“The first time I DJed was at a desert festival called Good Vibe Tribe Gathering, way out in the Mojave desert, 3-4 hours from the city... I brought my own controller because I didn’t know how to use CDJs yet. My laptop actually got wet cause I forgot to bring it in from inside. It wouldn’t turn on, I was drying it out in the sun the morning of… The guy who played before was this older guy who’s been doing it for a while. He asked me why I wasn't using the CDJs… when I said I had a flash drive he offered to teach me on the spot while I played my set.”
For Sly Turner, it is moments like these that help push him to keep going and keep creating. While many veteran DJs would not have cared to assist an up and comer in learning crucial skills, the experience Sly had at his first gig was heart-warming. As a rising DJ in an ever competitive scene, any help is welcomed.
Sly first started to fall in love with house music when he returned to San Diego at age 19.
“That’s when I started diving into it a bit deeper, immersing myself into it. Going to local parties at Spin, Bang Bang… I really started focusing on production, before it was a hobby but moving back to San Diego inspired me to take it more seriously.” Immersing himself in music was made easy after the transition to San Diego. Given how prolific the electronic scene is on the west coast and California specifically, San Diego seems to fly under the map. Perhaps it’s because it has escaped the overlord grasp of Insomniac, or simply because it’s not Los Angeles. Regardless, a true underground scene has developed in the city over the last few years. Between the iconic CRSSD Festival, and countless new clubs, DJs like Sly Turner have a city in which they can consistently book gigs in, and have high level peers to bounce ideas off of.
While Sly is still on the come up, he’s spent years behind the scenes honing his production skills. The results have led to releases with Box of Cats, Desert Hearts, and a recent collaboration with Wyatt Marshall. “I would spend hours watching youtube videos about everything… sound design, compression, mastering etc… When I look back on my early releases they were probably pretty trash. If I had to redo it, I might have waited longer to put out my first tracks so that they would’ve been higher quality but when you’re getting into it for the first time, you think it’s great.”
As Sly has grown and progressed, his sound has transitioned away from the glitchy funky vibes we associate with Box of Cats, and he has moved towards a more minimal, tech house sound. “I’ve moved away from their [Box of Cats] sound but I love those guys and they gave me one of my first opportunities.”
Releasing music and finding common ground with the Desert Hearts crew was always a goal for Sly, and upon moving to San Diego, it became a necessity. “They’re locally based so I would always go to their shows and listen to all the releases. Being from San Diego, it was very important to me to be on the label. I would see all the guys around town and just developed friendships with them.”
Going forward, Sly will continue to pump out high quality minimal tech house tracks. As he works on his craft, we can expect to see him finding awesome label homes, and hopefully booking gigs across the country.
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