Since the 2011 release of his genre-blending Complex Housing on Friends of Friends, Paul Salva has been gaining traction and building momentum at an enviable rate. Admittedly, last year was a big one for the Los Angeles-based producer, as he was made a host of the BBC’s In DJs We Trust and his collaborative remix with RL Grimes of Kayne West’s “Mercy” garnered huge praise from leading DJs like Diplo, A-Trak, Skream, and Benga—and the LA radio station Power 106 added it into rotation. Not bad for an old-fashioned bootleg remix.
Meanwhile, Salva’s ground-shaking DJ sets have earned him praise for his ability to fuse many different styles of hip-hop and electronic sub-genres into one sweaty mess of a set. “Basically, I’m a hip-hop DJ that loves dance music,” he opines.
Starting out 2013 with a bang, Salva’s latest release, Odd Furniture, successfully meshes familiar and simple synth sounds, hip-hop samples, and beats to deliver what he calls “ignorant club tracks.” Take, for instance, “Rest In 3-Piece,” a track that weaves ravey organ stabs with stuttering Miami-style 808 kicks and snares and a glitchy vocal sample. “Get A Life” is an ode to pre-jungle with 2 Bad Mice synth stabs, B-more vocal samples, and enough sirens to pull the rewind. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—looks like Salva got the memo.
We had a quick chat with this producer-on-the-rise to get his take on his newest release, DJ sets, and the latest gear.
It’s tough to nail down your sound because it’s such a blend of so many different styles. Where do you turn for inspiration when producing?
I guess it all comes back to 808 music at the end of the day. I’m basically a hip-hop DJ that loves dance music.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Odd Furniture EP and how it all came together, because it is all over the place (in a good way)?
I just wanted to make something fun. I’m starting to work on my next album, which I’m aiming to be more musical and centered around songwriting, so with this EP I just wanted to make some ignorant club tracks…but still keep it experimental and a little weird. Yeah, it’s all the styles I like, a little 4/4, some hip-hoppy stuff, and some B-more breaks.
In listening to your DJ sets, your mixes are really different from your releases. Why is that?
I was a DJ before I was a producer, so when I DJ, it’s more about the party than it’s about making an artistic statement. At the end of the day, it may be my curse or what makes me stand out, but I always like to play differently depending on the vibe of the party.
What are some of the big tunes you’re playing out right now?
There’s lots of unreleased stuff from my crew including Clicks & Whistles, RL Grime, Grenier, and Hydraulix, all of which will be coming out soon. Lots of stuff kids are making from Baltimore and New Jersey, like Sliink, Nadus, and Tray. Also European artists like Dismantle, French Fries, Goldffinch, and Luckybeard Records, and, of course, lots of rap music.
Do you use Serato or Traktor? Are there any other DJ tools you like to use when you’re playing?
I’ve always been a straight turntables-and-mixer guy. But lately it seems turntables are disappearing from clubs across the world! So I’ve been forced to learn CDJs, which I quite enjoy now. I’ve had my time integrating Ableton and controllers, using Touch OSC on iPAD, etc., but now I’m kind of comfortable in the standard club Pioneer setup with Serato.
Can you give us a sneak peak of what we can expect to hear on the Daedelus tour?
It’s going to be an interesting dynamic. Samo Soundboy plays a lot of banging acid house and various dance styles, Ryan Hemsworth does the Wedidit sound, and Daedelus is a total mad man behind the boards. So I think I’ll be free to just go all over the place and play a lot of my own stuff as well as a lot of big, banging soundsystem music of all varieties, and get weird too.
What are some of your favorite tools or go-to pieces of equipment you use when creating music?
I’m working a lot on the road now, so a lot of in-the-box software. I used Logic to produce for about a decade until last year I switched to Ableton. So I’m still really nerding out on how fast and efficient I can work in Ableton Live.
Are you excited about any new production tools, hardware, or products coming out this year?
I’m kind of in love with the Tempest drum machine that came out not too long ago. I saw Blawan play with one for his Karenn live set in London a few months back. I might have to snag one of those soon.
You’re quite fond of the 808 kick drum, snare, and kit. Is that coming from your Miami roots?
Yeah for sure. When I moved to Miami, I fell in love with Miami bass, proper German electro (Anthony Rother, etc.), the IDM that was happening then… It’s all 808-based. There’s really not any drum machine or sound that has been created in the past 30 years that hits harder on a system than some nicely distorted and compressed 808 drums.
Last year, I interviewed FlyLo and asked him what he liked to do in his downtime. He said he liked to smoke a lot of weed and then lift weights. What do you do in your downtime?
Same for me, except it’s a lot of the former, not so much of the latter.
Photo by Andy Scott