Team Salut The Afro Beat Producers Shining in Their own Light
When you hear the name Team Salut you might not necessarily be aware of who they are. However, if you are a fan of Afrobeats and have heard some of the biggest hits that have been released over the summer and the past year then you should definitely be aware of who they are. The songs ‘Drogba (Joanna) ’ by Afro B and ‘Vroom’ by Yxng Bane are two examples of the work produced by the production force who have shown that are ones to watch. And now they are also taking place and stepping out as their own artists.
Paying a visit to their Mitcham studio where many of their songs have been made I caught up with GKP and Mista Woods to talk about everything from how Team Salut came about, how they got into music, producing the hits and their latest single ‘Drive N Motion.’
Even though the duo has been producing and making music as Team Salut for the past four years their musical journey starts way back when the duo were youngsters. The story of Team Salut started in a church, with each member doing their own style of music, they then formed a collective that consisted of singers rappers and dancers. It was during this time that their musical abilities formed and they started working together. Following a brief break that consisted of going to University and other life events the members came back together 4 years ago and Team Salut was formed.
Working as one of the biggest Afrobeats producers in the UK, Over their four year existence Team Salut has worked with various UK artists across multple genres including Eugy, Afro B, Yxng Bane, Mr. Eazi, and Tion Wayne to name a few. All of which has them the respect that that have cultivated as producers.
Mainly operating in the Afrobeat genre. A genre of music that has made its way from the East African region of Nigeria and Ghana that has blown up in the UK over the past couple of years, Afrobeats has seen the birth of artists such as Fuse ODG, Davido, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and more. With new artists coming up everyday people might think that it’s a bandwagon thing and just the latest trend in commercial music.
However, not to Team Salut who have been in this genre for a number of years having steamed for their respective childhoods. And so in terms of their approach to this genre and this style of music and how they execute it, their particular approach to the afrobeat’s sound isn’t necessarily what they would describe as straight afrobeats but more of a fusion. “What we do is fusion it’s not straight Afrobeats, it’s a fusion between different UK sounds and so the market at the moment as much as we think there is a lot of Afrobeats going on there it isn’t that much afrobeats in the traditional sense but more of the fusion and because that is what the demand is rather than shying away from it, we’d much rather run towards and dominate that filed in the way that we are doing.
In a genre that has changed so much over the years speaking on this change it is something that has been clear from when they first started to now. “When we started the people that were out in terms of the UK Afrobeat sounds were people like Mr Silver. The big shift that we saw was Fuse ODG. When Fuse came out he came out and did something very different that was very commercial and very much into the pop sound that nobody else was doing. At the time we were working on our productions and we were doing remixes and our remixes at the time were leaning more a bit more towards that sides which was a bit more Afrobeat but it was still fast paced; and within a year or two things changed dramatically. The sounds that nobody was doing went away and then it changed form.”
And whilst they have had to navigate this ever changing genre as a production team, they are now approaching this from a different angle, stepping into a lane as artists themselves. Since 2015 they have sporadically released a number of singles introducing themselves as artist. Their latest release ‘Drive N Motion’ released this year is just another taste what they can offer as offer as artists themselves.
Coming off producing one of the biggest Afrobeats songs of the year Afro B’s Drogba (Joanna) his might be a surprising move from the production team however this is the time that they have felt is right for them. And so with that one important question worth asking is a bout differentiating themselves from the success of the artists they have previously worked with and ensuring thatTeam Salut as indyuvial artists stand out in their own right, and they seem to have a very clear idea of what makes them stand out.
“When we work on our own stuff we have our artistic profile and direction we tend to approach it as us. So that there is that distinction is where obviously our voices are already unique, we also have different things that are unique to us like our flows and our melodies. We try to keep it true to ourselves so that it doesn’t sound like anyone else.”
The single Drive N Motion which was released this summer is the latest example of how Team Salut are taking their sound in their own direction. The song itself is very much different in terms of the work that they have produced. A song that is all about having a good time and sharing good times with a person or people that you just want to be around.
As artists the production team don’t tend to work with other people and rather focus on creating their sound themselves and such was the case with this song. ”The song Mr Wood started the beat and I came into the studio that beat and he was vibing over the ideas he has started so we just started working on the chorus and then I put some lyrics to it laid it down and started building it from there.”
In the creation of the song the production itself is very much separate and different from previous songs they have worked on and takes elements of old school sounds and infusing newer modern sounds. “When you hear the sounds it’s like old school, very minimal, doesn’t sound too new or too old. I wanted to keep some of the old elements, so I kept some of the old stock sounds and didn’t want to use any of the modern sounds that everyone is using, so that it stands the test of time.”
At the moment Team Salut are flying high. Taking opportunities that are coming to them to showcase themselves not just as powerhouse producers they continue to be, but also artists to be aware of and taking those steps that enable them to shine in their own light. Their latest release includes a feature on their long time collaborator Afro B’s latest single Shaku Shaku.
In terms of projects and what can be expected of the duo, work work and more work. Currently working on a project in which they aim to put together a Major Lazer type project where they are able to put something that they have curated with their name on it featuring various UK and international artists. They are all about ensuring and making sure that the sounds that are coming out from the type of music that is becoming increasingly commercial and popular is coming from the authentic makers of the music.
“As Africans it makes sense for us to do this type of music, this type of fusion using those types of artists when it’s coming from us. Rather than when you see it coming from European and American producers (Not that, that is necessarily a bad thing as it opens up the sound to new audiences) but at the same time there aren’t that many producers from where we are from that are going to go to that level so that’s our aim. It’s a slow road but we know it’s going to happen.”
In terms of their mission and where they are going not just as a production duo reflecting back on what has been the highlight of the journey. It is about the anticipation of where they could go and the things that can happen for them.
“I’d say for me the most exciting part is the anticipation of what could potentially happen and where things could go. I think that is what excites me the most at this particular moment in time because I see things comes and I see where things are improving stylistically and we are getting better and better and I see that things can go really really far. I always sat that the way we make our music has a boarder-less sound so I want to hear it in Japan, China all over South America I want it to be worldwide so I’ really excited for that vision to be a reality.”
Words: Seneo Mwamba