Johan “Salo” Salomonsson has made a name for himself as a versatile multi-instrumentalist. He's currently touring with Swedish pop phenom Tove Lo. Get to know our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week!
NAME: Johan “Salo” Salomonsson
HOMETOWN: I was born in Manila, Philippines, I grew-up in Möklinta, Sweden, and I currently live in: Brooklyn, New York.
MUSICAL TRAINING: I took eight years of piano and 10 years of drums at Sala Music School. I also studied for two years at RML in Stockholm, a conservatory where I did one year of pop drums studies and one year of music production and songwriting. I spent one semester at the Korean National University of Arts, Seoul, focusing on folk and classical/orchestral percussion with Marimba as my main instrument. And I did a year in the Swedish Army Band during my military service.
FIRST GIGS: The first thing I can really remember would be performing "Angels" by Robbie Williams at a talent show at school at the age of 13, with just me and a piano. Then I started singing in my first band at age 15 and that was it. We played local shows, national talent shows and then I went on to form two more bands - one glam/rock band as a guitar player, and one country band as a drummer and singer. I also played bass guitar with a rock and soul band for a few years before going my own way in 2012 as a touring musician playing with tons of different artists in Stockholm.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: It started with ABBA and Roxette, and then did a complete 180 degree turn to Green Day, the Sex Pistols combined with the whole Swedish skatepunk and hardcore scene like Refused, Millencolin, the International Noise Conspiracy. Then onto the Rolling Stones, Motown, Leon Russell, Gram Parsons, Jim Ford and the '60s, '70s rock, soul, and the country music scene.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Basically all pop radio and deep house mixes on Mixcloud. Some favorites are Charlie Puth, Jungle and Broods.
MY BIG BREAK: I had a 50 date tour playing guitar with a Swedish Idol in the summer of 2006, and I worked as a musician and songwriter in Stockholm until 2013 when the then drummer for Tove Lo moved into my apartment. A couple of months later, the guitar player in the band quit and she was looking for a replacement. I offered to join and auditioned and she took me in. I’ll be forever grateful to her and Niklas for that. It’s been an amazing ride following her from an unknown artist to full blown stardom.
LATEST PROJECTS: I've been a multi-instrumentalist with Tove Lo the last five, years and I did a European tour with Blood Orange as a drummer summer 2016. Other than that, I’ve been doing a whole lot of songwriting in between. Songwriting is my main project when I’m not on tour.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? For me, nothing compares to a classic piano. It was the first instrument I learned, and I still love playing it when I get the chance. Whether someone is caressing it in a ballad, or banging away on an old rock song, it always carries me away. It also fits into so many genres. When it comes to synthesizers (I'm sorry my fellow Swedes at Nord), I’m gonna pick the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 as it's so versatile and easy to understand. Figuring out sounds can be a hassle but that one I’ve learned and come to love. And I like the Moog Sub 37 for that heavy bass. I use that one a lot with Tove Lo.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? Cross-country songwriting! I’m in the middle of building a camper van with my fiancé and we’re about to hit the road in a few weeks. I'm super excited to record some songs in my mobile home studio! Hit me up, maybe I’m coming through a place near you!
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Never give up! Right before I started playing with Tove at the age of 27, I had serious second thoughts about what I was doing and had started thinking about going back to school. But if you are talented and a kind and reliable person, work will start coming to you. Also, never say "No" because of personal preference. Learning all kinds of genres and playing with any kind of bands and artist is a good way to challenge yourself. It will only help you broaden your musical knowledge and musical network.