With nothing more than a secondhand mixing kit and an eclectic array of records, Slager Da DJ impressively burst onto the South African DJ scene back in 2015. Since then, His become well-renowned for his creative ingenuity and original grooves. A slew of hot tracks and unconventional performances has elevated him to a level few DJs ever reach, as he has been recently signed by an international record company known as Bentley Records. He started playing music professionally back in 2015 and quickly earned a name for himself in the South African DJ scene. Interested in music at a young age and influenced by genres including house, electronic-pop, electro and hip hop, he has developed a unique style by experimenting with a musical landscape of innovative mixing methods. Slager Da DJ is a 21 year old producer/DJ/rapper/vocalist engineer from South Africa who has created his own music genre called Ager Music.
- When and how did you get started producing music and do you have any formal training?
Slager Da DJ: I started producing music round about 2015 professionally, but I have been producing music for almost 9 years now. I started of my career of music production with a couple of childhood friends that I was once close with. We used my fathers old Dell laptop to produce our first couple of tracks, the sound quality was absolutely terrible and the lyrics really needed some work, but the talent and love was there, so we kept working until there came a point where I had to quit music for a time being so I can focus on my studies and it was just because my mother told me to do so not because I decided that upon myself to make that decision. A couple of months went by and I went back to making music mind you at that time I was only making music for myself and friends to listen to and I’ve never had any formal training for producing music, it’s always been pure talent. I gained inspiration to produce music from people like Tupac, Nas and Biggie as they made music a platform for them to voice out their opinions about world problems and life struggles at the same time connecting people from different backgrounds. So that’s what I can say made me start producing music so that I can have a voice in this voiceless society especially among the youth and to be able to connect people from all around the world in a world full of division.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and producer, and the transition towards your own style?
Slager Da DJ: Any artist and producer will tell you that the learning phase is the most hardest times in an artist’s life as that’s the time where we have to deal with the most harsh feedback from family members and people from your neighborhood say stuff like “your music is trash, don’t waste your future on this crap” down to remarks like “you should quit making music” it’s even harder when your parents don’t support your talent as most parents always want their children to gravitate towards the so called “professional” professions like them. I can say that the development phase is hard but enlightening because you get to see the people that truly support you, your ride or dies and the people that love your craft. For me it was highly enlightening because I learned that you don’t have to create music that everyone will like but if I liked it and a couple of people liked it then that’s who I’m making that music for, those people around the world who have the same taste as me. So far as emulating other artists It’s something that I’ve never done and liked as I’m more of a pioneer type of person, I like to be unique and authentic in everything I do, that’s why I also don’t like to follow trends, I’d rather set them.
- Could you tell us more about you Ager Music genre?
Slager Da DJ: Ager Music is a new genre of music that is solely created and produced by me at the moment, it is comprised of different musical instruments/elements of different genres of music to create one song/track. For example to create a Hip-hop beat I would use Hip-hop instruments/elements and mix them up with electronic music elements, Chillwave and some Egyptian instruments like the Darbouka down to the Afghanistan sand Rabab.
- What do you feel are the key elements of satisfaction people should be getting out of your music?
Slager Da DJ: The most prominent elements are connecting with one another by means of relating to my music whether it be through emotions or being in the type of situation that I’ve been in or that I’m talking about in my music or by feeling the type of emotion that I felt when creating the track as I also make instrumental music. Another key element is knowledge as I urge my listeners to be conscious and I talk about some things that some governments wouldn’t agree with, the type of things that will create conflict for me one day.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of artists and producers emerging from all corners of the globe right now?
Slager Da DJ: Well I’m not only an artist and producer but I’m also a rebel, political activist, a philanthropist and a humanitarian so I try to combine these traits that I have into my music so that one day we can be on the verge of changing the world, we may lie to ourselves and say that the world is fine as it is. But deep down we know that it has to change it’s been long due! We cannot be living so animalistically and still be worthy of calling ourselves human. So what differentiates me and other artists around the world is that I’m all about change, innovation, betterment of social welfare and love.
- What is your process when composing a song or beat? Where do start, and what comes into your head first – the tune, the narrative or the rhythm?
Slager Da DJ: What comes first when I create my music is the narrative side as the narrative side is the most important to me, yeah rhythm is important just as how the tune is important but the narrative side is most important of all as conveying a message to the people through music is not only one of the purposes of music but it’s also the only way to try and let the world understand your life sufferings and also your opinions and solutions about world problems.
- How strict are you with genres? Are you comfortable working with most genres and styles and outside of Ager Music, what is your preferred style?
Slager Da DJ: I’m not strict at all as I also produce genres ranging from Chillwave, Electronic House, Deephouse, EDM, Bass House, Techno, Rap, Hip-hop, Trap and Ager. So I’m open to doing and creating more different types of music as I love almost all music ever created down to the weirdest music ever created so I try to work with different styles of music as finding a specific style to stick to is something that I’d have a hard time doing because of the variety of music that I create and listen to.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your music?
Slager Da DJ: For me it’s nothing besides talent and knowledge, I showcase my talent through my beats, tunes and rhythm and I bestow my knowledge on my listeners through my lyrics as consciousness for me is the key to break free from mental slavery.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Slager Da DJ: I’ve been through a lot of difficult and harsh times in my life so it’s hard to the point out or I can never point out or compare the level of difficulty between my struggles. So instead of telling you the most difficult time that I had to endure in my life I’d rather say that I don’t wish it upon any child or person to go through the kind of harsh times that I’ve endured as most people would’ve chose to tap out through suicide then to endure the pain I’ve been through.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Slager Da DJ: The most significant point of my career I must say that I’m currently at it because this year opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me to elevate my career. I’ve currently been listed on multiple Spotify playlists, I’ve been featured on music charts next to famous artists, I’ve been featured on two articles this year if I include this one and I’ve reached 2.8k monthly listeners on Spotify which is a very hard thing to do if you ask me or any other artist who gain their supporters through organic means and this year would’ve been my first time on an international tour and performing for an international audience so I would say that I’m currently on my most significant point of my career.
