Longevity in the world of electronic dance music is certainly no easy task, but to get stronger with age? That is just something you rarely see. However, it seems like AC Slater and his Night Bass brand have cracked the code.
Slater has grown Night Bass from a monthly party into a record label and global brand that has developed a community of producers and music lovers who share a passion for bone-rattling basslines. Giving the genres of U.K. Garage, Grime, and House some serious shine here in the States, the Night Bass label has injected the scene with a new wave of club-ready, bass-heavy dance music.
As the L.A.-based label was celebrating its seventh anniversary, we recently caught up with Night Bass chief AC Slater, who discussed the evolution of the brand and offered a list of a dozen personal-favorite tracks released on the imprint.
From your earliest vision of Night Bass, did you ever imagine it would blossom into the brand/community it has become today?
Part of my vision for Night Bass was to create a tight-knit community of music fans. This is something I grew up with in the late 1990s, going to raves. That vibe was definitely missing from the dance-music scene when Night Bass started in 2014 during the peak of EDM. I did not know what was going to happen, but it’s worked out really well so far and there is such an incredibly close and supportive community of Night Bass fans around the world. I absolutely love to see it!
What has been the key to success and longevity?
I make sure the music we release on the label is consistently high quality, as well as try to slowly evolve our sound over time to keep it moving forward. I also love to support newer artists and give them a platform, which keeps things fresh and exciting. We have a compilation series called Freshmen where we release artists who have never released on Night Bass before. When it comes to events, I love to expand things just a little bit every year to offer something new and exciting.
How would you say the sounds of U.K. Garage, Grime and House have evolved over the past seven years?
U.K. Garage and House are genres that will always be around. They’ve stood the test of time and have been through many stages of evolution over the decades. I don’t necessarily consider Night Bass releases all house or all garage, but more of a blend of many different styles under one umbrella. That’s what Night Bass means to me – it’s simply a term that covers all of the styles of music I like. I do think many of the artists on Night Bass have really pushed the needle on many genres across the board to help drive that evolution. This is a huge goal of mine. I have a short attention span, so I’m always looking for the next thing.
When it comes to label releases, what do you look for in a production for it to get final Night Bass stamp of approval and get signed?
This is a constant topic of conversation between myself and younger artists and fans. I love this conversation. The most important thing to me is originality. I want to hear something that is distinctly you. This is such a difficult thing to find. It’s easy to sound like someone you like, but to learn from that and develop your own style after that is so important to become a stand out artist. You can’t just make some weird sounds for the sake of trying to be original. It’s got to really work and scream who you are. Other than that, an artist needs to have a clear desire to be successful, work hard, and a true love for the music that they are making. If you came to get rich quick or become a famous celebrity DJ, you probably aren’t going to work out on Night Bass.
In the studio, what’s your set-up?
I use Ableton Live on a 2015 Macbook Pro with an UAD Apollo Duo pair of Adam A7X monitors. I have a few analog synths and a small modular set up that I use quite a bit on most tracks. Inside the computer, the bulk of my sounds come from Serum and Massive.
What’s your creation process in the studio?
It’s so easy to get distracted with label stuff, emails, streaming and so many other things, so usually when I’m working on music I turn off my phone, disable notifications on my computer and try to really dive in and focus. I’m not the type of person who can just throw on the creative switch – I need to really settle into the mindset and it can be difficult to do at times. I usually start with an idea in mind and attempt to reach that point, but it often ends up going somewhere new. If I don’t have an idea, I’ll mess around and make some fresh synth patches and cool sounds to spark some inspiration. If that doesn’t work, I’ll dig through some samples for a possible source of inspiration. You just need that spark, that glimmer of a song in the distance to try and get, too.
How do you manage to keep things fresh when it comes to your curated events?
Again, it comes around to bringing fresh talent into markets where they’ve never been. If there is a Night Bass fanbase in a city or area, I know they’ve heard our releases. So I can bring a more unknown artist from say the U.K. or something and fans will get excited about it because they’re aware of the artist through our channels. Other than that, just keep moving to unique venues each time, curating cool festival stages with interesting and diverse line-ups, and trying new things outside the box.
For someone who is just jumping onto the Night Bass wagon, how would you best describe the culture you’ve created?
Night Bass is a tight-knit, supportive, open-minded community of fans and artists around the world from all walks of life who find a common connection through their love of music. Most of the artists on Night Bass are friends/family. It’s all very closely tied together, even with the distance between us. The music brings it all together. Everyone is welcome!
This remix by Wax Motif from 2017 just keeps living on and on! The original was track one on our first ever Night Bass Records release. Waxy absolutely smashed this remix out of the park and it is one of the biggest Night Bass anthems to date.
The Dogs just came in and flipped the whole bass-house world upside down. Their unique style of bass-house with drum-n-bass production values and style stood out among a sea of new artists in this sub-genre. This is their first EP on the label.
This release is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. It is my first artist album I’ve ever done, capturing the idea and feeling of coming into the music industry and building our own sub-scene from the ground up. It is the first artist album we released on Night Bass at the time.
Part of the next generation of Night Bass heavyweight artists. This tune hits you right in the feels. It’s so unique and addictive. The entire EP is phenomenal, but the song “Nova” really sticks out within the Night Bass catalog.
The first Night Bass EP from the very prolific Flava D. One of my favorite DJs and all-round awesome person. I was so happy to have her be a part of the label and family. These three tracks capture her sound so well.
Something about this track just stands out. It always worked for me in my sets and got people moving. It’s a favorite among shufflers on Instagram. Plus, it’s always fun to work with two good friends on a song!
This is literally one of my favorite tracks ever released on Night Bass. I think it was too far ahead of its time. I still play it in my sets three years after its release. Capo Lee’s vocals and uplifting lyrics are fucking sick and the instrumental is a relentless blend of house, techno and grime.
I couldn’t believe we got a GRiZ track for Night Bass. But I swear, it was meant to be. True story: I heard him playing a house set on Friendship [cruise-ship music festival] early in the morning, while I was trying to sleep. My wife and I couldn’t stop listening. The next day his team sent over this tune for me to consider for a Night Bass release. It’s a super-unique take on the Night Bass sound with a huge helping of funk thrown in. This one just always works in the club.
This is an absolute anthem from the Dogs. So simple, but one of the most banging tracks you can play in a set at peak time. I’ve heard so many DJs play this in so many different cities around the world.
Stranger smashed it with this original tune and having Waka Flocka on Night Bass was really cool. I was dying to remix it, so I went for it, and this remix has been a part of almost all of my sets since I made it and it still holds up today.
Another one of my all-time favorite Night Bass tracks. It’s such a unique mix of breaks and bass. It is so different than anything else Kry Wolf ever did. I couldn’t believe it when they sent it over – so dark and vibey! I will still play this on occasion today.
This is one of those tunes that gets a loud cheer every single time that first drop comes in with the bassline and no drums. It’s incredible. Nostalgix burst on the label with this one from “Night Bass Freshman, Vol 3.” She’s since graduated, dropping two EPs and countless collabs and remixes on Night Bass.
To check out more interviews, click here.