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SLAVE enters the bass community with cultural taste and melodic focus [Interview]

SLAVE is the creative alias of David Timko, a multi-genre bass producer with musical progress in the electronic community. He had roots as a classical pianist prior to discovering rave culture in Pittsburgh at an early age. After years of moonlighting as both a promoter and a DJ, Timko is now a successful self-taught music producer who shares his knowledge and fresh sounds through his collective, Rapture Studios.

His steady yet syncopated beats are surrounded by carefully sculpted sound design fused with stylish yet eerie melodies, unleashing a danceable and hypnotic experience. David aspires to continue growing his music into something far beyond himself for the purpose of improving the world around him. Encouraging people to follow their passions and building community by creating free and safe spaces for radical self-expression and acceptance are intentions he cares about.

Being supported by pioneering artists such as Bassnectar, who performed a live edit of SLAVE’s “Breakthrough” at Freestyle Sessions, is one example of his artistry being approached. David continues to expand his networks so be sure to continue to listen as he shares creative techniques, production, music, scoring, advice, and collaborative efforts. 

Having recently released a collaborative EP, Annihilation, with Visive, and a compilation entitled, Quasar, featuring international sounds, they’re making a bold, expressive statement. We sat down with the rising bass act to discuss a range of topics, from his time as a pianist and teacher, to his creative vision and his business strategy for Rapture, to release of his recent, and more. 

Slave is representative of our collective vision through shared struggles to exist within the confines of a society that fosters division while suppressing free thought & acceptance.” – David Timko

CE: You have an extensive history as a musician, educator, and promoter. In what ways would you say these three interconnect and how have all three helped to connect your vision?

DT: Beautifully. It all happened completely organically and with little planning, originally. Once I began putting out music, people started approaching me about learning, so I put lessons together and started coaching one on one with a handful of aspiring artists. Throwing events happened in a similar fashion, where the right people and resources came together at the right time and allowed amazing experiences to be created. All of these things work together to build up my network of fellow movers and creators in the bass music world, which is what I think it’s all about. Now as a label co-owner, these projects overlap more than ever before in so many ways. Each aspect of work is a different tool at my disposal to help, grow, and contribute to the community around me.

CE: Slave is representative of our collective vision through shared struggles to exist within the confines of a society that fosters division while suppressing free thought and acceptance. What other sorts of constraints are you aiming to break to reach equilibrium?

DT: There are so many things wrong with the world that we can do better to improve together. I don’t want to limit my vision with specifics but rather let it unfold naturally and pursue new doors that open before me as I’ve always done. I believe music brings people together and through that unity, we can create all sorts of change. I want to push that narrative of oneness.

CE: You’ve mentioned that building your own library of samples and presets of sounds you create is a technique that has helped save time in the writing phase (same goes for project files/mixer setups). Elaborate.

DT: Definitely, and this is so important. I suggest building a preset library of your own synth patches/presets (that you designed yourself), keeping your saved files organized by date (I keep project folders for each month now), saving your mixer chains, saving samples/resampled sounds you make into a library, and organizing your favorite samples into that personal library as well. Save new versions of your project files every couple hours so you can go back and observe the effectiveness of your decisions. Label everything.

CE: You most recently released Annihilation EP with your teammate, Visive. How do you view the collaborative process?

DT: Tim (Visive) and I have always worked on music together pretty seamlessly. Our styles in many aspects are completely different, which is great because it challenges us both to reach outside of our comfort zones and try new things or think differently (hence, “Different Angles.”) We’re both really happy with how this release came out.

CE: What’s the message behind this EP?

DT: We really wanted to close out our big first year leading the pack and with a personal touch. All of our compilations in 2018 were titled with words ending in “tion”, so Annihilation  seemed like a fitting finish. Plus, what is destruction but the beginning of something new? 

CE: Tell us about Rapture Studios. What do you hope to accomplish?

DT: Hell yeah! We’re a brand new label/collective focusing on experimental and heavy bass music. My partner Tim and I have been grinding hard and building everything by our own hands from the ground up. Everything is done in-house so we’re insanely busy but having the opportunity to release so much dope music is totally worth it! I’m honored to be working with so many of these super talented and hard working guys. So far we’re both happy with the progress and have met so many awesome new people from tons of cities. For our first year, our goal was to grow and expand our network HARD, putting out an insane amount of music and content relentlessly. You’ll see a slight shift in 2019 as we focus on upward scaling and heavier curation. Ultimately, the goal is to elevate producers, work together, and have fun!

