D.A.M.B. talks production, birthday songs and ‘That Tessa Track’ EP

D.A.M.B
Written by Sean Little //

D.A.M.B., aka Shaun Slaughter and aka Leron Hubbard, is a producer from Sacramento, Calif., who I had the privilege to perform with recently. His style brings heat to the party, and his production is pushing a lot of boundaries with interesting samples and deep bass.

He’s signed to Tracey Recordings, Le Heat and No Brainer and can be found blowing up parties with Lights Down Low, Heater House of Bass every second Friday at Townhouse and Whip on every fourth Friday at Townhouse.

Showbams sat down with Slaughter to learn a bit more about him as a DJ/producer and how he’s evolved as both. We also spoke a bit about his brand-new That Tessa Track EP.


Showbams: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. You both DJ and produce tracks, what came first? How did you get into each?

Slaughter: DJing came first. I started in ’98, mostly house music and from there I started making unsolicited edits, extended players, remixes in 2005 and eventually my old DJ partner bought me a decent midi controller and basically said “Dude, GO MAKE YOUR OWN SHIT!” From there I started making tracks and sending them to pals to criticize and give feedback ‘til I got it right. I sent my second attempt “Waiting” to my pal Larry Tee and he was WAY stoked on it, and he talked to Alexander Technique at DANR Records and got it signed. Sinden featured it on some Mag Mix CD and shit started rolling. Definitely was validation enough to keep at it.

Showbams: Being both a DJ and a producer, how do you feel that each affects the other? Do you produce songs with the crowd in mind hoping for a specific reaction, or do you use DJ sets as inspiration to go back and produce a track that you feel captures the vibe of the crowds you’re used to playing for?

Slaughter: I have a really weird process of writing music. I never come into a project with too much in mind. I usually just start building drums and find some random samples to use, and then I see where it goes. It’s kind of awesome creatively because it’s SO random, but incredibly hard when trying to build your sound and signature as a producer. I’d imagine my tracks are a pretty great example of how my brain works, hahaha, but yeah, I mean, I DJ house nights, and I will probably keep the D.A.M.B. stuff in that general arena.

D.A.M.B

Showbams: How did you get started in the DJ/production world, and what’s it been like to grow as an artist and producer at a time when it seems that so much is happening so quickly (personal production pace, other producers emerging, new genres popping up) in the scene?

Slaughter: I lived with a girl for a bit who was a trance DJ and had turntables at her place. I’d wake up and fuck around with them when she left for work, which is how the ball started rolling. Eventually I got the bug to throw parties AND DJ them….mostly all the French touch stuff that was really blowing up late 90s. Fast forward a few years and here we are today.

It’s been a pretty rad experience so far. I’m incredibly impatient, so honestly, things don’t really feel like they’re moving fast. The whole process of writing, mastering, label shit etc. has taught me patience for sure. In terms of how the production etc. is evolving as a whole, I guess it’s pretty amazing that any young producer with a laptop can sit down and hash out a track in the matter of hours without a huge, elaborate studio. In regards to new genres, most of that shit is kind of annoying honestly. So many kids are flipping styles SO much. Moombahton one day, trap the next day, deep house, then tech house then etc. etc. etc. I guess it all just seems so fleeting so I try and ignore it.

D.A.M.B.

Showbams: You just dropped That Tessa Track EP, and I really dig a lot of the songs and sounds (even sneakers squeaking on a basketball court in March Madness) you used. It’s minimal, but has a unique style to it that I can definitely see blowing it up during a live mix. What track from it means the most to you, and which do you see getting the biggest/best response from crowds?

Slaughter: I definitely like March Madness the best. The samples worked out really well together. That Tessa Track came from a jokey booty-bass song I made for my pal Tessa’s birthday, but I ended up liking the drums so much I filled it out and shopped it around. The original song had a really embarrassing sample of me saying, “Tessa, its yer birthday” over and over on it. The track that does the best out for me is “Train Hopping”. It’s just a solid builder and sort of a gimmicky break (sounds like the soundtrack to Abyss) people seem to lose it the most to that one.

