- Top 100
June 18, 2012
Anyone that has ever partied in Calgary’s bass scene has probably noticed a trend. There are an abundance of weekly shows to choose from. Between dubstep, glitch hop, drum ‘n bass and all the subgenres in between, there is always a ton to do. It is clear that amongst all these different promoters, Supreme Hustle is a definite heavyweight in our community. With a minimum of one show per week, an EDM label on the go, and a large DJ roster consisting of talented up-and-comers amongst some of Canada’s favorites, it is more than likely that you have been brushed by Supreme Hustle at some point. I sat down with Slim Pickins, the man behind the legend. We discussed brostep, his DJ name, his Supreme Hustle team, the label, the Supreme Hustle artists and a very busy summer of shows.
K: So are you Calgarian?
Slim: Yes. Born and raised and still here and loving it. I did move away for a little while. I lived in Edmonton for three years where I did drum ‘n bass parties back in the day in it’s first wave around here. Sort of early 2000s, then it kind of hit a wall. We had a full functioning similar thing to Supreme Hustle called Subterranean Sound and eventually Future Roots. I did it with Degree and Phatcat and some other key players. Then I moved to Vancouver for a couple years where I did drum ‘n bass shows and regional tours as well, mainly 2005-2007. Finally I came back to Calgary, and I was just DJing with Mark Instinct at first and stepping back from promoting. I was basically just doing a lot of DJ gigs at the time and touring the country. There ended up being a little bit of a gap between shows, and we ended up picking it up and now it’s been four very busy, busy years. Prior to that we had started Supreme Hustle, it was originally me and Mark Instinct just DJing. We had kind of wanted an alias for when we performed together, so we were using it for that. When we first started doing “Supreme Hustle Sessions” it was the two of us DJing for four hour sets at very intimate venues and recording DJ mixes. Once we started to grow it expanded to the crew and all the parties we have done.
K: How did you get your DJ name Slim Pickins?
S: That comes from a two fold story. First and foremost, it simply means that there’s nothing left after I’m done playing. It’s been rinsed! The crowd has given it all and left it all on the dancefloor. It’s slim pickins for anybody else who follows on the decks! I grew up in the battle DJ turntablist/ bboy mentality when I first learned about DJing, so you needed to have a little swagger to your presentation. Pre-swag swagger from back in the day I guess. And secondly if you’ve ever seen me in real life it just came as a natural choice as a DJ name. A lean mean soundsystem rumbling machine.
K: So how did you get into throwing shows? Is it that you weren’t seeing the music you liked represented in the scene?
S: Originally with drum ‘n bass when I first started doing events that was the case. I was into the darker tribal stuff and focused on that for many years. There was a lot more house, trance and breaks represented. Actually way back in the day, we did throw some raves back in Calgary when that was big. We threw a party called Hush at Rollerland in like 2000-2001.
K: I think I have that flyer in my box!
S: It was actually really well attended, I was proud of that party. We did a couple more like that back then plus shows at Soul Tattoo, at The Warehouse and even some renegade-style warehouse parties. When I moved to Edmonton though is when I think it really took off, just honing the DJ craft and the back end administration of it all.
K: So what types of music and sounds do you currently hope to bring to people? And how do you find the artists that you like to bring? Because you are pretty much throwing shows constantly, how do you find artists?
S: A lot comes through my own DJing and networking. I try to focus on the reggae-influenced dub, 140 BPM or drum ‘N bass/ jungle sounds. All things dubwise and bass heavy really. That’s where my heart lies. But I don’t want to force it on anyone. Second to that, I know there’s a lot of bad press and talk about ‘brostep’ and heavier dubstep, but I feel like those guys making it and DJing bring their ‘A’ game all the time. There is a lot of good energy and passion in the heavier end of the dubstep spectrum and it shines through at the end of the day. I do like the heavy dubstep, and I will keep bringing it. I know people like it, and I personally like it. I think that on a big system it’s the current champion of the soundsystem experience, it has the belt ya know? It has the heavy bass, it has a tempo that people can get down to and it’s very accessible. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it and love seeing the crowds here and everywhere we travel just GO OFF!
