Photo By: Kaira Campos
AC Slater King of the party scene, has kicked off a mega 8 show tour this summer. Released his amazing EP which dropped on May 26th and a creatively addictive music video to Bass Inside . Plus, he killed it in the Yuma tent at this years 2016 Coachella, not once but both weekends. AC is also slated to perform at the 25th anniversary at this years Lollapalooza — and 2016 is only at the halfway mark. Catching up with him over a chilled glass of white wine in Los Angeles was as refreshing as it sounds. The energy that AC brings to the stage is just as prominent in person as well as contagious. Learning more about his journey and the odds he has overcome will inspire any DJ, artist or human being period to persist, believe, and simply just do you! Cheers to you AC Slater!
AC: I started a series, a summer phase’s series its kind of like a summer long thing. It’s not really a tour I guess, it’s more of like a series of shows. Its only 8 shows so it’s spread out throughout like the summer.
Mm: Yea it ends in like the end of August right?
AC: Yes, Yes!
Mm: How did that idea come to life?
AC: You know, I’ve been doing the party in LA for like 2 years.
Mm: You’re kind of like the king of it.
AC: Oh yea… yea!
Mm: That’s the word on the street yo!
AC: The king… I like that, I like that. I’ll take it.
Mm: AC, is the king of like this party scene.
AC: We have been doing the monthly sound for two years. We did one tour back in 2014 that was 12 shows in a row with all big line up. That just came together. I don’t know how magically all those people we’re able to get together but it worked. This year, I just wanted to kind of do something bigger, just trying to build the brand up bigger. Me and Denise my agent, Denise Melanson she’s really been helpful. She said, lets do like a summer series so think of an idea. I wanted to stick to the type of nighttime mood thing. So summer phases kind of like took off from there. Each city is a different line up of guests.
Mm: I loved learning that you are this guy from West Virginia yet your music when I was listening to it, I said to myself ” Yo, this is pre-game. You know what I mean. You’d never know!
AC: Haha, you would never know!
Mm: You go in! What were your inspirations because that just doesn’t come from nowhere?
AC: I was inspired probably because of where I grew up. It was kind of isolated. I mean, I didn’t live in like the country or anything but it was kind of like a small town– a suburb of nothing. There wasn’t much culture and I lived through like — I’m 36 so this was like 90’s when I was coming of age.
Mm: That’s when Hip-Hop was just like Oh my God, delicious!
AC: Yea, that was my soul, and I mean, I lived through magazines. Like the source and stuff like that.
Mm: Yeah, the source and Word Up!
AC: Yea! All of those things. That was my window into like hip-hop and the Dj culture. I had relatives in Miami that we would go visit every summer. My cousin is a year older and his friend was a Dj so I was like 15 and this is my first time ever seeing Dj’ing in person. I was like holy shit this is awesome and I had like saved up some cash for the summer and I went to the pawn shop right after I left his house and bought like a Dj mix cause thats like all I had, and I came home put my parents… like turntable up to it and like a cd player and started making like tapes and thats kind of how it all started. Once I got into DJing I discovered that there was like raves and dance music. I couldn’t like put the dance music into context so I realized that was like a scene and there were like parties. Then I started reading like Urb and Bam and those kind of like dance magazines ordering tape packs from the UK. There would be like 12 tapes in a big plastic case.
Mm: I remember those.
AC: Yea, so basically in the U.K. there would be these big raves theres like helter skelter and like all these different one. They would have ads in magazines so I would like, remember when you would like order stuff before the internet you had to like mail it in? I would mail in like a check or whatever to like the U.K. then they would like mail it back like weeks later and its basically a plastic case that opens up like a book and it has like 10-12 cassettes and each cassette is all just recording of the whole night. So you hear the crowd, you hear the MC and it was like God I wanna be there so I would like live through that shit. That was like, I want to do this somehow, I want to be there some day. I had no context except of like I want to do this some day.
Mm: Right, like even though you didn’t know the how, you just connected to that feeling?
AC: Yea, and then I just like discovered raves in the area that I realized were going on. When I was like 18 I lived around where like WBU is the university. That’s about an hour south of Pittsburg. There is a pretty huge rave scene in Pittsburg so I got really involved with that and thats just how I got into it. So trying to escape the boring side of West Virginia was my motivation, I guess.
Mm: Right, and then you moved to New York?
