The relationship between Slander and Kayzo goes back many years.
A simple Google search reveals that while their two-track Monstercat EP is out in full on Oct. 27, their first musical collaborations date back to 2012, when all three of them were just getting started in the dance music scene.
Derek Anderson and Scott Land, who make up Slander, were local DJs in Los Angeles at the time. They were passionate about what they were doing and wanted to find a way to make music as a career. Anderson recalls joining producer groups on Facebook – in one of which he met Hayden Capuozzo, who went on to become Kayzo.
“I really liked the music he was making, and I asked him if he wanted to work on a song together,” Anderson says. “He invited me to come to his studio, but when I got there, it wasn’t really his studio.”
It was Icon Collective, a music production school in LA, and Capuozzo was taking classes there.
“I remember walking in the door and seeing a bunch of kids on their laptops with headphones in the lobby and thinking ‘this is where I need to learn how to do this,’” Anderson recalls. “I had no idea something like [Icon Collective] existed until [Capuozzo] showed me.”
The trio worked on a few original tracks and a remix together – tracks that would become some of their first pieces of work under the names Slander and Kayzo.
“[Capuozzo] taught us so much about production, and he’s been our friend ever since,” Anderson says. “It’s been crazy watching both our progressions over the years.”
Though they did some work together early on, Anderson, Land and Capuozzo’s musical paths took them in different directions for a few years. They only recently got to play a show together earlier this year in Cologne, Germany at Bootshaus.
“Bootshaus is hands down the craziest club on the planet,” Anderson says. “It was one of my favorite shows we did all year. [Capuozzo] got up there and totally crushed it,” he says. “When we got back from to LA, the show was stuck in my mind.”
He contacted Capuozzo and said he wanted to work on more music together. Capuozzo agreed, and sent the duo a folder of unreleased songs. Two of the vocals stuck out to Anderson and Land – vocals that would later become the groundwork for “Without You” and “Holy.” One was perfect for Slander’s “heaven trap” touch, while the other was a more festival-ready track with Kayzo’s flair. They decided to label “Without You” as Slander & Kayzo, while “Holy” is branded as Kayzo & Slander.
“It’s a mutual respect thing,” Anderson says. “It all came together really organically.”
While the EP came together organically, the theme didn’t. Since the two tracks are so different, both artists struggled with a way to tie them together. Anderson says the concept for Dilapidation Celebration came to him after a trip to Burning Man.
“We always celebrate happy times in our lives, like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays,” he says. “But life is more than just the happy moments. Life is every moment… all your sad moments and your happy moments together. That’s what makes the human experience.”
Both artists had released on Monstercat before and played at EDC this past summer. Monstercat CEO Mike Darlington heard them drop “Holy” at the festival and said the Canadian label would love to release it.
“A lot of labels are stuck in one lane, but Monstercat is so open-ended,” Anderson says. “They’re open to different genres, which is good because the two songs [on the EP] are so different.”
In the end, Anderson says the EP was simply done because of their relationship with Capuozzo, with no ulterior motives.
“Some collabs sound forced, and you can tell the two artists are working together just to further their careers,” he says. “We did this because we’re friends, and I think that really comes across in the music.”
Dilapidation Celebration is out now on Monstercat.