I’m on my way to Bremen for an interview with L.A. Salami when it finally starts to rain. After all these hot days of summer. But it’s not just rain and it does not stop for some time. A whirlwind is shaking the train, and when I’m getting of, it seems that the heat in combination with the rain has created some kind of wild sealife in the streets of the city. Suddenly there are the lyrics of The Beatles iconic Octopus’s Garden in my head.
I’m passing a wild creature from the depth of the ocean and finally find myself at the Breminale. Seems like a circus! In this magical garden under the sea I’m meeting L.A. for the interview before his anticipated gig.
You think I’m a liar? How could that be? Did I say that I’m telling the truth with these words?
If you want to believe, be brave, pass the merman with a trident in his left hand and take a deep breath before you follow me into this dive, a very private talk with Mr. Salami.
Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is Lookman Adekunle Salami and I am an artist … and Yeah, just tryin’ to get by!
You are from London. I really love this city!
What’s your favourite place in that town?
I don’t know. It’s like being asked, what your favourite movie is or your favourite book. There are lot of places in London, that are quite nice. I’ve been spending lot of my time in Clissold Park recently. It’s around the corner of my house.
Let’s stay in London for another one. The violence in the capital is increasing, stabbing, for example, the media and public authorities are blaming Drill-Rap for it.
It’s not your genre, not the music you are playing, but what do you think of this? I think it’s bullshit …
Aah, it’s not all bullshit. Of course it’s absurd to say that a type of music causes people to be violent, because the people, who make the music are inspired by the violence around them. And that’s what they put in the music and that’s kind of absurd to say. It doesn’t help to exacerbate it if your intend through the music is to just completely glorify it. But that’s not their job as an artist to either glorify it or not. They come from a type of lifestyle or type of area you are growing up in. So that is the type of music you are getting into to, these are the things you’re gonna express. It’s like blaming Hip-Hop for ghetto violence. That’s ridiculous! But also you could say it doesn’t really help! If, say, 50 Cent, back in the day, when 50 Cent you know, brought Gangster-Rap to its heights. It doesn’t really help. The fact, that in America, the crack-industry is destroying their neighbourhoods. And a kid might be thinking, because a lot of the music he hears legitimizes that lifestyle, so he is gonna go: ‘Yeah, that’s what I gotta do’. So, it’s absurd, it’s a stupid argument. It’s just a stupid thing to talk about to me.
Does music have an affect?
Yeah, of course music has an effect, but so life has an effect on music.
It’s just a stupid argument. It’s a waste of time to me. This goes back to like when Rock ‘n’ Roll was happening, Rock ‘n’ Roll and sex, it’s really stupid.
So, finally-England is unwell (it’s a fantastic song from his latest record)! What are you doing against this issue and what can everybody do against all this things that led you to your statement?
England is unwell. What do you take from the statement?
I think, it’s obvious. You know, the problems with the Brexit and it’s not only England, that is unwell. In my opinion, the whole world is unwell. It’s not going in the right way. It’s like what we talked about before. The stabbing, they are blaming musicians for some reasons, those might be understandable a bit, but the problems are to find down in the neighbourhood. The government isn’t doing anything for this people, they are leaving them behind, racism, you know, these kind of things are in an uprise.
I don’t think, they are in an uprise, I think if the media concentrates on some thing, it seems like it is in an uprise, but it is probably not. I’m probably certain, that there is less racism now than there was. But if you focus on it more, it seems more apparent. And what I mean by racism is just unsubstantiated and unreasonable hatred for another kind of person who is different from you. Through skin colour, whatever, that’s racism.
But what we are talking about is prejudice, that’s more of a concrete thing. You could be prejudice against talented people, you could be prejudice against whatever. You could be prejudice against big muscular guys, maybe women find prejudice against beautiful women. Prejudices are getting inflated to racism these days.