AC: Yeah, well I moved to Philly at some point. I went to the Art Institute for video production and then I moved to New York and lived there for about 10 years before I came here (LA) on a whim.
AC: I was going to come here (LA) for like a year and now I’ve been here for like 4 1/2 years. It just fell into place.
Mm: That’s crazy. I get it! I’m based in New York and lived in LA before so I get that like whole coming out here on a whim feel.
AC: I was like, I’ll never leave New York. I’m just going to go for a year and now I’m like this weathers pretty good and then like, I kind of found myself musically. Cause I came out here a former manager of mine was like — well I was in a funk creatively and I didn’t really have direction cause EDM was starting to happen, it was the early days of like that beginning. So I like started seeing all these people like getting money on kind of cheesy music and I started being like, should I do that? I was a little lost and he was like look every time you go to LA and you hang out with all these other Dj’s and producers you come back excited and inspired. Why don’t you like try and go out there and see whats up. So yea I just went and it clicked on inspiration and then I met my girl.
Mm: How quickly did things start to shift for you?
AC: I would say like a year into being here I started exploring my music. My current sound that I have, was always there within my music somewhere but I took it in a different direction.
Mm: Where did your love for comedy blend into all of this?
AC: Well, I just grew up on sketch comedy.
Mm: I could totally see you doing all of that too.
AC: That’s kind of my ultimate thing I would have done if music was like unreachable. I would have tried that. But, I’m kind of like a shy person. I have stage freight. My other friends around me that were into comedy, I would push them to do it but I would never like take classes or go on stage.
Mm: But you’re a performer!
AC: I know, but its a different kind of performance. Comedy your like putting yourself out there to die in front of people and with Dj’ing your like more so behind the booth hiding. I think my music now though is a little bit more serious. Well, I wouldn’t say serious its not serious at all but compared to like older stuff I did. Where I was just sample like me and another producer or just a friend of mine, we’d sample each other talking shit or just nonsense. I would just put it in and twist it up.
Mm: Your music is so hype, when you are creating that what space are you in?
AC: I’m picturing myself on the dance floor for like the first time in my life. Super excited at a party being like what the fuck is this and feeling that first feeling. I’m trying to chase that feeling. My entire obsession with music and my career is like chasing that feeling. That’s what I think of. Like I don’t think, Oh would this be played on the radio, I’m thinking like would I play this in a set.
Mm: When I heard your songs I was like Ooooo! You get that feeling that you can’t explain but you can’t help but move haha!
AC: Awe, thank you- thank you! That’s awesome. It was kind of like a moment where after I moved to LA I did a remix for Jack beats and it was pretty good they are old friends of mine, we kind of started in this like house(y) type music at the same time and we have been friends for a long time through music. Then he wrote me back and was like this is cool and everything but you should kind of go back to your old style and try that. I did it and remixed a song called careless this came out like 3 or 4 years ago. I was like oh my God this felt so natural and I wasn’t like what direction should I go in. It was like a natural thing that I was good at and that I understood. From that point on I was like boom, I started making new music in the same kind of mindset.
Mm: What year was this?
AC: I think this was like 2013 so not that long ago. For about a year of me doing this and just pumping out music, I came up with the idea to do Night Bass because there was no where here for me to go hear the music I was into at that time 3 years ago. There was also no fitting place for me to go Dj as well because no one was playing like me really here. I’m playing a lot of U.K. stuff just stuff that hasn’t come here yet.
Mm: That like London vibe, I like how they party out there.
AC: Yea, me too! That’s my whole life, what I’ve been into is U.K. music.
Mm: They just don’t care and let loose.
