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Annelies Rom

Q&A

Catching up with Slay

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Catching up with Slay

Slay is killing it. He’s taken things up a notch with collaborations with Chimpo and Bou, but in his most recent collaboration with Sigma, he wants to go back to his roots. Community being an important part of his career, he wants to say thanks with the video for the track. You can see him hanging out at his local barbershop, partying at his local club, and grabbing some chicken at his favourite chicken shop. “I wanted the video to be as close to me as possible. If you were to hang out at one of these locations, you would probably bump into me,” Slay says. 

Since we last spoke with him, not only has he grown as an artist, but the whole scene seems to have exploded around him as well. “I don’t know what happened in the past two years, but it just seems like everything’s got a bit better for our scene. It’s grown fast for everyone in a short space of time,” he explains. We talked with Slay about his recent tracks, and how the drum and bass scene has grown recently. 

Most of the artists you’ve worked with recently are from the northern part of the UK. Why’s that?  

Yeah, Chimpo and Bou are both from Manchester. It’s a big city, but it’s not too big, so if you’re doing music and you’re doing all right, then everyone pretty much knows everyone. I’ve been working with Chimpo for a long time. He’s a friend of mine outside of just music. It’s gotta be coming up to 10 years, we’ve got to know each other from being around the same neighbourhood. I’m from Old Trafford, he’s from Whalley Range, and they’re very close to each other. I met Chimpo just through friends and then we ended up making music and we always have been throughout the years. 

When I started making drum & bass, I went to a place called Bloc2Bloc regularly. That’s where I ended up meeting a bunch of people, and Bou was one of them. About three or four years later, we ended up in the studio making a song together. And then Sigma, that’s a lot more recent. They were already established artists when they hit me up. They asked me to get in the studio together and that’s how we came out with this single that we’ve got now, ‘Kenny’.

What’s the story behind ‘Kenny’?

On the way to the session, my friend and I talked about a lot of things. We were reflecting on what it’s taken to get to the point I was at there. Subconsciously, we ended up going with that theme in the song, it just happened. The Sting sample in the song gave me that reminiscing vibe and got me thinking about what it’s taken to get to where we are now. That’s the vibe of the track, reflecting and reminiscing on my life, where I’ve been, and what I’ve been through to get to that point. Right now, it makes it all worth it. Getting some success, you almost feel like you’ve not wasted your time. When you get that gratification you wanted, it’s the best feeling.

The scene around you has grown as well…

Absolutely, the Manchester scene has grown massively! The last two years have gone from being “this thing that’s happening and we’re getting to a point” to blowing up, in the space of two years the scene has grown massively. Everyone’s fulfilling their potential in a type of way. I feel like it’s getting to the point where it’s paying off for not just me but everyone around me. Shows are bigger in different places. There’s more attention on the songs, the videos are better… I don’t know what happened in the past two years, but it just seems like everything’s got a bit better for our scene. It’s grown fast for everyone in a short space of time. I don’t think there’s a limit. We’re getting a lot more mainstream attention, people are getting taken as serious artists.  

For me, this opens a lot of doors. I’m just working on singles right now, but there might be an album coming. If I can get a good album and an album tour out of it, that would be a good next step.  I try not to overwhelm myself with grand ideas of what can happen, though, I take life in little steps. Why’s that? When I made music before, I’d build up this big plan in my head and have this way of getting there, and if anything went wrong or it didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go… That would crumble the whole thing. Now, I’ll have a little goal and even if it doesn’t go the way I thought it would go, I won’t be as defeated as I used to be. I’ll get there another way. Rather than having this big thing that I’m aiming towards and putting so much pressure on myself, I’ll have smaller goals in between now. What shifted my way of thinking… I think it’s about my passion for what I like doing. I’ve been in places where I’ve tried to stop, and that’s the biggest test if you’re an artist. If you love doing something, you won’t be able to stop even if you want to. It was a challenge, and then that’s what helped me pull through. Never stopping and just believing. I’m going to carry on and keep doing it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, and even if it’s not, at least I’m still doing something I love.

Back to your latest single ‘Kenny’. People who watch the video will see a few locations in and around Manchester showing up. Do they have any personal significance to you?

The first location is my local barbershop! The idea was that I wanted it to seem as my natural

environment as possible. All the places I am in the video are places where you could actually find me hanging out. If you were to walk around there for a week, you’d probably bump into me. That’s what I wanted the video to portray. Even the people in the video, they’re all my friends. I know everyone in the video, I wanted to be people I would actually be around. 

Let me tell you more about the locations in the video. It starts in a barbershop, I visit a chicken shop, I visit a radio station, and I end up in a club. The stepdad of one of my close mates runs the barbershop. I’ve been going there since I’ve been around here, 10+ years, easy. The chicken shop is another place that you will definitely know if you’re from South Manchester. If you talk about Chicken Run, the chicken shop, everyone knows it’s infamous in a way. The club place at the end of the video is a place called Six Trees. I go there all the time, so I thought it would be nice to include it in the video. It’s a family venue, I know the people that run it there. The radio station is Bloc2Bloc, I’ve done some shows on their radio. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to come up in the drum & bass scene as easily as I did, so this is a way of saying thank you. 

Since the track is called ‘Kenny’, are you a fan of South Park?

I love South Park, I watch it sometimes, but I’m not a diehard who knows every episode. I wrote the song and when I came to the end of it I noticed that the ‘Kenny’ line was in the hook. When I was thinking about what to call it, it was fairly obvious to me that that should be the title. 

You were saying how you know everyone in the ‘Kenny’ video and how you wanted it to feel as authentic as possible. How important is a community to you?

Very! The community of people you build around yourself is really important. If you’ve not got a community of people that all look after each other, it’s going to crumble, the whole empire is going to crumble. My community is great. I’ve learned a lot from them. There are times when you might have haters, but I wouldn’t change my community of people for anything else, I wouldn’t be able to see as clearly as I can now. How did I find mine? I got to a point where I’ve been doing music for a while, I’m not new in the scene anymore. I got to a point where people stuck around. People come and people go and you notice that there’s a group of people who stick around. That’s the community that I am talking about, the ones that are there for you, through the ups and the downs. It’s a feeling and an energy that you share. 

Thank you, that’s very inspiring! What else is coming from you this year?

My plans for 2024 include more big singles and more big tunes. I’m going to be on a lot more lineups this year as well. Last year, I took a break from performing, so definitely look out for my name on the lineups. I’ve got big collaborations coming up as well. Things are looking up, for sure!

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