Home Featured small Interview: Bachir Salloum

Interview: Bachir Salloum

27 min read

Based in Dubai (UAE) since 2014, Lebanese-born Bachir Salloum gathered immediate attention with solo signings on Guy Mantzur's Plattenbank Records, Hernan Cattaneo's Sudbeat Music and memorable collaborations with fellow comrades Z0ne+ and Memory (ARG). Bachir's musical diversity landed him a slot at the famed first edition of Guy J's 'We Are Lost' Festival back in 2018. With a style that ranges from Deep House to Progressive House, he hones in on his love of grooves and melodies with his latest release for Praveen Achary's Juicebox Music. We had a chance to catch up with Bachir for an exclusive chat just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Bachir, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hey guys, hi everyone, first of all thank you for having me, a pleasure to be chatting with you. Lately, I have been listening to different genres of music from ambient to jazzy and indie stuff, something out of my sound direction. I usually do this to get inspired, I believe this has always helped me in being more creative and get out of my comfort zone when creating music

What are your plans for the coming week?

The coming week will see me focussing on a new project that I’ve just started working on, really excited to see what the end result will be.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Albums rather than tracks: Sasha & Digweed – Northern Exposure, James Holden – Balance 005, Satoshi Tomiie – Nubreed left such a massive imprint on me: the quality of sounds and the meticulous selection of each track.  They were great teachings of how to give listeners the perfect flow of a journey.

Talk to us about growing up in Lebanon, how did it affect your music endeavors?

Growing up in Lebanon was never easy, it came with a lot of personal and social challenges, but I am who I am because of this journey. The music scene in Lebanon is really mature, it affected my music inspirations on so many levels. I had my first clubbing experience, my first rave there and the energy back in the day in Lebanon was like no other.  Our love for music is what got most of us through the hardships and troubled days.

You have been living in Dubai for the past seven years though. What prompted the re-location? And has it affected the direction of your music at all? 

Moving to Dubai was one of the best decisions of my life.  I moved here because I wanted to be with an incredible woman that I met during my days in Beirut.  I am very grateful to her because she pushed me to take this step, which I believe had a very positive impact on my life and my musical path.  Being in Dubai has given me opportunities to take my musical career more seriously and to really dive into production.

You have a new EP out this week on Praveen Achary’s Juicebox Music, tell us a bit about the release and how it showcases your individualities.

I’ve always admired the Indian based record label, India has big love and great passion for music, I got to experience that when I played in Delhi 2 years ago.  Adding Weird Sounding Dude and Fabri Lopez really complimented the EP and each artist was able to showcase their own twist and interpretation of the original. It is such a pleasure to have them on board and it’s been great seeing the immense support the EP has been receiving from top artists.

The majority of your music has been on the organic or deep house tip of late but these lean closer to traditional progressive house, is this an area you will be exploring more in the future?

I love deep, groovy sounds and I have mega love for progressive vibes. I think like any producer, it took me a bit of time for me to find my sound and to make it more defined and more unique, and I think I am at that level now. I am redefining my sound more and more.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way, your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does your inspiration come from and was there anything that inspired these two tracks?

I would say most of my inspirations are drawn from my travels, from my mental state, from different phases I pass through, from my surroundings.  For these two tracks, it was during the first days of the pandemic and I wanted to create something that were a reflection of my state of mind at the time.  Illusions, specifically, was a channel for me to escape the reality of the hardship I was feeling during the pandemic.

Walk us through the production process on one of the tracks.

For “Of Time and Space” the main lead element came to me first and then I took the time to build around it.  I enjoyed the creation process a lot, using the Diva plugins, which enabled me to include a bit more of an aggressive sound but also adding warm melodies.

Is that a typical flow for the majority of your work or is every track a different journey in a sense?

It’s different for each track, sometimes it’s the complete opposite. It all depends on how the sounds come to me for each project and the tools I use.

