Salarayman: Universal Language

Salarayman: Universal Language


2016: the year Salaryman grabbed drum & bass, took it by the grubby horns and ran the genre ragged. Assaulting us throughout the year with a broad range of styles across the likes of Ram, Technique, Sub Slayers, Influenza and Nu Venture from the off, he signed out ‘16 with his debut album Choose Your Language.

Delivered on Wickaman’s Bughouse imprint, the album builds on the all-style signature he’s carefully developed since emerging over five years ago. From liquid soul to neuro gold by way of 140 jungle and riff-heavy power-hour peaktime punishers, it’s the broadest document the Frenchman has delivered to date and sets him firmly for another exceptional year. We caught up with him to find out more…

Happy new year! Any resolutions?

Cheers, Happy New Year too! My resolution is the same every year: do my best to produce fatter tracks than last year!

What’s the best resolution you’ve made over the years that you’ve actually kept and it’s changed your life?

I’m not used to making resolutions just for new years because almost every time I don’t keep them! Fortunately it’s not the same thing when I take big decisions at any other moment of the year.

Your album sealed the deal on your biggest year to date… Historically 2016 is likely to go down as a merde d’année but personally you had a great year didn’t you? Take us through some of 2016’s highlights prior to the album….

Haha I see you know some French words! Yeah 2016 was quite shitty around the globe but fortunately  for me this year was great thanks to many releases on quality labels, especially on Technique last summer and Ram a few weeks before the album.

And now the album. Choose my language? I’ll choose music. That’s probably the point you’re making here isn’t it? Especially with the actual track Choose Your Language being so unifyingly euphoric. Or perhaps it’s a reference to the increasingly global status of drum & bass?

That’s a really good analysis and it’s quite close to what I had in mind when I worked on the album. My aim was to do something eclectic that may please to as much people as possible, either if you’re fond of liquid or neuro or jungle or jump up… No matter the thing in music that makes you thrill, my goal was that at least one track in the album may talk to you. So just pick up one (or more), just choose your language!

The album does cover a lot of ground. It’s a reflection of how you’ve worked your whole career so far isn’t it? You’ve always been very careful not to pigeonhole or limit yourself haven’t you?

Yes indeed. Actually my biggest fear is that my way of producing music turns into something mechanical, something that doesn’t require new experiments and new ideas to sound good. So basically this fear forces me to produce eclectic things. During my early years of production I thought this diversity was not a good thing for breaking through the scene because some labels are specialized in some specific styles and it took me quite a while before sending four-five demos of the same style to them. But nowadays I realise that labels really appreciate my eclectic work.

An album helps you do that to even wider extremes – which tracks did you feel you really pushed yourself even further and explore fresh territories?

Probably Janus as it’s not a D&B track. I already produced non-D&B tracks in the past (deep garage, trip hop, breakbeat…) but never put a hand on this kind of 140BPM jungle that I particularly like for some years.

Let’s Go Baby is one of my favourites – restrained space funk with a touch of Break finesse… Grooves like this are timeless aren’t they?

I’m pleased to know you like it! Yeah definitely timeless. Among my first vinyls back in the early 2000’s, there were already tracks in this kind. I’m actually a big big fan of abstract hip hop for over 15 years and there’s a lot of similarities in the sounds used in this genre and Liquid funk. That’s why when I first heard a Liquid tune, I instantly had a crush on it!

Enter The Raver is another one, too… Unabashed gully with added Ragga Twins power. Sounds like it was fun to make and even more fun to smash out, am I right?

Yeah I did have a lot of fun with this one moreover that every parts came along easily and everything was wrap up quite fast. It was one of the first tune I produced for the album so it’s been two years that I’ve been playing it in my sets and I’m surprised every time to see how it can mess a dancefloor!

I’m also intrigued by the vocal treatment on Eastern Rush. It’s almost psychedelic and comes with that old C4C type of rolling neuro vibe. Tell me about this track…

As far as I remember, everything started with the vocals on this track. I just add some fun with cutting and rearranging some Indian vocals and didn’t expect at all to do a neuro track with it. But little by little any new sound I added just indicates that I HAD to turn it into a heavy mayhem like in the good old times! So indeed C4C, Gridlok, Hive … the works of this kind of producers have been inspirational for this track.

I’m going to ask that really shit question now… All your album tracks are hanging off a cliff – you can only pick one and save its life. Which one would you pick and why?

Haha I’ve already been asked this same question a few times but never this way! I think I’ll save Dancehall Drama VIP which I made with Reggae French singer LMK. It just recalls me the good time I had when I produced it. The original version was a jungle tune I made for LMK’s album. But when I was working on the mixdown of the vocals, the idea of making a more dancefloor tune came to me. I remember when I started this VIP project, I had something really precise in mind but I was definitely not sure that it would make the cut. So I just composed a bassline and a drumline then added the vocals … and the result just blow my mind!

So what’s in store for 2017? 2016 is set the benchmark high…

There’s a lot of hot things coming up on this year but I’m afraid I’m not allowed to talk about it for now, except the release of my brand new sample pack on Loopmasters due on January 26. And yeah 2016 was great, certainly my best year, but probably nothing to compare with what will come out in 2017! So get ready!

Finally, I have to ask, there’s a lot of talk in the news about fixed salaries as more jobs are being taken over by automated machines. How long do you think it will be before producers lose their jobs to robots?

That’s quite funny that you ask me that because I’m currently reading Asimov’s Robots books (I’m reading vol.2 The Rest Of The Robots at the moment). Asimov started writing these books in 1950 so the problems of robotics in a human world is not something new. But as politicians wait until the problem is too big for trying to resolve it, most of the time they do it the wrong way (just look at what they try to do with the climate changes!).

Anyway I think the problem are not robots, machines, programs or anything. It’s just about people that use it to make short time profits. But it’s just stupid: if most people are fired and replaced by robots, who will buy the products that robots will make? Robots? I don’t think so. And it won’t be unemployed people as they don’t have money. Even less money if there is more and more people replaced by robots because governments won’t be able to enlarge their budget for unemployment benefits (unfortunately robots don’t pay taxes!). So the matter is not robots, it’s rather about neoliberal politics that only focus on growth quarter after quarter and just can’t think long term…

Well now about your question, we are used to saying that there are some tasks that any machine won’t ever be able to do. We said that about chess then a computer beat the world champion about 20 years ago. We said that about Go (Chinese chess supposed to be the hardest game in the world) then a computer beat one of the best player last year. We said that about cars but in about 20 years most people in rich countries will be able to buy their own self-driven car. So if you ask me if I think that one day a robot will be able to produce a huge D&B track, I’d answer “Why not?”. But the only thing that matters is this… “Will we be able to do a better tune?”

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Drum&BassArena Editor: Dave Jenkins has documented beats for over 15 years working with the likes of UKF, Mixmag, DJ Mag, iDJ, Bandcamp, Resident Advisor, Radio 1 Xtra and many more.