Name: Star Slinger
Progress Report: A remix wizard enters the realm of solo work on his new single and forthcoming LP.
Star Slinger (aka Darren Williams, a Manchester-based DJ , producer, and remix auteur) is best known here in the states for giving a dreamy, otherworldly remix polish to the likes of Deerhunter, Washed Out, Alex Winston, and Toro Y Moi. This week Williams will not only make his first foray into the world as a solo artist (his debut single, “Dumbin’” will be available as a free download Wednesday via Green Label Sound), but he will make his first trip across the pond to play shows all around North America. I called him up to find out how it feels to go from remixer to remixed … or how it feels to move from one side of the turntable to the other … or … whatever, I called him. And he was nice.
STEREOGUM: How did you get started as a remixer and a producer?
WILLIAMS: Well, I put out a tape, Volume 1, which was really just me chopping up old songs. It took a while before I really started remixing and chopping up current stuff. The first one that really got a lot of attention was a Deerhunter remix. It was very unofficial. I didn’t have stems to work with or anything, I just chopped it up. After that Broken Social Scene got in touch with me for a remix, which was the first official thing I did. After it became more official, I would cut up the tracks a little less since for the first time I actually had more parts to work with. Eventually I became a little more pro with the whole thing.
STEREOGUM: At that time were you DJing a lot? How were you supporting yourself?
WILLIAMS: I was actually between jobs at the time. Spending money that I didn’t have on records. I was working at a cinema/gallery for a while. Thankfully I got spotted by Mark at Wichita, the same guy who manages Gold Panda. He really liked the stuff he’d heard online and he helped me get a booking agent and stuff. After a few times of hanging out with him, he eventually just kind of naturally became my manager. It’s really nice the way it happened.
STEREOGUM: It’s a much different thing making something from scratch as opposed to making something from someone else’s material. How do you tend to work?
WILLIAMS: With remixes, say my remix for Gold Panda, a lot of it really is my original production with just bits of their work added to it. With my new single, it’s all my production — no samples — and Reggie B singing over it. It will be interesting to see how it’s received. It does feel very different when it’s your own music and you’re not just messing about with someone else’s.
STEREOGUM: How did you get hooked up with Reggie B?
WILLIAMS: He had done a track that I really liked that I’d often play out when I was DJing. It always got a really nice response. So, I hit him up with a beat that I’d made that was really poppy, which is unusual for him. It wasn’t the same kind of straight up soul as his usual stuff. So, he sang on it and it turned out to be really poppy. I am really happy with it.
STEREOGUM: He’s in Kansas, right?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, he lives in Kansas. He’s put out a few records of his own on his own label. People that are really into stuff like DâM-FunK and really disjointed, experimental R&B are typically into him.
STEREOGUM: The single comes out 9/28 via Green Label Sound. Are you in the process of making a full-length?
WILLIAMS: Totally. I’ve been working on a full-length for a while now and collaborating with a bunch of different people. I’m trying to get into the studio with people, but it’s hard considering my schedule. While I’m in the states I’m gonna try and get a little time with a singer called Miguel in LA. I hope there will be a little progress made even though I’ll be on the road.
STEREOGUM: You’ve done really interesting remix work for artists in a variety of different genres. Is that something you’d like to see reflected in your own full-length record, a wild variety of styles?
WILLIAMS: Kind of. I don’t think my album will be as indie-influenced as my remix work typically has been. After I did that Deerhunter track it really sparked a lot of interest from a lot of indie labels that wanted to get me involved. I’m kind of an opportunist, to be honest, I’ll jump at the chance to do anything if it seems interesting and I don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony. I’ll remix anything. As for my own work, I basically just want to make party music.
STEREOGUM: You have a really ambitious tour schedule kicking off next week. Will this be your first time playing in the states?
WILLIAMS: This is my first time traveling to the US. It’s a bit of a nasty schedule, unfortunately, but it’s very exciting. I’m afraid I won’t get to see much outside of the clubs, but I’m really looking forward to it.
STEREOGUM: Do you have a full slate of remix work right now as well?
WILLIAMS: I have a few remixes coming up that I need to finish, plus there are a couple of Star Slinger remixes coming soon — people remixing me — that I’m excited about. There are two people, both of them idols of mine, doing remixes of “Dumbin’,” so there’s that to look forward to. Other than that, I’ll be trying to finish my album and tour a lot.
STEREOGUM: How does it feel to have someone remix your work? Does it feel odd to be on the other side of that equation?
WILLIAMS: Lots of people approached me to remix my remixes, which seems kind of pointless. Why would you want to remix something that is already made up of samples of something else? I would almost always say no to stuff like that. As far as my own music goes, I don’t mind seeing it remixed by someone else. As long as it’s done well, you know?
“Dumbin’ (Featuring Reggie B)” will be available for free download beginning 9/28 exclusively at Green Label Sound.