- What were some of the main challenges, difficulties or goals when starting out as a producer and how have they changed over time?
Slager Da DJ: The main challenges that I had to face when starting out was rejection and not having any equipment to use to create music. When I started out rejection was like a friend of mine that I was pretty close with, but as much as I faced rejection I never grew up to fear it but instead I embraced it because the moment you fear rejection that’s the moment where it controls you and limits you from pointing out the areas that you need to develop or work on and you won’t spiral down to being depressed and having a low self-esteem just because of being rejected. Another difficulty that I had to face was the lack of studio equipment like I’ve always seen and heard people saying that “I cannot pursue my dreams because I don’t have equipment, I can’t make music because I don’t have this” meanwhile I made quality music using a phone and a laptop. I used my laptop to make music up until it became slow and glitchy so from there on I used my phone to create music, to some people it might seem as if I’m lying but I can create a quality song using GarageBand on my iPhone and using my earphones as a replacement for a mic and a Bluetooth speaker as a replacement of a monitor so I’ve never made any excuses to not do something but I’ve always used what I have to create music and till this very day I still use one of the most basic music production equipment you can find.
- What was your first hardware/software set-up as a producer like? Has your setup evolved since then, and what for you is the most important piece of gear in your production process right now?
Slager Da DJ: My first hardware set up is still the same one that I use today which is some basic studio monitors accompanied by a standard mic, sound filter and sound card and that is all connected to my laptop and sometimes my tablet. My most important equipment is my laptop, tablet and phone, you can take away anything from me but not those three things because without those devices I can never create music.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and producer excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Slager Da DJ: The part that excites me the most about being an independent artist is that you get to create music freely without restrictions and you can release it at any time you want to release it but the part that discourages me is the lack of marketing and promotion resources as solid strategies to market your music are hard to come by and are quite expensive, for me marketing is the deal breaker because I believe that you can make a hit album, EP or single but without proper marketing those songs are actually worthless because you have put in so much effort into making these records just to be heard by your neighbors and friends.
- How would you rate the South African Independent music scene right now?
Slager Da DJ: It’s extremely hard and vicious, because people from South Africa are extremely picky and judgmental when it comes to the music that they listen to and it’s especially hard for artists like me who are considered as conscious artists or rappers because the youth of South Africa are prominently influenced and stuck up on senseless and misguiding music.
- How did you link up to the Bentley Records label from all the way down south?
Slager Da DJ: I Linked up with them through an email as that’s what I used to send my demo to them, but I didn’t just link up with them that easily I had to go through about 45 record labels which meant that I was rejected about 45 times before I found Bentley Records, that’s why I also value and cherish the Bentley Records Family because they gave me a bone to eat when my plate had nothing on it and for the them to believe in me and see the potential of what I can become and achieve is something that I’ll eternal be grateful for as that level of support and kindness is rarely seen in the industry. So shout to the family for giving me an opportunity to elevate my career and for believing in me.
- We hear you’ve got a Spanish tour lined up after Covid-19 calms down. How did that come about and where will you be playing?
Slager Da DJ: My Spanish Tour came about when I was looking for international gigs online, because at that time I had no manager so I was my own manager and I had to set it up by contacting a couple of clubs in Span Ibiza that I convinced to let me play for a less price then what I usually charge for bookings and gigs, most clubs rejected me but the ones that accepted me are the ones that I made sure to give even a much greater discount because to me the money came last when it came to this gig because exposure was the prominent element of this tour. But all this was not as easy as it may sound it’s truly hard especially without networks or connections.
- Could you tell us something about your latest release?
Slager Da DJ: My latest release is Route 50 which is actually my debut EP at Bentley Records. Route 50 is known as one of the loneliest roads or let me at least say it’s been rated number one, of the most loneliest roads in the world. So I actually came up with that title for the EP because I was personally on a lonely road so every track on that EP was actually created to numb the pain of loneliness if not to eradicate it entirely!
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of your artistry and entertainment?
Slager Da DJ: To me Music is more than my expression of my artistry because I grew up listening to music that was made for political reasons. So I also try to include my political thoughts in my music because we can’t as artists be only proud of our art and not mind the sufferings of our supporters yet these supporters are our bread and butter so I believe that we should not only include their sufferings in our records but also act upon them because there are a lot of artists worldwide who have made a lot of money but instead of helping some people in need they’d rather flex on them. We as artists need to seriously start becoming the solution of world problems instead of causing them.
- If you could choose to work with any current international artist today, who would that be, and why?
Slager Da DJ: It will always be Tupac and Nas because I can say that we stand for the same cause or we make quite similar music, to me the message that a song conveys is absolutely important and especially if you can relate to it so I’ve always or mostly related to the records that they made and I love the fact that their records are not about showcasing their talents but it’s about the people and the world and for me nothing gets better than that, because I believe that the sooner we restore humanity unto people for the better will the world change.
- Do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in 2020?
Slager Da DJ: I’ve only got two goals for 2020 it’s to work with one well known artist in the game and to get more exposure whether be it interviews like these Airplay’s, newspaper articles or radio interviews as exposure is something that I’ve been taking it easy on lately so I want to work on my exposure so I can reach new supporters and influence new minds to do more for others and achieve more in their lives, I can say that these goals are just about it for this year.