Rocketmen 

Groundbreaking EDM duo SLANDER dropped their debut album ahead of bringing their densely visual and science fi-focused tour to The Criterion Nov. 17.

Scott Land and Derek Anderson of SLANDER

Photo provided

Scott Land and Derek Anderson of SLANDER

SLANDER have been on the dance scene for nearly a decade, consistently blowing up, garnering massive video views and streaming play numbers and collaborating with an exploding cast of singers and songwriters.

They’re also just getting around to dropping their debut album.

Even with a hugely successful back catalog of singles and feature appearances, the duo — Derek Andersen and Scott Land — have never released a proper full-length, making this year’s Thrive the beginning of a whole new adventure.

“We’ve changed our sound a lot over the years,” Land said. “We started off as DJs, not as producers. And so we’ve evolved from DJ-ing trends and electro house and progressive house to DJ-ing, like, trap music and dubstep and melodic bass and future bass and that’s kind of like where we’re at now. So because we’re always DJs at heart, we’ve always just evolved every couple of years. That’s why we never made an album before.”

Finally compiling and releasing Thrive has given the guys a new creative opportunity: using the record’s themes and imagery to build an immersive, deeply visual new stage show alongside friend and frequent collaborator Roboto, all told through bespoke video and a giant lighting rig styled as a geometric eyeball.

click to enlarge Thrive album art. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Photo provided
  • Thrive album art.

“It kind of tells this overarching story of this spaceman going out and exploring new worlds and reminiscing about the past,” Andersen said. “But I think, you know, we’re still getting there to where our show is like a movie experience.”

That perfectly planned, timed-to-the-second kind of visual accompaniment has become something of an industry standard as more of the biggest EDM acts develop on-rails and edited musical performances, sometimes simply pressing play on a pre-recorded playlist and acting more as a master of ceremonies while it plays out for them.

Not SLANDER.

“We change the show every night,” Land said. “We have this process where we change the show, like, five percent every single night, just optimizing it every single time. Every night, I’m taking notes in my brain. And so, then, over time, it eventually evolves into a new show versus like ‘This is our show. We’re going to play this show perfectly for the whole tour, then we’re scrapping it and we’re starting from scratch.’ It’s like, it’s more just a slow evolution. And so that allows us to be flexible.”

Flexibility, it turns out, is key when your performance schedule sees everything from mid-sized venues and large theaters to arenas to even some of the country’s most mammoth, crowded festivals.

SLANDER are now veterans of the wild Electric Daisy Carnival, arguably the single biggest American EDM festival, but this year they also ruled Coachella’s legendary Sahara Stage for a massive, after-dark set to a seething crowd of tens of thousands.

“It’s incredible,” Andersen said, “because when we’re doing our sing-along kind of tracks, you hear 10,000 people all singing together, and, like, that feels a little bit cooler than when 2,000 people are singing. But when 2,000 people are singing, you can see their faces and see the emotion. You feel the emotion greater even though the way it sounds is crazier when 10,000 people are singing. So I think there’s pros and cons. And we’ve really only done a lot of big festivals over the past couple years, so getting to see us in a more intimate setting is a little bit more of a rare thing for our fans, and we’re really excited to connect with them in that way again.”

That’s not to say that the show they’re bringing to a more reasonably-sized venue like The Criterion is in any way compromised or pared down.

“The eye is designed to fit on the smallest stage of the tour so we never have to change the show just to fit the venue,” Land said.

SLANDER aims to bring their full vision to every fan in every city on the tour and to bring audiences along on their outer space voyage, cementing and punctuating the journey they’ve taken themselves on over this past decade.

“This is literally just a culmination of every song we’ve ever made, searching for ourselves, and like finding our home. We’ve been searching as we’ve been touring and as we’ve been doing all these singles and collaborations and learning from other artists and really seeing what’s out there and what’s possible. I think it’s just everything, you know, ten years comes to a head,” Anderson said.

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