She stans Heidi Montag and Courtney Stodden. She posts flirty Photo Booth pics from her bedroom. She grew up on Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, and swears she could sub in for any dancer on Beyoncé ‘s I Am… World Tour.
Her name is Slayyyter, and she’s ready to dominate the planet. Or, least, get out of her closet, which currently doubles as her recording studio.
The St. Louis-bred DIY-pop bombshell-slash-self-professed “local” has been consistently releasing ’00’s-inspired, occasionally X-rated, breathy electro-pop gems like “BFF,” “Alone,” “Candy,” “I’m High” and “Hello Kitty” for months, much to the delight of gays and girls in the cooler corners of the Internet already in the know.
As a dancer before dabbling in music, she waxes nostalgic about the choreography-filled stage spectacles of yesteryear. And, as an appreciator of the Art of Pop, she understands the value in maintaining a certain air of mystery in a time of social media saturation, so she’s not interested in giving too much away just yet.
But with her new single “Mine,” a smash hit from a 14-second preview alone that went viral on the Meme Charts several times over on Twitter already, she might not be too anonymous for much longer.
The loved-up House cut, released just in time for Valentine’s Day (February 14), is an instant, obvious smash from the very first play – essentially a spiritual younger sibling to Paris Hilton‘s “Come Alive.” With each lusty purr of “oh me, oh my” and “uh yeah,” she transports us back to a specific point in time of paparazzi culture, Motorola Razrs and T-Mobile Sidekicks.
I hopped on a call with Slayyyter earlier in the month to discuss “Mine,” as well as the State of Pop (and whether it does, indeed, need “saving”), as well as her plans for the future.
I’m very excited to finally talk to you. You’ve been on my radar – no Britney reference intended – for a while now.[Laughs] Love that, oh my God.
Are you in LA right now?
Yeah, I’m chilling in my hotel right now.
Any specific reason?
I’m just out here to do some sessions and to meet up with my manager.
You’ve been teasing some visuals and stuff as well.
Oh, yeah! The other night, I filmed a music video for “Candy.” It’s going to be really cool.
I was going to say, there isn’t too much visual representation of you on the Internet yet.
Yeah! I mean, there’s pictures…but it’s kind of anonymous in a way.
Is that intentional, or just where it’s at right now?
Kind of intentional. Until the other night I guess, I didn’t really have the resources to do visuals for stuff, but I also kind of like just having images and music. It makes it kind of mysterious. I love a little bit of mystery in music, especially when it’s new. I feel like I kind of just started.
It’s interesting that you say that. This is a time of social media and content overload. It’s kind of difficult to maintain that mystery and mystique in this era. With you, I feel like you have to do some poking around on the Internet to figure out what’s going on as far as your origin story and all of that.
I try really hard at it. [Laughs]
So, you grew up in the Midwest.
Yeah! St. Louis.
And, as far as I know, are you still leading the double life of working and making music on the side?
No! I actually quit my job because I hated it too much. [Laughs] I live at home and I’m full-time putting my all into music, just trying to fund it off of merch and selling my own clothes on Depop and shit. Yeah, yeah.
That’s kind of what you need to do is dive in eventually. It’s hard to maintain that double life.
I feel like I still lead a double life somewhat. I’m still very much a local…
I just go out to bars and just, you know…drink my life away. [Laughs] Don’t really do much other than that and make music.
i can’t believe slayyyter’s 15 second snippet is the #1 song in the universe already…. her powers! pic.twitter.com/jOs8ToyetM
— levi (@leviwrfl) February 1, 2019
Do you feel that the hype around the preview for “Mine” has been the biggest that it’s been for any of your songs?
Oh, for sure. The pattern of it, too. It’s kind of like the same thing that happened when I first put “BFF” out, but it wasn’t on as big of a scale. When I put “BFF” out, I feel like what spread my name around and got me a footing was people were making memes and tweeting about it and going crazy. Not since “BFF” have I had a song really do this – this is on way bigger of a scale. Way more views and stuff. Everyone’s really excited for it. I’m hoping this is my “Just Dance,” you know? [Laughs]
That would be amazing. Yes, every gay has run away with putting the preview to some part of pop culture, which is exactly what you want. It’s really funny to watch.