CE: You’ve released Quasar compilation, which features an international select of eclectic producers. What’s the overall goal with these series of compilations which started with Dispersion, Evolution, and Consternation?

DT: With the amount of bass music record labels, collectives, and various outlets popping up like crazy over the past few years, we realized that we need to really bring the heat if we want to stand out among the sea of releases. The compilations are our way of cramming as much great content into each release as possible, utilizing a very broad organic audience and establishing Rapture as a source our listeners know they can go to for lots of great music, frequently. This worked well for us in year one, so we decided to keep it going in 2019 with celestial objects as our theme! We feel this accurately symbolizes elements of our style. Quasar is the first chapter of that concept.

CE: Last year, Bassnectar approached you and did an edit of “Breakthrough”, marking a pivotal path in your career as he’s given you solid support. How would you say this connection has impacted your career?

DT: The effects have been unspeakable on me. For one, to have the support of literally my favorite artist did wonders for my self-confidence and belief in my own ability. Being able to witness him play it in person on multiple occasions were magical experiences beyond description that I will cherish forever. On top of that I have seen a permanent uptick in listeners thanks to bass heads everywhere and I’ve been flown across the country to share my music, a big life goal of mine. Things just keep building and growing. It’s constant motivation and inspiration for me and I couldn’t be more grateful to Lorin for continuing to support underground artists.

CE: You did a remix of Liquid Stranger’s “Fist of Fury.”  How did this connection align and are you into kung fu movies?

DT: You put me on the spot with this one hahaha. To be totally honest I’m far more inspired by great fighters like Bruce Lee and Jet Li than the movies themselves, but I understand they played an important role in those guys paths. Long story short, Martin and I used to have the same manager for a brief time and it kind of came about naturally through our overlapping paths. Full credit to my friends at High Chai Recordings for setting that up.

CE: Some of your strengths are in texture creation and melody/harmony. Please breakdown the creative process for these elements.

DT: I’m a pianist by roots, so understanding the relationship of melody and harmony comes naturally for me and I would say I have an ear for it as well. I’m really big into layering my sounds and have a tendency to let the melodies drive the track and just put really fat sounds to them.

Honestly, I hear music playing in my head most of the time so it’s usually just a matter of channeling that constant flow and tapping into the vibe it creates, if that makes sense. I usually start with a melody I hear in my head and let the track naturally build itself around that.

CE: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a music producer?

DT: Write your music for yourself.

CE: Who is your favorite producer right now?

DT: Bassnectar, because of his immersive live experience and the purposes and intentions he places behind his music and everything he does. Also, because he continues to reach out to and lift up underdog producers such as myself.

CE: If you could see one change in the music industry, what would it be and why? What steps are you willing to take to see shift happen?

DT: I would love to see a new platform for industry networking, collaboration, and content sharing open up to make relationships in the music world easier to build and maintain without the clutter of all other social media. I would happily work towards creating and running such a platform.

CE: Biggest challenge as a producer?

DT: Currently, taking the correct opportunities and not over-stretching myself across too many projects and commitments. There are all kinds of people doing things out there and it’s easy to say yes to anything good that comes your way. It can be hard to stay on top of it all especially with no agency currently representing me.

CE: What activities do you tap into that help to bring balance?

DT: Definitely changing up the environment and spending time outside is a must. My favorite thing to do is traveling and I find my inspiration from new sights, sounds, cultures, etc. Taking small breaks is another must. You have to let your ears rest so your mind can quiet to hear the creative ideas it wants to. Also, I can’t stress this enough – take care of your body and your health. I’ve made a few big changes in that area this year and it has increased my stamina, mood, energy, focus, and more. Just to name a few.

CE: “The Art of Flow” featuring Slander is a resource you’ve gained value from. What did you learn from it?

DT: There are very wise words contained in this resource that everyone should check out. It certainly reinforced my understanding of fear and how it affects your life and decisions. It reminds us to not allow fear of perception or rejection control the creative process. Like I said before, make music for yourself.

The Art of Flow | Slander ( Part 1 )

The Art of Flow | Slander ( Part 2 )