Take a listen to Star Slinger, aka Darren Williams, and you will immediately notice soul and hip hop influences. But don’t back Darren into a hip hop corner. Though J Dilla vibes come through on a lot his material, Darren’s dance hall remix of Toro Y Moi’s “New Beat,” proves that his tastes and sound are truly eclectic. Darren first came into mainstream consciousness in 2010 with his 11 track LP, Volume I, a testament to Darren’s record collection, knowledge of music, and skill as a producer. The heavily sampled LP spans all decades and genres from 80s hip hop to 90s soul. As the title of the LP Volume I suggests, it is only the beginning and Darren is paving a new an exciting path with the record of straight original material he’s currently working on. I had the opportunity to talk to Darren before his set at the Green Label Sound Showcase at SXSW and here’s what he had to say.
This is your first SXSW appearance – how are you liking it so far?
I played one show here in November and it was mental, really good fun. I played three encores or something like that so I’m really amped to be back in Austin. I’ve played a few shows already and they’ve been amazing and the people seem lovely.
Is there a particular city/venue you’ve played that’s stood out?
A lot man, I really love San Fran, New York, Miami. I’m back in Miami after this for WMC/Ultra actually. But also places like New Orleans, the dirty south, Atlanta. I love everywhere in the states cause it’s just so different from the UK. People here seem more amped on my music and my sound.
How would you say the music and music scene differ between the US and the UK?
I think the US is more ahead when it comes to pop music and that the US and UK are pretty on par with dance music, though the UK might be a little behind. We have a thing called UK bass music, a term created by journalists I’m sure. It’s because a lot of this UK garage sound has been resurfacing but not just in the UK. People like Jacques Greene from Montreal are Â playing it in their sets and Diplo is playing it a little in his sets as well. And there’s people like Pearson Sound in the UK who’s messing around with juke stuff.Â
Do you change up your set depending on the city you’re playing in?
I’ve started doing that. I’ve decided to scrap using MPDs so I’m actually just DJing now. I use decks and Serato which gives me the flexibility to play what I like. I’ll generally play 60% my stuff and 40% whatever I want.
What is that 40%?
It can be anything from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, LOL Boys, Flosstradamus who are also playing tonight, Diplo, Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team-just really exciting club music. Stuff that makes people want to dance rather than just standing around.
So how did you get your start? I’ve read that you’re a big record collector.
I would say I’m not so much a record collector as an acquirer. I don’t really look for specific things I just go out and buy what I feel like buying on the day. It used to be cause I sample quite a lot but now it’s more like if I’m inspired by a certain sound I’ll study it or I’ll just play it so I have something to listen to when I’m at home that isn’t just the newest release. I love buying records and it’s good to do it since a lot of shops are closing now.
What do you think of the rise in boutique record labels pressing limited quantities of 7″?
It’s got negatives and positive sides. I guess the negative, well it’s not so much a negative, is that it’s hard for the labels because they’re doing it a lot of the time for little or no profit. But it’s definitely cool to keep it alive.
What is your favorite record that you own?
I picked up Kenny “Dope” Presents the Bucketheads and the song’s called “The Bomb!” and it has an Armand Van Helden remix on there. It’s one of my favorite club tunes and I bought it just the other day. If I ever play a house party with just vinyl I want to start recollecting all that old house music.
You put out your first release, the Volume I LP, completely free. Is there a reason for that?
More than anything when I first started putting out music I didn’t think it would be that interesting to people. I wanted as many people as possible to listen to it and I thought that if I put it out for free I’d get more plays.
Right now you’re working on an album with more original material and moving away from sampling. Can you tell me more about the album, the direction you’re looking to go with it, and artists you are collaborating with?
I basically made a hit list of people I wanted to work with and some of them were really ambitious, like the Flaming Lips, but they’re already doing a lot of collaborations. I’m definitely working with people who inspire me rather than people who will just get me noticed, though the exception is probably Juicy J. It just so happens that he’s getting more popular now, which is great. Apart from that I’d say Buraka Som Sistema from Portugal, Teki Latex from France, and also Paris Grey from Inner City who did a song called “Good Life,” which was a huge club tune in the 80s. It was my goal to get someone classic on the record to really make a statement about the 90s and where I’m from cause I grew up in the 90s.
Lastly, what’s you’re guilty pleasure track or album?
Definitely the new Rihanna track “We Found Love.”