I remember a couple of years back when festival trap was all the rage (even though it still is to this day) and hearing a remix in many sets at the time of the Showtek banger “We Like To Party.” A trio known as Slander and NGHTMRE came together to make a remix so loud and heavy that it swung their door open into the bass music scene. Since then, the three have collaborated and ventured into different directions involving trap, dubstep, and future bass while innovating and honing in on sounds that have come to define them apart from the ever-expanding competition.
I caught them during Miami Music Week at their second annual Gud Vibrations event that bolstered a lineup that included Ghastly, JOYRYDE, K?D, Rickyxsan, Yookie, and many more where the headliners went back-to-back in front of a hulking audience. A couple of hours before their set, I got to sit down with Tyler Marenyi (NGHTMRE), Scott Land and Derek Anderson (Slander) and ask some questions to these two rising titans of bass music to see what they’re bringing from their influences, what they have in store, and what their working on in the not too distant future.
How’s it going guys?
Scott: What’s up? NGHTMRE and Slander here!
Tyler: We are doing good. We’re chilling.
Derek: We’re at the Gud Vibrations show in Miami
Tell me a little bit about your biggest influences in music and electronic music.
Scott: Well Derek and I have our own stories of how we got into it, but they’re kind of the same thing. I went to EDC Las Vegas in 2009 and instantly fell in love with the music and the culture.
Derek: My first event was Armin Only in 2008 during New Years Eve in Los Angeles. I was 18 years old and one of my friends from college took me. I remember being completely blown away and I had never experienced anything like that in my whole life. From the positivity in the crowd and just how accepting everyone was, it was like…I was like converted in that one night and here we are! [laughs]
Tyler: I had a similar type of experience, but I grew up playing instruments and music. I was WAY into indie rock and [bands] like the Doors, Led Zeppelin and all that kind of stuff in middle school. In high school, I kind of found about Girl Talk where he was mixing old school stuff with new school stuff and mashing them up and doing these crazy DJ sets. In college, I started producing my own music as a hobby just because I loved writing it and yeah and here we are.
As Los Angeles natives, how would you describe the bass music scene in L.A. to a clueless person? Is there anything like it anywhere else?
Derek: I think that bass music culture in L.A. comes from hip-hop and more recently metal. I feel like [the latter] is a newer vibe. We’ve kind of seen the rave scene in L.A. grow and change going from trance to house to electro to dubstep to trap and now back to dubstep and so on. Watching the whole progression is crazy because it used to be that there was never any bass music people on like main stages. It was always on the smallest stage and you wouldn’t go there because that was like the scary stage that all the drum n’ bass people were at and you would say, “What the fuck is going on?!” But now, bass music is the biggest sound. We are so grateful that the scene has come to this. For me and Scott at least, we always wanted to be the bass music people who played on the main stage. That was our whole thing. Being able to do that and watch the scene grow towards that direction has been really amazing. Bass music fans are so dedicated and we love them.
Tyler: Yup that’s pretty much it!
Scott: You killed it, [Derek]!
Have you guys ever been to Miami before you ventured into your musical careers? Was it just a vacation spot for you three or did you guys do anything else in the 305?
Scott: After Derek and I got into electronic music, it became an addiction to go to events. We had been going to EDC and a lot of the Insomniac events and HARD Festivals that were going on at the time. So we decided that for the first festival that we wanted to travel with our friends for was Ultra in 2011. I would say the biggest reason for going was that it hosted A State of Trance 500. That was huge for us and the lineup was insane. It had Sander van Doorn, Armin [van Buuren], BT…I remember deadmau5 playing too. It was one of the first times I saw deadmau5 play and it was here for Ultra. I could tell stories for like two hours about how crazy it was from the ups and the downs that we experienced. But overall, super awesome experience. I’m going to end it with it was the only time that I ever had my phone lost or stolen. [To the] Taxi Cab driver that took it, I HATE YOU!
Tyler: I don’t…maybe…I played a bunch of sports growing up so I think I came to Miami once or twice. Never for music ever. And then the first time I went to Ultra was with you guys [Slander] about three years ago. We all came together just to go and now we’re playing.
Going into your current status as artists and musical acts, you two just finished up a tour late last year, you have this event [Gud Vibrations Miami], the radio podcast, and many more collaborative projects. They all center around the title “Gud Vibrations” stemming from your hit track. Why is it that this song and its meaning have become the “welcome mat” to your respective sounds?