AC: Its just fun, its so fun. There was no where that I really fit in LA or in the states in general. I kicked around the idea in my head of like doing my own parties just to have a place to hear it. In January 2014 I did it and apparently people like it and wanted it. My goal was to kind of build an awareness of the music cause it was like a big mission. Everyone was nervous about letting me do it and the people I wanted to book were like are you sure, whose that? At the time its like trap and like EDM and fucking Calvin Harris. I just wasn’t interested in it. It wasn’t me so I was like trust me just let me try it and it turns out that other people wanted it too and it just built over time. Because I took a year of like visualizing it, I think it worked out how I pictured it because my main goal is going inward to expose people to that sound. To educate people about like the artist and even like the roots of it. The old UKG and stuff like that from U.K. Also to create a separate sub-scene where people bonded over that. Cause, I knew it would be like an outsider thing and whats more fun than being an outsider so all of that happened and its cool and a good scene now. It’s cool now when I walk around the monthly and people like introduce me to their friends and will be like we met here and we come every month. I my girlfriend here or I met my boyfriend here. It’s just cool cause when I started going out to parties, to raves and stuff it wasn’t popular. It was all outcasts, you weren’t necessarily cool because you were there. It was like the gay kids or the kids in a wheel chair or a skinny kid or a fat kid you know what I mean. It was like everybody that kind of didn’t belong in something cool or mainstream and I really like that. Another aspect was like now a days all the Dj’s are on the mic with their hands in the air and you watch a movie behind them. It’s cool but I wanted to get back to basics. Like back to that same time period where no one watched the Dj, maybe like 5 guys watched the Dj who were also trying to be Dj’s to see what was going on. I just wanted to bring it back to basics so that was the mission and it panned out in sound nightclub.
Mm: Well what’s interesting the theme I’m gathering from you is visualization has served you well. From hearing the music young and sending out the money in London while you were feeling like, I don’t know what this is— but you could see it as something you wanted to be apart of. Even from like how you make your music, just seeing yourself in that moment on the dance floor and even the creating of Night Bass, thats like a really powerful tool.
AC: Yea… I mean, I’ve never thought of it that way. To me it was always kind of searching –because I’ve always had the passion for like music and the culture around it but I didn’t have the specifics of what I was looking for. It took me all these years from then to discover what my vision was for myself, my career and my music.
Mm: With that statement alone, what would you tell an up-and-coming Dj or artist who is in that crust or like uhhhh, I feel it but I don’t see it but I just don’t know what to do?
AC: I think its important to not follow other people. Originality is the most important thing and its easier said than done. Like I said, it took me all these years to hone in and fine tune what it was that made me-me. You know what I mean– and what my main influences were. It’s just all a journey and discovery. Its a feeling too when you love something you know it, you know what I mean. Its not like, Oh this songs big now so let me make something that sounds like this. It’s more like I want to be the one who that makes this popular first and then everyone else copies you. Thats what drives me. Its all about passion and you got to have passion to visualize and discover what it is that you like.
Mm: Speaking of passion, Yuma tent Coachella — was it Epic or what?
AC: Oh my God, it was such a trip!
Mm: Haha…take me through your set, how was it? Was this your first?
AC: I actually played back in 2009. They experimented around back then I think with dance music they had like a little dome. It was a tiny little thing in the field like a shitty kind of version of the Do Lab sort of but it was just put on by Coachella. This was my first like official booking –like on the flyer in Yuma tent it was so fucking cool. It’s like dark even in the daytime which is like perfect for me and I played mad early but its mad dark in there. Its like a nightclub, like a giant version of sound where I do Night Bass now in LA. They even have a shark a disco shark in there thats in the club normally.
Mm: There was like a crazy line to get into Yuma tent!
AC: Man, so I was so nervous. I was like no ones gonna go I got there super early just sitting in the trailer. I went into the tent like an hour before and there was like 10 people in there and I was like shit so we just like hung out, hung out. We go in a couple of my friends show up cause everyones like I’m not gonna make it 1pm on Sunday after this whole weekend and I just like wanted some support. Like 12th planet and some other friends showed up like super early and we hung out in the trailer. I went out to play there was maybe like 100 people in there and literally within like 5 minutes to 10 minutes of my set it was just like people were flooding in. It was like a trip and I was like this is amazing. I was so fucking happy and excited and people were vibing out like everyone in the front had on night bass gear and I was like what the fuck is happening. And then I turn around and see 30 of my friends back there just like hanging out like yo we made it– it was just the best feeling ever. I went in with no expectations or maybe like low expectations just because of the time and when I came out the stage manager guy was like. ” I don’t know what happened, but that was the first time I had to close the doors all weekend” and I was like awesome.
Mm: That’s crazy awesome!
AC: Then the next week when I came back, I was like how the fuck am I going to follow this up. The stage manager came up and I was walking in and was like “ready to shut it down again”? I was like bro don’t jinx me! Kind of like the same thing happened again, but it was even crazier people were like climbing up on the speakers security was like throwing people out. It was really insane and definitely touched a nerve like musically I think in like Southern California and wherever else people are coming from. I was so fucking happy that people came supported. I literally couldn’t have written a better script — you know what I mean it was such a trip. I had chills it was like dream come true.
