Richie Meldrum
Richie Meldrum

The best way to know if the track you’ve just finished is going to do the damage on the dance floor is to whack on the final cut and have a boogie in the studio. Just ask Slim, one half of UK funk-disco-breaks duo The Sly Players, it’s what they do. In fact, they’ve been practicing what they preach for over 30 years.

“I always listened to dance based music,’ he tells us. “The first was my dad’s disco and Motown collection from the 70′s. I guess this lead me to djing or at least being obsessed by beats.” The wheels were in motion and it was only a matter of time before Slim started making his own purchases. “I started buying vinyl aged 11 and really got into electro sounds and the more vocal sounds like Chaka Khan. That style of music has never left me for sure,” he reveals.

Having established an early liking for the funk filled flavours of yesteryear, it’s not surprising that they represent a massive influence on the music Slim champions today. However, there are other experiences from his youth that have shaped the shapes he pulls today. “In the UK during the late 80’s, it was hard not to go to one or two free raves. Acid house was huge, as was the early drum n bass or hardcore, but what I found the most exciting was DJs like Sasha who were playing slower breaks and early house, which sounds so much like disco.” The disco might have gone from Sasha’s sets, but Slim says it’s still ringing his bell and he’s adamant that people like what they’re hearing, “people can’t get enough,” he enthuses.

The Sly Players were born when Slim met production partner Tal M. Klein while both were djing on a Goodgroove Record’s tour; the label he set up to fill what he saw as a gap in the market. “I really decided to give the people what they wanted,” he says of his intentions for Goodgroove. “Labels had stopped releasing funky breaks and good party tracks, they were all getting very hard and fairly bland. Goodgroove is a label for DJ’s and gives them tracks that work in clubs, all funky and all big,” and all of them personally endorsed by Slim and his dancing shoes. “As there is two of us in the Sly Players I take on the ‘live’ djing roll and Tal is the ‘music’ production man. It works well because I come back to him with feedback from the clubs.”

The party breaks style, pushed by the likes of A-Skilz, Fort Knox Five, the Bombstrike imprint and our own FDEL, still holds a loyal following on our fair shores and it’s these good time guys and gals that Slim is hoping to coax out for the Australian dates on the Regrooved tour. Already part of the party in the UK, Canada, Italy and Brazil, Regrooved in Australia looks to be a good addition as, going by the spreadsheets, they’re in friendly territory.

“I know from sales on the label that Goodgroove is much liked, over half of each release sells in OZ. Also I know Askillz so have heard a lot about the reaction being the best in the world so I’m very much looking forward to my gigs.”

With such a wide reaching fan base, it’s a good job that crisscrossing the globe is something The Sly Players see as a help rather than a hindrance when it comes to producing the next big track. ‘Travel is always a big influence [on our music]. Expect some Latin vibes after our upcoming Brazil trip. I plan to collect as many sounds as I can from there – they know how to party! We also always look back at what has worked in the past, especially disco, that was the root of all dance music so has to be respected.”