CODE First Play: SALM featuring Dan Black, 'Toy Spark Gun'

SALM & Dan Black

Matthieu Dortomb

Paris is on fire. While the house revival of 2013 has pulled focus to London, across the Channel, there are some fresh new sounds emerging from the City of Lights, including electro duo SALM (SomethingALaMode). A listen to their new single, “Toy Spark Gun” featuring Dan Black, will have you insta-dancing while baffled as to how a cello is a central sound in a disco-inspired slice of synthpop. Check out the premiere here:

While SALM’s Thomas Roussel and Yannick Grandjean and Black all live in Paris, they didn’t know each other until SALM reached out to Black via Twitter, suggesting they work together.

“We hooked up and Thomas played me the track, I think in a coffee shop on headphones, and I just said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’ there and then,” Black explains. “It’s a pretty simple, dark little pop song. I think I was having trouble writing in that period, so I did the age-old trick of writing about be unable to write, to then be able to write again!”

“We made the track especially for Dan Black, trying to make a tailored instrumental,” Roussel explains. “We wanted a slow and heavy beat, mechanical, and a feeling of power and freedom in the music, to fit the high but strong voice of Dan.”

Roussel, Grandjean and Black worked on the track in-person (a rarity for collaborations these days), reworking the demo version the duo had first played for the singer, eventually forming what we hear now. In addition to being recorded in the same studio, the “Toy Spark Gun” has a particularly live sound, thanks to the multi-instrumental talents of both SALM members, a talent that Grandjean jokes is “a way to compensate our terrible voices.”

As Parisians, SALM have been regularly called upon by the city’s top fashion houses to soundtrack shows by Thierry Mugler and Chanel. According to Grandjean, the source of inspiration when working for Karl Lagerfeld isn’t too dissimilar to when they’re creating their own original material.

“Most of the time, the first inspiration comes from images, movies, and creation in general,” he says. “In this track we wanted to have a lot of different emotions, between the intro, verses, chorus and break. Sometimes soft and emotional, sometimes strong and powerful.”

For Black, whose follow-up to his acclaimed 2009 debut album “UN” is experiencing some delays, the song came as a welcome diversion

“On my own stuff, I’m 100% on my own, going slowly mad. It’s a nice break to have someone else kind of direct me,” Black admits. “I tried to give them what they wanted, offering up a few ideas and letting them choose and guide me. I get the pleasure of being a bit more surprised with where things end up.”

“Toy Spark Gun” is out on November 25 with remixes from Japanese Popstars, Teen Daze, Leo Kalyan and Botnek. SALM's album "Endless Stairs" drops in February 2014.