Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Team Salut: Meet the production group fusing Nigerian music into the UK pop scene

Team Salut are Mr Wood, GKP and Side Chain Manny - three self-taught multi-instrumentalists who met in London and fused their roots across Africa’s West Coast, from Ghana to Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

From producing Mr Eazi and Eugy's 'Dance for me', to bringing Burna Boy and Rita Ora together, Team Salut discuss their work in London.

Movements in music are years in the making, yet giant waves can feel like a matter of moments to create. British music is witnessing its next big movement, as a new Afro wave is sweeping across the scene at hurricane pace. Anthems are racking up plays and views in their millions and in amongst the bangers there’s no doubt you will have heard the Team Salut hallmark punctuating the biggest hits from the rising stars of the Afro-wave scene.

Team Salut have been innovating their signature style over four short years, establishing their brand as the premiere producers in London’s burgeoning Afro-music o scene. Pioneers from the jump, Team Salut are Mr Wood, GKP and Side Chain Manny - three self-taught multi-instrumentalists who met in London and fused their roots across Africa’s West Coast, from Ghana to Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The Team Salut discography is virtually synonymous with the evolution of the UK Afro sound and in 2016 they clocked over 50 million plays with their smash ‘Dance For Me’ with Mr Eazi and Eugy. From Tion Wayne’s ‘Minor’; to Afro B, Wale and Sneakbo’s ‘Stay Winning’; to Eugy’s ‘Hold Tight’ – Team Salut have proved they have an ear for authentic club bangers and a keen eye for new talent.  They’re working with the hottest breakout artists and remixing the biggest stars from Ray BLK to Zayn and PARTYNEXTDOOR all while earning high praise and setting the industry standard for the sound.

As they go from strength to strength, Team Salut’s reputation is capturing imaginations worldwide. Alongside a co-sign from Usher for their production on Tion Wayne’s ‘Minor’, international fans of their music include Jidenna, Davido, Sarkodie and Mr. Eazi. In the UK, they’re working with Yxng Bane, Wusu, Afro B, Eugy, Tion Wayne, Sneakbo, Not3s, Shakka amongst many more. Team Salut are curating a vibrant sound palette drawing on every dimension of modern music and creating a future forward internationalist sound.

Team Salut were recently in Lagos, where they had a conversation with Pulse Music. They talk about their music, African waves, and fusing local pop sounds for international audiences.


Why are you in Nigeria?
We are just working with as many artists and producers. We will also get to know the culture a bit more, gain more exposure out here and reveal ourselves to the locals. People don't really know us here in Nigeria.

When was your first interaction with Nigerian Music?
Side Chain:
Well, I'm Nigerian init. I was born here, moved when I was 10. I haven't been to Lagos since then. 10 years later, I'm back. When I was growing up, my Dad was listening to Lagbaja and Fela, the more traditional stuff, and of course, when I moved to London, I still kept in touch with artists such as Psquare, D’banj, D’Prince and more. For me, I've always been listening to Nigerian music

Has that affected how you produce music?
Definitely, we try to influence it with the guitars, or the bass, or the drum groups. So you hear it in every of our live instrumentals. That little touch of the tropics. Put those sprinkles (laughs)

How do the three of you work together as a group?
Well, first of all, we know each other from church. Because we played musical instruments together,  we've had that kind of musical chemistry, from where like 'GKP' would be on the Bass, Woods will be on the guitar and you would catch 'Manny' on the drums, so we already can understand each other musically. Now when we transfer it to the studio, like we already have an understanding. There is a structure already, like a chemistry in terms of the friendship and music.

How does a typical production session go?
: I could get there and find that Mr. Woods already started something, because obviously, we are all different, so I might hear something and be like, "you know what, let's just bounce off each other and Manny would come in and we literally just bounce off each other. If two people say one thing and "..." we have to vote (laughs)

How did you guys produce ‘Dance for me’ with Eugy and Mr. Eazi?
Mr Eazi and Eugy sent voice notes, like "we've got this idea" and before it wasn't "dance for me", they had a different chorus. So we made up the sketch for the idea but it didn’t work. Then Eugy went away for a few days, came back with the chorus and Mr. Eazi jumps on it and then sent it to us, and it just went viral. We did a $1000 dance challenge as well. We were getting like at least a 100 videos on Instagram a day. It was ridiculous. It broke on instagram We got videos from like China, Berlin, Japan, Ukraine, Russia…places you'd never imagine.

You worked with Burna Boy also?
Burna is cool, man. I mean, it was a remote thing but he came through for the vocals to Rita Ora’s ‘Your song’remix. I mean, I'm a Burna Boy fan as it is, so when the vocals came through, I was pretty excited and he killed the track too

Vibes Vs Substance, where do you guys stand?
We like both though. The vibe is more just about the feeling. You can listen to a track and not even understand it. I don't understand a word of French, but I listen to it and I'm like "yeah man". Whereas there are certain other songs that we listen to and say "wow, this is so deep and meaningful" I mean they're just different. we like both worlds. We like vibes when the lyrics do make sense, not just saying anything. But then sometimes, when you hear it in another language and you don't know the details, you just feel it.

As artists, is there a ceiling or height you can reach in the UK and you can't go past that?
I wouldn't say a ceiling as such but I do feel that a lot of the consumers are picky when it comes to music, especially, maybe in the Afrobeats scene. So it's more like if you manage to build yourself a profile here and then you are popping in the UK, it's more like then you can do it like that. Whereas if you're doing the same thing that people are doing here locally and trying to start from the UK, you might find that difficult, because people don't really know who you are.

So since you guys have been in Nigeria, who have you worked with?
We were in the studio with Iyanya and Ycee, and we got song with them together. Something you've never heard, ever. You'll be shocked. We also got L.A.X on there, and we are going to try and get some few more people.

What's the future for you guys as a group?

Our feature is ... Beyonce. The shift in Afrobeats is moving, we can take it to that A-list global market without compromising too much and coupling her with let's say L.A.X or R2bees. That's the goal. When music just fuses, it shouldn't be like the old sounds.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

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