Showbams: When creating That Tessa Track EP what other producers or genres did you look to for inspiration? What was the creative process like for this EP?

Slaughter: Dirty Bird. They are like fucking scientists of bass. I do not get it! My creative process is as follows: Pot, Soda, Wasabi Party Mix, Repeat.

Showbams: What are you most excited about right now in dance music, whether it’s producers, genres or emerging scenes?

I really like the Dirty Bird stuff house-wise, but for me right now, Zombie Nation is genius production wise, like mind-blowing jams off his new record.

Showbams: What are your top five tracks right now?

Zombie Nation: “Level”
Ejeca: “Riddim”
Amtrac: “Metro”
Super Flu & Andhim: “Scuzzlebutt”
Dabin: “Awakening (Kwikfiks Remix)”

Showbams: What’s up next for D.A.M.B., both on the performance and production fronts?

Slaughter: I have the Alicia EP out on Tracey Recording in March and a new EP from my other project, Leron Hubbard, on Teenage Riot on February 12th. Performance-wise, I’m working on doing a really elaborate visual show to go with my set at a club here in Sacramento. Something more like an art installation and something more engrossing than watching me press play on CDJS

Check out D.A.M.B.’s new Tessa Track Promo Mix and his That Tessa Track EP preview here. You can also check out his Facebook for updates and show schedules.

Lights Down Low Presents Julio Bashmore, Richie Panic and Sleazemore & Matrixxman

Bashmore near the end of his set.

Bashmore near the end of his set.

Lights down Low brought the heat on a freezing night to Cell Space in the Mission, SF with Julio Bashmore, Richie Panic & Sleazemore, Matrixxman, & A-Plus.

The party kicked off at 10 with A-Plus playing the massive space covered with tons of posters that the LDL crew set up, bringing a solid 90s rave feel to the night. Early arrivers traveled between the main dance floor, a lofty hanger first filled with the opening set’s beats, to the back smoking area (one of the most interesting parts of the space), which housed partiers in a machine shop.


A-Plus was using a midi controller to drop some tracks all over the BPM spectrum which isn’t seen super often from DJs, but when done right can deliver creative sets that can jump from genre to genre. He dropped some tracks that brought in some dub, while others were almost at a hip hop level.


Matrixxman was up next rocking the full Bulls gear and delivering some real future shit mixed with true Chicago house and a little disco to keep it interesting. It was a varied set with influences from all over the place and it had the crowd moving. He dropped Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” near the end of the set to a massive reaction to the growing crowd.

Matrixxman in Repose

Matrixxman in Repose

Side bar: I didn’t know much at all about Matrixxman, so I decided to look him and his crew up and learned a hell of a lot more about the 3-D hentai wonder that is Matrixxman. I recommend looking that crew up ASAP. He dropped possibly the best quote of all time in an interview with SF Bay Guardian online when he discussed his creative process as “Usually incense or candles are lit initially. An ambiance is created. Auras are projected and a distinct presence is asserted. Prior to actually making any music, I like to visualize myself styling on hoes viciously, and that tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.” Seriously, go ahead read that again. Brilliant. Definitely keep an ear to the ground for this guy.


Back to the show: Sleazemore and Richie Panic jumped on the decks next and warmed us up further, both with sound and bodies as the space became pretty packed. Both of them took turns on the decks showing off their deep love and knowledge of house and bass. Deep cuts mixed and standards kept people dancing and the drinks flowing. Their set really got the crowd into a frenzy, so by the time Julio came on people were tearing the place up.
The-Crowd


Julio took the stage to a huge roar around the witching hour (that perfect point, you’re a little sweaty and a little drunk, and a lot hungry for more music) around 1, and he started off with some heavy bass and original tracks of his own. I heard “Husk”, “Battle for Middle You”, and a loop of “Erotic City” all cut from different points that he orchestrated from the glowing light pod stage, littered with water bottles, brought in for the event by Lights Down Low. Framed by two stacks of giant speakers, you forgot that this was a warehouse and not a full time club. Props to Lights Down Low for doing a great job of transforming the space into what the event deserved.

