The last time Joonbug has the pleasure of speaking with Australian producer Antony Maniscalco, better known as Hook N Sling, he had just made the journey over from Sydney and nested himself in his new home in Los Angeles. Returning to Miami Beach’s Mansion Nightclub, this time for the second date along his current Magnet Tour in support of his new single with Chris Willis, he took to the stage once again before a crowd yearning with an undeniable passion for his productions.
It was around 1:30am that Hook jumped on the decks for his two-hour long performance, ranging in styles across the EDM-spectrum from hard-hitting electro bangers to melodically driven synth house tunes, big room productions and more. He opened with the rhythmic measures of Tonic’s “Me.” The set’s lead track catalyzed the energy level for the night, as he continued to raise the bar with originals, like his “Don’t You Know,” and his remix of Kaskade’s “Atmosphere,” as well as Smart Wave’s “Outrage,” Hardwell’s remix of Krewella’s “Alive,” and a live remix of “Rock The Casbah,” by Solar Twins. Towards the end, just before ending at 3:30am, he presented the crowd with his new collaboration alongside Chris Willis, “Magnet,” and teased fans with a quick dose of his ongoing production with Axwell, “Tokyo By Night.”
Just before his performance, Joonbug was fortunate enough to sit down with Hook for a quick interview to gain some insight behind his current tour, details on his home-based studio in L.A., news surrounding his label Diversion, upcoming projects and more.
It’s been over a year since you last spoke with Joonbug. It was in June 2012, right here at Mansion actually. What are some of the highlights in your life since then?
[laughs] That’s a lot of time to cover right there. Actually, I had just moved to America right around when I had done that interview. I moved to Los Angeles in June 2012, so I would have been fresh off the boat and all wide-eyed.
How’s L.A. been?
It’s been great, works out well. I’ve been back to Australia since then maybe three times. I went back December last year, and did another tour this year. But yeah, it’s been working out really well. I really enjoy the gigs here and changing things up, doing different circuits. It’s really cool.
Have you encountered any American artists over here that have stimulated your artistic expression in any way?
I’m going to say Kaskade, for me. I met him once before when I did my first gig ever in North America, it was right around when I first got my visa. I did the gig in San Diego with Fedde Le Grand, I supported his set, and the night after the same promoter booked Kaskake for a show in San Diego. So I went to the show and met him, we hung out. Since then we’ve been in touch and now living over here I can see what he does and I really respect the guy. Seeing his show and the music he plays, I’m really inspired by it and what he’s doing.
Yeah, he’s a really influential artist for electronic music.
Yeah, definitely. Music aside, he’s extremely influential. I respect him. I think he brings his Atmosphere Tour to L.A. in a couple weeks, I’m going to check it out.
How’s your residency been in Las Vegas?
Crazy. I think I’ve drank more in the last six months than I have in the last eight years. Amy Thomson [Music/Marketing Director at Light Nightclub and Manager of Swedish House Mafia] actually posted a picture of what they are doing for Halloween [at Light Nightclub], showing the dress rehearsal. It looks like an incredible production. I would say it’s hands down the best club in Vegas, in terms of production no one is doing anything like it.
They opened up in June right?
Yeah, June or May.
What’s been your craziest Vegas experience so far?
I did the opening night with Zedd. I had all these people, not just the crowd, watching me. To sum that up it doesn’t really bother me, I’m cool with that but to have all these industry people and Vegas personalities watching me and the club and the timing for the show, it was a stressful night but it was great.
Were you before or after Zedd?
I was before. I had a couple guys go before me and then I had the last hour and half to two hours before Zedd. I’ll never forget it. It was just really an intense experience. I wanted to make sure I did things right and also did things right by him.
So what are you plans for Halloween? Any interesting costumes or show plans? Set changes?
Yeah, I’m trying to look for a good costume right now. And I’m doing Vancouver on October 31, on Halloween, and the week before is Montreal and Gainesville. There’s a couple more after that, it all kind of meshes together [laughs].
