Australian-born, Canadian-based DJ and producer Slynk embarks on his once-a-year pilgrimage back to Australia, this time destined for the EDM oasis that is Elements Festival.
Hailing from sunny Brisbane and now living in nowhere-near-as-sunny Vancouver, Slynk aka Evan Chandler is a proud purveyor of deeply funky beats that have kept booties shaking on the dancefloor for well over a decade.
Elements Festival is the only place you'll see Slynk spinning his finely-honed craft, and right here is the only place where you'll get his thoughts on everything from Ableton and his early days in Brisbane, to how hard he'll kick your butt on 'Tetris 99'.
Can you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what you do as Slynk?
I'm a DJ and music producer with about 15 years of professional experience. I've played my funky beats in 20 different countries so far in my career.
I have a YouTube channel where I teach people how to produce music in Ableton and a lot of those videos have been featured on the official Ableton website.
What's been keeping you busy so far in 2019?
I actually did my taxes on time this year, which is a big achievement for me haha! So as a reward to myself, I bought a Nintendo Switch LOL!
It was a risky purchase because I try not to waste too much time playing video games, but it's nice after a long day in the studio to just chill on the couch and play a couple of games.
I got all these expensive games like 'Zelda Breath Of The Wild' and 'Mario Odyssey'. But I can't stop playing 'Tetris 99'. It's so addictive! And I'm am f...ing awesome at that game. Come at me bro. I'll destroy you at 'Tetris 99'.
You dropped your new album 'Alone Time' earlier this year via your YouTube channel; why release it as a free download?
I was commissioned by YouTube/ Google to write ten tracks for the official YouTube Music Library.
I figured I might as well approach it like I was writing an album. I had to bust ass to get that album finished before the deadline. I only had 2.5 months to write, mix and master the entire thing. That's one song per week. It was nuts.
It's cool though because creators can use any music from that album in their YouTube videos without worrying about copyright strikes and such. But even if you're not a YouTube creator, you can download the music from the YouTube Music Library for free. Everybody wins. I got paid for writing the album and the fans get it for free.
You cut your teeth as a DJ in your home town of Brisbane in the mid 2000s; what are some of your favourite memories from that time?
I remember the first time I DJd at Rumpus Room. If you've never been to Rumpus Room, they have this huge shelf built into the wall next to the DJ booth filled with old, crappy records. Mostly for the aesthetics.
I was booked for a six-hour set. I was young, inexperienced and eager to please. I get there early and set-up my gear. The owner of the club tells me that one of the rules of DJing at Rumpus Room was that I had to play one record from the wall every hour. I'm like 'sh.ttt ok'.
I immediately pull a handful of records from the wall and start previewing some of the records in between my regular tracks. It's all garbage! But I do my best to mix a few of those records in. The owner comes by a couple hours later and is like 'I was just f...ing with you dude.. LOL'. THANKS ALOT FOR THAT NATHAN. Apparently he does this to every new DJ haha!
Another time at Rumpus Room, I remember it was a particularly busy and fun night. I was going back-to-back all night with Butterz and he had a few too many drinks and played a few songs too many past closing time. Nathan grabbed a huge jug of ice water and poured it over his head. It was so hilarious!
There were a lot of fun times at X&Y Bar too when that place was still cool. I remember they had a Halloween dress-up party there and me and Butterz had a dance battle. I was dressed up as DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba and Butterz was dressed up as a literal worm.
I did some awful wannabe uprock b-boy moves. Butterz flops on to the ground face first and starts squirming his way across the dancefloor, lifting his butt in the air and grinding his face across the floor, arms by his side. Everyone died laughing and he won the dance battle, obviously.
What was the hardest lesson you learnt when you first started DJing live?
In my very early days, I was DJing at this underground cafe in Brisbane called The Verve Cafe. I remember playing my set, everything was peachy. Then out of nowhere, my laptop just powered down. The music stops. Everyone looks at me. F...! I power the laptop back up and get started DJing again; 20 minutes later, my laptop powers itself down again.
The owner comes over and tells me he's going to put the iPod on and says I should just go home. I was so frustrated. I went out the back and kicked some chair so hard I broke my toe. Turns out the laptop fan was so filled with dust that it stopped working and my laptop was overheating. I got it replaced and never had that problem again.
The lesson here is to take care of your gear. Make sure you buy quality gear and spend the time to do the maintenance.
I learned another great lesson at my first real gig. It was at Moonbar. This was not some little cafe. This was a cool club in the middle of the clubbing district. International DJs played here and stuff. It was the real deal. I was pretty nervous. I had the opening time slot. We set-up the gear and it's five minutes till we opened the club.
