Just a week after her performance at the Bread&&Butter, festival of culture and fashion, in Berlin, I’ve got a chance to interview with cheerful Isis Salam. The multitalented producer, vocalist, emcee and DJ is famous for her witty lyrics combined with soul and house infused hip hop and techno. The Nigerian-Canadian musician has performed in huge European festivals such as Melt (Germany) and Sonar (Spain), and toured the world first as a part of Canadian electro-duo Thunderheist and later as a solo artist. Now, she sits down with Kluid to discuss how Berlin influenced her new production, her future goals and how one lucky accident changed her career forever.
How did everything start, how did you first discover your love for music?
*Lowering her voice*Once upon a time, there was a young Nigerian girl, who moved with her family to Canada. She was completely shocked by the first encounter with snow and cold temperatures. But one day, her life would change forever — she saw Tina Turner singing in tv. “I want to be like her!” she thought. That’s how she started singing and performing from early age on.
What was the turning point, when did music change from a passion to a career?
Actually, it all happened by accident. Graham Bertie, a producer that I had been working with, sent me a remix. I liked it, and sent it back to him with my own vocals on it. He loved it and we released the song, “Jerk it”, and it turned out to be a great success. The funny part is, that the background track was not originally meant to be send for me but to someone else. Anyway, that fortunate incident kicked off our career as a “Thunderheist”-duo.
You moved to Berlin a few years ago, how was the Berlin music scene affected your music?
In Berlin one has more space to take risk and better support. There is a lot of superficial pressure to produce content In the US and London. Whereas here I can now be more experimental and try new things. I think that’s why Peaches and David Bowie came here before me.
You have made a lot of collaborations here in Berlin, most notably the legendary Junkie XL, Pharell, MSTR KRFT, Che Pope (producer of Miseducation of Lauryn Hill) and The Game. If you could choose freely, who would choose to collaborate with?
With pioneering legends like Quincy Jones or Grace Jones. If I could bring Prince back to life, I would love to work with him.
Who inspires you? Who do you see as a role model?
Strong, successful characters like Eartha Kitt, Tina Turner Grace Jones and all the black women before me.
How would you describe your attitude in three words?
Hilarious, honest & hopeful. Or attitude towards life? Love and let live.
So, you are planning to release two new songs soon, one of them already in October. How would you describe your new production?
It is more personal. I have done most of the it myself, lyrics, production, the vocals… Now there is more me in it. One could describe the first release: “In Lieu of FLWRS” as a dreamy, lo-fi future trap.
How are you changing the music scene? What kind of mark would you like to leave on it?
I hope that whether through my music or just being, that I will leave the world in a better shape than I found it .
What are your goals for the future?
To take over the world. If Pinky and Brain could do it, I can do it. *Laughing* That’s the long term plan. This fall I will go for a tour in Canada and then continue touring in Europe, in addition to releasing the new tracks. That’s the plan for now.
Get a sneak peek of her music via the soundcloud link below. Stay tuned and follow her concert calendar at amondiam.com/isis-salam or on Instagram @ISISSALAMM.
Credit photos Magali Flaks