Posted by: Necci – May 02, 2012
Paying homage to the area that helped support you on your rise to success is a theme repeated by both musicians and celebrities alike. Whether you are rap legend Nas, whose latest music video takes you on a tour of his hometown in Queensbridge; or M.I.A., the pop star responsible for raising awareness and providing aid to those caught in the political problems in her home country of Sri Lanka; showing support for the places that helped shape you as a performer is essential. Known for its booming culture, art, and music scenes, Brooklyn provided the backdrop for the making of internationally known DJ and producer AC Slater, and his latest single, “Big Brooklyn Bass,” pays tribute to his hometown. As one of the founding members of the Trouble & Bass music label, Aaron Clevenger fit right in with the growing demand for bass-heavy music that was taking New York by storm just a few years ago. Now AC Slater is touring the world, doing remix work for rising rapper Big Sean, even providing a remix for Moby, which Moby himself called one of his top ten songs of the decade. Following in the footsteps of fellow Trouble & Bass artists like Drop The Lime and Zombies For Money, he recently graced the stage of Audio Ammo’s famous Brain Drain party, which takes place right here in Richmond at the Hat Factory. Before his performance in late November, we sat down and talked about his new single, touring small towns in Australia that he’d never heard of, and the best place in the world to get a Manhattan cocktail.
Your newest single, “Big Brooklyn Bass,” was just released just a few weeks ago. Have you been able to gauge all of the feedback yet?
I’m really happy with “Big Brooklyn Bass” and how it’s been received. It was the first single I’ve released in a while, but people like Diplo, Steve Aoki, Jack Beats, and ton of others have been playing it out all over.
It seemed like you were laying low for a while, with regards to producing. Was this a result of the constant touring?
Last year I was pretty much touring non-stop. I was around the world for probably 4-5 months. When I came back to the states, it was pretty much the same, non-stop touring. I kind of got out of the habit of writing music. I was writing music, but it was not much that I was really happy with. Last year, the Calm Down vinyl release came out, and then it was about 6 months before I really did anything else. I had a moment of inspiration and now I’m back.
In addition to “Big Brooklyn Bass,” your official remix for Big Sean was just released. How did this fall into place?
It was really interesting timing. I was asked by Big Sean’s DJ to be a part of a Big Sean remix thing. Adidas brought it all together and then got all of these guys to remix the songs. It’s cool because it’s primarily hip-hop DJs, and then me.
How important is it, as a producer, to be able to be able to create music that can cross into different genres? Your “Big Brooklyn Bass” and Big Sean tracks could probably be classified into different subgenres of electronic music.
Whether I try to or not, I feel I often have an overall hip-hop/rap vibe to a lot of my stuff. Even “Big Brooklyn Bass” has some urban feel to it, even though it has this bass-y techno vibe with rhythms and big drums and stuff. Those are two worlds that are just waiting to intersect. Maybe not music, but I want to see hip-hop heads at these types of shows and vice versa.
How has the worldwide touring treated you over the course of 2011?
I was out of the country from basically February to June. I did Europe, Asia, and a little bit of Australia. [Since] I came back, I’ve been doing the States and Canada. Now, I’m primarily playing shows on the weekends and in the studio during the week.
What is the first standout moment that comes to mind, regarding your international touring this year?
I always love Australia. The past tour I did, I was there for a month. I was doing a festival tour, where I was probably one of a handful of DJs and the only international DJ playing. All of the other acts were bands. Every show was 16,000 people and sold out. It wasn’t major cities, but weird rural towns. So it’s like, I’m playing in places I’ve never heard of and to crowds in cities where I’m wondering how they even got there.
You Trouble & Bass guys like your whiskey! Where’s the best place in the world to get a Manhattan?
Definitely in America. I’d say somewhere in the South. All of the good bourbon and whiskey comes from here. Actually, not the South. The further you are from Kentucky, the less options you have. You go to England and they make it with Jack Daniels and you’re just like, “What?” Places like New York and Los Angeles always have good ones because they seem to over-think a lot of it. The presentation is always thought out and the drinks are carefully made. But when you come here to Virginia, you can take advantage of the long list of all of the Manhattan options. It’s hard to pick just one area or place.
Of all of the active and touring Trouble & Bass artists, I’d say you are probably the last one to finally make it down to the Brain Drain party here in Richmond. I hope you’re ready for a fun night!
It’s been building up for a while. I’ve wanted to play here for a while and they’ve been trying to get me. There are so many factors involved, it just hadn’t worked out until now. I’m ready to fucking have a good time and I have so many new tunes to play. I got a full night of rest after playing a crazy show in Ottawa last night.
What are the next few months looking like for you?
I’m doing a big Asian tour with Drop the Lime in December. I come back home for Christmas and then fly to Malaysia for New Year’s Eve. January is blocked off for studio time, and then I’m going back to Australia in February for a tour. Outside of touring, I’m currently working on a 5-track EP which is about half done, and then in January, I’m going to try and start the beginnings of a full-length album.
Are there any big moves for Trouble & Bass in the future?
\We just started doing an artist series for our t-shirts. Friends of the labels and guest artists do their take on Trouble & Bass. The work I’ve seen so far is looking crazy. Music-wise, there are definitely some new guys that we’re keeping our eyes on. The next releases we have are from Willy Joy and Ursa Major. I’m also putting out an EP on my Party Like Us record label from a group called Clicks & Whistles. Them and this duo from Montreal called BOTNEK, they’re wild.
After playing a set heavy on new tunes, the packed Hat Factory screamed their approval as AC Slater finished around 1:30AM. Departing from Richmond the following morning, Slater thanked the Audio Ammo crew on Twitter: “shouts to @audioammo for a great party last night! crazy kids, dogs standing on top [of] people, late night beer pong, chix barfing, & lotsa bass”. Sounds like a typical Richmond evening, right?
Words by Alexander Rose
Images by Richard Perkins