[VIDEO] RB Exclusive Interview: Gerry Gonza – Arizona’s Sweetheart
February 22, 2018
February 22, 2018
Over the past four years, Slander has climbed the ranks from local DJs to EDM megastars. They’ve played some of the biggest stages in the world, sold out tours, and garnered millions of plays on their social medias. Everything they release becomes a hit. There is something so distinct and pure about their sound–it’s infectious! The diversity throughout their discography allows for them to produce without boundaries and has led to a massive, dedicated fan base. This was apparent as they took the stage at Global Dance Festival Arizona and the crowd went wild, throwing their arms up and dancing in unison.
Later that night I had the pleasure of speaking with the boys behind Slander, Derek Anderson and Scott Land, to ask them a few questions about their journey thus far.
I moved to Arizona just over three years ago, and your guys’ music was some of the first to really get me interested in the scene. I remember around that same time you guys posted a video on Facebook, quitting your jobs to pursue music full-time. It was so exciting and I couldn’t have been happier for you guys. How have things changed since making the permanent move from office to stage?
Derek: I mean, everything has changed. *huge grin* But that’s what we wanted and that’s what we had worked for for so long. We were local DJs for a long time and then that remix for “We Like To Party” happened and it really took off from there. We were both working 9 to 5’s before this, and I was going to music school at the same time, even before we made that song. Yeah, it’s a different life, but it’s definitely what we wanted. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be spreading positive energy to other people. I don’t want to say there’s a lack of that, but I just feel like more people should be doing it, and I feel so lucky that that’s my job and I get to go out there and make people feel good. A DJ set can be a very therapeutic thing for some people. We’ve heard lots of stories from people who come up to us and tell us our music has saved them or got them through really tough times and gave them a glimpse of hope, and you just don’t get that with many other jobs. It’s so amazing. That’s why we’ve worked so hard, because we were changed by DJ’s we saw like Above & Beyond. We were super into trance, it was very emotional. You go to shows and you have a tears of joy experience the whole time, and that’s what we try to do with bass music. We go really hard and then bring in the melodic shit that’s supposed to pull on the heartstrings. We’re so grateful for all of our fans support and that we were able to quit our jobs and do this full-time. It’s crazy.
Since that song, you guys have gone pretty.. ‘global,’ pun intended. What have been some of your favorite shows so far?
Scott: The two shows that really stand out to us have been Nocturnal 2014 because we grew up in the LA rave scene so we got into music by going to Insomniac parties. I remember we’d go to things like EDC 2010 and think “man, we wanna do that. We want to be up on that stage.” Nocturnal was the first Insomniac event we got to play and we had a really cool time slot on the second biggest stage. I just remember fuel from the pyro cans were spilling on the CDJs and Derek and I were like “wtf this is crazy” and we just had the best set of our life. We were celebrating in our trailer after and our agent came in and said Nicky Romero was going to be late and we were going to fill in on the main stage for 10 minutes. We didn’t even believe him at first but then somebody from Insomniac came in like ‘yo, you guys ready to go?’ We started walking over to the main stage and when we get there the first thing the stage manager said was “do you guys have a lot of songs? because we’re looking at 30-40 minutes.” and we’re like shit, that’s a set, ya know? The very first time we felt all of the bass of the mainstage under us we looked at each other and just started laughing. It was fucking unreal! In one night we played the best set of our life, and then 15 minutes later played the best set of our lives again. *laughs*
Derek: The second one was probably this most recent EDC, playing the main stage because that’s always been our goal. It was like a culmination of the last seven years of our life coming together. We just looked at each other and had a holy shit moment. We had three more years of DJing experience under our belt since that Nocturnal and we felt really comfortable up there, which was insane because it was way bigger than any crowd we had ever played for. Those have been two really big benchmarks in our career.
How has Gud Vibrations Radio been going so far, and are there any plans for future guests?
Scott: We’re not doing guests yet. We wanted to start doing guests a long time ago but we just got stuck in this flow of doing it ourselves. Radio shows happen really quickly. We send in tracks, we mix it and do voiceovers all within five days and that happens every single week, so if someone doesn’t send a mix to us within a few days it just doesn’t work. I think when we renew with Sirius we’ll probably start doing things like that.
Derek: It’s been amazing, and it’s a whole new segment of fans that we’ve never had before, the people who are just listening to the show on their way home, ya know? We used to listen to radio shows like Group Therapy, or Tiesto’s Club life, I’d listen to that one every week, and it’s what got me to go to his shows a long time ago. Radio shows, if you do it the right way, can extend the longevity of your career because you’re in a consistent engagement with your fans. When we first started it was one of the first bass shows on the channel, so the response has been good. It’s a lot of work, but we love it.
Let’s talk tour! How’d you choose Dombresky and SAYMYNAME to accompany you on the road?
Derek: SAYMYNAME is just doing the New York show but he’s our homie from back in the day, we love him. He’s a local Orange County cat who was around the same time as us. It’s been really awesome to see guys like him and Kayzo get to where they’re at because they work so hard. We all started together and these past few years they’ve really gained some steam, and we’re so stoked for them. It’s why we want to work for them.
Scott: Dombresky is literally the best opener for us in the world. When you’re touring and you don’t bring an opener you’re stuck with a local DJ, and local DJs are usually trying to impress their audience, so they’re not holding back. We get it because we’ve been there, we were the worst openers. *laughs* Dombresky is our cure for that. He loves house music, so it’s not like we’ve got to tell him to tone down his set us. He can do anything he wants as creatively as he wants and still lays it out perfectly for us. Plus, he gets to show people who might be there just for the bass some really dope house music and expose them to something new. It builds the tension in a great way, and when that first dubstep drop happens it goes off.
What makes you guys feel ‘superhuman’?
Derek: Playing for crowds. Playing ‘Superhuman’ and having people sing the lyrics back to us. “Love Again” was a really big song for us when it came out a few years ago and that was the first time we ever had people come up to us and tell us “that’s our song” or that they played it at their wedding even. “Superhuman” was a really, really cool song for us because it’s the most mainstream-friendly song we’ve ever created, but at the same time, we felt like it very much represents our sound and the vibes we want to give out. At the end of the day, we’re trying to make people cry at the trap show *haha* and “Superhuman” was one of the first songs that without announcing it, and just playing the first few piano chords, people instantly started screaming and getting their phones out and singing it the whole time, even if we play it all the way through. We had never really experienced that because “Love Again” was a more drawn out dance track. Every time we play “Superhuman,” especially on the Superhuman Tour where we’re the headliners, the vibe is just insane. We hadn’t put out a Slander only song in about a year and a half and the response was amazing. We’re so grateful people were into it.
Many things have changed for Slander in recent years, but their humble nature is unwavering. I want to thank Derek and Scott for taking the time to sit down with me and providing such insightful, genuine responses that reflect who they are, not just as artists, but as ‘super’humans. I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring for this duo.