K: Can you name an artist that you’re super stoked on now?
S: Too many to list in full but I have some picks. First I have to say my man from Toronto- Marcus Visionary. He’s been putting out great music for so many years and is a very positive, personal and professional influence in my life. Working with him and touring together has been amazing and refreshing on so many levels. In terms of DJs, WakCutt, my boy from Golden, B.C. He’s got a lot of heart and skills and is a natural. He’s definitely on par with Mat the Alien for keeping it fresh and they are both little national treasures. I really like Rack N Ruin who we recently hosted – he plays a lot of diverse music. Lots of 140 BPM heavy dance stuff. He does the U.K. funky and the ragga dubstep so I’m really into what he’s doing. DJ Cain who has been putting out some nice ragga jungle and his forthcoming sounds are only getting tighter. We get to jam once a month together at his weekly night and my monthly residency on Wednesdays in Banff at The Dancing Sasquatch and it’s one of the top spots to play in the country. And of course I have to mention Mark Instinct. I’m really proud to see someone I know put in the hard work and get rewarded. He focused on being the studio guy and having a good work ethic, and to see him get rewarded on an international level and representing us on an global scale just makes us really proud.
K: So what else is Supreme Hustle? You also run a label …
S: We do have a digital record label, mainly on Beatport.com. We’re up to our fifth release.
K: And who’s released on it?
S: We have Squalid Squad on there, RealTalk, SKLTN and some great international talent in the form of Toronto Is Broken and some new names you will be seeing this summer …
K: So are you trying for a release a month?
S: Yeah, every four to six weeks. It’ll work out to about 12 per year.
K: So what other roles do you have on your Supreme Hustle team?
S: There are a lot. Everybody plays an important role. Dylan Kennedy manages the label and I personally select the tunes. We have people running the website, we have all the DJs and producers doing their solo projects under the Supreme Hustle name and we have a big promo team. Squalid Squad runs our SoundCloud page, Chris Murphy (Stoked on Photos) takes all of our photos – he’s been my photographer since day one. Because of his good work skills, he’s also our production manager now. He more or less manages the madness of the operation of the shows while they are happening alongside our talent host Robbi Fischer. Both of them being on board has helped me immensely to reclaim time for my own DJing and my own music. There was a period where I was missing DJ sets because of pressing situations that had to be dealt with at each event and I’m happy to say that is no longer an issue. Sorry to anyone who ever witnessed a SP no-show! We have a couple of the young guys in training for all the different roles, then a couple of people that help out with the office work. I still feel like a lot of people have a misconception that we’re bigger than we are, at the end of the day we’re still just an independent group and label. We’re all homies that work together and that’s the best part really. Keeping it on the friendly familiar tip is our amazing working relationship with both PK Sound and Beama Visuals, who are integral parts of our event production team and long-time allies. I give them full credit where credit is due for being the leaders in their respective field.
K: Tell me a bit about your DJ roster?
S: For producers we have Mark Instinct, Squalid Squad, RealTalk, Dylan Kennedy, Kid Shuffle and everyone else in the crew is in the studio working on projects. For DJs we have myself (SP), DJ Cain (Banff), Wakcutt (Golden, B.C.), Nomayo (Vancouver), Gnarcotics – definitely some guys to watch for, we all know how to rock a party. Everyone listed are the definition of what a DJ is to me, just really diverse, really good taste in music. That’s why you see us playing a lot of different types of shows as we can always make it fit. Franky Dubs is another one doing that and always bringing a great personal vibe. For our young heavyweights we’ve got LA Rose, OpenEnd, Dsteez and Dubcepticon who have all been stepping up for big shows and are quickly getting a strong local following. We also have a lot of key contributors that are either old school vets or brand new talented DJs like Vested, Marxx, IchiKraft, Gunfingaz, SuperGlue, Mawbin, Sars_1 and Derk Phoenix. Our roster is filled to the brim right now and I’ll be the first to admit we don’t even have enough shows for everyone at the moment but that always changes with time. This summer you can see them all playing all over town and various spots across the country! Everyone involved brings a different element and I’m very appreciative of all the diversity we have on the team.
