie music realm when it came to sound (as did remixes of bands like Deerhunter) but Williams doesn’t limit himself to one genre — or to samples. His first real single, “Dumbin’,” is a lot more straight poppy R&B and his upcoming second LP will rely much more on original compositions than samples. Williams also tells us that he has inked a publishing deal with EMI and will soon be writing tunes for other artists, a state of affairs that will likely widen his musicology even more when it comes to style.
O Music Blog recently chatted with Williams to find out more about his new album, record bin-diving and his ideal collaborators. Read on for our Q&A:
So I always like to ask bands what their earliest musical memory is — what drove them to make music their career. Care to share?
I think learning to play 2 Unlimited’s ‘No Limits’ on Casio keyboard — that’s my first one. Other than that, it’s playing on my church organ at school. I must have been like five, something like that. My dad already had keyboards around for fun. He’s not a keyboard guy — he’s a guitar guy — but he would teach me to play little lines on keyboards and stuff.
So you’re also, I hear, a big record collector? Is that something that your family instilled in you, or is that something you were interested in yourself?
I wouldn’t say I’m a super nerdy collector or anything. I guess I just buy records and I do sampling. I do buy records, for sure, mainly old ones. It’s more like a hobby these days, because I decided not to sample so much. My new music has less samples and I’m not so much of a collector anymore, but I do like buying records.
I know you’re not sampling as much anymore — and I’m going to ask you about that soon — but I was wondering what the most recent record you bought was? Was it, like, train sounds or whatever for a sample, or music of some sort?
It was actually music, yeah. It was Inner City’s album. You know, the one with ‘Good Life’ and ‘Big Fun’ on it? I did buy some other stuff for source material, but I can’t remember the names of them, so I’m just going to say Inner City… I can’t remember which album it is. It’s brand-new packaged and everything. It’s never been played, but it’s from the ’90s or something. So that’s pretty cool.
So back to your new stuff. Are you working on your next album now?
Yeah, I’m working on an album, but it’s taking longer than I thought in terms of getting it exactly how we want it. So I’m putting out singles from it. I’ve just got an EMI publishing deal, so I’ll be writing for other people. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
But, yeah, so I’m going to put out my single first. It’s called ‘Ladies In The Back,’ and that should come out in about a month or something. It features a guy called Teki Latex from France on vocals and it’s really fun.
Is it going to be a similar vein as your other recent single, ‘Dumbin’?
No, it’s going to be kind of different. It’s more house-y. It’s not really in that vein at all. It’s still fun. I guess Reggie B’s vocal on ‘Dumbin’ dictates how it sounds and everything. But, yeah, it’s definitely more house-y and more clubby, but at the same time still me.
Yeah, ‘Dumbin’ was interesting because it sounded so different from anything on Volume 1.
Yeah, very. It’s just because I want to change it up a bit and show that I’m not just like this guy who makes all the same tempo or whatever. Obviously I’m really influenced by house music, so it’s good to make new stuff.
So, obviously, EDM is getting a lot of mainstream play lately. What do you think of some of the people who have been coming out these last few years?
With the EDM thing, I’m not so influenced by the new breed of house music — it’s more like the stuff coming out of France rather than from the U.S. Other than that, I like old house, like Armand van Helden — stuff like that. So it’s kind of different what I’m into than what’s out, but I can still respect the guys making this EDM stuff. I just met Skrillex the other week and he was super cool. I know he’s not house, but he’s really big in the EDM scene. If everyone’s as genuine as him, then I have no problems with anyone for sure.
It definitely seems like the genres are bleeding. You bleed more into the indie band genre — at least with the last album. Do you think this kind of mingling will continue to happen?
I think the new stuff I’m making is more in-between — it’s not consciously indie music or anything, but it’s still for conscious people. People who will go out and buy an LP, they’ll buy the vinyl. A lot of mainstream folks won’t buy vinyl. Look at people like Schlomo — he makes electronic music and I guess I’m sort of semi-linked in that category. Making house music now, I’m not sure where I fit anymore, it will be interesting to see who likes it most.
Now that you’re relying less on samples, where are you taking your inspiration from?
My force has always been a feeling. I feel like I need to make music. I’ve been doing it for so long. And I like to make something that sounds, in my eyes, like what I want to hear.
So you don’t normally write lyrics, right? What’s going to happen with this publishing deal you mentioned?
The people I’m working with [on my album], I’m not going to write the lyrics for them. I guess I like it to be an an adventure and I think it’s more magic if you believe in the person to let them write. But that’s for the album. For the music I’ll be doing for other people — not under my name — say if I do a track for Drake, it won’t be me writing the lyrics either, but say if I wrote a song for Rihanna, maybe she’d want me to write lyrics for her. I’m a consultant I guess. They tell me what I want and I give it to them.
Who would you want to work with if you could work with anyone?
I’d love to do some stuff with Miguel. I did some stuff with Juicy J, that was one of my goals. Drake as well. Rick Ross, probably. We’ll see!
I heard that you would want to work with the Flaming Lips.
Ah, yeah, yeah. For sure. We tried getting in touch with them, but they were already collaborating with Ke$ha and a bunch of crazy people.
That album already came out, so maybe they’ll do another.
Yeah, maybe they’re free now! I’ll try to get in touch with them, for sure. I was going to ask Wayne to do some spoken word over a track, because he’s so inspiring just as a person. I think if he just talked over a track that would be amazing.
Image courtesy of Ooh Brilliant