Bashmore-in-the-Pod

The speakers were big and raw, which gave the party a definite underground vibe. A minor technical difficulty cut the bass, but when it came back online, it slapped the crowd across the face. A huge cheer erupted, and everyone just lost it. That spontaneous energy was rampant and sums up the overall party vibe well. Julio played ’til late, with “Au Seve” drawing a huge response.

Lights Down Low hit it out of the park as usual, with Julio Bashmore bringing in a near perfect set in a perfect atmosphere. Matrixxman though was my personal dark horse favorite, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout to see him again.

LDL Wants You To Jack Your Body

Lights Down Low Wants You To Jack Your Body

Crowd Note: This guy looked like a trucker and/or Dog The Bounty Hunter. USA jacket and blue tooth on in the show. Boss.

Crowd Note: This guy looked like a trucker and/or Dog The Bounty Hunter.
USA jacket and blue tooth on in the show. Boss.

Light Down Low hosts Gigamesh, D.A.M.B, Josh Kemp & Split at Monarch

Gigamesh at Monarch

Lights Down Low took over the basement of Monarch on Friday, Dec 7th to host Gigamesh and throw one hell of a dance party. The night got started with yours truly, and I had a great time playing on one of the premier sound systems in North America, something that sounds like an exaggeration but isn’t at all. The Void Acoustics set up was recently voted the 7th best sound system in the U.S. by Beatport. This fact was on full display through the night, as everything hit heavy on the lows and clear on the mids and highs.

It was amazing to be able to play on such a high quality system and hear the difference between it and standard club systems. If you get the chance to see a show at Monarch, do it. You’ll be impressed. I worked in a lot of personal favorites for my set, including a few that made my top 10 list for the year, such as “Bicep’s Vision of Love” and “Waze & Oddysey – Love That (Burns Hot Enough).” The crowd was really receptive and the light show set a great tone and vibe for people as they trickled in. Most of my pictures from that night make it look like I’m in a neon jacuzzi/aquarium, which is obviously something anyone should aspire to be in. By the end of my set at 11 the dance floor had filled out nicely.

Split

Josh Kemp stepped on and started dropping some choice deep house cuts. I’m pretty sure his first track was Nick Monaco & “Kill Frenzy – This1That1,” but don’t hold me to that. He set up a groove right off the bat and kept building it up for the crowd til the dance floor was packed to capacity by about 11:30. I was able to talk to Josh for a bit, and he’s a really nice guy and great DJ who was out from Florida to play the show.

Up next came D.A.M.B., who hails from Sacramento. The vibe got kicked up a notch, and my drinking pace picked up the pace to match what he was laying down. His set was really solid and had the crowd dancing front to back. D.A.M.B also dropped some of his own tracks, a lot of which you can listen to here. I didn’t get the chance to talk to him, but I definitely enjoyed his set and want to check him out again.

Monarch

Gigamesh was up after D.A.M.B. and immediately came in with his own remix for “Punks Jump Up” from Mr. Overtime. Gigamesh has a signature sound with lots of sequencer samples that set a disco/French house vibe that is always infectious. By this point though I was having too good a time. The whole crowd was into it, and everyone was there to just let loose and have a good time. Gigamesh kept up the pace for a while before D.A.M.B. stepped back up to the decks and took over til about 3.

I wound up leaving around 2:15 or so and went home before I could do anymore harm to myself or my wallet. It’s always tough for me to really make comments on a DJ’s individual set because the better they do, the more you don’t notice the technical aspects and just enjoy yourself and dance.