Tell me a bit about the making of “Mine.”
Usually with my songs, I get a beat and then I just write over the beat. This one was different. It was like my last LA trip. I was in a session with Robokid. He was one of the producers on it. He was just like playing me songs, and was like ‘Let me just show you this song that me and my friend made.’ It was this song. The first version was a little different, but I was like…whoa. Can I have this? I usually don’t take fully written songs just like that. There was an open verse. I wanted it. I heard it immediately, and was like ‘This is a hit. I need this song.’ I got home and was like ‘can you send me the instrumental for it?’ I wrote my second verse in like five minutes, and recorded all the vocals in my closet and sent them off. I stayed up until, like, ten in the morning recording the vocals for it in my bedroom. I’m so happy with how it turned out.
So you’re recording vocals in your closet in your room. How involved are you in the production aspect?
All of the songs I have out, it’s pretty much just me doing the vocals. I send out the vocal files – I’m not too involved with production, besides coming out to LA and doing sessions with people. I have a little more input on beats and kind of help shape the beats to be something else, I guess. But yeah, I’ve had more of a hand verbally. I don’t know how to produce for shit, to be honest. [Laughs] I would love to learn how to be more hands-on with it, though. Producing is really cool. For the most part, I consider myself a writer.
You’ve worked extensively with Ayesha Erotica. Is she still involved with this one?
She actually did some vocal production. I’m obsessed with her style of vocal production. I think every song I have out has a touch of her vocal production on it. She’s incredible with mixing. And producing, of course. She didn’t produce the beat, but she did vocal production, which I think adds a nice touch to it.
Are people reaching out to you? Has this been a natural progression? Going from recording in your closet to going to LA for sessions is quite a jump, so something must have happened there.
Yeah, a few people that make music have taken interest. The biggest reach-out I’ve had is my manager. He reached out to me like a month or two again. He’s been helping me so much with setting up sessions, just to get used to writing with other people. I like writing with other people. I like sessions a lot. So far, I’m still independent. It’s kind of me and [my manager] on our own right now.
It feels like something’s brewing right now.
Yeah, I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel like when this new song comes out, I think more people will reach out to me. I hope it’s the song that makes people pay attention. I’ve noticed I’ve gained a bunch of followers and stuff, and people being like ‘Oh, I’m just now finding out about Slayyyter from this snippet.’
From a 14 second snippet!
So, I want to talk about this: I’m a diehard Britney stan. It is undeniable that the influences in your music range from Heidi Montag’s Superficial to Britney, obviously. Hilary. I hear all of these things that are frozen in time and specific for me, circa ’07. Dignity. All of that. Can you talk about the music that shaped your sound?
Yeah, for sure. I have a whole playlist on my Spotify called “My Super Sweet 16,” and it’s all the music I grew up on. I feel like when people talk about the music they grew up on, they talk about what their parents listened to: The Beach Boys, this and that, which, you know…of course I have a great appreciation for all that kind of music. But to me, the music I personally grew up on was like…Timbaland, Nelly Furtado. All those Neptunes and Britney Spears songs. Everything like that. Nelly. All of that. It’s just engrained in my memory of the first music that really grabbed me. My introduction to popular music is everything like that – or even JoJo. Justin Timberlake. *NSYNC. Everything like that.
The vocal melodies of “Alone” remind me so much of *NSYNC/Backstreet Boys/Britney. It’s wild. That kind of Britney era.
It’s almost like Britney Spears cutting an *NSYNC song.
Totally. Which is awesome. I think there are certain waves of music that come in and out, and that “pure pop” sound isn’t necessarily what’s hot on the radio right now. I think there’s a really exciting movement on the Internet – artists like Charli XCX – who are interpreting that sound in a…futuristic way, I guess. I think you’re doing something with the nostalgia of it, but making it fresh, which is exciting for me as someone who grew up on it and loved it, too.
For sure. I owe a lot of it to Ayesha, because she produces these beats that have that nostalgic feeling of that music from yesteryear, but have a new, repurposed sound to it. It makes it easier to write over it. I just got beats back that are in the same direction of “Alone” that have that R&B feel to it – I feel like melodies come out immediately. I just love it, you know?