I’ve been beaten up, because I’m black. I’ve been spat on my face, because I’m black. At no point have I assumed, that every specific white person must be racist. I travel all over the world, into places, playing music, where I might be the only black person. I’m aware of it, but at no point I assumed that everyone is racist. Because that is a stupid way to think. And what I mean by England is unwell, it’s more a case of anger in a way, people are left out. Before, Irish people were the black people in England. That wasn’t that long ago. I think it was 1874, the Irish people were rounded up, they didn’t get fair jobs, because they were Irish. That’s what happend. But the song isn’t totally all about that. You can feel it more in the moment now. But it’s also about the stabbings and what the country is supposed to mean to people. Because I don’t think you shouldn’t be patriotic. It’s like, you grew up in a home and you like your house and you like your family. If it’s your house against the neighbours you are going to support your house (laughs). It’s good to have a national identity. And I think that is kind of the problem now. ‘Cause it has been pushed that to even feel like you have a national identity is negativ.
So the song is not saying the country is out of racists, it’s just a complicated situation. You can read it like that, but that is not how I supposed it to mean. You know, that tense to happen. And to be honest people bringing this up now, but I wrote this song a while ago. There is no difference, it is just the social media, the fastness, the speed of information makes it seems, that the horrible is happening all the time. It’s not. I think the stabbing is an open issue in London at the moment.
To keep it simple, maybe it’s like that (I’m showing a line on a mirror in the green room):
England is healthy-England is unwell-England is sick.
So we are at the middle part. And if we’re doing nothing against it, England will be sick! But if you cure it, it’ll be healthy again. Maybe it’s that simple.
Yeah, but you know, to cure, people have to acknowledge their part in this sickness.
The idea of John Lennons Imagine. It’s a solution or just a wonderful utopia for you?
Yeah, it’s great! Obviously it’s a great song, but I disagree. To be honest, I think one of the problems now, especially in the western world is that it’s growing out of god, but it hasn’t replaced god with anything. And I don’t mean, god is a man with a beard, sitting in the sky, judging people. That’s kind of what we needed as a species to collectively get where we are now. Gods are like crutches. You know, if you were a savage man and you didn’t know what a mirror was or chairs and it hadn’t been invented then. And there was no light pollution, so you could see Andromeda, stars in the sky. What if it got dark and there was no moon? You could get eaten by a lion (laughs) or something like that. Or if it doesn’t rain … Yeah, you need gods and like gods you need to be together as a tribe. But to keep that probably as it is, it has to be under the idea of god. Of an origin thing. A thing that’s above you all. Like when you go to court, you swear on the bible. It doesn’t matter, if you believe in the bible, you swear an oath on the god which means under the eyes of humanity. Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, but I can’t remember the fourth mens name (it’s Daniel Dennett), they are called The Four Horsemen.
They are doing lectures about how stupid religion is. Basicially, which is cool. But they went too far to me. Religion is of course silly. But the idea of god is something, to me it’s the most essential philosophical question. What is god? Not is there a god, maybe is there a god, but what is the god, whatever, what it is exactly? ‘Cause it is a man made thing. But if we are a product of the universe, then our imagination is a product of the universe, we as a collective have imagined a god, that we inspired to be approved by. We have an idea of what a perfect person should be.
The thing I take most away from that, cause John Lennon really didn’t like god, I think the absence of that very clear idea is like helping things sort of disconnect as well. Yeah, that’s what I take away from that song: I’m not saying that you should be religious, I’m saying the western world needs to replace god with some more clear idea of humanity as a collective. ‘Cause imagine if no one believes in god, right. So, and I went to court. Why shouldn’t I lie (laughs)? It’s just a little thing based on that and it’s an important idea. And maybe it shouldn’t be called god, it should be called under the earth of humanity. So, Imagine is a great song.
Last night, after I watched the blood moon, I turned on the video for your tune Jean Is Gone.
Source: YouTube, LASalamiVEVO
I just want to know, how much of your true self is to find in this one, which is peppered with your smooth and funny dance moves?
