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Playlist: Star Slinger

Star Slinger counts down the biggest influences on his new EP for a Wonderland-exclusive playlist.

Darren Williams, better known by his celestial moniker Star Slinger, first shot to notoriety when he released his debut album Volume 1 for free in 2010. Since then he’s made a name for himself with a string of top-notch remixes for the Avalanches, Toro Y Moi, Buraka Som Sistema, Childish Gambino, Washed Out and Gold Panda amongst others. Having gradually grown in confidence over the last six years, Sketchy EP is the first collection of tracks which sees Williams tackle it all: writing, producing and vocals. Ahead of his next album, which is due out later this year on Skrillex’s OWSLA label, we caught up with the man himself to find out more about why he still likes to give away music for free, what tracks inspired this latest work and what we can expect from his next record.

You recently signed with OWSLA, how come you decided to release this EP independently?

I’ve got an album coming out soon but I had a few tracks which were lying around, so I decided to put them out myself. I was a bit anxious about releasing them actually, but the whole thing felt quite honest so I decided to go for it. I sing on them, which isn’t something I’ve done before.

Giving away your music for free, that’s been a part of your history since you started. Why do you do that?

People can be precious about what you should and shouldn’t do with your music, but I tend to feel the opposite. When I put out something by myself, that’s a direct relationship with me and the fans. It’s an opportunity to speak to them unfiltered, without the help of a label, and that’s important. That’s how we all started as musicians and I don’t feel we should be scared of that.

Is it more rewarding that way?

In a way yeah. You run a risk, I mean you don’t put a lot of promo into it but then sometimes paid-for promo doesn’t feel very real. I try not to get too bogged down by the politics of it all though.

Was there anything in particular that prompted you to include your own vocals this time around?

I was sat at my desk, with my mic, drafting ideas and I couldn’t really see the song with any other vocalist on it. I sent it to a couple of people I really respect in music. One of them was a guy called Moses who I knew back when he was at Dazed and he didn’t lay into me for the vocals so I figured I’d just put it out and see what people thought. It’s mad, I’m Like had five plays in five days on Radio 1 in its first week. I’ve never had a run like that before so it was really encouraging that the jocks I admire were down with it.

How did the relationship with Skrillex come about? Your music is quite different…

I actually met Skrillex in 2012, in Madrid. I was there playing some festival and I got an email saying he was in the same place at the same night, it was a total freak coincidence. He told me he liked my stuff and that he wanted to meet up. It’s pretty surreal. A guy of that scale, he’d just got his Grammy I think. Usually people who have Grammy’s don’t want to work with me. People put him in a box but for a few years now he’s been trying to broaden his horizons, that’s what his label is about, it lets him delve into other stuff. He asked me to do a remix and we just stayed in touch.

Will the next album be quite hip-hop focused? Or will it be a little more dance influenced?

It’s quite up and down. There’s not so many hip-hop spots on there, it’s more akin to the remixes I’ve been doing over the last couple of years. I’ve been playing clubs more than music venues recently so that’s definitely one influence. Inherently everything I make is quite pop influenced.

Any guest vocalists or collaborators we should look out for?

You know Inner City from the late 80s? Well, Paris Grey did a vocal on one of the tracks. Everyone on the record, they’re all people that I’ve wanted to work with a long time.

TRACKS THAT INSPIRED THE EP

Calimex Mental Implant Corp – “Carnival of Souls”

This an alias of Legowelt, his approach to synthesis is so unique and that’s what inspired me to program my own sounds more.

T-Pain – “I’m In Love With A Stripper”

T Pain has been a big influence on me for years. I know there was a period where he was perceived as wack, but that period is well and truly over. You can’t even front on this man.

Imogen Heap – “Hide and Seek (Live)”

Always been a huge fan of this song along with Imogen’s work on Frou Frou. This song’s charm is very apparent because it’s just Imogen and a vocal harmoniser controlled by MIDI. I think her along with Bjork really pushed the envelope for electronic and pop music genres.

2 8 1 4 – “Birth Of A New Day LP”

So on Sketchy Boys I actually sampled one of my own demos, which was a bit of a 90s sounding one. I put in some ravey vocal chops, the Nokia 3310 ringtone and played a riff similar to Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence. It’s not often I get too personal about nostalgia ‘cos it’s corny, but it felt right on this particular song.

Sunship – “Try Me Out”

An old UK garage track that I had playing on my car USB in-between sessions. I think the stuff I play in my car really dictates my day to day vibe like no other music source.

Dougal & Hixxy @ Helter Skelter – “Energy 97 Rave Cassette”

This refers to the days at high school I spent copying and swapping rave cassettes with friends. I would listen for hours on my walkman and think “how the hell did they make those sounds”. I was fascinated with the ideas of raves before I could go to one, so biggup the chavvy kids who put me on to this stuff. Most people think it’s ridiculous, and they’re right, but it will always hold a place in my heart.

Playlist: Star Slinger

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