The atmosphere was electric. A crowd filling more than half George H. Clark Gymnasium (CLK, 03) was pulsing to the beat of Kap Slap’s first mash-up, and I could see the bright stage and colored spotlights. Throngs of people were buying tickets at the last minute, and many others were waiting in line. As I was getting my purse checked by security, she looked at me: “You wouldn’t bring a dangerous weapon into a concert, right?” Of course not. But apparently by 10 p.m., she had already confiscated three knives.
Once inside, I searched the less dense areas for my friends. Unsuccessful and not wanting to go any further into the mob, I texted one of them to ask where they were. “Front and center,” came the response. With a sigh, I attempted to push my way through the mass of rowdy drunk undergrads. After several elbows to the face, a few unwanted advances from men and a particularly gross encounter with a taller co-ed’s armpit, I made it. From our spot I had a clear view of the stage.
Behind a computer and turntable, DJ Kap Slap stood with his iconic pinny and blue sweatband. He was energetic and captivating, pumping the crowd up by spraying water and occasionally shouting into his microphone. Jumping and swaying to the music, the students were tightly packed and dangerously active. And as my toes were being stepped on and I was being sweat on, I could only wish I was as drunk as everyone else there.
But I was not. I skipped pre-gaming to hang out with Jared Lucas, more widely known as Kap Slap, before the show.
“My main goal currently is to make music people can party to,” says Lucas. “[Good party music] involves two things. One, the girls sing along … And two, I want people to be moving, dancing.” Lucas first started making mash-ups as a second year student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where he is an Honors Integrated Business and Engineering major.
Lucas initially got the idea of making mash-ups while hanging out at his fraternity, Kappa Alpha’s parties. “People would change the song a minute or so in, so I saw that almost as a business opportunity.” Lucas continues, stating, “I want to have an album where when you press play, nobody wants to change the song.” After seeing mash-up artist Milkman perform, he thought it “couldn’t be that hard,” and with the aid of his “mash bible” and some a capella tracks, Man Speak was created. “Instead of Girl Talk, Man Speak,” says Lucas, laughing. Though funny and creative, Man Speak was short-lived. “People gave me so much shit for it, so I had to get a real name.” Because of that, Kap Slap was born.
The name Kap Slap refers to a family drink Lucas’s big brother in his fraternity created. The moment a beer is funneled, a shot of Bacardi 151 is added at the end to give the drinker a “slap in the face.” After checking Google for “Kap Slap” and finding sparse results, Lucas decided it was the perfect name and made the gold block letter logo by “fooling around on Photoshop.” Now he has a professional designer working on a new logo for his originals and wants to use this to go in a new direction. “Taking people’s stuff was college,” he states. Lucas wants to leave the “fratty mash-ups” behind and create an album of his own music, possibly called “Graduation.”
After his college graduation, Lucas wants to focus on his music full time, “I’m looking to be more of an EDM [Electronic Dance Music] producer.” When asked what he would do with his degree, he didn’t say much but noted that he did plan to finish school. “You never know how long the EDM wave will hit America. I’ve learned a lot from the [business and engineering] program, it’s very entrepreneurial. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
When asked if he listened to his own music, Lucas replies “I actually do. I’m forced to while making it to make adjustments. I have to listen to it in a party setting.” Once a new song is completed, Lucas doesn’t tell anyone and plays it at a party to see how it sounds. “A Kap Slap original!” his fraternity brothers yell once the song is recognized. And though Lucas has to endure some friendly teasing from party-goers, this sort of trial run is essential to the music making process.
Halfway through the interview, Lucas remembers meeting an RIT student at a previous show. This particular student was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, carrying two handles and kept repeating “I will get you to RIT!” Lucas fondly described him as “shithoused” and told the students from the College Activities Board to make sure he was on the backstage pass list.
Getting back on track, I ask Lucas how he spends a typical week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning are for studying and doing homework. Wednesday is trivia night at the bar, Thursday is reserved for hanging out with friends and Friday through Sunday is usually spent across the country playing shows. “So are you good at trivia?” I had to ask. He replied, “At first I wasn’t … then I started following random facts on Twitter.” Lucas proudly tells us that he and his team won for the first time last Wednesday and makes sure to point out, “Our group never cheats. Everyone else cheats.”
After pulling out his phone, Lucas shares a fact about scientists currently working on research that would allow people to download information into their brains, “Matrix”-style. “I would download the music theory of a classical pianist. Second would be taekwondo.” Or, upon further thought, he says he would download the information of “the world champion parkourist.” This spurs another deviation from the interview questions, and by the time everyone has finished discussing brain information downloads, I have time for one
“What advice do you have for aspiring DJs and mash-up artists?” I ask. Lucas’s response is automatic. “I would say if you’re in it because you want to be famous, stop. It never works out for those people.” He goes on to say “If you’re really serious about producing, one of the biggest things is to have musical knowledge and to love music… Second thing would be to put your heart and soul into it … don’t put anything out that you’re not proud of.”
Throughout the concert, I had been hit, pushed, elbowed and stepped on. Lucas sprayed water on the crowd while the sweaty student in front of me contributed to the mist with some intense head banging. During the performance, I was both exhausted and dehydrated, but the energy of the crowd and beat of the music kept me dancing long after I had planned to leave. As a performer at the forefront of the Electronic Dance Music scene, Lucas brought new life to the typical DJ image of a man with a turntable bobbing his head.