Speaker Side Chat with Glitch Hop Artist Slynk [thatDROP]

Hailing from Brisbane, Australia Evan Chandler better known as Slynk is a leader in the new wave of funk. Known to fuse styles of glitch, hip-hop, funk, soul, and break beats, Slynk masters the decks with his exceptional technique of mixing and scratching. Currently residing in Vancouver, BC, Slynk recreates old school hits by seamlessly interlacing them with new ones.

The funky beat maker has been in the scene for almost 15 years and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Slynk has released countless records through Big Beat Records, Westwood Recordings, Big M and more. He has toured internationally through the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and has performed at notable festivals such as Electric Forest and Shambhala. Slynk’s live sets navigate listeners through eras of music, showcasing distinct mixes that are entirely timeless.

Slynk’s Distinct Music Style and Insightful Manner Encourages Aspiring Artists.

I read that you were gifted a set of turntables in 2004, is that when you first started mixing records? Did anyone teach you or were you self-taught?

I’m pretty sure I started mixing records in like 2007 or something; quite a while after I was gifted those turntables. I was more interested in scratching and production back then, and didn’t have the money to be buying vinyl. So, I just had this box of terrible dollar store rejects. I have an MP3 on my computer dated 2004 where I recorded my first attempt at “scratching” haha! I was pretty terrible back then but it’s nice to have the reminder that I have improved so much.

I’m self-taught with everything and I’ve always been a DIY kinda guy. The structured environment of a classroom makes me cringe. I taught myself how to use editing and animation software to make my Youtube videos more engaging. Also taught myself some basic woodworking skills and built the massive computer desk for my studio. I taught myself some basic graphic design and (with the help of my graphic designer) recently came up with this.

Photo via Instagram

Did you start mixing or producing music first?

I started producing long before I started doing anything DJ related. It was about 2002 when I first tried out a piece of software called “Fruity Loops” which was later renamed FL Studio. In the beginning I’d make little hip-hop beats and get my rapper friends to come over and record verses over the top. They were horrible haha! I didn’t even know what I was doing was called “producing”, or that I could be called a “producer” until I went to this workshop thing at my local DJ gear shop. It was basically a sales pitch for their training program and their gear. But I learned a lot and from that point onwards, I saw myself as a “producer”.

Being an artist that uses timecode vinyl, have you seen any new devices/programs that can be beneficial for the learning, creation, or mixing process?   

I think DVS itself is an amazing tool to learn to DJ with. It used to be so mysterious, just looking at a black vinyl wondering what is going on. Now you can see the waveform of the song on your laptop and visually line up the beats. I can probably teach anyone the basics of traditional DJing on DVS in like 2 hours. You won’t be good after 2 hours but you’ll “get it” haha!

The line between DJing and production is slowly becoming more blurred however. I see more and more DJs building their sets in Ableton and either exporting the individual songs like lego blocks and then playing them like a normal DJ, or just rolling with it in Ableton and performing parts on midi devices like Midi Fighters or Keytars. But it’s tough to get your timing right without lots of practice. So to finally answer your question, Melodics is a pretty sweet piece of software. It’s kinda like guitar hero, except instead of getting good on a fucking plastic guitar; you’re actually practicing and honing your skills on actual gear that you could use in a real performance on stage. Check it out.

Photo by Xavier via Facebook

On YouTube, you have an impressive catalog of different software tutorial videos starting in 2012! What motivated you to create these videos?

Wow, so you’re telling me I’ve been doing YouTube for 6 years? That’s insane haha! I guess the motivation to start making tutorial videos was my frustration with other tutorial videos on YouTube. I’ve got so many complaints about YouTube tutorials.

1) Get to the damn point and quit wasting my time begging for subscribers or asking me to sign up to your mailing list. Save that shit for the end of the video.

2) Don’t skim over the little details. I want to know exactly how that thing works, it’s pros and cons and it’s limitations.

3) I hate step-by-step tutorials. Tell me WHY instead of how. And let me hear the sound change as you go along. I want to learn the technique and adapt it to my own style. Inspire me with other possibilities!

