Australian DJ and producer Hook N Sling has come a long way since his days as a house party DJ ten years ago. With an ARIA nomination and several chart-topping tracks under his belt, Hook N Sling (known to his friends and family as Anthony Maniscalco) has remixed artists such as Fedde le Grand, Calvin Harris, and Miike Snow, and has garnered international acclaim for his collaborations as well as his originals. He sat down with Joonbug before a show at Mansion Nightclub in Miami to talk about his upcoming projects, life in Sydney, and his quest for the perfect burger.
We’re seeing a lot of popular DJs coming out of Australia. How’s the EDM scene back home?
Hook: Back home, it's different. The scene’s much smaller, when you’re on the road and traveling with other DJs it’s a much smaller group of guys and girls doing the circuit.
Your single “Take You Higher” with Goodwill was an international hit. What was the creative process like working on that track?
Hook: “Take You Higher” was a collaboration so I felt like there were no boundaries. I could do something really new or fresh and not worry about something I’d done before or what my friend Will had done before.
Any genres you’re interested in testing out?
Hook: I’ve gotta say I love electro house, that’s where it all started for me, and I really enjoy playing that. And then writing it. But new genres? I don’t know…that’s hard. I never consciously try and do new genres, I suppose. I do come across a lot of new genres through DJ’ing and getting promos, so I’ll come out with these cool blends of this genre and that, but I don’t do it consciously I’d say.
What do you listen to when you’re not working on your own music?
Hook: I don’t even really listen to that much music because I’ve got so much music going ‘round my head all the time, so when I’m in the car I just turn off the radio—I get annoyed by the radio quite easily; if I hear something too many times, I switch it off. But I listen to a lot of Miike Snow…that’s probably my favorite band at the moment…Radiohead’s amazing, Air was another one for me, that Moon Safari album was one of the first things I had on high rotation…you start developing a passion for music when you start listening to these albums over and over again.
So your DJ name, Hook N Sling, came from the title of a track you used to sample a lot?
Hook: I just had it in my record collection to be honest. I was sitting there and I was just doing up demos and I was like, “Man what am I going to call myself? I have no idea.” I didn’t want to go by my name; my name’s a tongue-tier, it's too many syllables. And then I just started flipping through my records, and there was this record I used to sample, “Hook N Sling.” I used to sample the kick and the beats and stuff, so I was like, “Yeah, cool—for now that’s fine.”
A lot of people think that Hook N Sling is two people.
Hook: Yeah. I got a headphone sponsorship a couple years back and they sent me two pairs of headphones, they were like, “These are pairs for the guys, here’s one for Hook, one for Sling.” I think it came with clothes and stuff…I got extra clothes. But this time they figured it out because I ended up getting one hotel room and one plane ticket.
Are you very productive as a producer?
Hook: In Sydney I lived in Bondi, and I remember I was talking to Axwell ‘cause he came out and stayed in Bondi and he was like, “Man, how do you get any work done out here? You’ve got the beach right there, and there’s shit to do…” And I admit, it takes a lot, there’s a lot of distraction.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Hook: Yes, I have a girlfriend back home. We just moved over to the states last week, because I was coming over here a lot. So we’re based in LA. We met while she was working at the club Saintov back home, so she understands that I’ve got to go away on weekends and stuff.
Does she have any input on the music?
Hook: Yeah she does. My studio back in Sydney was in the house, so she could always here what was going on. I always kind of give her a listen to stuff; I do value her input. It’s interesting, whenever I play her a song I kind of get the idea that I’m getting a different opinion. Sometimes I need that because I question it too much.
Is there anything about the life that isn’t what you thought it would be?
Hook: It really is a lot of work. For example, working on the plane today until my battery ran out, charging up my laptop as soon as I got in just ‘cause tonight I’m playing four or five new songs, and I wanted to make sure they’re right before I play them. And you just kind of have to work at a certain standard otherwise don’t bother doing it.
What’s going through your mind right before a performance?
Hook: I get excited. I only get nervous about five or ten minutes before, I get nervous when I get into the club and I look around and go, “Ok, these people are expecting a lot…let’s go.” I have equal levels of excitement and anxiety.
What gigs in particular are you looking forward to?
Hook: I’m doing my first festival actually in New York at the end of July, one called Catalpa.
Any odd habits or rituals while touring?
Hook: I always try to get a burger and a steak. I like sampling burgers and steak in every city…it’s a bad habit.
Have you found the perfect burger yet?
Hook: In LA at the Roosevelt. In the front of the Roosevelt there’s this little burger joint that’s really cool.
Can we look forward to any upcoming projects?
Hook: I have a new remix for Stealth Records, a new single on Spinnin’, I just previewed it today, out June 25th called ‘Surrender’, and then a track with Wall, Afrojack’s label, so its all just coming together right now.