Was Juicebox Music a label you had in mind for the project from the beginning? And what made it a great place to release these particular tracks?

I’ve always been on the lookout for Juicebox, they have a great track record of releases with some really top artists.  When I completed the tracks, I really felt that the label would be a good home for them and it’s really been a pleasure to work with Praveen and Greg.  The tracks truly fit the sound and vibe of the label and I’m really happy to see that it’s gained a lot of positive feedback and support.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track? And what are some studio tools that featured heavily on this EP?

I always use my Moog Sub37, it is the only analog synth I have right now. For this particular EP, Diva and Omnisphere were also used.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

The first days of COVID were a bit tough, it was an adjustment for me, for all of us.  But with time, I realised that I needed to take advantage of the situation and really dive into being productive, creative, expand my knowledge and skills  and so I dived into it. Every day, focussing on making music and learning. The more I focussed, the more I got motivated to do more.

What is the current situation with the pandemic in Dubai?

We’ve actually been very fortunate in Dubai and the way the pandemic has been handled here.  We still have the safety measurements in place, but we are free to come and go as we please.  Nightlife is still on hold but we’re hopeful that this will change soon.

Once nightlife eventually resumes globally what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

A lot of the clubs have struggled during this period, many have closed – I’m hoping that when nightlife resumes and venues slowly begin to go back into business, they will seize the opportunity to support more of the local talent who in my opinion can provide clubbers as good of an experience as some of the international ones.

When working on music is the dance floor always something that’s taken into consideration?

It varies, it all depends on the base of the idea and the track’s vibe/energy.  Some are definitely made for the dancefloor and that is taken into consideration during the production process and others, I create and complete because I still want to showcase a different side to my sound.  What’s important for me is the quality of what I’m creating not necessarily whether it’s made for a dancefloor or not.

The problem of mental health is complex and nuanced, and it is an issue to which those working in electronic music are especially susceptible. It can be deeply rewarding but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic.  Talk a bit about the pressures of what you do that fans may not be totally aware of. 

What most people don’t know is that producers put in A LOT of time in the studio, a lot of hard work goes into the creation process.  It’s time consuming, it requires dedication, commitment and most of all passion.  It’s a competitive industry and it may be difficult to get your music signed at times, and so perseverance is key.

Looking back over your discography, what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

I would say “Evol” with Argentinian artist and good friend, Memory-arg, would be the track that holds the best memories for me.  Hernan Cattaneo asked me to create an original for his Balance Music Sunsetstrip Album and it was such an honour to be asked to be part of this project.  It was also my first vinyl release, something I will hold dear forever.  Hernan’s always been such a supporter of my career and music, and this release definitely increased my outreach and got my name out there.

With the barriers to production at an all-time low for many people and the availability of studio software so easy, do you feel it has negatively impacted the electronic music market?

I think there are pros and cons; pros is that it has enabled a lot of thriving artists to gain access to tools that help them get better, more creative and improve the quality of their work.  The cons, labels are being bombarded with a lot of music, making the selection process more time consuming and sometimes tedious and because of that, some really good music may get overlooked.

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

It would have to be Avatar, something about being able to connect to everything around you, your surroundings really resonated with me.  I feel that it’s something that we as humans are capable of if we only listen more and be more in tune with ourselves.

 Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Traveling, being around new cultures, I find it to be so fulfilling.  And of course hummus and knafe (if you know, you know ☺)

 What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I’m so grateful for the coming months and all the releases I have scheduled for the remainder of the year.  It’s such a joy to be sharing my music with the world and I’m excited about what’s coming.  In May, I have a release on Akbal Music which includes such a stellar remix by the duo LADS and in July, a release on Stripped Recordings.  I’m also hopeful that by the end of the year we will get to dance together again and I’m really looking forward to play for you all.

Thank you guys for this interview, sending you much love.


'Of Time and Space' is out now via Praveen Achary's Juicebox Music: https://bit.ly/3daiRoI

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