The industry cliché says that artists should stick to one sub-genre or sound. After all, branding becomes simpler when something can be streamlined in 140 characters or BPMs. Plenty of producers are known for one signature tic, but the ones we remember are the musically curious, those constantly unlocking new doors. It’s in this complex design where you’ll find Salva, rocking the party in permanent possession of a creative skeleton key.
Let’s start with the new: Salva is a DJ on the BBC’s prestigious, “In New DJs We Trust” program. The leader of the Friends of Friends movement frequently throws down jump-off mixes that electrify the weekend airwaves on LA urban radio behemoth, Power 106. His most recent EP, Odd Furniture—released on Friends of Friends—found his production hailed by Pitchfork for a “virtuosity and restlessness…like few of his peers.” His previous full-length, 2011’s Complex Housing was declared by Fact to be “an excellent record…darting between ornate hip-hop, miniature pop and wide-legged funk.”
“I’ve experimented with every single sound I came across while coming up. I didn’t know what I wanted because I loved everything,” Salva says. “I fell in love with sampling and synthesizer based music. I was always told not to be a jack-of-all trades and only focus on one sound. But I always knew that’s how I wanted to leave my mark—by making contradictory genres of music and conquering all these styles.
In 2012, Salva and RL Grime’s remix of Kanye West’s “Mercy” became dance music’s hottest anthem, racking up 1.7 million Soundcloud streams and dynamiting DJ sets from Diplo, A-Trak, Just Blaze, and Skream and Benga. It also inadvertently helped kickstart the trap trend. But trap was just another weapon for the polymath fluent in Baltimore club and boom-bap, boogie funk, drum and bass, and disco.
Raised in Chicago, the city’s house music tradition influenced him as much as juke and Twista. Subsequent moves to Milwaukee, Miami, and San Francisco each left their mark. You can hear the booty-shake of Miami bass in the way his beats induce dance floor mobs. In the Bay, he created the Frite Nite label, a movement at the vanguard of Cali-based funk and dance music—one that earned plaudits from British radio linchpins, Gilles Peterson and Benji B.
Salva has owned sit-down gallery shows and large festivals like Lollapalooza, HARD, Coachella, and Spain’s Sonar Festival. He’s played battered old bars, at the world-famous Do-Over, and before the bottle-service brigade at Drai’s Hollywood and XS in Las Vegas. As the LA Weekly said: “he’s not only one of the best producers and party-rocking DJs in LA…he’s one of the finest in bass music….one unmatched at blending rap and dance music.”
During an era when rap producers want to make dance music and vice-versa, Salva has been at this nexus for years. Over the last 12 months, the Red Bull Music Academy alumni has collaborated with Freddie Gibbs, Young Thug, Boys Noize Ty$, DJ Shadow, and Kurupt. After experimenting with every style under the sun, he’s poised to become one of the biggest forces in club and pop production. He’s no longer a man of many sounds. Those sounds have become synthesized as Salva.
“I gravitated to songs because I was mystified by a melody, an atmosphere, the timbre of the drum production or a rhythm,” says Salva. “No matter the style or the energy, if its minimal, funky, uplifting, hard, or musical, I just want to give people that same experience, and bring it out of the artists I work with. It’s all about that irresistible element that you just love, but don’t know why.