Paul Salva, better known simply as Salva, has had a huge year: you may have seen him on the tour circuit as he seemed to have fully circled the globe, hitting major cites across the US and Canada, as well as gracing Germany, Spain, and Russia, to list only a few. He played more than his fair share of festivals and raves too, even hitting Boiler Room with Friends of Friends labelmates Shlohmo, LOL Boys, Groundislava, RL Grime, and Young Adults at one point. All the while, he's maintained his own imprint, Frite Nite, and has two records in the works. We had the opportunity to talk to the busy producer at the Friends of Friends showcase at the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival this weekend, and found out more about his forthcoming music, his creative process, and how touring influences his sound.
Rebecca: 2012 has been a huge year for you. You’ve toured the US, Canada, Europe, played Boiler Room and also hit a number of smaller raves and large festivals from Symbiosis to Lollapalooza. That said, how are you maneuvering through the US EDM takeover?
Paul Salva: Up until this point, I don’t think I’ve turned down a gig. I’ve taken the stance that if someone wants me to come play, then I’ll come play. My sounds have changed a bit since my last album came out and I’ll probably go back to that with my next album, but I’m a long-time DJ since I was a kid. Then I started doing live keyboard and stuff, but if the guy before me is doing like super hard dubstep, then I can’t follow that and do my thing. It’s really just the vibe. You don’t want to play Flying Lotus at a deep house show. I did encounter that a lot on the road. That’s a little why I got pushed back into DJing. That, and I kind of missed it.
What do you think of electronic dance music’s rise in popularity, and different styles emerging over the last few years?
I think it’s good. The whole explosion of everything, be it the cheesier side or the more disposable side of things, it’s still attracting young people into it. Real music lovers will grow, so there’s a silver lining.
So if you’re invited to a rave that’s going to play almost entirely chainsaw dubstep, would you accept it?
Hopefully I’m at a point where I can turn that kind of stuff down. Before the whole “trap” thing started getting big, I mean, we’ve been doing that kind sound for as long as I can remember. It’s just mixing rap and electronic, especially southern rap. All my music, whether it’s funky stuff, or deeper or more club friendly, it’s always 808-centric. I’ve always been in love with the 808. I would always stay focused on that and do my best at those shows. It was tough at times, but I draw a line for sure.
As someone who grew up on Chicago house, then transitioned into hip-hop, and has now dabbled in plenty of electronic subgenres—grime, electro, dubstep—where do you see your music going next?
I’m just finishing an EP and it’s Bmore [Baltimore breakbeat] meets jungle meets kind of back into some ghetto-housy stuff, and more 808s. All I’ve ever tried to do is fuse stuff together. As soon as everyone jumps on this bandwagon, it instantly turns me off. I don’t want to do it anymore. What’s next is another fusion.
Are you going to take a trip to Cuba for inspiration? Salva in Cuba?
[laughs] I wish I could.
How’s your progress on making “the most melodically potent and emotional music, and at the same time, the ghetto-ist most minimal club wave, filthy dumb dancefloor shit” coming along?
I’ve got the second half for sure on this next one. It’s a comical take on the big room stuff, kind of flipping that on its head. I try to make slimy dance tracks that are broken, and different, and left a little bit but still accessible. Once I have that out of the way, I’ve been working with this vocalist, Andrea Balency, who I met at Red Bull Music Academy. She’s super talented, and she’s got a huge following already. She’s French and Mexican with dual citizenship. We’re working on, well, I wouldn’t call it beatless, but it’s all focused on song writing and vocals. Now that I’ve sorted the club thing out and fulfilled that side of my music, I’m jumping on the other side and finishing this album. The two things I wanted to fuse, I just did each [separately].
Do you feel free to put anything into a song?
Yeah, after I played all these festivals, I got really hard on myself about using mixed sounds and track formatting. I try to be conscious of that. That’s really the only barrier I set for myself. That, and just to make sure that my music is system friendly and works on the dance floor. After that [Kanye West] “Mercy” [remix with RL Grime], I got a huge number of fans that just want that exact thing, and I’m not really going to give it to them.
Do you write music with instruments or in your head?
I started laying down melodies with my voice after working with Andrea [Balency]. I realized I am a terrible singer and I can’t hold pitch, and I doubt I’ll ever be performing on stage as a vocalist, but I still realized I can project melodies in a certain way, using my voice as an instrument. On the club stuff, I have a process where I get the beats down first. Get a groove going and write from there.
Has spending time on the road with different artists like Nguzunguzu or Shlohmo affect your sound, either live or in the studio?
Definitely. Hearing them night after night, or listening to what they like to listen to in the car, maybe not even what they’re playing, but hearing their influences. Anyone that you spend time with starts to have an influence on you. My new record is inspired by Nguzunguzu. It’s more in the 130’s, low tempo stuff, broken, raw, and tribal. Shlohmo and I became best homies and worked in the studio and shit, so he has a big impact too.
When is the EP coming out?
In January. We’re doing a lot with it, and I have a lot of secrets I can’t divulge.
Will 2013 see more time in the studio or are you going to travel the world again?
It’s going to be crazy. I already have two huge US tours for the first quarter, and I’m going to Europe next week actually. I have another Europe tour booked next quarter, and SXSW, too. It’s going to be a lot [of touring], but I want to write a full-length album next year too.