INTERVIEW: Rising UK producer Star Slinger
by Marcus K. Dowling
Self-effacing honesty dominates the conversation with Darren Williams, aka rising UK producer Star Slinger. His bass heavy, electronic and melodic take on hip-hop and R & B tinged dance is driven by elegantly chopped soul samples and gaining in popularity. “I’m still having fun, not trying to take this seriously at all, actually,” the blog-dominating producer states while traveling on his US tour. “Some of the tracks I’ve been making take four hours, some take shorter, some take longer. I’m really not trying to pressure myself or anything, I’m just staying busy trying to make good music.” The story of the producer involves just two years ago being a bedroom computer fiddler, and now touring in preparation for a debut album to be released by Mountain Dew-related start up label Green Label Sound.
“I started producing because I had a deep interest in music. The rapidly seasoning young auteur continues, “I was really into the Neptunes productions coming up, Three Six Mafia, a lot of R & B slow jams, that kind of music.” His American popularity is closely tied to the star turn of actor turned rapper Donald Glover, and his alter ego, Childish Gambino. Glover as Gambino’s best received work is “Freaks and Geeks,” a track remixed by Star Slinger into what Glover referred to as “booty LSD.” Regarding his domestic star turn, the producer’s response was as ebullient as the remix is great. “Donald was blogging about my music on his “I Am Donald” blog, and reached out to me to remix one of his songs. I replied that I would only do so if he gave me a drop to use in my live sets. He agreed, and I remixed “Freaks and Geeks as a trade. Regarding the possibility of another big remix in the offing, Slinger stayed mum, but offered, “I still keep and touch, and I think the potential is there for a lot more between us. ”
Though a popular international force, in putting together his debut artist album, he looks very strongly to a number of young Americans for vocal assistance. “I’ve been working a lot with Stunnaman from the Pack, along with (Fools Gold Records signed alt-urban rapper) Danny Brown from Detroit, and (San Francisco party girl and neophyte emcee) Chippy Nonstop on the record.” Current single “Dumbin'” features Kansas City vocalist Reggie B., and the more dub reggae tinged production has its own unique story. “I had heard Reggie a bit while I was on tour, and I asked if he wanted to do a track with me. He’agreed, and I knew I couldn’t give him the same old pop thing that I’ve been making, so I decided to make it a bit more serious, with a heavier vibe, and I’m pleased with the way it turned out.”
A frequent touring schedule is a part of every young artist’s career, an undeniable super-talent like Star Slinger included. “I love playing in America,” he says. “Dance music is really popular, and people are more accepting of diverse styles. In England, its all about staying true to the bass heavy expectations. Here, if I want to throw some hip hop into the mix or something, people really appreciate that. I think it’s great.” Regarding touring in general, he’s apprehensive to totally embrace it, but adjusting. “I have to get back home. It’s not that I miss home or anything, it’s just that home is where I can get the most work done. I tour for a bit, get some ideas, go back home, produce and record everything from the road, then I head back out again. I guess it’s working so far.”
As far as dream collaborations, Star Slinger’s answer was succinct. “Kanye West, I suppose. I mean, it’s a dream, right? He’s got his own team, and is a producer himself, but man, if I could do that one day, I don’t know. That would be…perfect…”
Star Slinger headlines a night of DJson October 25th including Shlohmo (Friends Of Friends, L.A.), Shigeto (Ghostly International, N.Y.) and DC’s own Petworth at U Street Music Hall. 9:00 p.m. show, tickets – $8.00.