Posted in Interviews
A Friend of A Friend
Our love for California based DJ & producer Salva is nothing new. Last year we were swept off our feet with his debut LP Complex Housing, a 14-track whirlwind of vibrant synth-driven soul and wonked-out grooves that sounded so unconfined yet so calculated at the same time. We were left wanting more, and in November our eardrums were finally fulfilled with the release of the YelloBone EP, which even further continued the producer's voyage into West Coast electro induced funk. Needless to say, we've been meaning to catch up with Paul Salva for a long time now, and while on tour with NGUZUNGUZU last month at their stop in Seattle, we were finally able to get our Nardwaur on with the man himself. Below, check out our interview with Salva, as we pick his brain about distinctions between the US and European music scenes, Red Bull Music Academy, the current state of pop music, and much much more.
You started this tour in San Francisco earlier this month. Where's the final stop?
Miami at this party called Future Perfect. The Sound Pellegrino guys and some other people are putting it on during WMC.
Have you done things with Sound Pellegrino in the past? Seems like those guys have a knack for finding what's next and working with them in some form or fashion.
I met Teki [co-head of Sound Pellegrino] in Paris, and I’m actually remixing Para One right now, which is dope, because I’ve been a fan of his music for a really long time
Did you play their party in Paris?
Yeah, at Social Club with Shlohmo, which is kinda like home base for a bunch of those guys. The homie Guillame throws it, which is cool, because Surkin was out, Brodinski, all those dudes were out. The whole Paris community supports each other man. Like even French Fries was there and his whole label crew. It was dope.
How was that tour by the way, as it was you and Shlohmo's first time touring Europe, correct?
Yep. It was sick, like pretty much every show was sold out. It was dope to be out there because I got to go to all these different cities like Berlin, London, Paris, Italy, Romania, Copenhagen. Maybe one or two shows weren’t sold out, but even the ones that weren’t the vibes were super good. It felt good to know that these people half way around the world would come out to support us
Was there a stand out city that gave you guys a particularly warm welcome?
We played in Bucharest, Romania, and they go hard there man. They are die hard ravers. They love everything and they’re very open.
So that tour was Europe with Shlohmo, and now you’re on a US tour with NGUZUNGUZU. Are you keeping your sets pretty similar to the European dates or are you switching things up?
In Europe my sets were a lot longer, so I did a little bit more of my "live" thing, playing some originals with keys and so forth. But this tour with NGUZUNGUZU is more dance floor/DJ oriented. Not really getting into the live stuff out here in the States this time around.
In terms of "electronic music", your sound is so out there, I feel like your DJ sets are very expansive. Do you like to drop things that are maybe unexpected? Like, would you drop some straight up deep house in a set if it ever came down to it?
Hell yeah, I played an after party in LA a few weeks ago and I played all deep house man, because it was a late night thing. It was appropriate for the moment. But when I’m out on a tour like this one I’m not sure if I’d go there, because bass music heads aren’t really ready for that yet. You need like a three or four hour set to mix deep house with most of the other stuff I play, because it’s really vibe-y. You need to sort of get into the groove with that music and on this tour I’m mostly playing one hour sets and the people that are coming out to see me aren’t really coming out to hear deep house.
You did the Red Bull Music Academy last summer in Madrid. What was the experience there like?
I could go on about Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) for hours. Not to be emo about it, but it was life changing and really special. We’re all a family now. We all went through an emotional experience. We met living legends of recorded music, played epic parties, and got to sit in the studio for two weeks. All around it was humbling and awesome.
So tell us how exactly RBMA works. Do they basically just fly you out, put you up in a hotel, and have you work exclusively on music for two weeks straight?
Yeah, they put everyone up in a hotel. It’s really intense though, because you wake up at 9am everyday and they have you go to these lectures with people like the RZA, Bootsy Collins, Pearson Sound, Peaches, Scuba, and Trevor Horn. Then you go out to shows all night and start the next day again at 9am.
Do you feel like you learned a lot out there?
Absolutely. Musically I saw a big difference, already, because I opened my mind to so much music out there. It’s like summer camp for music lovers out there: lectures all day, studio time where you’re collaborating with other people who are guitar players or DJs or singers or whatever. I sat in the studio with Mannie Fresh for two hours, drank wine, and talked about DJing. That was awesome. I’ve always loved his shit. That was day three or four. Then I got to meet the RZA and listen to his lecture, which I almost cried during. That was super spiritual for me, like a dream come true, because that is someone I’ve looked up to for years.
You said earlier that the reception to your tour in Europe was really great in almost every city you went to. Obviously the [bass music] scene in North America is still growing and getting on its feet. What is it like playing at home? Is it different?
It is [different] man. People attribute the UK with leading the way in forward thinking dance music. But they look to us for inspiration as well. A lot of these guys [from the UK] who were doing the “UK Funky” type stuff are now doing 909 house type stuff and that shit is Detroit and Chicago man. That shit started here. It goes back and forth, you know?
As far as the shows, I don’t think it’s geographical. I just think that there are more cities over there, more markets. The parties can be hit or miss no matter if they’re thrown in the States or in Europe. It still matters what kinda crew is throwing the party, what the promoters are doing, having the right venue, having the right artists paired together, having music that’s pertinent right now….all that stuff is universal. That’s what matters the most.
Do you think that the average American music fan is not as well versed in music as the average European is though?
I’m not sure, exactly. Sometimes it seems like Europe might have a higher ratio of true music heads, but at the same time I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the heads over there have no idea who Mannie Fresh is. When it comes down to it, this kind of music is alternative. It’s not mainstream. We can’t expect people to be heads. It’s like with fashion or art or food even. The average person just eats at the local restaurant, they doesn’t have a culinary prowess, they don’t care about truffle oil or a certain vintage wine. Your either a foodie or your not.
Dance music and electronic music has been in pop media and been apart of pop culture in the UK and Europe for much longer than it has been over here. So maybe that is the big difference. Even so, we put it on the radio now and bastardize it. When you put on top 40 radio now you can hear a trance tune, but with Flo Rida or Rihanna over the top of it, and the media calls it hip-hop or R&B. The progressive house and trance of 10 years ago is what pop music on the radio in the United States is today. Soon enough, top 40 radio in the States is going to be full of hard dubstep and eurohouse jams. I mean, it already is to a certain extent.
Is it interesting to you just how much electronic music all across the spectrum has been getting recognition these days?
I think that it’s amazing. Even at it’s worst, it’s going to breed people that are going to want to know more, people that are going to want to branch out and learn more about music.
What do you think about the underground bass scene, which has taken so much influence from US R&B in the past, coming full circle with Jamie xx laying the beat down for Drake’s title track “Take Care”?
I’m a big Drake fan. I think that 40 is a genius. I love The Weeknd. I think that those dudes are making the most boundary pushing pop music to come out in a long time. Now you hear “Take Care” on the radio and that’s a weird tune/production. Compare that to the other stuff on the radio like Flo Rida and it’s just bizarre. I’m all for it. I think it’s awesome.
So what’s good with you in the future?
Keep an eye on Shlohmo. Dude is doing a lot of amazing things and this is only the beginning. Leeor over at Friends of Friends is going to start a new sub-label called Young Adults that is more deep house oriented. I actually have a side project going for that label. On the Frite Nite end of things we have a B. Bravo record that I think is going to be our best release to date. Also, DJG and I will be releasing a single together. Keep your eyes peeled.
What's something that anybody that keeps tabs on you would never think that you would listen to, but that you have been jamming lately?
King Krule. That short indie kid from the UK with red hair.
Thanks for the interview brother.
For sure man. No problem.