1883 Magazine

Slowly becoming strong key figures within the Afro-Wave movement in the UK, Team Salut – consisting of Gabriel, GKP and Sidechain, are mostly known for their infectious hit-making remixes and productions for the likes of Mr Eazi, Tion Wayne and Afro B – to name but a few.

Their work has seen millions of plays, and their client list keeps growing with PARTYNEXTDOOR and Zayn recently being added to it as well.
Not too long ago they started recording their own songs, ‘Hot Property’ being their debut single – swiftly followed by ‘Wagon’, featuring Naira Marley. Their singles as recording artists has garnered major support by leading music influencers and keeps getting more and more plays. We sit down with Gabriel and Sidechain from the production trio and talk about the differences between producing and recording, collaborating and tips for aspiring producers.

How did you guys get into music the first place?

Gabriel: We all played at church so we all met at church. Before we even decided to do music together we already had a musical chemistry, and then I knew GKP first. I used to do music, I had a group of dancers, singers when I was 17 or 16 and then I stopped that and was just doing production for a long time. Then I stopped that for a few years. Then GKP finished University and said he wanted to set up a studio so I asked which kind of studio. He said a rehearsal one, and we said why don’t we do recording as well. Then Sidechain came in later on and wanted to learn how to do music. It’s been about five years or so, and we were just working together. We only did production, not even Afrobeats, it was just like Hip-Hop and stuff like that. It was only til GKP said about three years ago that he wants to be a superstar. So we did that until he realised he didn’t wanna be a superstar anymore, but we thought ’hm this could work’. We didn’t have a name so one day we listened to a song which said ’Salut’ so we thought that sounds kinda cool. Plus we were a team, and that’s when we were like ’Let’s go for Team Salut’. 

As you said, you didn’t always produce Afrobeats, but also for Cheryl Cole and Anne Marie - are you open to any genre? 

Gabriel: That was before. We specialise in Afrobeats but because everyone has different styles of making music we can go into different ways. Sidechain is very into EDM and House and GKP is into Deep House. I was into Hip-Hop and Electronic. When we put them together that’s why some of the sounds sound like ’What is that?’. As the music keeps coming out, people are like ’Ahhh, I got it’. It depends. The best way to explain some of the elements is  Hi-hats or bass lines. If there is a particular song, and the sound of the bass, the sort of discipline you do on a House song, I say GKP do the hi-hats on the House song because of the swing. That’s when different disciplines come in. But if you don’t know about those disciplines then it wouldn’t make sense to you first. 

You are in the Afro-Wave movement, what is the difference between that and Afro-Swing or Afro-Bashment? 

Gabriel: It feels confusing, there isn’t really a difference. Let’s take pop for instance. If you say music is pop then there is a lot of different types in pop. It’s not just ’I’m a Barbie Girl,..’ - even that song you can class as Trance. I’d say Afro is the tree and the branches are Swing, Bashment and so on. The Swing is more like Kojo Funds, we say Wave because every sound is new. People would say Addison Lee and Barking is in the same class but I think it’s what the person is doing and where they are from. They are all branches on the same tree. We call ours Afro-Wave because of the wave. Three years ago it didn’t sound like that and in three years we will probably sound different again. 

Are there artists you take your influence from?  

Gabriel: It’s difficult because it’s more about songs rather than artists. About Justin Timberlake I could have said I love him three years ago, then maybe the next album I didn’t like as much. So I think it’s more down to the time. If you asked Sidechain, he’d say Migos because he loves trap. If you asked Glen, I’m sure he’d have another different angle. With me, if I hear something I just think ’Oh that is cool’. Everybody is doing cool things. The new Bruno Mars album is great because I love Old School stuff. It’s hard to say this artist and that artist. I do like Bruno Mars. I saw him on TV and his dancing and his set made me think ’yeah, he is sick’. He can do everything. 

In terms of Afrobeats producers, there a quite a few in the UK these days - for example P Montana, Juls, among others. What makes you special?

