This weekend, San Francisco resident and electronic producer Slaptop will soak in the sights and sounds of Outside Lands and come September 11, he shares a stage with Diplo at the 7th annual Mad Decent Block Party at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.
Luke Frisher, AKA Slaptop, started his career playing “abandoned buildings and forgotten beaches of the Northern California Coast,” frequently channeling glowing summer vibes with a heavy dose of garage and deep house. This year, Slaptop’s noticeably heavy participation on the festival circuit has included Northern Nights Music Festival, Hard Summer in LA, and Chicago’s Lollapalooza.
We spoke with Slaptop about his Bay Area roots, the upcoming Block Party with the Mad Decent crew, and how to spot his troop around Outside Lands this weekend.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Outside Lands?
I love Outside Lands! I’ve been every single year except for the first one. I love that festival. I buy tickets every year [and] don’t even need to look at the lineup sometimes. All my friends go. We have a space Pegasus flag that we all congregate around. It’s definitely one of my favorite weekends every year. Musically this year, I have a friend from high school performing named Devon Baldwin. I’m really excited and happy for her. I’m excited to check that out.
I’m also excited to see DJ Mustard, man. I had a blast at his set during Lollapalooza. I think this time I might get in the crowd and get a little sweaty. He’s a killer producer and it’s fun to hear him play hip-hop hits one after another. Kendrick Lamar. Elton John is a legend. There’s some cool DJs in the Heineken tent this year. Kidnap Kid, Moon Boots, Jonas Rathsman. Those are the ones that come to mind.
How did you go from studying economics at a liberal arts college in Ohio to making electronic bangers?
I’ve always been musically inclined. I played the piano as a kid, played in bands and started playing drums around seventh grade. I played in a rock band, a soul band, and played in a bunch of bands in college. I also played a lot of jazz growing up. I started getting into electronic music probably in my junior year of high school. My first experience was I went to Treasure Island Music Festival in 2008 and saw Justice. It was the first time I had seen electronic music. It just blew me away. I couldn’t believe the energy. It was awe-inspiring in a way.
So from there, I started listening to it and started messing around. By my junior year in college, I was pretty good with the computer. I’m musical and thought maybe I should start to produce. I started messing around [and] progressively got more and more serious. By the time I graduated, I was focusing on music and looking for jobs related to music or potentially economics, but mostly music. [About] six months into it I get hit up by Plus One, which is now my record label. From there I started making music full-time.
What are your thoughts on the tropical house movement?
Oh man, I guess I got to go on the record with this. I don’t really like tropical house. I know that sounds funny because some of my stuff has elements like that sometimes. I often associated with those acts but I actually don’t like it that much. It’s kind of gimmicky. I think it’ll end soon. I don’t pretend. I’m not personally into it. I think there’s elements of it that I hope survive, like the melodic approach. That’s how I try to incorporate it. But as far as the general sound, I could probably skip it.
Do you think it’s similar to moombahton?
It’s hard to say. It has made a much bigger splash than moombahton did. If you listen to the pop charts, there’s like six or seven songs that are basically tropical house songs. Obviously Kygo is the [big], but there’s also that super annoying cheerleader song right now and all that stuff.
How did you start the collaboration with Mad Decent to participate in their block parties?
I love Mad Decent. I love a lot of stuff they do. It’s super cool and innovative. They’ve done an amazing job [with] that whole brand stuff. It’s definitely an honor to do that show. In terms of how I got connected with them, it was through my agency. I’ve done a few open spots for Diplo before. So it’s not my first time playing with a ton of Mad Decent artists. I’m just super grateful to them for supporting me.
Do you admire Diplo’s trailblazing abilities?
He’s really on top of his game right now. He’s got two hit songs right now with two different projects (Major Lazer & Jack Ü). They’re both really cool and innovative. He’s definitely blazing new paths of music. It’s hard to point to a more successful electronic artist right now. Iv’e watched him DJ a couple times. He’s a fabulous DJ. It’s always good to play with them and hope to spend more time with him in the future and learn whatever I can.