Morgan Then and Fletcher Ehlers, who together make up the electronic act SLUMBERJACK, are constantly challenging themselves to push the bounds of their creativity. From traveling around the globe to record original samples, to designing and executing all of the components of their live shows, SLUMBERJACK are at the forefront of their genre. Formed in 2014, the duo—who split their time between Los Angeles and Perth—have been making waves with their eclectic sound, thanks in part to their distinct musical backgrounds: Fletcher, influenced by his parents’ love of electronica, produced his own digital music as a teenager, while the Malaysian-born Morgan was a classically-trained pianist. Since launching their career with a No. 1 track on Triple J’s influential sister station, Unearthed, SLUMBERJACK have released four EPs—including their newest effort, Black & Blue—and over 10 singles. They’ve received two ARIA Gold Records (for their 2014 self-titled debut and their 2017 single, “Fracture”), while their second EP, Fracture, debuted at No. 1 on iTunes Australia’s electronic chart.
Along the way, SLUMBERJACK have caught the ears of some of EDM’s most acclaimed producers, leading to collaborations with the likes of Alison Wonderland, TroyBoi, Ekali, and What So Not, as well as with such vocalists as Silverchair’s Daniel Johns, Vera Blue, and Perth up-and-comer Sydnee Carter. To-date, SLUMBERJACK’s music has garnered over 60 million streams worldwide, thanks in part to a busy touring schedule, which has included headlining tours across Australia and North America, and appearances at such festivals as Lollapalooza, Ultra Singapore, and Splendour in the Grass.
One of the highest points of the duo’s career, however, was a life-changing trip to Morgan’s home state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. As they explored its natural wonders and rich culture, the artists captured audio samples—many of which were used on their resulting 2019 Sarawak EP—and enlisted a videographer to document their experiences for a series of short films. “It was one of the most enjoyable and exciting things we’ve done,” shares Fletcher. “It was beyond just making music.”
SLUMBERJACK’s creativity often extends past the confines of a studio. Their live shows, for instance, are conceptualized and built nearly entirely by the duo. “We want to create a visual, lighting, and audio experience rather than just a DJ set,” explains Fletcher, who digitally designs all of the shows’ visuals, timing them to each track. “The show is like a snapshot of our brains,” describes Morgan. The artists also arrange special versions of every song on the setlist, adding to their concerts’ exclusive content. Self-proclaimed nerds, the pair also get proactive with their samples. “We’re striving to find unique, crazy sounds, which means that we have to go out there, record our own stuff and then manipulate it,” says Fletcher. “There’s an art to molding the sound without destroying it,” adds Morgan.
For their new four-track EP, Black & Blue, SLUMBERJACK joined forces with an impressive cadre of collaborators, including producer and songwriter Corey Enemy (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, David Guetta), who co-wrote the moody title track. Featuring the sublime vocals of Mothica, the song was initially conceived of in 2016 when the duo first met Enemy. “It went through a lot to get where it is, but we’re glad it’s finally here,” professes Morgan. The EP’s first single, “Crucified,” was another collaboration with two longtime friends from Los Angeles—producer Daktyl and singer-songwriter MOONZz, whose sultry, soaring vocals were initially intended for another project. Fletcher and Morgan also teamed up with the San Diego production team FOMO for “Hades.” Steeped in Eastern influences, the track is based around an eight-bar loop from FOMO. “We hadn’t ever heard a drop that frenetic and crazy,” marvels Morgan.
Over their years together, the duo—who typically write separately, and then reunite to finish a track—have become nearly telepathic in their creative process. “As we’ve progressed we’ve learned how to imagine the other person there,” says Fletcher. Despite the excitement of touring, the two artists always look forward to getting back into the studio to focus on making music and ideating new ways to engage with their fans. “We’re a really hands-on band,” proclaims Morgan. “Even after all of these years of doing SLUMBERJACK, we still can’t wait to do everything ourselves.”