SNAILS is a word synonymous with huge crowds, nasty drops, and lots of headbanging in the electronic bass music community. Frédérik Durand, better known by his stage name SNAILS, has carved his own lane in the bass genre, creating his own subgenre and an artistic vision that has attracted praise from both the scene’s most veteran DJs and Producers and from fans around the world.
His own fan-coined subgenre of “Vomitstep” can be described as having nasty drops, guttural bass, trap rhythms and grotesque sound designs. This sound and his artistic vision have become the founding pillars of his extraordinary live performances which frequently draw tens of thousands of fans. In just eight years, the Montreal native has become a leading figure in the community, collaborating with dance music icons like Skrillex and Flux Pavilion, and hosting his own festival at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado for 3 years in a row.
During the pandemic, SNAILS entered a year-long hiatus from releasing music to lock himself in the studio and refine his sound. The product of that experimentation is his new EP SLIME TIME which marks a return to his “Vomitstep” roots. SNAILS released the project’s first single “FROGKIND” last month which coincided with a complete rebranding and a return from his King Slugz character to SNAILS’ original self in his artwork. Flaunt caught up with SNAILS via email to chat about the new project and the inspiration behind returning to his musical roots.
SLIME TIME EP is on the way! What was your inspiration for returning to your roots both musically and visually with this new project?
YESS! I’m so, so happy to finally be releasing it! My biggest inspiration as it’s always been is my fans. I released a ton of music in the last few years and listened to my fans which led to me to losing the SNAILS sound throughout the year. I really felt I owed all my fans the original sound they were craving, what made SNAILS, SNAILS! The visual inspiration came from doing all the new music. My mind opened up more to different things and I’ve been very inspired by Salvador Dali’s body of work. I feel this influence opened my mind to new sound design a lot, but also helped me reinvent the visual of SNAILS toward being a weirder new world.
What helped you stay inspired and motivated to produce this EP entirely during the pandemic?
I think once again my fans had been the ones that helped me stay on track by working on the EP! They’ve been there since day one and have always supported me! The feeling of owing them this sound design drove me to get the best out of myself and make this EP.
For those who aren’t familiar with Vomitstep, how would you describe it?
That’s a tricky question. [laughs] I’d say Vomitstep is born from being an ANTI-GENRE… something so disgusting that it appeals to how weird it is and what it is exactly! The idea of naming my music that way came from wanting to create a new box for my style of music which could easily be recognized by the more organic, throaty sounds in the song. All of this came from wanting to do something different and create this new world for these sounds that never existed before. Examples include my songs “FROGKIND” and “Murda Sound.”
Where does your love for bass music come from?
I’d say it started when I moved to Montreal from my small-town called St. Emelie de l’énergie, smaller than 1000 people. I started going to those electronic nights and fell in love with the grunginess of the sounds and all the bands involved (Mstrkrft, Boys Noize, The Bloody Beetroots). A lot of influence from metal bands at the time got me really falling into the heaviness of my sounds. Throughout all these shows, as the geek I am, I decided to mess around with the software Reason and experiment with basslines that eventually became the foundation of the “SNAILS” sound and I kept experimenting since then. It was a journey.
Your live performances are such a massive part of the SNAILS experience. How have you been coping with not being able to perform live in front of your fans during the pandemic?
Shows are definitely one of my favorite parts of the project because I get to play music for all my favorite people, test out new music and meet amazing new fans. I’d say that “coping” isn’t the right word, but I’ve definitely been missing doing shows and all that. On the other hand, I kept on working because I know when shows come back in full action, all this work is going to make a difference!
You’ve always been known for having some of the best sound design in the game and in the past year, you’ve taken it to the next level with this EP. How has your approach to music and sound design changed with this new project?
The approach came from wanting to refine the sounds in a new way, reworking some sounds in a way I’ve never done before to accomplish something I’ve never done before. With being able to sit down this whole year (something I haven’t been able to do before because of touring being so heavy), I really took the time to tweak and refine more detail to take it to the next step for the “SNAILS” sound design. I bring out the SNAILS 2.0 sound design in this production.
What have been your most proud accomplishments as a DJ/producer?
Hands down, it was holding my own festival at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. That has been a dream of mine forever and we’ve been able to do this for 3 years in a row. It still gives me goosebumps talking about it.
What excites you about the bass music scene right now? Who are some of your favorite up and comers?
When I hear new sound design and when the style of songs are out of the box. I based SNAILS off being different and weird and it’s still my favorite thing today, to find artists being unique in their sound and different from the lot. One guy I really like right now is called Guilt Chip. He’s been doing crazy sound design, me and him have been talking a lot on this subject. It’s so fun to be able to chat about the same passion together. Through my label Slugz Music, we have amazing artists I’m excited about! Next one is Rated R who’s going to come out in the next month, and more to come.
You’ve had some huge collaborations over the years with the likes of Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, and Zeds Dead yet all the tracks on SLIME TIME are solo. Was that a deliberate decision or did it work out like that?
It actually was! As much as I’m so thankful for every single collaboration that’s happened and all the knowledge I gained, I had the time to come back into the scene with original songs that really show what I’ve been up to and all the sound designs that’ve been part of the rebranding. In the future, there’s going to be other collabs for sure. I definitely felt the need to come back solo (the last time I’ve done a solo EP was almost 5 years ago with the Free The Vomit EP), and I owed it to my fans to give them what they wanted from my solo artistic vision.
What do you have in store for us for the rest of 2021?
Too much stuff I can’t speak about haha but something I can say is that you’ll see my name around really often. Lots of projects involving art and music, breaking boundaries and showing the best version of myself and all the work that I put in throughout 2020.