How do you feel about Gainesville? It’s the only small town on your tour right?
I don’t know, I’ve never been there before.
Yeah, those college kids go hard. It’s like its own little Vegas in a way, in its own bubble minus any crazy production or massive clubs.
The party scene there is supposed to be huge.
Definitely. Where do you produce now I’m L.A.? I know you had a home-based studio out in Sydney.
Same. I really enjoy having a studio at home because I can work in my pajamas.
How often do you actually go into a studio, just for collaborations?
Yeah I go when I do collaborations. Sometimes I bring them to my home or my publisher will get us a studio to work in. I like being comfortable in a studio situation because I’m normally the person that’s doing all the producing. I like to have everything so I know where it is and how it sounds so I am familiar with the room. My studio at home is not like professional at all, it’s just a room that I’ve treated like a standard small bedroom that I’ve gotten used to and tuned it so I can listen accurately. It’s becoming less and less important these days to have a completely accurately room because, for me anyways, it’s all about the process of writing. You can always go to another room to mix it or give it to someone else to mix but I really enjoy writing at home because of that, and I like hanging out with my dog too.
What kind of dog do you have?
An Australian Shepard, it’s really ironic.
Does it have two different color eyes?
No he’s got two icy blue eyes. He’s a mix between an Australian Shepard and a Husky so an exotic blend. He’s cool.
I know you used to do graphic design. Do you make your own visuals or graphics at all?
No but I’m really fussy about how my logo and graphics look.
Do you always have the same person do it or do you switch it up?
I’m very much involved with it and always talking with the artist to make sure it looks a certain way. If something’s not right I’m like, “Just send me the Photoshop file and I’ll fix it myself.” I know that’s weird but I like having control.
For the artwork you just released for your Magnet Tour, was that your design?
It was my idea and we had an artist put it together who did the artwork for “Magnet,” the most recent single. I did all the type and stuff like that. I like being involved in all that kind of stuff, it’s fun.
How’s the Magnet Tour coming along? You started yesterday in San Diego right?
Yeah San Diego was amazing yesterday for a Thursday night. It was great and then tonight we have Miami. I’ve got another 13 or so shows between now and the end of November. Does that sound right? No, it’s more. Maybe it’s about 20 shows and then I go back to Australia in December.
Yeah because it’s summer in Australia right now, it’s a great time to tour. I get back to do all the big clubs in Australia.
You just recently finished up some shows there and in Asia right?
Yeah, I did. Last time I went to Australia was in the beginning of the year. On my way back to L.A., I did Asia and went through like Singapore, Jakarta and one more I forget. It was super tiring because of nine hours to Asia and then hoping through Asia for three days and then a 10 or 14-hour flight back to L.A.
Traveling over there is like America. Everything is so spread out.
Yeah, I remember it being tough traveling.
What about your record label Diversion, how’s that going?
Good man. I’m kind of keeping it a little bit at bay at the moment. I don’t want it to be a fully blown label because I don’t have the time to do it but at the moment it’s just releasing Hook records for Australia. I’ve only done three records. What I want to do is grow it and take it, make it become something special. I just honestly don’t really have the time for it right now but it will happen soon. I’ve got plans for it next year. We’re backed by Sony so they will look out after all that stuff.
Once you get into the rhythm of signing artists to it, do you plan on keeping that same sound that your music has or expand the scope a little bit?
Well, the best test for any record that I sign is when I play it. If I play it and I love it, I’ll sign it. I think that’s a good test. So, yeah, I’m looking for new stuff for next year.
Are there any artists that you have an eye on as possibilities?
Yeah, there’s a guy called Dave Winnel. I like working with Australian artists like him. And there’s Bass Kleph, we’ve already been talking with him about doing a record for Diversion. There’s also a guy called Blinders, he just did a remix for Axwell for his "Center of The Universe" record, which I really love. I’m always on the lookout for new talent.
Speaking of Axwell, you probably get asked this all the time, but what’s up with “Tokyo By Night?”