You kind of instantly get transported back. The memories are really specific.
That era of music – I feel like Britney Spears and *NSYNC are the most popular examples, but from that time period, there were so many artists making that same kind of music, like that Max Martin era of pop. It’s such a specific sound, and I feel like it isn’t around anymore. I feel like with culture and music, everything is regurgitated. Everything is samples from other things. You have to wait enough time – I’m sure music that’s out right now, if you wait 20 years, it’ll make a comeback too. All of that music from that Britney heyday – it’s like the perfect time to bring it back, you know?
Absolutely. Are you listening to “modern” music now? Are you into what’s big on radio or charts right now?
Oh yeah. I’m just a music junkie. My taste in music ranges far and wide. My favorite songs on the radio right now, honestly, are like “Without Me” by Halsey – it’s an incredible fucking pop record.
Um. Same. And I…didn’t necessarily think I would be bopping to that song.
No, same! Same! I don’t know too much of her music, but that song is just…it grabs you. It’s incredible. Post Malone‘s “Better Now,” too. I would say that’s one of my favorite songs on the radio right now. He’s a great pop writer. I’m, like, obsessed with Post Malone, which is an unpopular opinion. My fans hate me for that. I get dragged a lot for talking about it. Dude is a great pop writer.
He is! And I – I wasn’t even going to entertain the idea of his music, and then I heard “Rockstar” at a strip club in Montreal, and I didn’t know who it was so I Shazamed it, and I was horrified to learn that it was Post. And then ever since that moment, I’ve been like…oh my God, he really does write really good pop melodies. It’s like, moody, downtempo, pop melodies.
It’s super pop. I feel like people probably hate on him because I think he puts out his music and calls it hip-hop, which, like…it’s not. It’s so good. That song “Better Now” is one of my favorite songs. Everyone’s always like ‘pop music needs to be saved,’ but I feel like pop music is really good right now. I feel like the best it’s been in a while. To me, a hit is a hit. I just kind of like what grabs you.
To that point – “pop music needs to be saved” – which is something I think about a lot. I think the shape of pop music changes a lot. I think there was a time of – as Christina Aguilera would shadily say – “bowling-pin formation dancers” and that perfect pop sheen, which I think is what people mean by “pop music is dead.”
No, yeah. I feel like that’s why K-Pop is so popular too in America. Pop music doesn’t need to be saved, but entertainment and performance needs to be saved in a way. I was a dancer before I ever made music. I did dance all throughout my childhood. When I do live shows – my first ones probably won’t have dance in them – but that’s going to be a big part of it one day. I feel like K-Pop is that complete production: dancing, choreography, the music videos. Everything. That’s becoming so popular just because American pop has shied away from choreography. I feel like people think choreography is cheesy, like people don’t really dance anymore. I feel like the main pop girls – they still dance, like Lady Gaga – but it feels like newer people don’t dance as much. And if they do, they kind of can’t dance very well. Not to be shady, but…
It blows my mind.
I’ve seen performances of newer people kind of trying to dance, and you can just tell they’re not really dancers. I feel like the production, the performance value, has kind of died away, but the music is still really good. I just feel it’s not really a performance anymore. I hope to change that. [Laughs]
I love that. That’s so spot-on with where we’re at. From being a super Madonna fan to Britney fan to this era, it’s just like…okay, girls, where’s the dancing? They don’t all need to dance. But, you know, you think of Danity Kane and Making The Band. It was assumed that you had to serve.
You had to! You had to be the full package. If you couldn’t dance, then you had to be doing a completely different thing than pop, I feel.
Right, be a powerhouse vocalist or something. It’s so interesting that there are artists who are gliding around, kind of moody and not serving anything visually. For me, it’s such a bizarre world because the idolization of pop stars comes so heavily with the visual. I’m just sort of like…what are you guys excited about? Her Instagram? I don’t…
Yeah, exactly! When you go to a live show, what good is an Instagram when you’re paying money to see someone perform?
