DJ Slam Profile / Interview
The life of a DJ is a hard one. Behind all the glitz and glamour of being paid hundreds of pounds eery hour, and driving flash cars all over the country, there is a professionalism which rarely is shown in publications such as this, however DJ Slam, although one hundred per cent commited and professional, likes his job to be fun, as well as just a living, and this is something that ravers see whenever Slam is playing out. Indeed it is well rumoured behind the scenes that DJ Slam is one of the funniest characters on the circuit, always up for the joke, always willing to have a bit of a laugh with the ravers, which is why he is one of the most popular Happy Hardcore DJ’s in London. Whilst all of this good humour is taking place, however, you can guarantee that DJ Slam is playing another set of pure class, with faultless mixing, dropping anthem after anthem, but still with a smile on his face.
“If you’re enjoying playing out then the ravers aren’t going to enjoy listening to you, it works both ways, that’s why I’m always smiling or whatever when I’m playing out, because I truly enjoy what I’m doing”.
My first meeting with Slam, real name Declan, affectionately known as Double Deckers, was some two years ago, already a United Dance resident, and having just returned from Australia where he was entertaining the ravers down under with the likes of Ellis Dee and Swan E. He isn’t sure how his name came about, “I couldn’t tell you where I got my name from to be honest, myself and some friends just thought it sounded alright, it seemed good as the time”. Although he is well travelled in the United Kingdom, Slam has also played abroad on many occasions, indeed he is one of the few Happy Hardcore DJ’s to have played all over Australia, Canada and the USA If I was to be honest, Slam is a complete madman, well known for his wind-ups on unsuspecting victims, but honestly again, he is one of the faces for 1997, although his introduction to the scene was some years earlier after involvement in a record shop and experience with promoting and writing music.
“I played for Chris Brown (United Dance) at a party in Luton, which he was helping promote, on New Year’s Eve in 1994. This was an event run by Blaze, who were a rave magazine during the early days, and I played there for three hours. Chris hadn’t started United Dance, but when he did, I was lucky enough to get a residency where I have stayed to this day. I’ve only missed two United Dance’s, and that was because I was playing abroad, in Australia once and in Canada”.
Slam didn’t start out as a DJ, like many other top names on the circuit, he had his fingers in other puddings, particularly a record shop in Chelmsford called Vinyl Rhythm. This is where Slam built up his contacts, just before his onslaught onto the rave scene. After leaving ambitions of a record shop he became a firm figure at the distribution company, Mo’s Music Machine in Walthamstow. It is hard to believe that his professional DJ’ing career only started a little over two years ago, which is a measure of his ability that he is demanded in foreign parts. Over the past few years, Slam has been quietly building his own studio together, where he finds himself during the day. Working alongside artists such as Eruption, Ramos, Sy and Force and Styles. Slam has gained a lot of experience, but after hearing his latest releases, it is obvious that his own style had developed, and one of his latest tracks to be released on Fusion Records, ‘Divine Inspiration/Music’ has been described by Chris of Fusion as, “one of the best releases we have had on the label for some time”, a compliment in the highest degree.
“I produced my first tune a few years ago which was called the ‘Unaware EP’, and it surprised me when I went to Elevation at Crystal Palace one time and every DJ played it. That’s a real buzz, when you hear your own tune and hear what the reaction is. I was really shocked. Unfortunately I and the people involved in the tune were knocked, and we couldn’t get the tune repressed so it could have done a lot better than it did. I’m writing a lot more now, one has just come out on Just Another Label, ‘Knowledge/Revelation’, and recently gained the ‘Record of the Month’ award in Muzik Magazine. I’ve also done some remixes for Kniteforce and Slammin’ Vinyl so I have a lot going at the moment musically, which is good”.
Yet again we have another DJ who’s skills in the studio equal that of his turntables. “I produced with Eruption, the first tune on United Dance. Chris (Eruption) has done really well, he’s really come on big guns recently. I’m doing an album with Pandemonium with DJ Sy. There’s a track with Ramos coming soon as well, so I am keeping myself busy”.
“I was playing a lot of local clubs, around Chelmsford and Essex and with the shop I got to know a lot of people, it’s just getting to know the promoters, and putting names to faces. I was sending out tapes, but luckily the promoters were seeing me on other flyers”.
