Vienna-born, Manchester-based house producer salute is returning to London, debuting the KOKO theatre alongside Fliss Mayo and Tai Lokun this November.
Ninja Tune affiliate, salute - aka Felix Nyajo - is undeniably influenced by the city they call home — incorporating delectable house, UKG and some good old fashioned Manny rave into their productions.
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salute spent the first 18 years of their life in Vienna, Austria, a city known for its clean streets and beautiful architecture. It was in Vienna as a young teen that they first started becoming enamoured with British dance music via the internet and games like FIFA Street – grime, drum & bass, dubstep, garage – before realising that they too, could make their own beats and sounds. “I was really fascinated by it and at some point realised I wanted to make music like this myself,” they recall. “I downloaded Fruity Loops at the age of 13 and essentially everything started from there.”
salute moved to Brighton at 18 before eventually landing in Manchester, where they are now currently based. It was in the UK that they started attending club nights, getting wrapped up in what club culture really meant, on the ground, and swiftly evolving as an artist. They met a network of UK producers, started cultivating a sound. “My only exposure before then had been seeing stuff on YouTube and Boiler Room,” they say, laughing. “Before I moved to the UK, my music was a lot less clubby, a lot less dancey. So yeah, going to grime, garage and dubstep nights had a huge influence on the way I produce and my sound in general.”
Scrolling through salute’s back catalogue, you can hear this evolution play out in real time. Their earlier material is often softer, lighter, honey-sweet vocals nestled against lilting down-tempo beats. EPs like Lionheart (2013), Gold Rush (2015) and My Heart (2016) push the vocals and melody front and centre, with the production often flitting between genres: R&B, post-dubstep, dance, hip hop, even jazz and gospel.
By the time salute unleashed the Condition trilogy – a three-part mixtape released throughout 2018 and 2019 – they had already began to lean a little more towards the club, although not entirely. Condition is a dance-focussed mixtape, comprised of neat, chopped up electronics and emotive, garage-style samples. With its pitched vocals and colour-soaked palette, it’s the kind of tape you might listen to on the nightbus home or the morning after, unsure of whether you feel melancholic or euphoric, or somewhere in between.
If Condition was for before or after a night out, the music they have made since is for the night itself, the spaces in between. “Want U There” for instance, is a track brimming in upbeat, nocturnal energy, rigorous dance beats and hypnotic samples. salute describes it as “a really energetic, loud track. I don’t think I’ve ever made stuff like this before. I’m not really working with vocalists at the minute – I've gone back to sampling more again.” “It has that speed garage energy,” they continue, adding: “I also listened to a lot of Daft Punk and Ed Banger stuff growing up, “Want U There” is my take on that classic Roulé Records sound.
After hitting their stride with some incredible club releases, salute made their major label debut with standout tracks and fan favourites 'Joy' and 'Therapy'. Tracks that soundtracked the post pandemic world and can be heard the world over. salute's music in 2022 has garnered the support of Four Tet, DJ Seinfeld, Floating Points, Mall Grab and more.
This has led salute to become something of a cult sensation and this year's standout DJ performer, playing to packed crowds at Field Day, Parklife, Secret Garden Party, Warehouse Project, and an incredible home show at Boiler Room Vienna. An amazing full circle moment that harks back to salute's early days of learning production.
At the top of their game and signed to their childhood dream label Ninja Tune to work on records and their debut album, 2023 and beyond is set to be the year salute truly breaks out.