Like many love at first sight encounters with emerging musicians, I first stumbled across Slayyyter on the Internet barely a week ago. Not through the sometimes dark, obsessive underbelly of Stan Twitter, but through a coworker, who sent me a link to the mysterious 22-year-old's song "Candy." I was immediately hooked by its buzzy, minor-chord beats, courtesy of Ayesha Erotica — a talented producer (and frequent collaborator) who also seems to come from nowhere but the dark web — but also its uncannily on-the-nose Britney-fied vocal performance.
I'm talking 2007 Blackout-era, put through a processor so that breaths are mechanically crisp and notes are so pitch-perfect you wonder who's actually singing. "Candy," is a song whose lyrics, "My pussy tastes sweet like candy," hover above what sounds like that ting that went off in Kelis' "Milkshake," bringing all the bots and the boys alike to the yard. How can something that sounds this well-made feel so insanely effortless (and for the time being overlooked)? That's just the start of it.
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Check out Boy Sim-produced "Platform Shoes," which is like teenage Charli XCX's early raver girl fantasy when she was still across the pond, but maximalist and big-budget sounding. "BFF" feels like a salty, sassier 2018 sequel to the theme song of Paris Hilton's My New BFF, sung with disaffected sweetness by the show's star, Paris Hilton. "Ghost" finds our shadowy avatar more vulnerable, right up until she sings: "Go fuck your boring girls/ 'Cause you can't handle me."
So is Slayyyter a robot, or a person? There are three "Ys" in her name, which feels very post-Internet. The few online accounts available for the singer, which feature a series of glossy-looking Photobooth shots, aren't very telling. Her Twitter bio literally reads, just like this: "im a bitch!" Is she fucking with us?
The answer is probably all of the above: it appears that yes, Slayyyter is fucking with us and our cultural reverence for nostalgia, while in fact being very real, but only in what she wants us to see. But most of all, she's also very serious about (and good at) the difficult to master art of pop music.
Read on as Slayyyter, who made her own photos for this story alongside Glitchmood, chats with PAPER about singing songs for her debut album inside her closet, honesty, working a day job, and the business of being a female songwriter in a male-dominated music industry.
Can you tell me a little more bit about you? Are you in school? Are you working?
I actually went to college for a year then dropped out, but I live with my mom, and yes, I work 9-5. I'm a receptionist at the moment. I literally fold towels. It's kind of tragic to be honest. Then, as soon as I get home from work, I just go to my closet, which has a cute recording studio setup, and I spend the rest of my day doing [that] until I go to bed.
The name Slayyyter has three y's. How did you happen upon that name?
The movie Dazed and Confused is my favorite movie of all time. I've seen it a million times and there's a character in it named Slater, and he has long hair, dirty, and I thought he was really hot when I was younger, so I wanted that to be my name, and I thought it sounded cool. Obviously "Slater" is taken on social media, so I just added 3 y's because I wanted all the handles. I think it's good to have all your handles, which is super annoying on social media. Like if it was "Slayyyter underscore Official," I'd be like, gag, no thank you.
How did you get into making music? How did you know you wanted to write songs?
I started singing when I was very young, but it wasn't until high school when I started to make music. All of my old music is on private on Soundcloud. Everything is deleted on my old stuff. I used to write songs by singing over random instrumentals that I would find online. It wasn't until recently I started paying producers like Ayesha [Erotica] and Boysim to make my own tracks.
Were there people that you looked up to when you started to make music?
I've been studying songwriters and songwriting for years. I've probably written 300 songs before the singles I put out now, but I really would study Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift — just great female pop songwriters. I try not to imitate too much, but I take a lot of inspiration from the way they write and create song structures.
What would you say is probably the easiest part about writing your own music?
The easiest part is probably finding a title. That's the most fun. I always start with a title and then the rest comes after.
Your social media presence is pretty lighthearted. Your Twitter bio literally says: "I'm a bitch."
[Laughs] Because I am a bitch. It's true. I wish people didn't take themselves so seriously. Life is short.
There's also an air of mystery to what you choose to post. It makes people wonder, Who is she?
Who isn't she? It's fun to play with that. Lana Del Rey, who I love, is the queen of marketing mystery. You don't want to give everything away all the time.
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Then what would you say is the most difficult part? Writing pop music is not as easy as people often think it is.
It's difficult because people think it's so dumb and that it doesn't take very long. You want it to be clever but not too serious, and you do want it to be kind of stupid and fun, so that's kind of hard. The hardest part, really, is filling in the rest of the song. I always get the title down within the first few verses, and then it gets harder. But honestly, if I spend more than 30 minutes on a song, then I just trash it.