Tyler: We didn’t name the song “Gud Vibrations” because that was the brand we wanted to hang on. We were always creating music and writing things that we loved. When we did the EP together and “Gud Vibrations” became the biggest song from it, we were in Salt Lake City. We were snowboarding and chilling. I was there with my family and Derek came. We were there that night and thinking about the fact that we had a Miami show [for last year] and what to call it. I don’t know why or where it came from, but it was “Gud Vibrations.” As soon as we said it, the both of us were like that’s it! We immediately knew that it was going to be the name for everything. If there’s a label, show, festival, or anything that we do, it [represents] the exact image and mentality that we want to promote. It’a all about that good vibes and good energy and that’s what we like to spread. That’s what I think rave culture and dance music likes to spread as well. We like to be like…”a beacon of light” in the dance music world.
Derek: Like he said, it just means everything that we want it to mean. When we’re together, we feel good! When we’re with the crowd, we feel good! It’s [also] plain and simple. This is what the show is about, this is what our music is about, this is what we are about, and then it happens to be the name of a song we did. It’s kind of like a coincidence in that it’s the song title. We felt that it all came about naturally and that’s what I was always hoping [would] happen. Creating that other brand of your party and what your label is and your radio show never really came [to us] until that moment. We were and are so stoked that it happened. The most important thing is that it was bigger than us. We can support new artists and support our new music under this under-arching theme. It allows us to do things that we couldn’t do ourselves.
This question is going to gear more towards Slander. You two went to college together and that you two were fraternity brothers. What was your fraternity?
Scott: We were in Kappa Sigma, Mu Delta Chapter in UC Irvine.
Would you say that your time in college and the fraternity helped to mold where you were going to go with electronic dance music?
Scott: I think the most important thing sometimes in the entertainment industry is timing. The surge of electronic music between Derek and I started in Los Angeles in 2009 to 2010. Derek is already a couple of years younger than I am. I was already in the fraternity and I started getting into electronic dance music around this time frame. Derek had just joined the fraternity so we really bonded over this love for electronic dance music that was still a relatively new thing. People in our fraternity were not like, “Oh dude! Did you hear that new…Kaskade song? Oh, yeah! Let’s go see him tomorrow or this weekend!” The main take away from this time was that Derek and I became really inspired to DJ after going to these events. When we started DJing locally in Orange County, we had all of our fraternity members and our friends in sororities come to the shows. I think that was an instrumental part in the pieces in Derek and I that like to perform, wanting to keep DJing, and wanting to push through. We weren’t like the bedroom producers who made music and then became DJs. We were the DJs who produced music in order to get to the level of DJing that we wanted to get to. Maybe we took a less traveled path when compared to a lot of the bigger DJs these days. But I think it all happened for a reason and I’m really glad that it happened the way it did.
That’s such an interesting and unique story in comparison to the many producers are typically not DJs by trade at first. For NGHTMRE, you kicked off this year with your Travis Scott remix of “Goosebumps” which is a dance-floor killer. Last year, you made gems with Zeds Dead, Flux Pavilion, LOUDPVCK, and more. Because Ultra is the time where many artists play there unreleased material, what can we expect to hear in it?
Tyler: I’ve been writing a lot of stuff recently and narrow down all the ideas I have into a new EP. Me and Ghastly have a track that we are trying to put out together called “End of the Night” and that’s a song that we have been waiting a long time to put out. A lot of my music [and it’s releases] involve scheduling stuff that I’m ready to put out but have to wait. After the Ghastly one, Carmada and I have a track together called “Embrace” that I’m really excited about. That’s going to be out about three weeks after that. Then the first single [on the EP called] “On the Run” will be out. As soon as “End of the Night” comes out, there will at least be something every three to four weeks for the rest of the year. The EP is going to have a lot of originals, but I have another collaboration with Dillon Francis on it and some cool vocal features like Mr. Hudson. There are going to be a few other surprises on the EP. I think my goal right now is to polish this EP and wait for these two collaborations to come out. I am horrible on working on one specific project. I always have like twenty million different projects coming out all at once.
What about a potential album? Maybe not in the near future, but could there be one in the NGHTMRE catalogue one day?
Tyler: I don’t know if I would do an album. I’ll think about it in 2018, when we get there. Do you guys think I should do that? I don’t know.
Derek: If the people want it, man!
Tyler: Depends on what the people want.
I think you would be surprised by the response from fans on a potential album.
Tyler: Yeah. I think [making] an album would be amazing. But if I’m doing an album, I’m going to be a lot more particular about everything.