4) Think about what you say before you say it. I don’t wanna hear “Ok guy so, uhhh, next up is, uhhh next what we’re going to do is… oh hang on I forgot this part, so go back and…” Do you know how frustrating that is to watch?!

I could go on. One guy I saw on YouTube that didn’t do any of these things was Mr. Bill. He was definitely an inspiration to get started in YouTube. I felt like I had some interesting techniques to contribute to the community and so I just made a few videos.  It was always just a bit of a side-project or hobby but these days I take it a bit more seriously. It’s fun and I enjoy helping people out.

In the earlier stages of your career, I read you were playing a lot of gigs in your hometown, Brisbane. Here is a question to help upcoming producers; do you have any tips or advice on how to balance between playing shows verses producing?

If you’re reading this and you’re an aspiring DJ or producer, keep this in mind: I started like 15 years ago. Shit is different now. What worked for me, might not work for you. It did, however, work for me so any tips or advice I have is extremely biased. I’m one guy with one person worth of experience. Pretty much, don’t listen to me or anyone else who is successful that claims to have all the answers. It’s basically all irrelevant information. With that said, let’s get on with the answer to the question.

As far as balancing goes, I just kinda do whatever I feel like doing. If I felt like practicing scratching or digging for hot new bangers, then that’s what I did that day. Maybe the next day I felt like producing an original track. The real importance is not balance, it’s consistently putting in hours. Try to measure your day-to-day success by looking at how many hours you put in that week vs how many gigs you got booked for or how many tracks you completed. I use an app on my computer called TimeCamp which tracks the usage on your computer and sends you an email at the end of the week showing you what apps/websites you used for how many hours. It’s a really good indication of how focused you are on your music vs goofing around on Facebook.

Your first performance at Shambhala was in 2009. How did you feel when you were asked to play again a couple years later and open for A.Skillz?

It was my first time ever DJing at a festival and it was my first time traveling overseas. I was shitting bricks before my set haha! I was invited back in 2011 to open for A. Skillz. He had a big influence on me. His success is what I was striving for. So, to attend the same festival as him, hang out with him, and then open for him was a great experience.

Over the years as I got to know him and other big successful DJs which really opened my eyes in the following way: Too often, people think of DJs and producers as god-like beings sent down from the heavens to grace the earth with the divine power of funk! But we’re all just normal dudes that sit on the porta-potty to take a shit just like you. We stub our toes on the corners of furniture and worry about how we look in the mirror. Just like you. We’re one part of the party and you’re the other part. It’s ying and yang man. Parties like Shambhala don’t happen without both parts performing at their best!

You recently finished your ‘Funky Fresh’ Tour earlier this year. What is it like traveling back to your home country Australia to play? Is the energy the same, has the crowd grown?

That was a bittersweet tour. I arrived in Brisbane 2 days after my stepmother passed away unexpectedly. I’m glad I was already on my way to come together with my family so we could attempt to deal with the tragedy together. It was perfect timing in a way. I was able to reconnect with some old friends too and reminisce. Returning to play at the same club I held a residency at for so many years, Rumpus Room, was awesome. I definitely felt like the local hero. The place was packed and I think everyone I know in Brisbane was there! It’s great to see my favorite club in Brisbane is still popping off every weekend!

In 2017, two of your tracks were featured on Big Beat Ignition: Denver, a compilation album by Big Beat Records.  Can you elaborate on how this feature came about? Were any of the tracks (“Baby Let’s Go” & “Don’t Flip” (Ft. Illvis Freshly) something you had already been working on?

Not too much to tell. I had planned on releasing Baby Let’s Go on a different label but decided to give Big Beat Records a go. They had reached out to me asking for some tracks. Why not right? I showed them Baby Let’s Go and they loved it.