That’s been jarring for me to figure out. I’m 30, but I feel like I’ve already aged out. I’m looking at all the new girls and I’m like ‘What are they seeing that I’m not?’ Why are the top tier girls not moving? The songs are great, but…
You know what I feel it is? When I was growing up, I remember watching Beyoncé tour DVDs. I literally memorized the choreography. If someone played the I Am…World Tour, I could literally sub in for a dancer. I know that choreography. I’m obsessed with it. To me, that’s what I grew up with. I feel like the newer pop girls, the fans…this is kind of what they know. And that’s where the bar is set, I feel. I’m not even trying to shade anyone.
No, no. It’s all they know.
Right! The bar is a little low when it comes to performance. And Beyoncé is still around obviously, as is Lady Gaga, but that all is what I was looking up to when I was younger. To me, that’s what music should be. Seeing the Monster Ball Tour for HBO – the full production performance, it’s the most important part of music to me.
I feel like there are really interesting stage designs, but no movement. It’s just…visuals.
Yeah, aesthetic. Some art director goes wild.
Right, “aesthetic.” Ugh.[Laughs] It doesn’t feel as, um, tied together with the music and the art of it. Everyone’s got their own thing.
It’s awesome that you’re from that era, and there’s still that hunger for wanting a bit more spectacle in the pop performance.
Well, yeah! When I was middle school, I mainly listened to indie music for a while. It wasn’t until The Fame came out – that was the first CD I ever bought – and that changed my life. Lady Gaga, every video that came out, “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” – everything was so…performance. It drew you in with more than just the song. The music was great, but then it took it there with the extra step of choreography. The “Paparazzi” video – there’s nothing as iconic anymore. I hate to use that word, but do you know what I mean?
Well, you took the words out of my mouth. I was going to say I believe that she is the last great pop star of this generation.
Oh, for sure. For sure. Honest to God.
I feel like, with the rise of social media, something happened with the relatability and the accessibility of pop stars where she is the last one who came from this sort of untouchable era, and now it’s like everything is so different now. I think social media plays a huge role in it, I’m just not sure exactly what changed. She came in right before it really blew up in such a degree, and streaming came in, and I think everything’s been leveled out, and there is no real pedestal for pop stars anymore. There are the greats, of course, but I think it goes back to the mystique. Without that mystery, it’s hard to justify why they’re superstars. I don’t know. I think about this all the time.
With social media too, now, everyone’s having discussions and people can smell when something’s inauthentic. When Lady Gaga came out, even though she was on a label and stuff, you could tell that she’d been grinding at this shit forever. She was truly a writer. I feel like now with the Internet and social media, you can spot an industry plant from a mile away and it’s not as endearing anymore. It’s like…this isn’t like your art, this is someone else’s art that you’re the face of, I feel.
That’s a really good point, too. There’s so much transparency now.
Social media can be good in a way, too. If it weren’t for social media, I would have nothing.
You remind me a lot of MySpace-era Kesha as well. That’s how I found her – she was putting up all the really rough demos and asking fans to tattoo her face on themselves. Definitely reminiscent.
Oh, yeah! The cult following. [Laughs]
It’s good to have. Not everybody has that. Getting back to your game plan: this is a cliché, but where would you like to take all this? What’s the goal?
Um. If we’re not being realistic, I would love to just dominate the planet. Honestly. I don’t know if that’s in the cards. I’m kind of just feeling it out. I’m trying to make music that I’m obsessed with, because if I’m not obsessed with it, I feel like no one else is going to be, either. At this point, I just want to make really good songs, I want to serve some really good visuals. I would love to take this as far as I possibly can. I just have a love and appreciation for music and performance, and I would love to get to a point where I can really plan out some legendary shit, you know? I would love to see myself doing bigger things than I am now. It’s hard. There are politics in music. I’m still pretty underground. It’s hard to tell at this point. I’d love to be a main pop girl, you know? [Laughs]
I would love to see it. Any misconceptions about you out there already, or things you feel like you don’t get to say in interviews?
Yeah. A lot of people think that I’m a flavor of the month, or just a fad, or a rip-off. You know, PC Music is so huge. I love PC Music. I think it’s incredibly cool. I got introduced to it when I was in college, but that’s not what I’m trying to do or what I’m trying to make. A lot of people, I think, say that me and my friends that also make music are PC Music ripoffs. Maybe there is some influence in a way, but I’m kind of trying to do more of a MySpace-core revival of a different kind of sound. I would say that’s the biggest misconception. People just label it “PC Music.” I love it, but I don’t consider it to be that, but people say all kinds of shit.