How much of that was me? I didn’t really want to record a video for it, but I was going to France, Paris anyway. And I have my good friend Diane Sagnier, who is a great film maker out there, lives there, and I’d see her anyway. And I wanted to film me just walking, doing silly shit around Paris. So we did (chuckles).
Source: YouTube, LASalamiVEVO
Generation L(ost)-what did push you to write this song?
Do you even find yourself in this generation l(ost)?
Yeah, I’m just not talking about my or any particular generation. I’m talking about late teens to mid thirties, that’s the generation I’m talking about. The generation in this time, that has grown enough to achieve things in their life. You know, they can’t afford houses, the houses are too expensive and they can’t afford the rent, especially if you live in a big city. The old idea of family doesn’t exist anymore. It’s supposed to be like the 60’s revolution, the sex revolution. A lot people don’t know what they want. At the moment it’s just more obvious that this generation seems lost. The endgame, there doesn’t seem to be the clear endgame at the moment, like for example, we are causing damage to the planet, all the things we use and utilize in the days of our lives that make our lives way more easier then it was 100, 200 years ago. The cooperations, that dictate when and how fast we can actually do something about it, but the companies need to have the incentive to change and the incentive needs to come from the people. You know, we fixed the ozon, … We haven’t fixed it, it healed himself.
Yeah. Because we stopped, we are aware of it. We have maybe just to be aware of things and do something. This period of time is the most self aware humans have ever been. Imagine being so comfortable, an animal, as we are. We are animals, we are on top of the food chain. Being so comfortable that you can feel guilty about eating other animals. That’s extraordinary. If you talk to someone who was living in fucking 2000 B.C. (before Christ) they’d be like: ‘Woah, how am I gonna get through the day, if I can’t hunt this pig.’ You know what I mean? But imagine being that comfortable, shit man, having emotional empathy for cows and pigs. It’s quite a big deal, it’s cool! I eat meat, but I’m aware of fit. But I find it amazing that this is happening. But this is one of this. That’s sort of this incentive. What incentive do meat producers have, to stop producing meat?
If people are buying it, they will produce it, yeah!
People will stop constructing exhaust producing cars, if people buy more hybrids, cause everyone is aware and cares about it.
So we need to build more hybrid cars.
Yeah! Technically. I’m an optimist. It obviously will. 100 years ago cars were completly different, it’s changing, you know what I mean. And becoming more aware that the planet might actually be a thing that is living, so take care of it or not destroy it at least. But to be aware of that you might need someone who is in the most powerful office in the world, who is like, you know, aware of that and cares and puts pressure on people to change, you know, whatever. Or the companies around him put pressure on him, to enact laws, meet with other leaders and solidify the change more.
Okay, that’s the generation lost.
I’m guessing, that Dylan is an influence for you, as to hear in Brick Lane.
Besides other musicians, what does inspire you? Movies, literature …
Yeah, all the normal things!
A quick dive into pop culture. It’s Star Wars or Star Trek for you?
Do I have to choose?
You can say you love both, that’s also ok. Or you hate both.
I did love both, but now both are not Star Wars or Star Trek anymore man. The Star Wars film really hurts me.
J.J. Abrams, that guy. He is a good visual filmmaker, but he really pisses me off.
Like what they have done to Star Wars is … how do you feel about Star Wars?
I really love it, but I watched The Last Jedi with my sister and we were sitting in the cinema and we were like: ‘What the fuck?!’
I’m done with Star Wars now. When Luke disappeared, I was like, okay, I’m not buying tickets anymore. If I’m anyway interested I just watch the bootleg. I mean in the end, watching the last two has made me appreciate the prequels way more (laughs out loud). I like watching the prequels now they’ve aged really well. You know, they are not like, think about what they were like, that was the first time, everything was CGI, right? And we were complaining about it then. But most a lot of films now, like the Marvel films, are like that, you are watching the CGI stuff. It’s great. I’m a geek.
