Flats Stanlie is the definition of grinding. The 24-year-old producer from Grand Haven, MI got an opportunity most artists can only dream of, and has been making the most of it. Flats Stanlie won The Untz contest this year and was rewarded with slots at 6 major festivals across the country, which he traveled to on his own dime to bring his music to the masses. His hard work and dedication has earned him a fiercely loyal fan base that helped fund his festival expedition with a sold-out fundraiser show. Beyond being an incredible producer and a hard-working DJ, Kollin is a genuine, down-to-earth human who considers many of his fans his friends. I had a conversation with Kollin about his incredible festival run, his music, and the future of Flats Stanlie. Get to know him before everyone else does, because there’s nowhere to go but up for Flats Stanlie.
The Hypist: When did you realize that you wanted to start making music? Was it a show, a song, a late night epiphany?
Flats Stanlie: Ah man, well I’ve been a musician ever since I can remember. I’ve been singing since I was 6, been playing piano for 11 years. I’ve always had a musical inclination but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. Until I saw Keys N Krates, RL Grime, and Zeds Dead at the Aaragon Ballroom about 4 years ago. I remember a specific moment during ZD’s set when I stopped dancing looked up and thought to myself “I could do that” and the next day I downloaded FL Studio and started on Jan 1st 2014. So really it was all three, the show made me fall in love with the entire dance music scene, the song that was playing was “Shut Up and Sing” a ZD original and it was late at night.
The perfect trifecta. So fast forward a few years. You’re making music, DJing, and have a good local following. And then The Untz contest happens. Take me through that whole process, from signing up to finding out you won.
You make this interesting for sure, haha. Well I saw the contest last year but didn’t think I was good enough for it so I didn’t enter. Then after spending the past year playing shows, creating, and getting my initial team established my manager Josh Osborn said I should try my hand at the Untz this year. Granted even today I don’t believe myself to be that good, but thankfully others do. I am my worst critic for sure. But the day Josh told me I should enter I said “alright, I’ll give it a go” and created “Bloom” that night. I spent about 2 weeks on the track in total getting it ready for the drop. When I got the email saying I moved onto being a finalist I became very excited and started sharing it everywhere, got to first place in the first hour of the poll being up by sadly dropped under very fast. I kinda lost hope on winning the popular vote but I still kept thinking about the Staff Pick. Fast forward about a monthish, I’m at work serving up chicken wings at Buffalo Wind Wings, and I get a call and voicemail from a California number. I listened to the voicemail but all I could hear was the word “Untz” so my heart started racing immediately. I ran outside called the number back and Avi Gallant picks up the other line. He then tells me that I won the staff pick spot for the Untz Challenge. After I got off the phone with him I dropped to the ground with tears. I couldn’t help but break down in joy because I knew that this opportunity would change my life; and it did. Now completing the first half of the summer I can say I am very happy and grateful for this.
That’s amazing. Most great artists are their own worst critics, it’s how you keep progressing and creating better music.
So now that you’re about halfway through your insane festival run, tell me about how it is being a relatively unknown artist at some of these festivals, especially say Untz and Sonic Bloom, far from your home base. Have you gotten a decent turnout and made new fans by playing these festivals?
You got that right, many majors I’ve met are the same way as me. Their fans love them but they personally don’t think they are any better than anyone else. Sonic Bloom I had a pretty good turn out, I mean like you said I definitely am virtually unknown out there and having people come see me was pretty cool. The Untz was about the same. I’d say I’ve made a few new fans for sure, not tens of thousands by any means but I know people from around those areas started to follow me and that’s been a pretty amazing feeling.
It’s great that you’ve been able to play festivals all over the country and expand your sound to people who probably never would have heard it otherwise. I’m sure this whole experience has been surreal, but is there one moment you can pinpoint from this festival run that stands out above all the rest?
Forest. Both weekends.
Hands down the best of them all.
From playing my silent disco set which ran out of headphones, and all were on my channel. Also Waka came to see my set but got turned away by security, so that was neat. Playing 3 sunrise sets, having random strangers come up to me and ask me if I was Flats Stanlie. By far one of the greatest feelings is having people you don’t know want to meet you because they love your music. It was a humbling and very beautiful experience. Both weekends of Forest really set my mind right and made me even more determined to keep going deeper with this project.
I had a feeling you were going to say Forest. It’s a magical place, and the reason I fell in love with music festivals.
Beyond the connections with your fans, did you make any friends/connections with other artists during your festival run? Any possible collaborations on the horizon?
The connections I made with other artists are definitely great, I’m hoping to squeeze collabs but I’m not going to rush it any time soon. But all the people I’ve met have been incredible, some of them are huge idols of mine and even they’ve shown me the love back and that is something that drives my motivation to continue creating relationships and strong connections between those idols and myself. Let’s put it this way, if you told me 4 years ago that I’d meet these idols at the festivals and theyd tell me that they have heard of me and likes my music, I would tell you no way in hell haha.
What are you most excited for on the rest of your 2017 festival run?
I’m most excited for the end product of my first real “tour”. I can’t wait to see where it all goes from here. I leave for Colorado next week to play Arise and being home for the past month has me itching for the road and getting back to traveling around. The time spent has been worth every minute, the love I’ve received has been unreal. But over all of that and the end product the number one thing I’m excited for is to start working with some great musicians from around the country on finishing my first album.
We’re all excited for the first album as well! If you could collaborate with any other current artists (vocalists, producers, musicians) who would they be?
Oh man that list could go on for miles haha. I’ve always said GRiZ is my idol and he’d be my #1 choice for a collab. But ever since the tour started I’ve opened up more to the idea of collabing and making art with many other artists. Flint Eastwood is someone I’d love to have on vocals, or Eric Krasno. Manic Focus is another group that I’d love to collab with, opening for them 3 times now and getting to know them a bit has shown me how amazing these artists are, and the management team is always very friendly to me and willing to give me that nudge in the right direction. But at this moment in my career and the style of music I create, Odesza is at the top of my list for a collab. Their music touches the soul and makes you feel, that’s what I thoroughly enjoy in music. Feeling the emotion the artist had while creating whatever song you’re listening to.
Odesza is the dream, and I can definitely see the influence in your music. Describe your sound to those who have never heard you before.
I call my sound Astrobass. It’s rooted from Future Bass, with a funk/melodic trap twist. More mellow but has its hype moments. It’s in its infant stage at the moment but I’m progressing in perfecting the sound that I feel portrays my personality completely.
What songs have been on constant rotation this summer?
Congratulations by Post Malone (Original and the BKAYE x TELKast Remix), Never Forgettin That by DopeBoy Bootleg, and Line Of Sight by Odesza
Where do you want to be a year from now?
Where I would like/hope to be next year is doing the exact same thing I did this summer. Minus winning the challenge. Getting booked through the festivals and really start to climb the ladder. I want to continue to grow, create, and travel.
And finally: Taylor Swift, Kesha, or Lana Del Rey?
T-Swift, Kesha, or Lana Del Bae? Well, as tough as that is I say none of the above. I go with Halsey or Rozes.
Thanks for your time man, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!