J-Slyde: He’s a DJ… not Spiderman

J-SlydeI was initially shocked to find out during my interviewing of J-Slyde that he was not Spiderman. Especially since he is basically my non biological brother. I thought I knew everything about the man, but as it is, is indeed how it happened, he is not Spiderman nor is he Elvis. I’ve watched both from the booth to the dancefloor, worked side by side for many years and then stepped out of the way as the musical progression of one “J-Slyde” has taken shape. Very much an avid punter, turned DJ, come promoter. J-Slyde’s astute musical assertion is coupled only with a desire to progress not only his career, but his sound, whatever it is. Having ascended the ranks of the Melboune “Monopoly” infused club scene, he has landed on community chest, come second price in a beauty contest, but never never ever landed himself in jail.  So from the confines of Melbourne’s Hard Kandy, to running Substance and now pavementing the Australian progressive movement from the decks, we catch up with J-Slyde and find out exactly what makes him tick, tock and bodyrock.

So let’s pretend I don’t know anything about you, tell me where”J-Slyde’s” sound has evolved from? What genres has the good ship J-Slyde sailed through?

It’s definitely been a natural progression. I’d always been a heavy listener of all things electronic – from back in my early teenage years when I used to frequent underage dance parties, through to moving on to overage clubbing and going on my Trance-honeymoon to all the usual festivals and weekly club nights… *cough*hardkandy*cough*. Being introduced to breaks was a big turning point in terms of deciding I wanted to actually become a DJ. Trance and all of it’s sub genre’s were beginning to sound really bland and around 2003 I got swept up in the breaks boom that Melbourne was experiencing. Seeing locals like Nubreed, Phil K, Jono Fernandez and Sean Quinn (to name a few) really inspired me. It wasn’t long after that I begun to build up my record collection, shortly thereafter, decks were purchased.

Since those early days I’ve played around with a lot of different genres. When you’re starting out, it’s really hard to push your own sound, so a lot of my earlier gigs were spent adjusting to whatever sound was big, playing things like commercial house and electro-house. I think those gigs really taught me a lot about being a DJ – not just playing the music you want to hear, rather performing for a crowd and adjusting your sound to suit them… playing for them, not at them. With my taste in music being so broad, I was never really interested in pigeonholing myself with the one genre – when I was at home, I just played whatever got my ear. Prog, house, breaks and DnB played big parts in those early bedroom-raves I used to have.

What is your sound all about at the moment?

It’s still pretty broad! I feel there’s quality in almost all electronic genres, and love being given the chance to play a variety of different genres. But if I had to pick one main sound, lately I’ve been all about progressive house and techno, or as some are starting to categorize the type of stuff we’ve been pushing at Prognosis as, “melodic techno”. Genre’s are getting harder and harder to classify nowadays, and I try to play unique sounding stuff that draws on a lot of different elements.

What attracts you to this genre?

Production value, creativity, uniqueness, groove, emotion. The stuff that’s coming out at the moment is absolutely mind blowing. It really strikes a cord with me! Sure there’s a big saturation, but I think that’s apparent in all genre’s, and definitely a sign of the times. Any nub can download a cracked copy of fruity loops and make a tune – its the producers that put that extra effort forth to offer up something unique and different that interests me. It’s the tunes that bridge the gap between a variety of genre’s, stuff that i feel has longevity – not just music that follows a defined set of rules that safely slips into the one category. Genre bending shit, yo!

Who are your influences? If I was to get you three “Gig wishes” who would you choose to support?

I try to draw influences from everything I listen to, not just EDM. I’m a big hip-hop and beats head, along with ambient and chilled-out stuff, trip-hop and the like. I definitely find that broadening what I listen to helps breathe new life into the way i approach my DJing. Even though I might not play those genre’s they still spark ideas and help inspire me to try different things.

As far as “gig wishes” go…. Sasha, Hybrid and James Zabiela, would be the three! Simon Murphy and I had the opportunity to support Hybrid late last year, which was a dream come true. We also came close to supporting James Z when he was down earlier this year, but doors closed early and our set was cancelled. So yeh, let’s hope we get booked again when he comes back! Sasha – not much needs to be said on this one. I’d be so bloody nervous, im not sure id be in any fit state to play! haha

Is it true you are actually Spiderman?

Ssssssshhhhhhhh. I wear a mask for a reason! 😉

Let’s talk all things Prognosis and Substance. From a promoters/ Event organizers point of view what is the current state of Melbourne’s EDM?

