Last weekend I got the opportunity to hangout with Scott and Derek from the acclaimed heaven trap duo Slander at Moonrise Festival in Baltimore. This was a great chance to catch up since last time we saw Scott, he was throwing down a crazy set for us at the International Gloving Championship ’14, honoring his gloving roots. These dudes dished out some great advice and showed a deep passion for the music, with a common root in gloving.
Moses: We’re sitting down with Scott and Derek, the artists that make up the well known heaven trap duo Slander. There’s a rumor going around that one member of Slander was actually a glover at one point.
Scott: Yes it’s true, I actually knew Brian Lim before he even started EmazingLights.
Moses: Oh really? Let’s talk about that. How did you meet Brian?
Scott: Mainly through mutual friends, Skittles. That’s how I met Brian, because Brian’s strategy to break into the market was to get the three biggest glovers in the scene and then turn them into sponsored glovers. He got Mimik, Gummy, and Skittles, so when he launched EmazingLights he already had the most powerful sponsored team. He was also the only guy in the business that was actually passionate about it. Everyone else who was in the light business was in it for the money grab. Brian actually had the vision for it, and that’s why he succeeded. He was the one who wanted to take gloving to the next level. Not just sell lights to kids.
Moses: So how long were you gloving before you started making music?
Scott: I was gloving long before I was DJing, I was gloving in 2009. I don’t really glove anymore, I’m sort of retired, but I still got my RAVNs collecting dust. Most glovers don’t even know about those these days.
Moses: Oh man, I remember those. Those sell for a lot now!
Scott: Yeah man, some kid offered me $800.00 for them. These are actually Skittles’s set.
Moses: So how do you know Skittles?
Scott: I met Davis (Skittles) through YouTube, I followed him on YouTube, then we met up at an event and we just became friends.
Moses: That’s pretty cool, you guys met on the internet and then turned it into a real life friendship. How did you and Derek become friends?
Derek: We met in school, we met at UC Irvine. Scott was in a fraternity called Kappa Sigma. I joined the fraternity, Scott was one of the people who told me to come out and mentored me as I was going through that. We were just homies at first, it’s not like we were like, ‘Hey, let’s become DJs!’ It was very casual, I DJ’d one frat party and then we did it together, and ever since then we’ve been doing it together and that was five years ago.
Moses: That’s pretty inspiring man, you guys are just normal dudes who actually started out from the bottom and worked your way up.
Derek: Yeah, we were just DJs, and that’s all we ever wanted to be. We just wanted to be DJs and perform at EDC and other music festivals. Other artists these days are producers first and then want to move into DJing. They start off as bedroom producers and then get thrown onto a stage and have no idea how to actually DJ.
When we started touring we had 5 years experience under our belt, so it was a no brainer for us we knew exactly what to do.
Moses: Yeah, you guys are obviously DJs and your stage presence reflects that, furthermore you guys actually paid your dues. It wasn’t just handed to you, you earned your keep.
Derek: We didn’t plan it that way, but that’s what makes us stand out. Everyone is under a big label, but we did it differently. We put everything out ourselves, for free. We don’t need sub labels, we showed people you don’t have to go that route. We showed people you don’t have to get a certain release on a sub label or get support from whoever. We just push the free download and that’s what got us to where we are.
Moses: That’s awesome man! Speaking of free downloads, let’s talk about The Gud Vibrations Synergy Challenge EmazingLights did to your song.
Derek: We wanted to do a heaven trap song, at first it was heaven trap all the way, and the second drop just sounded sort of festival-y so we threw it in there last minute so people could play the whole track out at a festival. It was really cool when Mija played it out, because you expect the second drop to be the same thing and then it’s something totally different.
Moses: Nice, yeah man it makes me feel like I’m at an old school rave!
Derek: Yeah totally.
Moses: Scott, since you’re more of a glover, tell me what you thought of the performance.
Scott: Oh I loved it! Brian approached me about it before, but I didn’t think he was actually going to go through with it but it turned out to be the sickest show iIve ever seen. I mean the guys that did it did a really good job of giving it mainstream appeal and friendly.
The gloving I come from was mainly about impacting people in their face and blasting them, and if you’re going to record it you record it over their head and it looks down. But what’s cool is that these guys incorporated dance and used the distance between both glovers to their advantage. They really utilized the space and the angles. They were able to do super unique stuff and that’s what takes EmazingLights to the next level. EmazingLights are doing IGC, they are going on Shark Tank, and convincing investors to make gloving even bigger, and it’s these types of ideas that push this underground art form and bring it to a higher level.
Moses: So do you know either of the performers in the video? Cypher and Trippz? If not, what are some new glovers you have your eye on?
Scott: If you were to talk about the newest glover that I’ve seen on a decent level is Fry. He was really big last year, we brought him into TNT. He really represented. He brought TNT back into the scene. There are some new guys too, I recently met LiLi. He’s like 9 years old and is way better than I am. I still keep my ears to the ground, and I stay up to date. Like Cypher is a name I hear a lot, but I haven’t had a chance to meet the guy.
Moses: I’d love to walk away from the interview with some words of wisdom from you guys.
Derek: When you’re in the studio just be super selfish, make music for yourself. Make music that makes you happy. Don’t worry about what other people like, because if you do that’s like shooting yourself in the foot. If you go into the studio with the mindset that you’re going to make music that you like then that’s what’s going to set you apart and make you stand out. So even though you’re being selfish.
Scott: Same goes for gloving man. Like in the 2012 era originality was the thing. People would always talk about stealing moves and stuff but from that came new moves and more originality. Like, work on your style, it’s cool to get ideas from other people but at the end of the day you don’t want you light show to look like someone else’s. Like you don’t want to have the “Mimik” style, you wanna have your own style. That’s the footprint you want to leave.
Photo Credit: Ben Weickert