That’s true, too. Once you’re on the Internet, you’re no stranger to criticism. And haters!
Oh, yeah. But I encourage that. To me, if people love something, they’re going to talk about it. If they hate it, they’re going to talk about it twice as much, so I encourage people to hate me as much as possible. [Laughs]
I don’t know! I feel like I can’t take it sometimes if someone disagrees and drags me. It ruins my whole day.
Yeah, well, when I first started out, I would argue with people and be like ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Now? It’s like the funniest thing to me. Someone tweeted me recently, a fan – they got mad at me for saying ‘don’t talk shit about my producers.’ They peed on one of my shirts and took a picture of it, and posted it like “Slayyyter, you pig! I hate you!” It was one of the funniest fucking things I’d ever experienced. [Laughs] A long time ago, that would have bothered me so bad, but over this past couple months, I’ve grown the thickest skin. Nothing anyone says bothers me at all.
Good, because it is rough. The things I’ve seen people say to artists is just…another level. Everyone feels entitled, like you owe them music.
To be honest, I feel bad for the artists it bothers. If it bothered me, that would really suck, but when people beg for things or tell me to drop this, leak this, I’m like…in due time, maybe. But it doesn’t bother me. I feel bad for people who it gets under their skin. It only gets worse the bigger you get, and it’s constant. The whole hate thing – I really wish I could sit down with people who get bothered by hate. It literally does not matter. It’s a good thing. It’s a good business move to have people talk bad about you in my opinion.
I will try to keep that to heart. To sort of quote Gaga, there can be 99 nice comments, but there’s one that just takes me out.
Yeah! It makes me feel super famous. [Laughs]
Any hopes and dreams for writing for other artists?
I would love to write for other people. I haven’t done it yet. I don’t know. If I were to write for other people, I’d wanna write for certain artists – I think Courtney Stodden is working on a new album…
I would fucking die.
That would be amazing. “Reality”? So good.
Exactly. That kind of stuff, or Heidi Montag – even Trisha Paytas, I would love to write music for her.
No, totally. I totally get it.
I’m less interested in major pop people, and more into the cult following, kind of “ironic” music. That’s the coolest shit. I would love to have a hand in some of those projects.
I think about Heidi’s album all the time – the idea of an outsider who had a shit ton of money paying, essentially, for Britney’s Blackout.
I know! [Laughs] Oh my God. I just watched a video the other day, years after Superficial, but she was talking about that whole experience, and she’s like ‘I did spend $2 million of my own money to become the next Britney. And I feel like if I did it today, people would have liked it. But at the time, pop was kind of over, so that’s why it didn’t latch on.’ The wildest thing to hear! “Yeah, I spent $2 million on an album.” Oh, but such a cult classic!
It really is!
Thank God! She got all the same producers and everyone. She cut – Confessions of a Shopaholic –
“Fashion” by Lady Gaga! She cut that song and Gaga was like “What the fuck, that’s my song?” And like, she fought to get it back, but Heidi was working with major producers and they were giving her all kinds of great songs. And she could dance! That performance she did…
Miss Universe! That ripoff 2000 VMAs look…
Yeah! The crystal nude bra and pants. It was so Britney – and to me, that’s so amazing. She kind of did all that shit before. That’s what inspires me. Her being inspired by Britney inspires me.
That is very meta and multi-dimensional. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time – I’m so excited for you, and obviously “Mine” is making the girls shake and cry. Any live performances coming?[Laughs] Yeah. Let’s just say…a mini-tour is possibly in the works right now. [Note: it is now official. Get your tickets!]
That’s kind of the one thing that people haven’t seen from you yet…is literally you.
Yeah, I know! It’s going to be crazy to actually be in front of people who listen to my music. I’ve done one Instagram Live before, but a lot of people don’t even know my speaking voice sounds like. It’ll be cool. I don’t have money for dancers or a choreographer or anything like that, but put me on a stage and I promise the children I will work it. I swear.
“Mine” was released on February 14. (iTunes)
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“Dancing” was released on January 19. (iTunes)