Sacramento deejay Shaun Slaughter on yacht rock, irony and maturity
Within Sacramento’s concentrated deejay population, there are rising dynamos, embedded bastions and those who are criminally underrated. But above all, there’s Shaun Slaughter, a name long synonymous with the central city’s hip happenings.
It didn’t begin with Lipstick at Old Ironsides, but his name rang out from its success. In its wake, Fuck Fridays, for which Slaughter deejayed alongside his Lipstick co-founder DJ Roderick Mar Carpio, formerly DJ Roger Carpio, at the recently shuttered TownHouse Lounge, rose to weekend fame, until the weekly dance night’s dissolution approximately two years ago.
Since his first pre-Lipstick gigs at The Press Club in the ’90s, there’s hardly been a genre or era Slaughter hasn’t dedicated a night to, with varying degrees of success. But juggling residencies and serving as a figurehead in the music scene is a young man’s game. These days, Slaughter, 34, is humbly adapting, taking the behind-the-curtain role of curator and promoter (as opposed to in-the-booth party instigator) with a weekly gig at LowBrau, an upcoming tribute night to one of his favorite bands and a hand in one of Midtown’s newest ventures.
“Not to be an asshole, but I was always in the center of a certain scenes for a while,” he said. “I don’t want to do a lot of residencies anymore. I don’t want to be the guy gripping on.”
Now, he says, he’s narrowing his efforts strictly toward parties he’ll enjoy. While it doesn’t seem intentional, there’s no mistaking that Slaughter’s recent investments involve refashioning archaic genres and the seemingly antiquated band-tribute night into something that even cynical hipsters can appreciate.
Indeed, amusing as it is, one of the somewhat retiree’s few remaining residencies is Wunderbar, the LowBrau gig, which takes place every Sunday afternoon with Slaughter breaking out the smooth disco, Tropicaacute;lia and yacht rock.
Often polarizing, young listeners typically regard the latter genre—which encompasses ’70s and ’80s-era soft rock—as either a guilty pleasure or an even guiltier victim of ironic approval.
But Slaughter is very serious about yacht rock. Perhaps you’ve seen his homemade Michael McDonald snapback?
“I legitimately like Michael McDonald,” he said. “There’s no irony to my obsession. … Some of [the music] is kitschy, but there’s an awesome transition from Steely Dan to soulful disco.”
Similarly, while tribute-night nostalgia can also be considered a risky endeavor, Slaughter didn’t shy from greeting the May release of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories album with one. The Daft Punk tribute could have easily just been a lazy loop of the band’s four studio albums played in succession, but Slaughter livened up the experience with original samples and remixes.
On June 27, he’s following it up with an I Heart LCD Soundsystem tribute, staged purely out of admiration for James Murphy’s now-defunct New York dance punk group.
“I’ve been obsessed with that band forever,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve made a bad album, and they’ve grown with each, but that first album is just nostalgic for me.”
His biggest venture of late, however, is as an active partner in This Midtown, a free concert series featuring nationally renowned bands outside the MARRS building on 20th Street, scheduled to take place every Second Saturday during the summer months.
This Midtown debuted in May, but it already feels like the shot in the arm Second Saturday needed. Though it took that first concert for Slaughter to warm up to the name.
“I didn’t like the name very much. How the fuck do you Google ’This,’” he said. But Slaughter soon embraced the concept. “It worked out, because [at the concert], people kept saying, ’This is awesome,’… and it’s like, This is awesome.