Gabriel: There are a few. Also Heavytrackerz and Da Beatfreakz. I think what gives us more edge is that because we are quite musical - we play as well. We are all very individual musically. When we come together we can switch quickly. Everybody is doing great work though, Juls has got his own sound - we are trying to keep us original and push the boat. I don’t know if you hear Eugy’s song Tik Tok. Everybody is doing the chill stuff, and we are trying to keep it more up-beat. 

Did you find it hard to work your way to the level you are now? What has been the biggest challenge?

Gabriel: It’s been a long journey. For most producers that are starting out, it is quite difficult to have your name heard and be respected. Because especially producers and writers are in the same boat. Artists do not care too much even though it’s half of the music. It’s important to give everyone credit, after all everybody needs to eat. Because we are DJ-ing now and do other things, like recording. But for other producers there might be no other revenue apart from production so if they don’t get credited then it is hard. Recognition is the hardest thing. Our manager was quite savvy, when we got signed we needed to find ways. Remixing was very important for us to get the name pushed further. We are still climbing!

What would you say is your biggest success so far? 

Gabriel: I would say it is the single ’Dance For Me’ with Mr Eazi and Eugy because it is still going. It’s still climbing. I think a lot of the music that comes out and does so well isn’t intended to do so well. So ’Dance For Me’ was made last minute. We were like ’Oh, this could work’, and that was it. The ones you plan properly don’t work like that usually. 

What would you say is the biggest difference between producing and being the actual artist, considering you are recording artists yourself? What do you prefer personally? 

Sidechain: I personally prefer the production side more. Because my picture is not that great, production is a lot easier for me. Vocally it is a lot harder. Singing is difficult.  

Gabriel: For me it’s a good balance. We’re like Calvin Harris, sometimes he sings on his own songs, sometimes he doesn’t. It’s like that. In his song ’Dance Wiv Me’ featuring Dizzee Rascal he keeps it simple, and I was like ’Oh he is singing’. And then also other people told me he sings. 

You remix songs from the likes of Emelie Sande and Rita Ora, are those official remixes or how did they come about? 

Gabriel: Any remixes we do are official, we met them through management or sometimes the label reaches out. As long as a song is remixable it is good but of course we have to be happy and like the song as well first. 

What has been your favourite collaboration so far then? 

Gabriel: I like the Emelie Sande one called Babe. Because she wanted one Afrobeats artist who is also one of our closest friends on a song and be remixed by us. That was like ’Wow okay’. She also performed it live at Glastonbury Festival. Now it has got over million views on Spotify, people seem to like. I would say for the industry the best one may be the Zayn remix, with PARTYNEXTDOOR. We were like ’wait, they want us to do a remix? Pardon?’. For the profile that one was a big one. 

Who else is on your bucket list of people to collaborate with? 

Sidechain: Personally, Migos. 

Gabriel: I always say this person, but I say it for a reason: Beyonce. Because out of all the artists she is the one who, when she enjoys something, really goes in. It will be interesting if one day we can do something with her. I think you’ll get the best impact by doing something people don’t expect from you. 

What advice can you give to aspiring producers who are just starting out? 

Sidechain: Keep practicing, make a beat once a day. Don’t be scared to listen to other genres to music because it helps. On the artist-side of things - if you can’t sing, go get singing lessons. If you need a writer, get a writer. 

Gabriel: I used to teach GKP how to make music in time frames when we first started production. Use an hour to make a beat, don’t be afraid of mistakes, just finish it. Then go down to half an hour, and then make a beat in 10 minutes. The beats may not be great but the more you do it, the more you understand what you need and don’t need. Focus on what you really need, otherwise there is too much going on in a beat. If you’re a rapper, you need to be open-minded. Be open! Good luck. 

Last but not least, what can we expect from your EP and what else have you got coming up this year? 

Gabriel: Loads of songs, collaborations, videos and we will play out more. People will get to see us more. More bangers!


For the latest on Team Salut visit www.teamsalut.com

Interview Antonia Künzel

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