That’s a hard one! As you well know, we’ve worked pretty hard on getting Substance to where it is now, let alone building up Prognosis. I definitely think running events is a hard area to break into – the Melbourne crowd can be quite fickle at times and very loyal towards certain brands, and night clubs. It’s great to see a lot of smaller type krews breaking onto the scene – specializing in boutique nights dedicated to specific sounds. There’s definitely a market for these type of smaller events – less risk for the promoters, and a good opportunity for newer DJ’s to break onto the scene and play music they feel passionate about.

Aside from that, in regards to larger events, I think it’s fantastic to see larger promoters collaborating with smaller krews doing side-room features and what not. I think this needs to happen more often, especially when the scene is so heavily dominated by “McFestivals”.

We’re seriously spoilt for choice at the moment. Honestly, I find it hard to keep track of it all. You can happily go out every weekend to a new event or club night and saturate yourself in whatever genre tickles your fancy. And as much as people complain about there being too much on, I think it can work in a positive way – there’s more competition, and as a result, more of a push for promoters to stand out from the crowd and offer up unique events. Promoters cant really just “get by” anymore – you need to smash shit up and blow people’s expectations out the window!

What are problems that you foresee in the current climate?

The current influx of celebrity DJs! What the faaark is up with that? Guys like us spend years and years behind the decks honing our craft, yet we’re seeing celebrities jumping up on the decks thinking that all it takes is a gem studded USB stick and the latest pair of Pioneer headphones? Granted, there might be a few that do have skills, but I think its clear that the majority need to learn to leave it to the professionals!

Honestly though, I don’t like concentrating on the negatives of the scene. It can really start make you jaded. Sure there’s always going to be negatives, that happens with everything in life, but instead of harping on about them and complaining, I prefer to just step to the side and do my own thing.

J-Slyde @ Prognosis

We hear you are quite an avid fan of Paris Hilton taking to the turntables, is it true you’ve booked her for December Prognosis?

Yeh mate. 3 minute b2b set with Pauly from Jersey Shore. Get ya glow stix and Ed Hardy get-ups ready!

I think one of the best things you have going with Prognosis is that it’s free. Do you think this makes it a bigger draw card than your guests or has the scene contracted so much you need this to maintain a loyal following.

Having it as a free event definitely helps BUT, I wouldn’t say its our main draw-card. I think our lineups and the music we play are what sets us apart – along with being at such an awesome venue… Loop is a very cool space! And, can’t forget the mind-bending visuals that vdmo Kstati and VJ Pied Piper provide for us. I think all of these factors go into making Prognosis what it is – they all contribute in their own way to make our vision come alive, if you dropped one of them out of the equation, I think it’d fall to pieces.

On the music side of things, we’re pretty pedantic with who we book and the way we structure the nights. It’s not just a free-for-all event where each DJ plays whatever they feel – we’re pretty strict with how we like to have the nights progress, and definitely strive to have a nice progression (lolpun) throughout.

I think I’m pretty bloody lucky to work with such an awesome krew, too! I definitely owe a lot to my partner in crime, Simon, who’s played a huge part of making the night as successful as it is. Add in our third wheel, Static, and you’ve got one sturdy residential team of beat-machines!

Do you think the economic restraint on people is going to impact on crowd numbers on big ticketed venues?

Honestly, i don’t think it will. If anything, I think over saturation of festivals will have a larger impact. As I’ve already mentioned, there’s just so much going on at the moment – and people can’t really afford to be going to three different $150+ events in a month. Sure it still ties in with the economy, but I think it would still be apparent with or without the restraint.

What is your whole feeling regarding the recent influx of psy events hitting the city. It seems that its the new Beiberin the Melbourne EDM?

Definitely not a bad thing! I’ve been scoring a few side-room gigs at some psy events lately and can safely say that their crowds sure know how to party! They’re also really open-minded with the music they listen to, so it’s great to be able to broaden some musical horizons.

Gig situation. You’re about to play to a massive crowd at a big venue. The mixer is down, but there is power, you can see the levels, the cdj is spinning. You have a photo of Steven Segal and Scott Alert, a musical triangle and a copy of “Whats crack got to do with it, The Whitney Houston story.” How are you going to get yourself out of this one?

I’d wear each photo as a mask, one on either side of my head, then bust out with the triangle like a boss, whilst reciting from Houston’s story. It’d go down well. DVD release would follow shortly thereafter, with a sold-out world-wide tour. Id call it “Triangle out with ya Houston out”.

More on J-Slyde:

Interview by Taran M

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