Mm: How has that experience carried you to what you are doing creatively now with your EP dropping and your summer series?
AC: It made me more aware, that like people want to hear me and its made me work harder. I already work hard and now I am working even harder. The EP I finished a while ago and since then I have written a lot of stuff. I’m kind of kicking around the idea of doing an album. Its not like really in motion, I’m just stacking song ideas, demos and working with different vocalist and just getting stuff together. I think I have the next single ready, I don’t know if I can get into the details yet cause its so new but yea Coachella definitely inspired me to work. It made me think what can I do next? Like Coachella is like a big gig. It wasn’t like a headlining spot or anything but its a high profile thing.
Mm: You’ll always have that and that’s major.
AC: Yea and I had to ask myself how to like move up from here. For me its like how do I step up from that. What’s the next step and how do I do that?
Mm: I love that I have observed this universal experience with other artist I have spoken with recently. I was at Coachella working as well and I was bummed that I didn’t get to catch up with you although the artist that I did speak with all had similar moments. The tent was kind of light at first and then if filled up and then it was this epic high. I am just witnessing this common uncertainty, and the the shock from all the love and then the question of ok, how can I use that for good– creatively? I have heard multiple artist say that, which is touching to me because its a universal experience which just shows that we are so much more alike in our internal experiences that not .
AC: I feel like if you’re not like one of the biggest artist in the world, going into any kind of festival setting it has to be nerve wracking and humbling. There’s so many factors that could go wrong that could make you have a horrible show and so when it works out its like… its a crazy awesome high plus sigh of relief. It just reminds you that you’re not the shit if you think you’re the shit. There’s always a chance that you could be like a joke so keep working basically.
Mm: Are you taking that kind of energy build for your first show in Phoenix, AZ?
AC: I’m terrified about Phoenix. It’s the first show, I want it to be like amazing. I don’t want to go into like the first show of the series and be like alright its half full you know what I mean, I wanted to be fucking packed full. Iv’e been on the promotions side, trying to make sure that people come through the door, but I think its going to be good. We have been selling a lot of tickets this week but I’m definitely taking that energy into Phoenix. Aside from getting people in, I want people to remember and be excited about it when they get in. Like, I want it to be different. It’s like a venue that you know is probably used all the time there so Im going to like try and and transform it visually. I’m printing out all theses old Night Bass flyers and kind of papering the walls with them and putting up weird little signs in the bathroom. Just quirky stuff like that– having the lighting like how we do at sound and transforming it as much as I can. It’s just a big open room but transforming it as much as I can into a Night Bass thing.
Mm: What else is on your 2016 goal list?
AC: Well, I’m doing Lollapalooza for the first time.
Mm: WHAT, you’re going to be at Lolla?
AC: Yeah! I’ve never even been and I have wanted to go since I was like 12 years old. I’m excited, I only get to go for like one day though cause its like a crazy weekend.
Mm: Are you doing the first day?
AC: No, Saturday. I have Seattle Night Bass Friday. Leave super early Saturday, play probably hang out all night and then head out back here to play hard.
Mm: It’s their 25th anniversary.
AC: I know, its like 4 or 5 days long. If I didn’t have the other gigs, I would definitely stay there and hang out. I mean goals for the rest of 2016, I’m trying to get out of the country. I’m working on Europe, Iv’e played there over the years but I want to really build up. I feel like there’s opportunity for me there. I have just been so focused on America and Canada and Australia is really good for me. I do want to get back into the U.K. and deliver my repackaged U.K. music to them.
Mm: Well, I know I just met you yet I am so proud of you!
AC: Awe, thank you!
Mm: I really am. You have taken this idea of like hearing the Dj at the age of 12/ 13 to creating Night Bass and an EP dropping music video creating!
AC: I’m just a boy finding his way.
Mm: Hahaha… I love that! I’m just a girl finding her way. It’s like humbling to hear that and see that it’s findable.
AC: I feel like anything Ive done even as hilarious as a rave scene or this can apply to anything people do whether its like fashion or visual design or journalism and whatever entrepreneurial, its more like life lessons that took me to get here than like a secret tip or something.
Mm: Yea, its like trial and error and don’t give up. Those cheesy life sayings that are actually so true!
AC: And like values of work ethic are very important.
Mm: I agree and this blew my mind cheers to you and thank you!
AC: Thank you!
Photo By: Kaira Campos
Keep up with AC Slater at http://djacslater.com/
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