Is it almost done? I know you just put out like a second version of it.
Yeah, well I’m at his mercy now because he’s taken it. He’s producing it now. I was producing it up to a certain point and now he’s taking it to finish it off. So when Axwell thinks it’s ready, it’s ready. I got an email from him the other day and he was telling me that he loves it and saying that it’s sounding finished, that was his email. So, I don’t know man, the mystery continues.
What do you look for in a track? What’s that final element once you decide that it’s ready to be released?
To be honest I can’t tell you that because there’s nothing. There’s always something to be done, nothing is ever finished because you always run out of time. Someone told me when I used to be a graphic designer, “Nothing is ever finished, nothing is complete. There’s no 10 boxes you have to check and understand.” So, with music you have to keep things going and wherever the record sounds done. Like if I finished it in June 2012 then that’s what I thought sounded finished in June 2012. So each record is like a snapshot in time. With “Tokyo By Night,” it’s finished when it sounds good. And there’s a few other factors as well, like in an email me saying, “Let’s go, let’s put it out because it’s been a long time coming.” I previewed that record in the middle of 2011, we should call it “Guinness” and put the record in the book [laughs]. The “Guinness 2013 mix.”
And this most recent track you just released with producer Chris Willis, how was the chemistry on that? How’d you guys pair up? I know he’s from Atlanta.
Good. Yeah, he’s from Atlanta. I haven’t met him yet. We did it all by correspondence and he did the vocals in New York with some buddies of mine. We’re probably going to do a couple live performances coming up soon.
Nice, Postal Service style.
Yeah, we need to make that happen. I think taking it live would give it new life.
It’s always interesting to see what happens when artists come together like that for the first time after having produced a track together.
Yeah, exactly. I don’t know what to expect though, I’m willing to try it.
And you’re going back to the Dominican Republic at the end of this tour?
Yeah. I love the Dominican Republic.
Are you going to spend more time there this time?
Maybe I will. This show is on a Saturday so I can probably spend Sunday there and come back to L.A. on Monday or Tuesday. Take a few extra days. I think previously when I’ve done shows there it’s been a Thursday or Friday so I had to leave straight away.
It’s a great place, especially Punta Cana.
So for your show tonight, I know you always have something special lined up for Miami. Last time you played here at Mansion you previewed a couple new tracks and you performed the debut for your collaboration with Nervo, "Reason," at the Delano during last year's WMC. What can Miami expect tonight?
I’ve got a couple new tracks that I might be testing, I’m not too sure yet. I don’t like testing records until their at least 90% done but I’ll be playing the new version of “Tokyo Tonight,” I just got that from Axwell this week and I didn’t play it last night so I’m excited to test it out. I’m also looking forward to playing that mix I did for Krewella, “Live For The Night.” I’ve noticed that record has been going down better and better every time I play it. I think it’s because that record is on radio here, on Sirius like every day or two. I’m really enjoying playing that mix and the remix of Kaskade’s “Atmosphere” as well. I don’t know, I don’t really like to plan my sets too well so I can’t really tell you. Definitely playing everything I’ve been working on the last few months.
What do you have planned coming up for the next few months and end of the year?
A have a new record with Sneaky Sound System, they’re an Australian band. And I’ve got a new record, obviously, with Axwell on “Tokyo By Night” and this new thing called “Heaven Knows” with this guy called RAS. He’s just done a record with Steve Aoki, "Bring You To Life." I’m doing remixes for Icona Pop’s upcoming single, which I haven’t started yet but it’s any amazing single, I love it. So I’ll be working on that when I get back to L.A.
Sneaky Sound System is awesome, excited to hear that one.
Yeah, Connie is just an amazing vocalist. The new record is really good, I’m really happy with it. What we’re doing with it now is just perfecting it. We’re rewriting one of the versus and it’s going to be fantastic.
Hook N Sling's current Magnet Tour extends thrhough November 30, check out the full list of dates below.