Personally I feel that the party as a whole is a better indicator of how the DJ does and how the show went. That being said the whole night flowed together really effortlessly, and it couldn’t be a better testament for Lights Down Low and the parties they throw. Corey and Richie always throw a stellar party with the best acts that come through the City. Next time you want a guaranteed good time without the hassle and bullshit of the normal club scene. In the end this was one of my favorite shows to play, and by far it was the best sound system I’ve ever had the privilege to play on.

Remix-loving characters get down to RAC, Classixx & Cosmic Kids

Reviewing DJ sets isn’t an easy thing to do, unless it’s a producer with an album or more of work in their quiver that the crowd can identify with. So in reviewing this show, which featured remix specialists RAC, Classixx & Cosmic Kids November 15th at the Mezzanine, it comes down to describing the command of selections, the vibe of the room and the people that were there.

I arrived during the Cosmic Kids set, and they might have been my favorite set of the night. Their sound is deep, heavy 90’s influenced house that blended seamlessly from one song to the next. Cosmic Kids kept the Mezzanie dancing without interruption, and their use of flow really impressed me.

At one point I saw a blacked out girl with a half-shaved head putting her head down and plowing through people just standing there yelling “I’m empowered!” really angrily. No one knew what the fuck she was talking about, or what she was on, but I would like to think she was high on Cosmic Kids. In reality though, judging by how much she was sweating and the nonsense she was yelling, I think she was probably on some serious uppers and not even aware she was at a show.

Classixx between Two Ferns

Next up were Classixx. This was my fourth time seeing them, and I always really love their shows. Their sound was more tropical disco, which went along nicely with the potted palm trees they had flanking the DJ booth. I saw them a few years ago open for Cut Copy at The Echo in LA, then again at V Lounge in Santa Monica opening for The Twelves and Grum. Between those two sets they had improved immensely, and their Mezzanine continued the upward trend.

The show flowed really well, and the crowd seemed to be really into it as they played a few of their remixes and originals, plus tracks from other producers. The person who seemed to be into it the most was a guy with a haircut that I can only describe as Post Apocolyptic Fabulous. It was like half a star on the right side of his head trailing into a sideburn, one sideburn, while the rest was shaved bald. This guy was going off to Classixx, presumably because if you have a haircut that looks like it was given by an epileptic Karl Lagerfield, you reserve the right rage like no one’s watching.

Classixx ended their set with their track “I’ll Get You,” which is one of the first tracks that really got the daytime disco sound going with U.S. born producers. It’s a few years old but always a jam, no matter what party you’re at, and it gave them a strong end to the show.

This is RAC

Next up was RAC, and everyone went nuts once they started. RAC is so prolific with their production and remixes that they could have just played their own material, and they pretty much did, sprinkling in other great tracks of the moment and songs they are into. “When You’re Dancing” is their own track that seemed to get the most people moving, and their remix of Foster The People’s “Houdini” brought the place down.

They dropped Marcus Marr’s “The Music,” a track with a funky bass line that has been getting a lot of support from DJ’s lately, and the Mezzanine crowd approved. There was a girl holding a library book and dancing with it, and she was trying really hard to make a library book the next must-have accessory at a late-night dance club.

It’s an awful picture, but you can sort of make out the book in the girls hand in the bottom-center. I was too much of a pussy to just walk up and take a flash photo of her from two feet away.

She seemed to be enjoying RAC and doing the most actual dancing, and not just jumping or fist pumping. When I finally left just before the show ended, she was still out there clutching “To Kill A Mockingbird” and getting down for all the literate dance hounds.

All in all, this show delivered and the crowd kept me interested and laughing, even when there were intermittent lulls or down points, which were few and far between. Check out any of these acts if you get a chance to see them.

This artsy bum-ster was outside with a typewriter, just typing in the rain as we left. She may have been Book Girl’s literacy accomplice.