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In conversation with DJ, producer and Frite Nite label boss SALVA
words & photography Fabrice Bourgelles
With a constant stream of talent flowing into the ether on the regular, it can sometimes be overwhelming keeping up who is doing what and coming out of where. One individual who is doing a lot to help push the US beat and club scenes forward is Mr. Paul Salva—or just ‘Salva’ to you and I.
From DJ to producer and now label boss for the boutique ‘Frite Nite’ imprint, and a graduate of last year’s RBMA in Madrid, Salva has been busy, and it’s already looking like another big year for him. Beatnik spoke to Salva about friends, trends, the accidental heroes of youth, and why we should definitely be keep an eye on the East coast as well as the West.
For some your name might be associated with the new wave of beatmakers out there, for others you are known for being a big part of helping to move the culture forward, how do you see your involvement with music?
I guess I’ve already been through a few manifestations of the different styles of music I’ve wanted to integrate in my life. I was never formally trained, and I guess my first incarnation in all of it was through Djaying and being a big Turntablism geek. Now, I’m somehow a little bit more of an old timer compared to some of the younger guys coming out of L.A.
You’re a Chicago native but via a few other places, you’ve been a West coast resident for little bit now, is it fair to say they all seem to come through in the music?
I guess my big thing is that I’ve always loved as much as hip-hop, in all their forms. The West coast sound really drew me, guys like Dre & Snoop, to Battlecat and DJ Quick as well as straight up Funk and other styles. For me, I feel as much influenced by those sounds, as I do by the house stuff growing up in Chicago and the sounds coming out of Detroit at the same time. I actually also lived in Miami for while, which was the hub for Drum & Bass in the U.S. when it was really cracking, and I think having had dance music play a big role in my life would probably be something that seems to somehow set the sound apart from a lot of other people in L.A. right now.
Dance music from either side of the pond has always pushed the bar for each side to experiment more, how are you experiencing it now?
I definitely always looked to the UK for inspiration, regardless of what style I was into at the time. In the last decade, and particularly more recently, so many amazing artists have been coming out here on a dance tip, playing the more tribal funky stuff or more broken beat stuff. Equally now, it feels like there’s been this revival with young cats in the UK almost migrating away from that “UK Funky” sound, and making straight up house and techno which sort of emulates old Chicago and old Detroit.
Either side really keeps feeding back off each other, but especially now with Internet culture, it’s like that for any art forms, its just this consistent recycling and feeding off each other. You have Artists changing sounds before you can even start to describe what they were making before.
People sometimes put a downer on the US Bass scene, do you think that’s fair?
I think definitely has its own identity, but it’s still a lot more isolated on the whole. I’ve had the opportunity to play in most of the major cities, and in a lot of the smaller places too, and though most places are usually up on what is on elsewhere, the average city just has less nights cultivating and pushing those certain styles.
Even with the Internet, and the fact that nothing is really ‘secluded’ in the way it used to be, a lot of what ends up getting picked up on there usually gets channeled through ‘Pop’ culture, in this sort of weird sub-mainstream area. Were talking radio, and stadium sized shows! It’s almost impossible for artists like myself to compete with that, unless you follow the format. But things have always been that way, from hair metal, to big-band jazz, there’s always fads and popularity.
The west coast sound is putting out a lot of stuff that’s being picked up all over the place these days, but can you shed some light on what else is happening these days?
The East coast is definitely back in big way. New York is cracking right now, there are always three or four parties in Brooklyn, and a lot of great artists from all over the place playing there, but also amazing guys coming out of the local scene too. Sepalcure is a huge taste maker, in fact machine drum is probably one the most eclectic and influential producers out there, am happy to say that I take a lot of influence from people like him.
I mean there’s definitely a great buzz on the West coast right now but I don’t even particularly see myself as being part of the L.A. beat scene that much, the guys at Low End Theory and Brainfeeder have it down and it is awesome, they’ve built this whole thing there, and it’s reaching insane levels of popularity which is amazing because it’s still experimental at the end of the day. It’s great to be in the middle of it, but I feel like I can bring something a little bit different.
Last year saw you come of the RBMA in Madrid. How was that, on a scale of one to ‘ridiculous’?
Euuuhm….. extra ridiculous!
Any highlights you could share?
I mean, the whole thing really, the amount of technical knowledge and the massive amounts of inspiration, from my peers and from artists I fount out looked up to me, and artists I looked up to. I mean, sitting in on the RZA giving a lecture! He has to be in one of my top five most influential artists.
Plus with all the other lecturers and even the staff, it was all just endless input, I think I’m still processing things I learnt and the relationships I made there.
The people you meet, the bonds you make, its actually very emotional, plus you don’t sleep, you’re out in the club till 5am, and in lectures by 9am, then studio all day and all night. The whole thing is ridiculous, you’re constantly having moments when you’re looking at your peers, asking yourselves ‘Is this really happening right now?’
You’re label ‘Frite Nite’ which houses fellow beat mason and recent RBMA alumni B. Bravo, how do you find running an indie imprints these days?
It’s been great, even though I released both my records on Friends of Friends last year; they’ve really embraced me having my own label. Frite Nite in itself is a crew of my friends I got close with is SF, and the reason I started it was to help them get exposure.
Guys like B. Bravo had been making music for years but had never done anything solo until we did it, and it became a platform for him to be able to grow from, and that’s hat make me the happiest. We all release on other labels, but with time and money permitting we try to do more projects from our own output.
You’ve had a pretty exciting year last year…. what can we expect now?
I’m actually working on some new stuff with of my close friends DJ G. He comes more from the ‘pure’ sort of ‘DMZ ‘Dubstep pedigree, but we’ve ended up working on some broken beat and house stuff when were doing it together. I’m also looking forward to being more present on Frite Nite, with some solo stuff on more of a Hip-Hop vibe.
Then we got some of what I honestly feel is B. Bravo’s best work to date coming out too. We’ve also been getting a ton of demos from a lot of young people, which I’m really excited about. I always wanted to be in that position, I know I’m getting older, and I love looking towards the youth. Their accidental genius is what makes music and art so great, so hopefully I‘ll get to play, but also put new cats on too.
OK and if you weren’t making music what do you think you would be doing with your time?
I can’t really imagine that at this point anymore to be honest. I used to just do a tech job and there’s no going back I think one thing I do wanna do regardless of what happens with my own music is teach. RBMA was a big part of me wanting to do that, the educational insight it gave. Again, like what RZA was saying about the ‘student-master’ relationship is that you basically learn a lot from teaching. But otherwise I wanna be in Music for the rest of my life, there’s no real doubt about that.
We certainly hope so.