A back and forth conversation with the promising rising star about intentions for the future, successes so far, the writing process and the 'Does UK hip-hop live in London?' debate.
Salvo's been making noise. He's releasing CD's and 12" records independently, he's studying music, he's shared a stage with Blade, and he's 16. I bumped into the dude on the information superhighway. Here's what happened.
Right then. First off, who the bloody hell are you, where're you from and all that background stuff?
I am Salvo, 16 years old and currently residing in sunny Bognor Regis, where I have made my home for the past 5 years! Started my Label Last Minute Records in 2003 to accommodate my own releases!
What releases are those and how hard was it to get them done, considering your age and choice to go the Indy route?
Erm… they are the Holding Keys CD which was kind of a demo CD that was limited to a 100 copies released in December 2003 and also the Uncontained Rage 12'' that was out in February 2004! It was pretty hard to raise the cash for the releases but that was nothing in comparison to actually figuring out and understanding how to run business properly, for example getting distribution, press coverage and release dates corresponding with their press coverage! And also shows and having to make your own contacts with people within the industry.
Having generated a fair bit of press interest already, and most of it mentioning your age, does it piss you off when people are 'wow, he's so good for 16' instead of talking solely about the sounds?
Yes its like your always being compared as a protégé of someone just because of the age. Its not like they class you in the same category as an artist! They label you as an understudy! But I can on the other hand see that if the press compare me to someone it helps their target audience understand what I am about style wise! So it has positive and negative aspects!
As annoying as it might be with the comparisons, which artists would you most enjoy being matched with?
Erm Jehst, Taskforce, Blade and Django Van Helsing Supa T!
So, how much of your time is spent working on your music career, either writing and recording or promoting? Are you still in education, and how is it juggling the two? You must get props from class mates and enough chicks at the end of year disco's!
Well I seem to split my days unhealthily, 10-5 I'm at college but usually selling records there, then 5pm-3am I write lyrics and record, do a bit of promotion but that's calmed down a bit lately and of late I have developed an unhealthy obsession with the internet! Both routines tie in pretty well with each other as my college course is music tech! And as I'm an amateur insomniac I sleep for 4 hours with ease! But I get the odd prop now n then from my drum and bass class mates! Disco's though- I taught Johnny Travolta how to move!
Who produces the majority of your stuff? Are you working from a studio or are things still living room style? What hardware/software is behind your product?
It's all still living room style! We used to use a weights poll as a mic stand! But quality comes through with depth. You don't need a load of high tech gear over the basics. If it sounds good it will, regardless of what desk you got. The basic's will usually do a pretty good job! My brother 184 produces the majority of my material! Just on his new G4 on logic and crates full of old vinyl! People aren't ready for him yet he has some bangers stored up on that G4!
Is there a particular project you guys are working on at the moment or is it just about writing from the dome, putting it on file and stacking up mountains of material to pick from later on?
Well I'm just finishing off 2 tracks that I have been working on with Jabba Tha Cut who's behind the boards on them! And next me and 184 plan on moving on to an 8 track EP, vinyl only! We're gonna record about 30 tracks and then pick the best 8 to go on the EP! I think 184 has some production jobs in the pipeline but I have no news on them yet!
Do you think there'll be a time when you'll start shopping for a record deal or will sign to a label or do you think you'll stick to the in house set up you have at the moment? It must be daunting looking ahead to the extensive work load that comes with a new release.
Erm I would like to shop for a deal one day. Maybe for a one off release! But with the independence you get a certain level of creative freedom and can avoid meeting deadlines! Also with the independence, you are in control 100% and it helps because you only have yourself to blame if it all goes wrong and you don't need to lay your trust on a label! It is daunting releasing a 12..more to cum for the Uncontained Rage EP. I was in the post office 3 or 4 times a day mailing material out to press and customers, trying to pay whilst talking to contacts on the phone! This takes a lot of time away from recording and writing but it's well worth it at the end of the day when you walk in a store and your 12's on the wall!
I can imagine. Talking of daunting scenario's, and with the industry as it is, it must be pretty scary entering the UK scene. You must have by now experienced the demanding times that it brings. What do you feel on that?
Yes It's a hard scene to win over! I live about 60 miles from London and it has been dubbed the UK hip hop centre. So to really make an extreme impact you need to be in the heart of it all! But with enough perseverance and hard work things will slowly will fall into place! But also you need to keep a steady flow of material coming out to keep your name circulating which is hard at times for me.
Do you see light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the UK scene being a lot easier to be a part of and work within and do you hold any ideas of how the light can be switched on? The whole 'London is where it's at' thing must be extremely frustrating. Sometimes I fall into the trap myself of thinking its the centre of the hip-hop universe.
Yes I definitely think that the UK could be more country orientated rather than regional! But you can see it starting to change slowly. For example, you have labels and artists popping up all over the map like Zebra Traffic and Janomi who are well respected yet based in Brighton. The only way to make the scene more rounded is for people to listen to music on the basis of enjoyment rather than what they are told to listen to!
Spot on man. I come across a lot of people who claim they're into the UK scene and know everything about it, but when I ask them who they like, all they can name is Jehst and a few of his friends. No offence to Jehst, but he isn't the be all and end all. Would you agree then that the scene needs to be less about which artists you're affiliated with?
Yes, see it all ties in with London. You have to be there to affiliate with other artists, and they collaborate and work with each other so they create their own sub scenes so to speak! It should definitely be less about who you are affiliated with. I have recently started to check established artists material that have received hardly any press EG. Baron Samedi.
Have you got an online home yet where people can check some of your material out?
No, its a technophobes dream! It's currently being built at the moment, but there's a few links floating about on the net with MP3'S from the 12''!
Wicked. Well its been great throwing these questions at you. There's a few gems amongst those answers! Any shout outs, big ups, put downs you want to throw out into the land of the lonely?
Yes well big ups go to: 184, Mr Krum, 237 crew, Lost Souls, digitek, DR S, Hines, Notches, Simpson, RK,all brighton slip jam crew, Blade, Daz, Respek-BA, Jabba, Excalibah, all mags that helped me out, my New Zealand crew, Bognor n chi heads, Portsmouth heads and lastly my girlfriend Leigh.