What started as a friendship based on a shared love of electronic dance music has blossomed into a lucrative recording and performance career for Derek Anderson and Scott Land, two Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers and UCI alumni who are climbing to the top of the EDM world.
Anderson and Land make up Slander (an amalgam of their names), and for the past 10 years, they’ve traveled around the world playing in venues and at festivals in front of thousands and thousands of energetic fans. But over the past year, they’ve upped their game – releasing a top-selling album called “Thrive” and headlining a 29-show U.S. tour that wrapped up in late November.
“It was incredible,” says Anderson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2012. “We sold close to 100,000 tickets. It definitely exceeded my expectations. All the shows were the biggest we’ve done in those particular cities. We’re super grateful that so many people came out.”
Slander’s music has amassed over 1 billion streams globally, and the duo has received acclaim from Billboard, LA Weekly, Spin and other publications.
“An album has been a long time coming for us,” adds Land, who also was a political science major at UCI. “We’ve known each other for 12 years, always DJed together and shared similar tastes in music. But we were never in one place long enough to make 10 songs with a singular vibe. We get to have a bit of fun now.”
Anderson and Land have come a long way since their days as Anteaters. They met at a rave in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena when Anderson went with one group of UCI students and Land arrived with another. “That’s when we first started talking,” Land remembers. “And we found we shared a passion for electronic music. After that, Derek joined my fraternity, and our friendship grew.”
The two started DJing Greek system parties and a few campus events. That led to other gigs in local Orange County nightclubs, like Detroit Bar and the Shark Club. They slowly expanded to do shows in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
After Anderson graduated, he says, “we were still doing the DJing stuff, and I was working in an IT job. But I wanted to make the music thing work and was trying to learn how to make music.”
Anderson enrolled in the Icon Collective, a Burbank-based music school with courses in advanced music production. “Going there really allowed me to turn the corner,” he says.
Recalls Land: “I still remember when Derek called me and we had that conversation. This profound moment hit him on how to be an artist, a music producer and a DJ. He told me, ‘If we want to get to the level of DJing that we want to get to, we have to take this other path.’ We realized that as local DJs, there was kind of a cap to how big you can get. We needed to be artists and create our own music to achieve our dreams of playing places such as the Electric Daisy Carnival or Coachella or Lollapalooza or any other big festival.”
Ten years later, Anderson and Land share fond memories of their UCI days, when they found community in the Greek system. Even today, their fraternity brothers still attend shows, and one is even a VJ on their touring crew.
“I will always cherish all those parties that we DJed,” Anderson says. “They were the first things we basically ever did. DJing for 100 people that you know very closely is so much different than DJing for 20,000 people that you don’t have a personal connection with. The reason we’re here is because of those moments. They were so inspiring – looking around the room and seeing all familiar faces and everyone smiling and having the best time.”
Adds Land: “It’s what always pushed me to keep doing this. I’ll never forget that.”
While the two have pursued a joint career far outside the realm of political science, Anderson and Land continue to rely on their academic experiences at UCI to help them succeed.
“Overall, being at UCI, surrounded by highly intelligent people, made me a more well-rounded person, because you get this huge influx of different views, opinions and values. It’s something that’s so much more broad than the high school experience,” Anderson says.
Land adds: “It gave us a different perspective in the way we look at the business side of touring and everything that we do with Slander. We have a better business edge because of, for instance, the economics classes we took. Our general intelligence and the way we make decisions is definitely attributed to UCI. For Derek and me, the ecosystem that we were a part of at UCI really shaped the type of people that we are.”