Bass-heavy and bombastic, frenetic yet lush, the music of Slumberjack is born from its Perth-based creators' passion for contrast. Made up of DJ/producers Morgan Then (a 23-year-old Borneo-bred classically trained pianist and former world-music artist) and Fletcher Ehlers (a 21-year-old Australia native who taught himself to make electronic music at age 11), the duo dig into their disparate backgrounds to push into thrillingly original sonic territory. On their debut EP Slumberjack (Onelove), that dynamic reveals itself in lead single "Body Cry" (a melody-driven EDM-meets-R&B fusion included in the weekly "Skrillex Selects" SoundCloud playlist series last year) and its follow-up "Horus" (a heavy-hitting and hypnotic Eastern-flavored track that climbed to #1 on Hype Machine). With the EP hitting #2 on the iTunes electronic chart soon after its November 2014 release, Slumberjack are emerging as one of the most exciting and daringly creative acts within Australia's electronic music scene.
Both former winners of the Limelite DJ Competition, Then and Ehlers met in 2012 and formed Slumberjack the following year. Initially honing their production skills by making remixes (an art form they continue to explore with tracks like their late-2014 future-bass remix of Alison Wonderland's "Cold"), the two quickly went on to shape their own sound by playing off the dichotomies at the heart of their collaboration. "Because I'm classically trained I'm bound by the rules of music theory, whereas Fletch goes by the feel of the music - if it feels right, it is right," says Then, who began studying classical piano at age 13. The result: an elaborately textured, artfully crafted brand of electronic music that's kaleidoscopic in sound and intense in energy. Steadily building a following through their "Slumbercams" (social-media-shared hangout footage of Then and Ehlers) and a self-financed tour around Australia ("We stayed in a lot of horrible motels and ate a lot of microwaved eggs - it was grim," says Ehlers), Slumberjack released their breakthrough single "Felon" through Perth-based collective Die High Records in June 2014. One month later, the duo signed to Onelove and set to work on their self-titled debut. By the end of the year they'd not only taken the stage at Stereosonic, but also racked up about 2.5 million plays on SoundCloud and made their way into major rotation on the Australian national radio station Triple J.
Working out of their self-built home studios, Then and Ehlers thrive on constant creation. "We really get a rush out of making beats," says Ehlers. "I love being able to turn to Morgan and say 'Check this out' and have him add to what I've done, and just keep the energy going back and forth." And with their dream collaborators including Italian pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi, the two make a point of mining inspiration from the most unlikely places. "We're influenced by a lot of things that most people wouldn't even consider music, stuff like film scores and Mongolian prayer music and Gregorian chants," Then says. Along with spurring Then and Ehlers on to experiment with new sounds (such as their castanet-mimicking tongue-clicking on "Horus"), that sense of adventurousness allows Slumberjack to fulfill one of their central missions as artists. "We try to strike a balance between creating something really fun and introducing people to things they'd normally disregard," says Then. "We want to be vessel or a medium for our fans to learn about different music, to loosen up a little and open their minds and discover something new and amazing they might not get to experience otherwise."