With hip-hop influences old and new, Darren Williams talks about a life of De La Soul and Steely Dan
Heavily rooted in the fundamental laws of hip-hop – adopting sounds regardless of genre to form something entirely new and exciting – is Manchester based by way of Nottinghamshire producer Star Slinger aka Darren Williams. His free 11-track ‘Volume 1’ LP is a blend of samples and grooves that could just as easily feature on a Kanye or Jay-Z record with standout examples such as ‘Gimme’, ‘Minted’ and, with a nod to his playful influences (thank you De La Soul) heavily samples Musical Youth’s stoner anthem ‘Pass The Dutchie’ on his novel interpretation ‘Dutchie Courage’. The most exciting part of the record however isn’t these or any of the other eight tracks, it’s the title. The clichéd idea that ‘this is only the beginning’ doesn’t make the prospect any less thrilling. To hold us over until the next instalment (work on which is well underway), Williams has kindly made a mixtape exclusive to Dazed Digital as well as giving us an insight into the man behind the Star.
Dazed Digital: What was the first record you remember buying?
Star Slinger: De La Soul - '3 Feet High & Rising' LP. I was obsessed it. That album got me into Steely Dan and Parliament/Funkadelic. It took me a few years as a kid to realise there were tons of samples used in it, but it still sounds magical.
DD: It's probably not worth mentioning the obvious influence that people like Dilla, DJ Shadow and Steinski have had on your sound but do you think that you have something new to add to your method of production?
Star Slinger: I think it's worth mentioning. Dilla used a certain technique in his production that was derived from dance music. I already had the love for the technique before he started using it on the Donuts album. I'd been using the technique on dance records I was making around the same time. Basically "sidechain compression". So when I heard Dilla it was so perfect. It was soulful, gripping and had influence from what I'd been making already. I try to be fun with my production, rather than always being soulful or deep! I like the freedom of hearing a silly pop song and being able to capture that vibe on my record sometimes. A lot of hip-hop albums can be the same vibe all the way through. I want people to listen to my records and hear how I diverse I am. I love being diverse.
DD: You've said that 'eight minute 12" mixes became to easy to churn out" - Does this mean you wouldn't ever consider doing a 'club' record?
Star Slinger: It just limited my creativity really. It became a bit of a chore. I began listening to a lots of experimental electronic artists, going to their shows, digging out the old soul stuff, and just breaking away from the chores of commercial dance music. I still think the music I make is dancey. It's just for more conscious people. I think music should be a release but it should be close to you at the same time. A lot of dance music makes you just forget things momentarily. I'm not into that weekend culture. I like going to shows on weekdays and having that same magic feeling because you love the artists so much. I have a 12" collaboration EP coming out on Mexican Summer from Brooklyn with a producer from Knoxville, TN who goes by the name of Teams. It's definitely going to be conscious club / afterparty music.
DD: What are the best and worst things about living in Manchester?
Star Slinger: The best thing is the diversity. I love different cultures getting on great! You don't get that in every city. The record shops in the northern quarter are just as diverse! DJ Shadow stops by when he's in town at beatin' rhythm. Its an infamous record shop specialising in Soul and Doo Wop 45's and a bunch of old doo wop. The Urbis art gallery has now been transformed into a National Football History Museum. I don't see the point really when Manchester is already incredibly proud of its football teams.
DD: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Star Slinger: New stuff: Javelin, Onra, Fol Chen, Small Black, Baths, Gold Panda, Pandit, Emay. Older stuff: Change, Lillo Thomas, Al Wilson, Loose Ends.
DD: What does Star Slinger enjoy doing in his spare time?
Star Slinger: I love to go to shows. I saw Jens Lekman play the other week for the first time. I've been a fan for years so that was brilliant. Also saw Beach House, Deerhunter, Toro Y Moi, Washed Out & Small Black in the last few months. I'm a sucker for house parties, art-house cinema (Swedish/French/Korean mainly) and great food (at the moment: Arabic/Japanese). I'm looking forward to travelling far, far away though very soon!
1. Small Black - Photojournalist (Star Slinger Remix)
2. Machinedrum - Freshkids
3. Matthewdavid - Truss
4. heRobust - Grief Case
5. Seams - Carnival
6. Rollerskaters - Sleep Tight (Star Slinger Remix)
7. Vanilla - Snowblind
8. Star Slinger - Morals
9. Mux Mool - Hog Knuckles (Alex B Remix)
10. Fol Chen - In Ruins (Baths Remix)
11. Teams - Airworks
12. Guerre & Top Girls - Waiting
13. How To Dress Well - Ecstasy With JoJo
14. Pandit - Scotch
15. Young Montana - Sacre? Cool
16. Teams vs. Star Slinger - Say Please