To become a professional DJ and make it in the Hardcore rave scene, it takes a lot of dedication, patience and skill, and it appears that Slam has all of these ingredients, although admittedly he hasn’t found it easy. It is no easy task, the names you see on flyers are the very best in the business. Slam is one of the those names.
“It is hard breaking into the scene, very hard in fact, because at the end of the day you will always have your Slipmatt’s and your Sy’s, and they’ve been there for such a long time that it is easy for them. I’ve had loads of promises and loads of knockbacks, you know what I mean? But you have to just keep plugging away at it”.
His DJ’ing has taken him up and down the country, week in, week out, and he now finds himself in the position where there aren’t that many events for him to conquer. Surprisingly for a London based DJ, Slam is very popular in Wales where he plays at Tick Tock, Steam and Oxygen. His talents have also been seen at Fusion, Mindwarp, Slammin’ Vinyl and possibilities of Dreamscape and Pandemonium in the very near future. He is also resident at London’s Club Labrynth, where he is one of the most requested DJ’s.
England is not the only place where Slam is seen, he along with Swan E and Ellis Dee are amongst the ‘jet set’ in the DJ’ing circuit. Every time I see Declan, he has just got back from another country, either Australia, Canada, Germany and more recently California. He has the opportunity to seeing the scene in many different guises, so I continued to question him on the scene abroad.
“In Australia, they are very open minded to music, they have it to everything out there, Jungle, Drum ‘n’ Bass and Happy Hardcore. Perth is an area predominantly used to Happy Hardcore, whereas Sydney is a very Drum ‘n’ Bass orientated area. Over the water, however you have Canada which is a different kettle of fish. We were away for a month in total, straight to Canada, then onto to Los Angeles and finally on to Australia. They are more into Drum ‘n’ Bass in Canada, Happy Hardcore hasn’t really caught on, but I think it is just about to”.
Travelling across the world, Slam has certainly had his fair share of funny experiences, including nearly blowing people away in a gun shop in Los Angeles to a bizarre occurrence in Sydney involving some girls who wanted their photo taken, with a not so sure Slam and Swan E finally agreeing.
“They knew we were DJ’s, so we just took a photo of them and went on our way. But when we came back to England and got the photo’s developed, my girlfriend Mel, was looking at them and she screamed at me to come into the front room. Unknown to me taking the picture, these girls had lifted their tops up and shown their… well they just showed themselves, and I never realised, so if Mel is reading this, honestly love I never realised”.
Slam is returning to Australia near Christmas. “I really enjoy going abroad and working. I enjoy meeting new people and seeing how it’s all done elsewhere, you can’t beat it”. Slam is also going to be seen a lot more in this country, as his tunes start rolling, and his bookings increase, it is perfectly obvious that the next six months are going to be vital. After a lot of hard work and dedication, with a few laughs on the way, 1997, is going to be the year where Slam really hits the big time. His label, which recently evolved, ‘Unaware Collective’, will release both the harder style and happier styles of Hardcore. ‘The Unaware EP’, Slam’s first track from 1994, is also due to be remixed by Slipmatt, and ready for release soon on ‘Unaware Collective’.
I mentioned earlier about his reputation of being a ‘wind-up merchant’, and it is no understatement that if he were to give up his career in the rave scene he could well become a comedian. I too have been a victim of his devilish jokes when he phoned the magazine, to say he was Jurgen Ziewe, a Bosnian refugee, who wanted to become a DJ in the UK, and needed my help. After about ten minutes taking details from this supposed DJ, he admitted who he really was, and I had become another name in that long list of people who had been ‘Double Deckered’.
Billy Bunter too, was kidnapped from a service station on the M4, after playing at Fusion in Bath. Slam, his driver Del Boy and another friend convinced Billy Bunter’s driver to follow, with Billy in Slam’s car. This trust Billy’s driver placed in Slam was shortlived as they accelerated to one hundred and twenty five miles per hour towards London. The driver didn’t see Billy Bunter until eleven o’clock the following morning when he was finally released unharmed by Slam and his wind-up crew. It has to be said, though Deckers, you did like my Trevor McDonald impression….
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