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Interview: Slushii

“A lot of people try to cater to crowds but I genuinely try to write music for myself”

Written by
Graham Turner

American electronic musician Julian Scanlan, aka Slushii, is suddenly everywhere these last 12 months. He’s had three megahits by way Step By StepMy Senses and Dear Me – all dance songs that boast uniquely self-evaluative lyricism (penned and sung by Slushii himself), packaged in his uniquely sugary melodies, which are as break-neck as they are uplifting, despite the heavy themes of his songs. He’s played a variety of shows and some of the biggest festivals in the world including Tomorrowland, Lollapalooza and Electric Zoo. Next on the list is a set at our very own Road to Ultra Hong Kong. We catch up with Slushii before the big show this Saturday…

Let’s start with something straightforward. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
I see my music as pretty diverse. It’s like walking into a candy store and seeing every flavour on Earth.

Your rise to fame has been nothing short of meteoric. How has your life changed over the last 18 months? Has it been difficult to get up to speed with the changes in lifestyle?
I come from a small suburban farm town, so it was a total 180 for me. It’s been really difficult, I’m not going to lie. Having to jump from place to place while making music has kept me on my toes and I’m still trying to learn how to cram five hours of sleep into two hours.

Many artists complain that things like Spotify or SoundCloud are crippling them but there are artists like yourself that have used these platforms to their advantage ­– what’s your take on the situation?
People need to stop complaining about free promotion. Music is in the people’s hands, so they’ll want to go to shows. Album sales may be down but concert tickets go up. I really like the fact that most of my music is available for free – but try not to pirate it, please. (But if you do, I still love you <3) 

There’s a strong aesthetic associated with your music, it’s almost become a kind of branding. Do you think part of your success is down to the fact that the imagery you use clearly defines what you do musically, so people are already going in expecting to like the tunes?
The problem with my last project [DJ Swoon] was that I wasn’t looking at the big picture. When I reconstructed myself as Slushii, I finally homed in on my sound and what I wanted it to look like. Thats probably why things took off the way they did.

It can be argued that EDM’s lofty emotional themes are just window dressing for a big drop. However, there’s a real sense of self in your music, especially with tunes like Dear Me. Do you think that’s why your fans are particularly fervent in their support for you?
I try to put as much of myself as I can in my music and performance. Music has always been very personal for me. A lot of people try to cater to crowds but I genuinely try to write music for myself.

How’re you feeling about coming to Hong Kong?
I am super excited. I've always had mad love for Hong Kong and am happy to finally play there. I’ve only been through Hong Kong in passing.

And what can we expect from your set?
Expect the unexpected... and a lot of my own music :)

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