This past summer I ventured to my first Shambhala Music Festival and ran into the force that is known as Ghetto Funk and one of their biggest ambassadors, Slynk. Built on a real organic-sounding foundation funk, soul and hip-hop, Slynk became one of my entry points into the world of electronic music. It's a rabbit-hole I sometimes regret going through, not for the music but just because of the sheer immensity of the hole. I don't think it will ever end now, fuck it. In any case, Slynk came through my hometown Victoria last month (December) for an epic night with Featurecast and Neon Steve and I took the opportunity to get ahold of him for a little talk. Read it up. We chat about his musical beginnings, his love of his adopted Vancouver and the fellow DJs that get the thumbs up from the man himself. Big ups to Slynk for bringing funk to the people and, less importantly, taking some time to talk some words at me. Respect.
Rags Music: Hey Evan. How you doing, man?
Slynk: Good, good. I was still asleep?
RM: Do you want me to give you a bit of time to wake up?
Slynk: No, it’s cool. Let’s git’er done.
RM: How’s Amsterdam treating you?
Slynk: Pretty good so far. Went out for dinner last night, had a few beers and played some Space Invaders.
RM: Not a bad night all. You playing music over there or just chilling out?
Slynk: Oh yeah, I’ll be playing a gig on Friday night (Nov.29). But I’m just hanging out for a couple of days here. See the sights.
RM: I first heard about you at Shambhala. That was awesome. Thank you for that. You’re a good entry point into electronic music for me. I had some reservations about electronic music but you’re real organic, funk based, so I have an easy time with it.
Slynk: Awesome. Thank you.
RM: So where does music start for you? How’d you get into music?
Slynk: I guess from my dad because he had a huge music collection, growing up as a kid. And he didn’t just have the collection, he’d play it all the time. Typical dad, he’d chuck in three or four CDs while he was cleaning the house on a Sunday afternoon and it was just on. I’d be in my room doing whatever kids do and shit, and I’d be hearing this stuff in my room. I began to like some of it and not like some of it. He played lots of funk music and then there was the “dad rock,” Metallica and shit like that. But he’d also being playing Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and stuff like that. It was just planted into my head at a young age.
RM: And when did you get into Djing?
Slynk: I started producing long before I even thought about DJing. I didn’t even know what I was doing was called producing. Back then I was messing around, making beats and found out it was called producing. Basically I started having house parties when I was 18, 19. We decked out the garage with couches and stuff, put lights up and have these huge parties, then it occurred to me that someone’s gotta play the music and I started to research how to do it with just my laptop. I had Trackdar and Behringer Mixer and a mouse and I would just click the buttons. It was pretty fucking lo-fi back then.
RM: What was it that got you into producing? Were there certain records you just liked the sound of? Had you just listened to enough and decided that you needed to do it yourself?
Slynk: My dad bought me this Playstation game called “Music,” where you could just make your own music. It was kind of like “Here’s the building blocks, just rearrange it.” It was really fun and I played the shit out of it. And then there was the sequel, “Music 2000,” where you could actually take the game disc out and put a music disc in so you could take a sample from another CD. It was all very fucking slow. At this point I had six of those Playstation memory cards full of songs. I was like, “I really want to get these songs I’ve written onto my computer so I can email them to people.” It was a real mission to figure that out. How do you get the audio out of your TV? Eventually someone showed me Frooty Loops and I was like, “Ah, it’s like ‘Music 2000’ but for the computer.” <laughs> I was about 15 when I checked out Frooty Loops. I remember telling my buddy when he showed it to, “Dude, you just changed my life with this. This is going to be…Oh my god, this is the best thing ever!”
RM: Do you remember the first track you mixed beginning to end and thought, “This is a winner. Really fucking good.”?
Slynk: No. I wrote a lot of shit songs. Back in the day I sort of made a goal to make a song that didn’t sound like I wrote it in “Music 2000” or used a sample pack or whatever. I guess, there was one song that I thought could actually be decent, I called it “Bamboo Man.” I never released it. I took this sample from a CD I got in a random shop for $1 called “Scottish Accordion Classics.” I took this accordion thing and put a hip-hop beat on it with a bassline and everything. It sounded pretty cool. But my production skills were not near enough to make it an actual, proper song. When I finish a song I’m sort of happy with it and what I learned during the song and making it. There’s still so much to learn. It’s always an ongoing learning experience. “I should do my drums like this! What’s the perfect way to do my drums?” It’s always evolving.
RM: That’s good. Once you stop evolving there’s probably no reason to continue doing what you’re doing.
Slynk: True that.
RM: Do you ever come across a song that you wanted to sample but just couldn’t? You know, “untouchable” songs. Do those songs exist or is everything fair game?
Slynk: <Laughs> Yeah, there’s a couple untouchable songs for me. Aww, I don’t know if I want to tell you what they are. They’re super-cool…I’ll tell you one. The song is perfect already in my opinion. It’s called “She is Just a Groupie” by Bobby Nunn. That track is fucking awesome already. The drums and bassline and everything. It’s killer. I can think of a couple of others but I’m not going to tell you what they are.
RM: <Laughs> I dig it. Preserve the cool for yourself. How many records do you have in your collection?
Slynk: Not many. I only have three or four crates or so.
RM: Do you go crate-digging often or do you find most stuff digitially?
