Stratford DJ Slater Manzo taking his career to the next level

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About a decade ago, Slater Manzo was uploading basic electronic music to his SoundCloud while taking a media fundamentals program at Sheridan College.

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About a decade ago, Slater Manzo was uploading basic electronic music to his SoundCloud while taking a media fundamentals program at Sheridan College.

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The Stratford musician was trying anything to get his high-energy beats distributed by bigger platforms like Apple Music or Spotify. Getting the attention of a popular YouTube channel only further inspired him.

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At the same time, Manzo was attempting to transfer to Sheridan’s film and TV program.

Then an email arrived notifying him he’d just missed the cut.

“That moment for me is maybe when I realized music is supposed to be my outlet and my way of putting things into the world and make a career out of it,” Manzo said. “I had the passion, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at the time – dance, video production, music production. I’m sitting there going, ‘I want to do all three and see if it’s possible.”

All of the 29-year-old’s artistic and musical interests came together to form the foundation of a career that’s only getting started.

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Dance classes at a young age helped Manzo use his extra energy in a creative way. He kept dancing at Stratford Central secondary school while also dabbling in theatre and production.

“It’s a way of expressing music and a way of showing it in a physical form that wasn’t just a wave of sound, and I enjoy expressing it that way,” he said. “It was an idea that came to me where I wanted to see if I can make this music I can dance to.”

DJ Slater Manzo
Stratford DJ Slater Manzo is touring with Canadian pop star Reve, as well as producing music for other musicians and working on an album he hopes to release in the summer. (Supplied photo) jpg, SF, apsmc

A trio of Stratford Central secondary school teachers was instrumental in fostering Manzo’s musical passion.

Al Booker helped Manzo navigate the production side, Lesa Jenner enforced the idea that Manzo’s songs were good enough to use in dance class, and Glen Crumback introduced Manzo to DJing, even getting him a turntable and mixer.

“He was very fundamental in showing me a lot of starting points,” Manzo said, “and I started going off from there and creating a ton of music.”

Manzo kept experimenting at Metalworks, a post-secondary school for aspiring musicians. He learned new programs and put out music that was getting traction.

It eventually caught the attention of someone from Spotify, who, like Manzo, was also part of the queer community and helped get some of Manzo’s songs on its playlists.

Where I Want to Be has been streamed 3.8-million times since 2018, and Manzo has nearly 21,000 monthly listeners on the popular service.

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Manzo’s Spotify contact left for Universal Music and asked him to help mix one of the company’s artists.

“It’s not a guarantee,” Manzo said, “but it’s an opportunity for you to try.”

Manzo eventually did a remix for Reve, a pop star from Montreal who liked his work. A session in which Manzo taught Reve how to DJ turned into a glass of wine on a patio and later an invitation for him to DJ on her tours.

“We got along really, really well,” Manzo said. “There’s an artist mindset where you know when you meet someone as creative as you, you instantly click.”

Manzo has worked with Reve since 2022 and joined her for more than 20 performances, typically at festivals, pride events and one-off gigs, like the one they have lined up this weekend between periods in Ottawa during the Senators’ game.

Reve is set to headline a two-week Canadian tour that starts in March in Vancouver and ends in Waterloo.

In the meantime, Manzo will keep producing music, editing a podcast and working on an album he hopes to release this summer.

“Music is such a source food for me that even if it wasn’t going to be my career, I would still be making music,” he said. “It’s my passion for making good sounding songs and feel good things. Whenever I show someone a song, and they can’t help but move, I know I’ve done something right. If it evokes emotion, then I’m doing my job.”

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