I go to plug my headphones into the mixer and the entire headphone plug falls into the mixer. Ohhhh sh.tttt. How am I gunna mix vinyl without headphones?! Paul, one of the promoters, immediately pulls some screwdriver set out and we start pulling the faceplate off the mixer and retrieve the headphone plug from the depths of the mixer in time to start the set.
The lesson here is to be ready for everything. Expect the unexpected. The show must go on!
How are you feeling about getting back to Australia for Elements Festival?
The first festival I ever played was Shambhala in Canada and my music was always more popular over here in Canada and North America, which is why I decided to move here six years ago.
But over the last couple of years, I've been getting more and more festival bookings back home and I'm really grateful that people are starting to get into my music. I'm proud to be an Australian and I want Australia to be proud of me too.
Elements Festival is gunna be great. I'm soooo excited to show you guys how we do it up here in the Canadian west coast.
Why should crowds make time to catch your set at Elements?
Well, I only come to Australia once a year because the rest of the year I'm booked out all around Canada and the US. So if you miss my set, you'll have to wait till next year to get the chance to see me live. Also, I usually bring some funky stickers with me and give them out to the people in the front row.
What have you missed most about Australia since you've been living in Canada?
My family and friends. But more importantly, THE FOOD. Sometimes I just want Oportos or some chicken crimpies. The fruit and vege in Australia is so fresh and cheap.
Do you know how much a big, juicy mango costs in Canada? I've seen them going for $9 EACH. In summer you can get like 3 for 6 bucks in Australia. Ohhhh man I miss my mangos. You guys don't know how good you've got it.
I don't miss the Australian internet though. It's slow as f... and it sucks. The NBN was such a good plan, but you had to go and f... it up didn't you. Stupid white-collar assholes in parliament with no f...ing clue man.
You're very active on your YouTube channel; how has social media changed the way you interact with audiences?
I take a very transparent approach to social media. I want to be available and approachable, especially when it comes to music production. I had to kinda teach myself through trial and error with music production, so I wanted to try and help the new generation of music producers get good fast.
I got no problem sharing all my secret tips and tricks in Ableton, because if I can help new producers write great music that means more awesome music in the world for me to listen to. I actually have a discord server for people interested in music production. Come and hang out. Ask me production questions and chat with your fellow beginner/ intermediate producers. There's a link on my website.
What are some of your other interests and aspirations outside of music?
I've been rock climbing off and on for around eight years or so. Exercise is important and it's more social and fun than mindlessly lifting sh.t in a gym.
I also love how rock climbing is equally a brain problem AND a physical problem. A lot of the time you see these big-muscle dudes in the rock climbing gym struggling on the easy climbs because technique and calculated efficiency is worth more in rock climbing than raw, brute strength.
Outdoor climbing is great too. Gets you out in nature to soak up the rays and smell the flowers. The rock climbing community has some of the nicest, supportive, wholesome, accepting people of all time.
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Went climbing with the homies today. Feeling pretty good about doing my second ever lead climb! It was on a 5.10c (left pic). Both the homies tried it but I was the only one who sent it all the way to the top. ? We all sent our respective climbs and it was a good day all round.
I'm also sorta into woodworking, but unfortunately I don't have any space in my apartment for a workshop. I built the desk in my studio and a few other bits and pieces. It's mostly a speculative interest at this point. I love watching woodworking YouTube videos and dreaming of having my own workshop someday
I follow the GSL, which is a professional Starcraft 2 league in Korea. For me, it's like watching rugby or hockey but on a whole different level of nerd haha.
The piece of equipment in your studio you just can't live without?
My Subpac. It's by far the MVP in my studio. I could spend stupid amounts of money buying a new set of monitors and throw up more sound treatment to manage the bass in my studio. But I don't need to, because I've got the low-end shortcomings of my old Fostex PM2 MKii's covered by my Subpac. And the bass is going directly into my back. No need for thick panels on the wall.
The most obscure piece of equipment in your studio?
Probably my talkbox. If you don't know what a talkbox is, it's basically a guitar pedal looking thing. But inside it's essentially just a little speaker. It takes an audio input and plays that input through the speaker inside.
You attach a tube to the top of the unit, which allows the sound waves to travel through the tube and into my mouth. Then I can modulate and manipulate the sound by moving the shape of my mouth. If this is going over your head, all you need to know is that it makes me sound like a robot singing Daft Punk, Peter Frampton style.
There's a pretty steep learning curve with it because you need to play the keyboard and "sing" or move annunciate your lyrics simultaneously. You can see some examples of this on my YouTube channel.