Slynk: I find a lot of stuff online, Googling around trying to find MP3s and shit. I’m definitely a digital guy. I started DJing with a mixer and laptop clicking buttons so I was more into MP3s. After that I got turntables and learned how to DJ the old school way with beat-matching and pitch-riding and stuff like that. Then I started buying records but it was kind of like an after thought. DJing digitially is where I began. I like records and I like spinning them but it’s hard when you’re traveling around to get a sweet collection going. I’m living in Vancouver and I’ve only been there for two years and it’s just expensive to ship them around the world. I’m really jealous of Duncan upstairs because he has boxes and boxes of records. I’m always saying, “Aww, what did you get?!” And he’s like, “I don’t know, I just got this box of records.” Then he’ll play them and I’ll be like, “That’s sick! That’s not so…that’s sick!” It’s really sweet.
RM: What do you like about Vancouver and Canada?
Slynk: What don’t I like about it man? Probably just the weather, that’s about it. I haven’t experienced the full winter. Everyone complains about how rainy it is but it’s not even heavy rain.
RM: Well, people gotta have something to complain about and if all they got is the rain then they’re probably going to exaggerate it.
Slynk: <Laughs> Yeah, that’s right. So, if that’s the only thing to complain about, shit, the rest of the city is awesome.
RM: Do you have a process for picking songs to incorporate? Do you pick songs that fit to rhythms or do you pick songs and build the rhythms around those?
Slynk: When I write a song I never just sit down and write a song. I try to just do everything in sections like, “Today I’m going to make a beat and save that. Then tomorrow I’m going to mess around with a bassline and save that. The day after that I’m going to fucking go for a dig for samples and listen to a bunch of new music and try to find stuff I’ve never heard before. The next day I’m going to organize my sample library.” I just do this preparation all the time, getting ready to write a song. Then when I do I write a song I go, “Alright, I need a beat. There are five beats here, already made. Which one is gonna work?” Bam! Just drag it in. Need a bassline? Drag it in. Bam. Maybe that one does work, try another one. Bam. Maybe adjust it a bit. That way you can kind of keep the idea you had in your head with whatever sample, you can keep moving forward and keep the inspirational momentum up because if you start writing a song and you’re like “I need a bassline.” Then you spend six hours trying to write a bassline, you forget the song you were trying to write to begin with. So I try to save a lot of presets of my own, beats and all those parts I need to write a song. Then I just drag them in when I need them.
RM: Sweet. Very cool. How did you get involved with Ghetto Funk?
Slynk: Off the back of Goodgrooves (Records) and got on with them basically spamming their myspace page. I would literally just make a beat then go to their myspace page and post a link to it. Then I’d go to Featurecast’s page and post a link. Everybody on the label. Then eventually Featurecast said to Slim from goodgrooves, “You should get this guy to do an EP because it would be very cool.” So Featurecast put in a good word and Slim got me to do an EP and that was it. I’ve been working with those guys for awhile now.
RM: You’re how I discovered them. I only discovered them because somebody at Shambhala was waving a Ghetto Funk sign at your set and I made a note to check it out.
Slynk: I remember that. That guy was there the last year with that sign and I ran down into the crowd to give him a hug. It was all hand-painted. He must spent at least half a day doing that shit.
RM: Yeah, for sure. That’s a hell of a sign.
Slynk: It was a huge sign. He had to fit it in the car and drive all the way to Shambhala with it. I think we actually found that dude and Slim sent him a t-shirt for free.
RM: Who are some DJs not named Slynk I should be listening to?
Slynk: So many, dude…A Skillz, obviously, if you’re not listening to him. Featurecast, Stickybuds, probably listen to some B-Side, Deekline and Ed Solo. Check out their “Jungle Cakes” label. Timothy Wisdom. DJ wood and DJ Soo. Wood and Soo. They’re really good live. Same with Timothy Wisdom. JPOD, he’s in there. Skratch Bastid, you gotta fucking see that guy live. All those guys like the Gaff and Smalltown DJs.
RM: It’s quite the rabbit hole that opens when you find one. Like I said, this music is all very new but as soon as I found one, the rabbit hole got bigger and bigger.
Slynk: Definitely check out all the stuff from Deekline and Ed Solo’s labels. They have a lot of labels, not just “Jungle Cakes.” They have “Disco Cakes” and “Hot Cakes” and “Booty Breaks” and “Sludge.” They’ve got all these record labels. Check out Crazy Daylight, Haywire…
RM: Crazy Daylight. You just did that EP with him, right? I love that “Mustache Ride” song. Killer.
Slynk: Oh word! It was my idea to call it “Mustache Ride.” <laughs>
RM: What do you have in the works? What’s up for the new year?
Slynk: I’m teaming back up with Crazy Daylight to do a remix for Adaptey records. It’s a remix of…I’m not going to say, but it’s going to be cool. I got a remix of a Stickybuds song I’m going to start working on when I get home. That’ll be a cool rerelease of “Bouncy Bouncy” with KLab as well. I’m also working on original glitch-hop EP. I got a lot of songs already made that I haven’t released yet. I’ll be giving away tons more songs before the end of the year. I like to just give away songs because, “Why not?”
RM: When’s the last time you had a real deep belly laugh?
Slynk: Probably hanging out with DJ P in London. That guy’s a funny motherfucker. Just belly-laughs all around. He’s English. Those English can say anything and it’ll be funny.
RM: They get away with saying a lot of things no one else could pull off because of that accent.
RM: Do you have words of wisdom you may have picked up over your times and travels?
Slynk: Umm…I guess just…Don’t be a cunt. <laughs> No. I think just be confidant in what you think is cool even if no one else thinks it’s cool.
RM: That’s awesome. Really. I wholly endorse that message.
You can check the article, Slynk: Evolution of a Modern DJ
Check everything Slynk here.