Do you feel like you would ever write for other artists?
My original goal was to move to Nashville, and I initially wanted to be a songwriter more than an artist. I ultimately thought putting out songs would be a gateway to ultimately writing for other artists. It wasn't until I was a fan of Charli XCX and learned more about her that I knew that songwriting was even a legitimate career for people. She's written for everyone at this point. I would totally love to do that.
Who would you die to write songs for?
I would love to write a song for Heidi Montag. Honestly, I wish she would come back to music because I love Superficial; that was such a good album. Lady Gaga wrote "Fashion," and Heidi remade it. Lady Gaga got it back for the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack, but she wrote it for Heidi Montag, which was pretty much the most amazing thing I have ever heard in my life.
Of the singles you put out so far, I'm most intrigued by "BFF" and "Candy." "Candy" reminds me a lot of Blackout-era Britney. I don't know if that was your intention.
Ayesha made the beat [for "Candy"]. At first, she sampled The Clipse song "Ego" that The Neptunes produced. It was more heavily sampled at first and gotten taken down from Soundcloud. So she sent me a revised beat and I just immediately thought it was like a Britney throwback, like the stuff The Neptunes used to make for her. I wish Britney still made stuff like that. She probably been there, done that, and doesn't want to go back, but I just love a good throwback type of song, so that's what I wanted to do.
That song also has lyrics that remind me of Kelis' "Milkshake," another Neptunes-produced song.
Yes. In all my songs, I am having fun, but it's also honest. There's nothing wrong with being sexual and having desire. It's normal and natural. I wish people weren't such freaks about it. My mom hasn't heard this song yet, though.
You're keeping this from her?
She knows that I make songs, but we haven't talked about "Candy" yet. [Laughs]
In terms of singing, everyone sounds like themselves but everyone also has an influence. Vocally, who would you say yours are?
Vocally, honestly, I don't do very well but I would say, early Lady Gaga when she sounded like Gwen Stefani, do you remember before her voice now, she had this kind of Gwen thing going on? Very Gwen Stefani, so somewhere in that lane, but a little more like tacky 2007 flashy pop girl.
Do you make a lot of your own images?
All the pictures of myself, I just do on Photobooth on my Macbook and my artist Josh [who goes by Glitchmood], he's from UK. He does all the 3D graphics and is so insanely good. I feel like he is the real reason why people are even drawn to my music, or want to listen to it because when you see an album art that is really cool, it makes you want to listen to the song more.
How would you describe your visual style if you had to?
I love pop culture. My favorite Twitter account for the longest time is Pop Culture Died in 2009. I love everything like that. It's fun and silly. I love the color pink, Barbie, that kind of stuff. And of course I love The Simple Life. How could you not?
Are you working on an album or are you putting one off singles right now? Are you working on videos?
I don't have any videos in the works but I am working on an album, and it's going to be 12 tracks. All the singles I've put out so far will be on it. Hopefully I can drop that sometime in November. It tends to happen quickly for me. All the singles I put out in September, I started on a Wednesday of that week and sometimes finish hours before.
By the way, in terms of songwriting, I did notice that most of the songs are around three to three-and-a-half minutes.
I have learned so much from YouTube songwriting workshops and podcasts from songwriters over the years. There's definitely a formula: Keep it a cute length, three to three-and-a-half minutes, start with the title, come up with structure: verses, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge. Then you can flip it from there. I would love to get better at songwriting, that's kind of my main goal at the moment. There's so many male songwriters and producers, I want to help change that as a woman. I feel like the men are known as the greatest of the great in the industry. It's just funny because there are artists like Charli XCX and Julia Michaels and others that write such incredible music, and I feel that they are not praised or widely considered genius caliber.
Are you thinking about performing any of these songs and developing a live show?
Possibly. Performing is scary. The thought of that sort of makes me want to throw up a little bit. But I would be down to do it. Someone would have to take the reins though, and help a girl out.
Are labels reaching out to you?
It's been nice, I mean, I have the support I do have from my producers, Ayesha Erotica and Boysim. People have been reaching out but I feel like I don't need it. Honestly, if I can make this music with them then I'd rather do that at this point. But it is really crazy that people are reaching out, and I can't believe this all happened in 2 months. I literally put out "BFF" on my Soundcloud two months ago. I owe everything to Stan Twitter because they make memes of my music, and that spreads it around. It's all kind of gone from zero to 100. I might also just ride this wherever it takes me. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I just want to see where it goes because this is all shocking. I can't believe it. I'm moving to LA pretty soon, so we'll see what happens next.
Photography and Concept: Slayyyter and Glitchmood