K: Do you think dubstep is dying? What do you think is next? Do you think moombahton has the potential to overtake dubstep?
S: Last summer moombahton seemed to be a flavouring in a lot of sets that took it in a cool direction for a few tracks. Now it’s a staple sub-genre and is doing well. I think they are so different it’s tough to compare beyond the bass heavy elements. The crowd into moomba is more of a house/electro music crowd from my experience. I don’t think dubstep is dead at all, but I do think it’s really saturated. There’s a lot of DJs and there’s a ton of producers. You have to be really talented or smart or both to make it. You have to be innovative, you have to be doing something different, or have really great marketing, or be pushing the envelope in some way. People know what they want to hear and appreciate those doing it well. No, I don’t think dubstep is dead, I think it’s just going through a lot of changes. I think you already see evidence of that here in Calgary. There are some crews only doing the deep end sound, some are doing a more 4×4 techno-influenced sound, and people are championing the sounds they like as a collective or an inspired individual. I think that’s really healthy.
K: What do you want and hope to see in the future of our community?
S: Just everyone to stay happy and positive, and if you like what you’re doing focus on it. And if you don’t like what someone else is doing, keep focusing on what you’re doing and don’t worry about it. I say that every day – why be negative, why be sour, especially in this business? It’s based on partying and community values, it’s based on interaction. It’s based on music and healthy energy. The only thing that makes it negative is your own perception of something, and the more people that tune into that the more that side of it grows … It’s like, if you don’t like ‘brostep’, don’t go to a ‘brostep’ show. If you identify something you don’t like, just stay away from it and don’t give it any time. Not giving it any time means you can focus positive time on something you care about, whether it’s getting outside, listening to music or even closing your computer! A lot of people would benefit from getting off the Internet and reconnecting with their real life. Myself included, and I’m very happy to be spending time on that in much larger percentages than being locked into computers all day. Not to say that there’s not a time and place for social media. I mean, it’s cool that there is a chance in our community to connect with artists that people like but there are pros and cons. Like a pro being amazing interactions between fan and artists and a con being people lose their filter on what sort of vibe they are putting out to the world. Think before you write people! An open forum/medium is not necessarily an invite for your opinion.
Photo by Stoked on Photos
So the last thing I wanted to ask you. What else does Supreme Hustle have going on this summer? Any shows or releases you wanted to highlight?
S: Yeah, we’ll be following our monthly release schedule for releases. We’ll also be doing a big compilation album, eight to 16 tracks with the extended Supreme Hustle family. In terms of parties, we have Evol Intent coming up this weekend with Koan Sound, Dub Phizix which is proper drum ‘n bass on June 23 and June 28 will be a free party with Mat the Alien. We want to give back to the community, so usually once in the summer and once in the winter we do a free show. In July, our big Stampede showcase is Liquid Stranger and Dubba Jonny plus we have a show with K-Lab from New Zealand and Bryx and Wakcutt on Friday July 13. Saturday July 14 is our Stampede finale with Stickybuds, Neon Steve, Gnarcotics and Franky Dubs closing out the season. We are also a part of the Skrillex Festival Express show in Edmonton which should be mental! And I’m very happy to mention I am going to be performing at a few amazing festivals like Fozzy Fest, Electric Vibe Festival and my very first appearance at Shambhala. I’m finishing it all off with some east coast dates in Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes in late August and then back to Calgary for an amazing fall schedule. Fall brings a ton of great shows and I’m very excited to say we are going to be raising the bar all around in terms of talent and production. Bass Culture is alive and well in Calgary and I will continue to push it forward long into the future as long as people keep coming out and smiling!
With a summer this action packed it sounds like everyone is bound to keep smiling. A big thanks to Slim and the rest of the Supreme Hustle crew for the love they put into our scene every day. Big things this summer!
As told to K. Lea