Salamanda – Groove Podcast 399

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Photo: Phoenix June (Salamanda)

Salamanda took the world by storm while it was standing still. Uman Therma (a.k.a. Sala) and Yetsuby (a.k.a. Manda) bonded over a mutual interest in pretty much any music style you can imagine, and started to make positively unique music, releasing their first tracks in 2019. Once the pandemic brought everything to a grinding halt, they notably picked up speed and haven’t slowed down much since—their new album, In Parallel, for Facta and K-Lone’s ever-reliable label Wisdom Teeth is already their fourth in as many years. Tracks by the label owners are also featured in the duo’s controbution to our Groove podcast—a wonderful, weightless mix full of lush textures and subtle rhythms in true “Salamanda sound” style.

You came from very different backgrounds when you first met and eventually started the Salamanda project. What kind of music did you connect over initially?

Though we used to hang out a lot in a dancefloor, nightlife environment, we strongly connected over a quite broad range of music from ambient, leftfield, modern classical to bass, breaks and jungle. In this vast pool of music, we decided to make music that isn’t exactly dancefloor-oriented but still fun and enjoyable to listen to. We think it was more about the use of interesting textures and sounds rather than a specific genre that we placed our focus on when producing music that is going to be labelled as Salamanda.

What did your first steps as a duo look like, how did you get into your collaborative workflow? Did you establish fixed roles for writing music together?

We started Salamanda by releasing music every once in two weeks on Bandcamp. Those are the times when we made music separately as we weren’t really used to doing jam sessions and making a piece together. It was when we released our first two EPs that we started to build the collaborative workflow by sharing the unfinished projects with each other so that both of our touch—now we casually call it the “Salamanda sound”—can be heard in every track. We don’t have fixed roles for writing music though we do have specific roles for our live sets: Sala with her groovebox and a drum pad tends to make more rhythmic, percussive elements while Manda with her synth, sampler and a vocal effector takes care of more melodic elements and effects.

You started releasing music as Salamanda in 2019, putting out a slew of tracks at a rapid pace before taking a break. How do you look (or rather listen) back to this early phase of the project?

Maybe not all of them but we find some of our very early works terrible—please don’t try to search for them!—and we don’t really listen back to those a lot. Nevertheless, we cherish all of our tracks. Recently we’ve actually made new versions of some of the old works and have been performing them live. It feels nostalgic and nice to see how much we’ve grown musically over the years.

How did the pandemic affect your working process? It seems like you became even more prolific in 2020.

We have to admit that we might be the rare ones that have been benefited from the pandemic. It came a year after we started making music together, and it seemed like so many ambient, downtempo playlists on streaming platforms started to flourish afterwards. We weren’t really expecting both domestic and global attention for our music at all, so it still surprises us to look back on those times. In terms of our working process, as mentioned earlier, we had to work together mostly online, just ping-ponging stems and project files to each other. Now that the pandemic is almost gone, we’re working on doing more jams and experimenting with sounds.

Your new, fourth album, In Parallel, has just been released through Wisdom Teeth. What’s immediately notable is that you are putting a heavier emphasis on vocals on this LP. How did that come about?

It wasn’t our intention to place great emphasis on vocals but we did realise after completing the album that a lot of vocal elements were used across all tracks. We always love using vocals to add spice and playfulness to the track and we noticed that a lot of audiences love it too when it’s accompanied by drums and percussions. This is part of the reason why we tried adding simple lyrics and catchy vocal sounds to some of the tracks in the new album.

Both of you have continuously been active as solo artists and also still play solo sets as DJs. How do you approach and prepare for the sets that you play together as Salamanda?

While we play massive, hardcore, uptempo tunes in our solo sets as Uman Therma and Yetsuby, we keep Salamanda DJ sets more chill with ambient, leftfield bass, Balearic, midtempo sorts of music. As it’s always a B2B set, it feels more liberating and playful than DJing alone.

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

We prepared an hour-long mix of ambient, downtempo, leftfield gems along with some tracks from our new album. Hope you enjoy!

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

2023 has been a big year for us! We got to visit numerous cities and continents, performed at prestigious festivals and venues around the world and met the most amazing people there. And we have our new LP out from the label that we’ve been huge fans of for a very long time. It’s such a blessing to be able to experience all this, and we’d like to thank every single person who has helped us along the way. For now, we’re going to take a little break to recharge and get ready for another blasting year, but there’s a lot more to come, so please keep your eyes peeled!

Stream: Salamanda – Groove Podcast 399

01. Caro – Ley
02. Dylan Henner – We Turned off the TV So We Could Hear the Birds
03. TERM3 – Flowers
04. K-LONE – In The Pines
05. Salamanda – Full of Mushrooms
06. Salamanda – In Parallel
07. Felbm – Root
08. FOURTH WORLD MAGAZINE III – Human Gaze + Hermanubis = The Veolcity of Angels
09. Henry Kawahara ヘンリー川原 – ニューロ・ダンサー (Neuro Dancer)
10. Salamanda – Sun Tickles
11. Facta – Sistine (Plucks)
12. Sanguine – Following Yourself Home
13. St. Amp – Lyra Pad
14. Motions in Stereo – Always Away
15. Asa Tone – River At Work
16. Honestly Same – Frog Lift
17. Roy Werner – Music for Five Dreams (with Cole Pulice)

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