The US producer who's worked with The Fugees, Nas, Biz Markie and Doug E Fresh talks economically about past and future projects, UK grime, equipment, labels and more!
First off, can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what you do?
I am Salaam Remi. I produce, write, arrange, remix and re-arrange music.
How long ago did you produce your first track and what got you involved with hiphop?
In 1986 was my first demo. Since 1989, I have been a full-time producer. Growing up in NY in the 70's and 80's, that was the music of my culture and that's what directed me.
What were the first pieces of equipment you used to put a track together with?
Rolling TR 707 drum machine and a Yamaha DX21 Keyboard
What do you consider to have been your big break which gained you your first significant piece of recognition?
I still haven't had my big break. I am looking out of the window for it now.
Can you run through some of the many artists which you've blessed with your production?
Fugees, Ini Kamoze, Amy Winehouse, Nas, Jurassic Five, Ludacris, Doug E Fresh, Biz Markie, Sade, Sting, Santana, and Ricky Martin.
Is there any studio session with all these great names that stands out as being one of the most enjoyable experiences of your career?
Too numerous to mention, I had fun everyday.
Is it possible for you to tell us some of the tracks which you're most proud of having been a part of creating?
Ini Kamoze- Here Comes The hot Stepper. Super Kat's- Ghetto Red Hot. Fugees- Fu-gee-la.
I loved your stuff on the City High album which was fairly slept on. Is there any track you've done which you wished more people had a chance to hear?
I have loads of un-released material that I wish would have made the albums. I will be releasing lost tapes of Salaam Remi soon.
Reading magazines, it seems like a lot of producers just email over beats to artists. Do you think more emphasis should be made on producers and artists working on a project together in the same space?
In my 16 years of producing signed artists, that has never worked for me so I stay away from it and prefer to at least have a conversation before collaborating.
Who do you consider to be the all time greatest producer of hip-hop music?
I couldn't give that to one person. Different people have had their eras and even they were supported by the scene at the time, recognizing their difference.
Who are some of the present day producers which you consistently rate the work of?
Like I said, music is a collective effort and there might be a guy that produces one record that influences the whole scene so everyone is important in that aspect.
Using a track from each of the top ten producers of the moment for an album, seems to increasingly be the norm for contemporary artists. Do you think this results in the overal album being weaker than had they used one specific producer from start to finish?
This depends on how well developed the artist is to tie it all together. Some artists are already songwriters and are content with who they are creatively, so they are producers of themselves as well.
Do you think some of the big name producers need to stay more original rather than reuse techniques and formula's time and time again, or do you feel signature sounds are okay to have?
To each its own. I prefer to tailor make songs and tracks to the artists because it keeps me young and fresh and never stale.
What are your views on exlusive contracts to record labels which producers sign, such as Hi-Tek to Aftermath. Doesn't this simply make the producer a piece of property to a businessman?
Whatever is more beneficial to both parties. The consumer cant tell the difference.
Have you got any record deals or links?
I have my own label, Boomtunes, to which I have signed myself and keep all of my profits. I can not see myself being property of a big corporation, 35 shares to be traded or sold like pork bellies. I put my heart and soul into my music, so I own it.
Do you consider your production to be of a particular vibe or atmosphere each time?
I like for each session and song to capture the moment, vibe, and intention of all the creative people in the room. So depending on where I'm working and with who I would like it to sound different. That's my fantasy.
Have you heard much of the UK's grime and garage music scene and what are your opinions of their form of production?
I heard enough and it's good to see youthful energy captured musically and motivating a whole generation. That's what hip hop is about.
What's the average time that you spend on one particular track, and how many tracks do you tend to produce in a week?
I can create a track in 10 minutes or even less or I can take two or three days tweaking 1 track, depending on what I have in my head and what I want to accomplish. But, that's the track to produce a record can take an hour, a day, or weeks. If done properly it could last forever. So that's the goal.
Do you have vaults of material stored up and which artists do you dream of using some of your sounds in the future?
I have vaults of ideas in my brain waiting for the perfect artists who may not even been born yet and I scream Eureka.
How did you get involved with The Fugee's album 'The Score' and are there any plans for you to contribute beats to their reunion album?
Prior to 'The Score' I produced the remixes for 'Nappyheads' and 'Vocab' and did 'Fu-gee-la' prior to them even beginning 'The Score', so that album is based around 'Fu-gee-la'. We talked about it so lets see what happens.
A lot of people consider your contribution to 'The Score' and the remixes you did for the group, to be their biggest asset. Does that make you feel proud, especially considering how hugely successful they were?
As a producer, my main goal is to empower artists to see their full potential as artists creatively and as producers themselves so I am proud to see people that I have worked with go on to produce themselves as well as other people successfully.
What are the main pieces of equipment which you use in the studio these days?
It changes from artist to artist, song to song. MPC 4000 or one of my six drum kits. Maybe a Moog bass or one of my six bass's.
Do you work much with the computer software packages which a lot of producers now take advantage of, and what are their pro's and con's?
I work with Digital Performer, Pro Tools, and I-tunes depending on what type of sound I want. Its all pros to me.
What tracks have you recently completed which will see a release soon, and what projects do you have in the pipeline?
Puma Washington, Spragga Benz, Amy Winehouse, and others.
Have you or would you ever consider music projects beyond individual tracks and albums, like film soundtracks etc?
Right now I am working on Dora the Explorer, the Backyardigans, and I am trying to get some more music on the Xmen 3.
Do you wanna drop some shout out's or plugs before this interview wraps up?
Check out SalaamRemi.com coming soon for updates on what I be up to in the future.