Following their release on Dogger’s Precinct, we spoke with Chimpo, one of Manchester’s finest musical exports, and his ultra-talented new collaborator, Salo.
Dub Phizix & Strategy, Friction & MC Lingusitics, Chase & Status and Irah; drum & bass loves a cheeky collaboration, and steadily since last year, Manchester’s Chimpo and Salo are racking up their way up among the scene’s finest collaborators.
A legend in his own right, there is nothing Chimpo has not done. Channeling his creative forces across a number of styles and bass music sub genres, Chimpo has been an influential figure in crediting Manchester’s name as ‘the dance music capital of the UK’. A seasoned DJ, producer with genre bending releases on the biggest labels in the bass music spectrum, a label owner, and an MC, Chimpo’s CV is enviable.
Whereas Georgian producer, songwriter, DJ and pianist, Salo has taken over the scene by storm with her unique blend of jazz and soul music. Taking influences from neo soul, old jazz, blues and native Georgian harmonies, her songwriting and vocals have already taken her to labels like Born On Road, ReBearth Records, and Chimpo’s Box N Lock imprint.
Chimpo and Salo had previously worked together this year on Chimpo’s Box N Lock on ‘I Don’t Care’; and now for their second collaborative appearance, they have teamed up with Zed Bias for a tune called ‘Started With You’ on Dogger’s label, Precinct. Following the release, we caught up with the pair to know more about the tune, their influences and lots more.
Another smashing number with Salo and this time a legend like Zed Bias, what was the creative process like while writing this tune?
Chimpo: I’d just called to Zeds’ studio for a chill and he was showing me some new technique he’s got for chord progressions. So, he showed me the pattern and we built a bit in it. Then I took it home and added the drums and stuff. Then I think I showed it Salo and she just wrote her part pretty quickly. The whole tune was kind of an accident in that way but enough of the best tunes are!
You released a smashing album last year. Do you think the long isolation periods inspired your artistic flows?
Chimpo: Yeah definitely, it’s easier getting stuck in without all the road trips and hangovers. I got learning the nerdy mixdown stuff too that I never bothered with. Now I’m hooked. I’m at the club talking and compressors and saturation. Sad innit.
A little sneak peek into what the rest of the year looks like with your music?
Chimpo: Got this out, an EP on V recordings, couple tracks with Slay, another with Salo and a big producer. I’m working on album number 3 and some bits for the club too.
‘Started With You’ marks the second tune with Chimpo this year; you guys are steadily forging a solid partnership. How would you like to describe the experience?
Salo: We’ve been working on a lot of tunes together and even though it’s only been a year it’s like we’ve been working on music my entire life, he’s my big brother and has taught me a lot about the industry, he brought me out of my shell last year as I didn’t really sing in front of anyone or record. He made me realise that I can actually write decent tunes [laughs].
It’s definitely going to be a lifelong friendship and partnership in music. I feel like he’s one of the only producers that truly understands how I work within music and that shows through the tunes we’ve made. The best thing that ever happened last year was meeting Chimpo, and from then on we’ve been best friends. Honestly, without him, I don’t think I would be as confident with my music. The support and advice he’s given me is something I have never had before!
How did the Salo journey begin?
Salo: This is a bit of a long story [laughs]. It began when I was 4 years old, I got given a toy keyboard as a birthday present and I used to listen to the house ringtone (I think it was Fur Elise) and I would listen and be able to play it on that keyboard just by ear.
My mum realised that I was able to do that from the age of 4 and she immediately jumped to the chance for me to develop this talent, bringing me to music schools and receiving scholarships into academies such as Glasgow Music Academy and Junior RNCM which I am very grateful for. I’ve always played piano for as long as I can remember, being classically trained it gave me a lot of knowledge of how music works and I’ve only ever known music; a proper centre point in my life.
I started singing and doing covers around 13/14 to which I then discovered I wasn’t that big on going down a classical route but more jazz/soul/folk/indie (my genre interests always differed) around 16/17 is when I discovered drum & bass and jungle and I fell in love.
I taught myself how to DJ with the help of a friend, (I used to take my controller to my friends’ uni accommodation when I was still in college and DJ at their parties), I realised this is what I wanted at that moment in time, this is when I started producing too. Fast forward to 2019 I joined Bloc2Bloc and from there it just blossomed into what is happening now.
I love jungle however now I’m leaning more towards live performances, me, Chimpo and Dub Phizix have been working on a soul EP as well as writing/producing my own soul/jazz songs. I hope to eventually be on huge stages with a sick band playing the best tunes. Definitely where I thrive the most.
Who were your biggest inspirations when you started writing music?
Salo: My biggest inspirations have always differed. From the start, it was more Mozart/Bach/Debussy/Beethoven, but then it eventually changed over to indie/folk and then soul/jazz/hiphop. Artists such as Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sampha, Robert Glasper etc.
There’s so many more I could name but those are the ones I can think of from the top of my head. Biggest inspirations in Manchester have to be singers such as KSR, Pip Millett, Children of Zeus, Jenna G and so on. I think for writing though I love how singers like Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse wrote.
The metaphors they write are so interesting, and I love people having to decipher what they’re truly singing about. There’s also that feeling that they are not only singing but talking, this is my favourite way of writing as though I might be speaking to someone yet singing it. Some subjects may be heavy but for me the heavier the better. Most songs I write are quite melancholic/sad but that’s when I write the best.
Stream Chimpo and Salo’s latest tune with Zed Bias here: