”I definitely see myself working with a lot of big Artistes, whether as an Artist or a ghostwriter”
Speaking to Salez, he gives you a vibe and a confidence that he could sell ice in the winter and fire in hell. This West Islander born and raised, has already opened up for big artistes such as Wale, August Alsina, Ty Dolla Sign, and D block to name a few. With his new EP- “Canada Cold”, it’s about to stay cold in these Montreal streets. So bundle up.
514: Your parents are from Guyana how often do you travel there?
SA: Yes. My whole family is there. I go every year.
514: Whenever you go to Guyana and connect with the people, do you ever feel like you don’t want to come back to Montreal?
SA: It is actually humbling, because it is poverty out there, It is crazy out there.
514: How was your environment growing up in the West Island?
SA: The West Island is just a different environment from the city. We didn’t have to worry as much. Nothing was handed to me, but my parents definitely worked hard to provide me a better life.
514: Why do you call yourself Salez?
SA: Growing up I always had a hustler mentality, and I was always trying to make a dollar, and people were just always telling me “man you are such a salesman”, and it just stuck with me. It started with the long tees. I started that trend and selling across the schools, and then I started selling to clothing stores.
514: Is the real Salez, the same Salez we hear rapping?
SA: Yes. If you really want to know me then you have to listen to my music.
514: What made you start creating music?
SA: To be honest with you, I always loved music. I am good with words. I always write. I actually started with poetry writing in school, and then I started listening to hip hop, reciting the words back and putting things together. Back then I couldn’t afford to go to the studio, I had a little recorder that I would record on and listen to it and that is basically just where it came from. I just realized my ability to write, and how I was putting things together it did not take me long to take it 100% serious.
514: Being in the forefront of the mic are you afraid of how people view your image?
SA: Growing up I was always afraid of being judged. I did not want to be judged, and the mic would never judge me, and all my situations, my past relationships, anything that went wrong in my life. I have it down in a song. It is my whole life, and even things I was never fully able to get off my chest and clear off with certain individuals, I was able to do it with music.
514: The music that you write are they real life events? Or is it something that you see and write about?
SA: This is how I look at it. My songs are me. If you are my boy, and you are going through something that’s me. If my boy goes through a situation with his girl and tells me then that’s me. And a lot of songs may not be me in particular that it’s happening to, but it’s my surroundings. If you are going through it, we all are going through it, and that’s when I knew I had something, When I was younger people use to pay me to write letters for their girlfriends. I knew the words were connecting.
514: When you write songs for other artistes, how do you know what to write for that artiste?
SA: I feel like with music the beat is what connects with people.The beat is what takes me to that direction. Unless it’s a special request and someone says, “ Salez I want this in particular”.
514: The same song you write for an Artist can you can give it to another Artist and make it work the same way?
SA: I can definitely make it work, we sit down and talk and I can put myself in your position
514: Where do you find inspiration to pen your words to paper to make music?
SA: Traveling. Driving. Looking up in the sky.
514: Do you freestyle a lot?
SA: I do, but I don’t feel like I am the best at it. I don’t really like to do it publicly, but a lot of my songs are a freestyle. My melodies, everything that comes together I recorded on my iPhone recorder. And that’s my foundation. Myfirst take.
514: Can you finish tracks in one day?
SA: I try not to delay it to the next day. When I start something, I just want to finish it even if it takes me 5 hours.
514: What is the process that you take to pick beats for your songs?
SA: I basically get an archive of beats that comes to me from different producers that I work with, and after 30 seconds I can tell if that’s me or not.
514: Do you like to be around people when you are writing music?
SA: To be honest I have writing most of my songs by myself, and that works for me. I don’t believe in going to the studio and not being prepared, because the studio costs money you are paying per hour, and money does not grow on trees. I see artistes going to the studio and writing in the studio. I feel like you should be able to get that vibe wherever. If the beat is what you feel, you don’t need to be in the studio to catch that vibe.
514: What’s the most difficult thing you had to endure in life?
SA: The struggle of seeing my mother go through dialysis two years ago. Every day wires hooked up to her at home, having to take her to the hospital every other day. She’s gotten a replacement kidney, but that process for two years was a very difficult time.
514: With your mother going through tough times, did you still create music during that time?
SA: Some of my most felt music came during that time. I would feel it , and sometimes I would write my songs, and tears would come down my face. But I knew that I had to make time for my music.
514: How do you feel about the rap scene in Montreal?
SA: I feel like there is a lot of talent. I feel like we have what it takes to be something like a Toronto and to be recognized. I feel like the egos are what is killing us. Some of the most talented artistes in the city have the biggest egos, and that’s what preventing them from getting to the next level because they don’t give back to the city. Some of the young guys hit me up for work and I do it for them, because I remember when I was that young guy trying to elevate.
514: Who is in your top five list of Artists dead or alive?
SA: I would have to say Jadakiss, Fabolous, and Notorious Big and that’s pretty much it for hip hop.
514: Who’s your favorite rapper?
514: Why is it important for you to do a song like “Live like this”?
SA: It was important because I spent a lot of my time struggling. I felt it was necessary because in life we take things for granted and there’s a lot of people who wish they could have half of what we have.
514: Why did you choose Jamaica as the primary location for the video shoot?
SA: The first time I went there it really touch me, it was hurtful to see the living conditions, and to experience that it really humbled me as an individual. There’s a lot of people who really don’t have, and I seen that, and I felt like I had to represent for the Caribbeans.
514: “Slowly Drifting” is such a big song for you, are you reminiscing and rapping about a special someone in particular?
SA: Well that song was writing about a previous relationship that I had, and I felt like when I heard the beat from Chase, it instantly brought me back to that relationship. I just had to express myself to it. I listen to it every day because that song was a big part of my life.
514: Does that special person know that you are talking about her?
514: You told her, or she read between the lines?
SA: I told her.
514: Do you think she’s telling all her family and friends that she has a song that was inspired by her presence and time spent with you?
SA: Definitely not. She’s not that type of person, but I held on to that song for a while. I recorded it a long time ago, but I never released it. I didn’t want to come off as a soft guy or anything.
514: But as long as you keep it real and the audience can feel it then the emotions is what matters. Right?
SA: Yeah! that’s true. But that was a time when I didn’t want to come off as that. And as time went by, I started telling myself even the hardest guys gotta love. Out of all the songs I put up and publish, none of them have come close to the response that I have gotten off that song.
514: What is more important in the levels of a song. The content, the beat or the chorus?
SA: I feel like the beat is very important. Nowadays the beat is what’s going to catch you. The beat is what is going to get you in the first 30 seconds. If you don’t have that beat that sticks with people they won’t even give you that chance. And then ‘ the chorus, and last the content.
514:What is more important to you as a person?, The fame or the glory?
SA: Definitely not the fame. I think my legacy, my story, and giving back to people.
514: Can you see a vision of yourself 5 years from now?
SA: I definitely see myself working with a lot of big artists, whether as an artiste or a ghostwriter. This year has been a great year for me, and I see with everything that is panning out now I definitely see myself working with big artistes.
514: What is the process of ghostwriting for an artiste?
SA: Well, usually I do a catalogue for an artiste and they choose what they want.
514: Do you rap it yourself?
SA: I do it as a demo, as a reference, just so they can have a vision. Even when I sing on it, I am not a singer but they get the vision with the harmonies and they add their beautiful voice and high notes on it and enhance it.
514: Is the rap game a difficult scene to get into coming from Montreal?
SA: I can’t really say that. But if you strongly believe in your music don’t stop. The confidence is everything. You can’t be a shy guy and think that you are going to go out there. It’s going to reflect when you go out and speak.
514: Who is your dream collaborator dead or alive?
SA: I definitely would say Fabolous.
514: Who is your female crush?
SA: I have got a lot of them. I like Rihanna, the Caribbean vibe, the accent. Everything is just right.
514: If you were not rapping what do you think you would be doing?
SA: I would definitely still be writing music.I would be doing promotions and throwing parties.
514: Since you’re always promoting clubs, do you like to party a lot?
SA: Not really. I just like the business of promoting parties. It’s a customer service and it’s something I just learned how to deal with people.
514: How come the clubs here don’t promote and play local music?
SA: That is actually a really good question. People ask me that all the time, especially since I am already familiar with the club scene and I am paying Dj’s to play. I think the problem is, the Dj’s are trying to make a name for themselves. They think when they play a song that’s not recognized, people will stop dancing . It’s a dead time. And I definitely give my music to the Dj’s, I guess they don’t feel like it fits with all the big songs they are playing.
514: That’s crazy to me because as a Dj I would think you would want to make a name for yourself as someone who is breaking artistes in the city, and you could potentially be that artiste touring Dj. Right?
SA: Exactly. But when I have the discussion with these Dj’s they tell me that they really like the songs, but then you don’t want to play the songs in the club with a room full of people. That doesn’t make sense to me.
514: Isn’t that how Future picked up so much steam in Atlanta because Dj Esco was pushing his songs out in the clubs, and people didn’t know that they were affiliated and now they both made it together?
SA: That’s how it is supposed to be. But in all honesty, the love that I get is from out of town, not in the city. And that’s what sucks the most, is that the people who have the power to push it are not.
Facebook: Salez Jack
Photo Credit: @gcastrophotographe
Writing By: Vlad Pierre
Edited By: Yvonne Sam