Don’t Flip was just a primitive idea at this point. No vocals, rough sketch. But I sent it to Big Beat and they loved it and wanted me to finish it. I had it in my head ever since I wrote the rough version that it was the perfect track for Illvis Freshly. It’s funny because I’d sent this beat to the Illvis Freshly boys before Big Beat came into the picture asking… no, BEGGING for them to rap on it and they were vaguely interested like, “yeah man, maybe when we get some time in the next couple of months…” I hit em with the Big beat Records opportunity and suddenly I see all these vocal stems pop up in my inbox and shit haha! Illvis Freshly over-delivered and absolutely murdered the vocals on the track.

 What inspired the concept and the name of your first full-length album Front Yard Futon?

Around the same time my housemates and I had a little yard sale. Since we’re all fucking DJs we give any excuse to break out the decks, right? So we set up the decks in the front yard for something to do while we waited for potential customers to buy our random crap. We had a few beers and it kinda turned into a bit of a gathering/afternoon party. It was heaps of fun; and I thought the only thing that could’ve made it better was a couch or something to chill on. A front yard futon if you will.

I liked the visual element that the name implies, a futon in the front yard. Sun’s out, couple beers, few friends all bring that sense of community that we all crave as humans. I thought the name fit well because I had a lot of friends (who also happen to be producers) come on to collaborate with me in writing the album.

A lot of your album and single artworks have a colorful mid-60’s/ early 70’s aesthetic. Do you have the same graphic designer that creates your artwork and/or do you have any influence on the imagery?

Well my original logo was designed by Slim from Goodgroove Records (now Ghetto Funk records) before the release of my first EP. I didn’t have a logo so he designed one for me with a bit of guidance from me. I remember saying that I wanted it to look like a baseball jersey with that cursive old school style font. Since then, my long time friend, Butterz (@Buttervault) has redesigned my logo and just added a slight modern twist to it and that is the version I’m currently using. Butterz designed a lot of my track artwork and did my “Delighted People” EP cover art with the funky fresh seal guy. Brilliant artist, but he’s a very busy guy so it’s hard to get him on time sensitive stuff.

These days I mostly use Savanna (@savaereardon). She is the Danio Management in house do-it-all graphic designer and is incredibly talented. I try my best to throw the craziest ideas I can think of at her and she’s like, “bring it on mother fucker.” She doesn’t fuck around either. She’ll have that shit on your desk first thing on Monday without a doubt. I couldn’t ask for a better designer. Seriously, what a boss.

I do have a very heavy influence on the design of my branding and imagery. I’ll go back and forth with designers all day to get my artwork to have just the right amount of funk, color and aesthetic.

Who are some of your all time favorite funk masters (bands, musicians, vocalists) from the late 1960’s through the 1970’s?

Dude, I could sit here and list a bunch of incredible funk/disco/boogie artists from the 70s but what the readers really want to know is, how did you discover these funky artists? And the answer is WEFUNK Radio. I’ve been listening for probably 10 or 15 years now. Any spare moment I have. I’m literally listening to it right now as I write this interview. Professor Groove and DJ Static have been preaching the funk for over 20 years and they know their shit. They never play the same song twice and the entire track list is up on their website. Ever listened to one of my DJ sets or remixes and thought “I wonder what that sample is…?” I 100% guarantee that I heard it on WEFUNK first.

Think you know all there is to know about funk/disco/boogie/hiphop? Listen to WEFUNK Radio for like half an hour and you’ll realize that you have no idea how deep the funk hole really goes. Take the red pill and go to WEFUNKRadio.com right now!

What can fans expect from you in the near future?

My Shambhala 2018 mix will be coming out soon. More awesome production tools, sample packs and preset packs on my website. I’m working towards getting Ableton project files up on my website for download which I think will be a great resource for people who want a deeper understanding of how my music is created. And of course, more YouTube tutorials. I’m so close to catching Mr. Bill in the subscriber count race haha!

I don’t have any plans this minute to write another album or EP simply because I hate waiting around for the whole thing to be finished you know? I’d rather just release my music as singles. I just want to share my music as soon as possible!

Follow Slynk: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud | YouTube

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