Featured Member: ISIS SALAM

ISIS SALAM is an ever so versatile chameleon. Not only an emcee , dj , vocalist , and a self- proclaimed dance floor diva;  she is also now being recognized by her peers as a producer in her own right.

Bringing boundless amounts of energy on stage and already boasting  a formidable list of artist collaborations including legends such as Tyree Cooper (Godfather of hip-house) , Junky XL (Producer behind Batman Vs Superman, Mad Max Fury Road scores) as well as some of the hottest features with Pharell (N.E.R.D) , Sub-ann and LeftWing & Kody.

ISIS SALAM has come a long way since her budding days as the other half of Canadian electro duo THUNDERHEIST. After taking home the prize for best video at 2009’s SXSW festival with their critically acclaimed debut single “Jerk it” , ISIS SALAM went on to grace the curveted live stage on the hit Jimmy Kimmel show with hip hops porto rican prince himself NORE (aka NOREAGA). Proving to the world she was a force to be reckoned with. ISIS SALAM began exploring her solo career and after hearing nothing but praise from her friend feminist icon PEACHES; ISIS SALAM  went on her own pilgrimage to the artist mecca Berlin and like her predecessors she fell immediately in love.

After her soft more release “Let Go”  with deep house label Exploited Records ( also home to Claptone) ISIS SALAM continued exciting the crowds at some of Europe’s top music festivals (MELT festival , SONAR , ADE, BREAD& BUTTER ). As she Continues to share her passion she continues to find her way into the heart of the Berlin underground.

ISIS SALAM’s voice harkens back to the days of smokey jazz rooms and late night disco’s ; raspy, deep and powerful. Her wordplay is often underpinned by understated honesty. ISIS SALAM’s live set is a pure on-stage evolution: opening with deep-breathing, bass- heavy house; it morphs into sexified nu-disco before growing into a full-blown dance party.Pulling from Afro-house, Deep disco cuts and soulful to Gutterhouse. Whether its a DJ set or live performance; ISIS SALAM is always tirelessly working to create the perfect environment for lovers of the classics and dreamers of an analog future, providing you with everything you could ask for and just that little bit more.

With recent releases already heating up the charts and sitting pretty in Germany’s top 10 club tracks, ISIS SALAM seems to have only just begun.

What inspires you to create music?

It depends on what I’m making . Sometimes i write stuff just to amuse myself , sometimes i’m seeking a more cathartic experience and other times my aim might be to convince everyone on the dance floor to get naked and touch some body ….. with consent of course.

Do you have a process to songwriting or when creating music?

My ideal environment is a small well treated studio and and endless supply of four trade ethically traded coffee . From there i usually start with the melody and bass line if I’m composing something for myself . When i have a sense of the “vibe” I’m going for by i’ll build a really simple drum pattern which informs the style and vocal approach i might take . I come from the old freestyle rapper school , so when it comes to writing lyrics i tend to start free styling around the “vibe” which then forms the topic act …. as i explain it , it seems like i have a plan but when I’m actually working i look probably more like a ferrel animal at my desk .

How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?

I started by attending open mics. I later started invited myself into freestyle circles and sneaking into clubs ( i don’t condone sneaking into places … i just did .. so yeah) From there i was able to network with people . My main approach wasn’t really thought out , i was just really “hungry” and its that drive that not only gets you into the industry but also KEEPs you in , give or take a mental break down or two.

How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artists?

The main evolution i think would be mainly me. As I’ve gotten older i’ve learned new skills and coincidentally expanded my repertoire. I started as a poet or a writer now i like to think i’m a little woman army or at the very least an ideal team member during the inevitable Z- apocalypse.

Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Lets just say depending on the artist i would consider it .

Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?

One of the percs of my ADHD is a natural leaning to diversity and randomness. I love music, all type of music. I low key make a punk record because i could. Music is the universal communicator i see genre’s and just different languages.

Have you faced any major economic, social, or political hurdles as a music creator?

Im a black , queer nigerian woman . So without being too redundant, racism , classism , sexism and micro aggressions be out here ya’ll. Stay woke.

Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who give you a “nod” to whenever possible?

This question i always feel is like the “whats your fav colour question”. As you get older it changes, no? Right now Nina Simone, and whatever is currently bumping on my spotify playlist.

If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?

Do we have the ability to reanimate people ? if so — Prince , Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and alive …. I’m currently obsessed and willing to meet whenever they are available – Grace Jones and Quincy Jones….

How did you learn your craft – was it “formal” or “informal” music education?

I was always a weird kid so the arts is usually where we end up if we’re lucky enough to be talented. It began with informal and later formal. As for my production I’ve shadowed people and approached it more like an apprenticeship. I like to think you never stop with your education so I’m still learning.

Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

If your aim is to be famous cool… There’s an app for that . The industry is constantly evolving as I’m not a doctor i don’t feel good giving industry advice, but for creatives. Appreciate your craft, have patience for yourself, savour those “ i’m my own boss” moments , travel and live somewhere else where you have to learn the language (if possible), taxes….. and organize your folders .. like with labels and stuff. Focus on WHY you do IT , if it becomes just for the money , get a real job … they usually cover dental.

What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?

Playing with Madlib and hugging Ghostface for an inappropriately long time.

What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, (eg. Garageband, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper)? 

Laptop, DAW, lots of RAM + WAVES plugins.

If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?

Involve more women of colour on all levels and diversify the hip hop community.

 What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself?

10 yrs and we will be replaced by AI .. but before artist platforms will include a 1 stop shop approach i.e. Distro/Website/Social Media/Streaming. Monthly ownership vs individual track/album sales. Live concerts will continue to be the bread and butter.

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