Quickly moving from strength the strength over the past two years with releases on high-profile imprints like Ram, Infrared, and Spearhead, Salaryman reflects on his journey thus far before dropping a free tune on us and looking ahead to his highly anticipated “Ragga Bugging” EP due soon on Wickaman’s The Bughouse imprint.
Introduce yourself to our readers, where you’re hailing from in the world, the meaning behind your production name, and give us a sense of how important the French dnb scene has been to your own development as an artist and how it’s doing these days.
I’m Salaryman, hailing from Lyon, [France] but I was actually raised in Lille, which is really close to both the British and Belgian border. This certainly contributed to lead me into electronic music quite early in my teenage years, however, I really get involved in dnb many years later, at the age of twenty. I guess it’s because, here in France, dnb has always been underestimated and restricted to a few clubs, magazines and radio shows. So it required a lot of time to grab news about drum & bass, especially as social networks were almost nonexistent at that time. Even now, twelve years later, things stay underground in France, but the scene is still active and seems to be here to stay.
You started DJing first – how old were you and what sort of music were you playing?
Well, I bought my first decks at twenty, which was quite an early age back in 2002, but not that much compared to nowadays as laptop controllers cost less than half the price than a vinyl set up did. I had no real direction in genres when I started, I just liked to spin vinyl records and wanted to try out as many genres as possible. So I played techno, trance, trip hop, hip hop, house, breakbeat and drum & bass. But after a year, only two genres remained: drum & bass and trip hop. Then, as it was really hard to find good new trip hop stuff, and also due to the fact that production began to take me more and more time, I began to focus solely on dnb. But even if I don’t play it any more, I still enjoy listening to most of the genres I started with, especially trip hop, abstract hip hop and breakbeat.
Things have really started to move along for you in the past few years as the big names and imprints have started to take notice. Looking back what are some of the biggest highlights and turning points for you?
I’d say the first turning point was when I signed some tunes to Fokuz two years ago, as it’s one of my favourite labels and a world-known talent scout. The second point was signing on Infrared last year, one of my favourite imprints too and the home of J Majik & Wickaman. I bought so many vinyls and tunes from these guys so you can imagine how great it was for me to feature on the same label. Then, of course, having a tune released on such a heavyweight as RAM was definitely a great experience! I actually heard many times that working with big labels was a harsh thing as they always ask for changes on the tunes they want to sign. But as a matter of fact, concerning “My Future,” they took it the way I’d sent it as a demo! That was such a surprise!
One sign that you’ve made it is that you’ve just released your own sample pack on Loopmasters! Talk a bit about how this project came together and what your approach to the sample pack was. What kind of goodies can we find in there and about how long did it take for you to pull it all together?
The funny thing is, in my early days of production, I tried to use sample packs as little as possible, as for me it was like faking great sounds that weren’t yours. But little by little, I understood that the great thing with samples is to use them as raw material that you can rework your way. It can also help you to bring diversity in your universe, or even find inspiration. So I started to use more and more sample packs and I thought it would be logical to produce my own sample pack one day, as a way to give back to the dnb community.
First, I sent a small pack of beats and sounds to Loopmasters and they enjoyed it! They told me they were looking forward to listening to more and explained what they were precisely looking for. Then I spent nearly a month and a half working all day long on it. And now here’s the result! I tried to produce an eclectic collection of sounds so that any D&B producers can use it. Hope to hear some of these samples in great productions one day!
This past year you have been on the grind with so many releases on imprints as varied as Disturbed, Influenza, Celsius, RoodFM, etc. Your diversity really shows throughout but especially in your ‘Modelling Beats’ EP that came out on Slime last month. Talk a bit about the EP as there’s some heavy bits in here at different tempos, all with that signature Salaryman vibe even when Hubwar gets in on remix duties towards the end.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about Slime until last year. I actually played a tune from this label on my show on RoodFM and they got in touch as they had enjoyed the support. That’s about the time that I focused on this label and discovered how great its catalogue was! I actually check only dnb releases when I’m preparing a DJ set that’s why I didn’t know about Slime until then, as it’s a multi-genre label that wasn’t releasing much dnb at that time.
Anyway, that’s how I got back into garage again. I really enjoyed rediscovering this scene and found that it was technically really close to liquid dnb. So I put my skills to the test on this genre. I made a first track, then a second, and I asked if the Slime crew could be interested in signing it and they did! But they wanted a four-track EP from me so I suggested a dnb tune I made with my mate from Lyon, Static State and then asked to another friend of mine from here, Hubwar, if he would be interested in remixing one of these three tunes. And he was!
Now of course you recently returned the remixing favors for Hubman on his tune “Natural.” I absolutely love the dnb treatment you gave this one – so deep and hypnotic.
Glad you like this one! I have known Hubwar for a few years now and I even take care of the mastering of his own label, Noizion Recordz. That’s how I was aware of the remix compilation of his album he was putting together and I wanted to be part of it. I chose “Natural” because some of the sounds reminded me of early-2000s dnb. So reworking it into liquid was really easy. Hubwar liked what I had done, probably because he was mainly into dnb during the last decade and even if nowadays his aim is to produce a large range of sounds and not be limited to any genres, he still cares about drum & bass. By the way, you’d be really surprised if you listen to our latest collaboration! Hopefully this one will see the light of day soon.
In terms of exciting news, you’ve got a wicked EP due on The Bughouse in a few weeks. Talk a bit about linking up with Wickaman, how the EP came together, and the way this one came to be heavily influenced by jungle.
Yeah, so glad that this EP is about to be out!! It’s a bit different from what I’m used to producing as, indeed, it’s a jungle/dubwise piece. The idea of doing such beats came to me when I realized through producing liquid that dubwise and liquidfunk could be actually really close! That’s why I wanted to try to blend the two elements, and also a few eerie sounds taken from dub. I was already in touch with Wickaman at the time I finished these tunes and asked if he was interested in signing them as I know he likes to use dubwise elements in his own productions.
So I sent them to him and also to Darra with whom he was launching the imprint with and they loved them and wanted a big EP from me, which I did really easily as it was such a pleasure to work with them! They are the kind of people with whom you can rather talk about music than about releases, which is obviously a great thing for a musician! Also, we share quite the same vision of music and I can now proudly announce that my brand new album will be out on this label early next year!
I understand you’ve got a special free tune you want to give away to our readers! Before you set it up for us, let us know what other projects we should be looking out for. Set up the tune for us, the title, vibe, story behind it, and any shouts you want to give before we get into it.
I have a collab I’ve done with Russian producer Nelver that will be out really soon on Audioporn. I’ve got also a five-track EP (including a tune with German singer Identified) confirmed on Soul Deep Recordings for next year plus several releases on Liquid Tones, Offworld and many more. Oh, and the “Ragga Bugging Vol.2” is already on its way!
About this free tune: It is called “A Good Day To Die” and it all started with the mind-blowing guitar sample which reminds me of the kind of dark Western movies about lawless guys and desperadoes, stories in which no one can be trusted. I didn’t want to do something fully dark so kept it catchy but also wanted to add an eerie atmosphere, like a shamanic mood. That’s probably why it feels obvious to include Native American voices, which I did by sampling parts of the movie, “Little Big Man.” Enjoy!