Bouncing back to Slander, you two are currently sitting on two tracks according to recent interviews including a San Holo collaboration. Any updates on these tracks?
Derek: Right now we are sitting on more tracks than ever. Usually, we’ll have maybe five ideas in the can. Now we have about twenty. We have two that are completely done. However, the song we did with San Holo might not be able to have him on the track anymore because of his new record label deal. We’re going to give him everything he deserves on the back-end and credit, but because of his label deal he cannot put his name on the song. That one’s done and we’re going to play it today. We have another song with Yookie that’s done and we kind of went in a completely different direction with it. Both of them [San Holo and Yookie collabs] will have really strong vocals and that’s what we’re focusing on. After nailing the vocals, we build the tracks around them instead of the other way around where you would make the track and look for vocals for them. What I notice about our music is that we’re trying to make really good songs and have the production of the tracks support the basis of each song. We also have a track with Illenium that’s like seventy-five percent done. We’re working on something with Wavedash. We’ve basically been in the studio for the last two months just doing sessions. We have an album’s worth of new shit, but it will not be an album. It will be coming out piece by piece where we have straight hip-hop songs and pop songs where our Slander songs are going into a little bit of everything. We try to step outside the box while we figure out all the label stuff. But we’re really excited to finish up these new projects and get them out.
For each of you guys, what would you say are the projects that you guys are most proud of?
Scott: I’d have to say it’s kind of a no-brainer in my point of view. The “We Like to Party” edit because that is the thing that started everything for both of us Slander and NGHTMRE. Derek and Tyler went to ICON together and they basically made that edit and put it out before they even graduated and shit just went so fast after that. If we’re talking about what collaboration is most important, then this is THE ONE for sure.
Tyler: I would definitely agree that that was the most important track for me. That and “Street” were the ones that changed my career. I feel like I can even include “Street VIP” if I had to pick one. It’s hard because I like to pick melodic things and I just don’t know. [laughs] I can never decide to pick between the heavy and the chill tracks. I’ll go “Street VIP” for this one.
Derek: My answer for songs that are released, it’s “Love Again.” I know how it really connects with people and how many messages we got from people proposing to their loved ones to that song or couples saying that this is their song. That love around that song is just really really powerful. The best part about that vocal is that it was are roommate Cam a.k.a. WAVZ. He was literally making that vocal in the room next to me while I was producing the instrumental. They weren’t even suppose to go together. Then, I was falling asleep as we were finishing the instrumental and I thought what if his song could fit on top of ours? Then it just fit. It was like a magical moment. At the same time, we have an unreleased song that I sing on and it was the first track that we’ve done that I sing on. It’s a really personal song to me and it’s a step in a new direction for us. It’s still future bass, but in a different drum pattern. I’m really excited for that one to come out and we have really cool video for it too so I’m stoked.
Final question. Who are on your “artists to watch in 2017” list?
Scott: I’d have to say everyone on our Gud Vibrations lineup, but special shoutout to Wavedash and K?D. I think that those guys are going to change electronic music.
Tyler: That’s what we try to do in curating this party. We brought artists who we are inspired like K?D and Yookie. We love Yookie and his stuff. I play so much Yookie in my sets. We love Aazar and Rickyxsan and JOYRYDE is insane. CRNE, who was on our bus tour; we love him. Habstract I feel like he’s always putting out music if though he’s not new. Like he’s been around for a long time, but he’s crushing it. Ekali, Illenium, and so many more. It’s hard to choose.
Derek: I’m so excited for the new people coming out. You get to that point where we wonder what’s going to happen next. These guys then come out of nowhere like K?D and Yookie. I remember when Yookie did that Skrillex edit and everyone started playing it. I asked him for some more demos and that’s how “After All” came about. It comes from a remix and then BAM…they’re here. The kids that couldn’t make who we wish could be here in Miami were Wavedash. They are eighteen and nineteen years old and they’re probably some of the best producers I have ever heard in my whole life. It’s just crazy to hear these kids who have been producing since they were twelve years old and producing at a level of someone that is thirty years old. They have crazy new music and they are pushing the melodic and heavy kind of line and that’s what we do with the Gud Vibrations. And we appreciate everyone Aazar, Rickyxsan, Elliphante. We appreciate everyone at Your EDM and our fans. Keep spreading the good vibes and we’re coming to a city near you!
Make sure to check out NGHTMRE and Slander’s latest sets from Ultra Music Festival where they played many of their upcoming projects alongside some of the best bangers being played out in the festival circuit right now!