I think they are great representations of the comic books I love. So I love Marvel, I love the Marvel movies. ‘Cause they are how they are supposed to be. But Star Wars is supposed to be Star Wars. It’s supposed to be in his own world. It comments on problems in our world but it doesn’t overly adress them as if we’re children and it has always been like that. And it’s a space opera. So people speak in a certain way. And people complained about George Lucas putting politics in the prequels. How does a man take over a galaxy?! Heh?! Tell me that! Yeah, I need a bit of politics (laughs)!
I need to know about the trade federation, you know what I mean? ‘Cause they have taken all the criticism of the prequels and said: ‘Okay, we are not gonna do any of that!’ So now it doesn’t make any sense. If they took down the fucking empire, right, so therefore it would fracture everything and than the resulting thing would be the rebels cleaning up, the republic come together, regaining the center. So, how comes the First Order?! (I’m starting to laugh) It’s exactly the same! It’s insulting! Can you name five iconic charakters from the new Star Wars? Just five, not including the old ones.
I can name five from the Phantom Menace I’m loving. The one, Jar Jar Binks (laughs), everyone hates Jar Jar Binks, but everyone knows what he looks like and who he is. You know what I mean? Darth Maul, like Qui-Gon Jinn (laughs again), that’s like, what the fuck man?! George Lucas gave them …, this is the man who created Indiana Jones, Star Wars! He is an ideas guy, he’s not the best director, in the original trilogy and the second and now the third, it was still his thing. He just got someone else to direct it. But if someone, if the guy who invented modern blockbusters pretty much, gives you an outline of a story, follow it, Yeah?
And they threw it away!
Yeah, they threw it away and not only that! J.J. Abrams made one thing and then Rian Johnson, Brick is one of my favourite films of all time, love Rian Johnson, but he … what?! And Star Wars is about the Skywalkers! The main trilogy, that what it’s about I’m afraid, right? And there are certain things, you just don’t do! Each episode has a time skip. It’s a thing you follow, it’s Star Wars! Fuck that shit! Seriously, fuck it! And Star Trek, J.J. Abrams fucked that shit up as well! He made an interview, that he always thought Star Trek was boring. Then say no to the job then, man! The original Star Trek …
He made it into an action blockbuster right now!
Yeah, exactly! Star Trek is about travelling to worlds and being a team and getting along! Unfortunately, it might sound boring, but it’s about getting along with each other and the federation being like the perfect thing of what man can achieve. You know what I mean?! And the Star Trek Discovery series, what?! Star Trek is violent all of a sudden! It’s bullshit! I fucking hate that shit man! It really pisses me off! Sorry!
Wow, didn’t expected that!
The final question:
If you could interview one person. Who would it be?
Not an interview, I want to debate Sam Harris about the god thing. But apart from that I’d really love to interview Jordan Peterson. He is a Canadian, a clinical psychologist. In a Canadian university. And in Canada, they made a law, that you have to refer to gender-fluid people. And he said, he is not gonna do that, publicly. And he said it’s against freedom of speech. ‘Cause you can’t tell people what they have to say, you can take note of what people say wrong. Say, you know, the word nigger is not illegal. But if someone says it, you can call the police and say: ‘Oh, I’ve got offended.’ But what the law is saying, if you don’t refer as sir or whatever, that is like a criminal offence and he said no, that’s not right. Then he was called a transphobic. He is very vocal against third wave feminists and he is called sexist and rascist. He has been associated with the alt-right. He says things that don’t follow the mainstream way of thinking to anyone who doesn’t really look into him and will read his work. If they hear about him, they just say: ‘Oh, that alt-right guy,’ he really is not at all. It’s the same with Harris, they are like actual on the left. They are progressive people, they are libertarian, but they are seen as bad, because they bring up these topics, that are a quite touchy. These are the types of people you need on your side to make a better world, they are the people thinking of solutions and talking about what needs to be talked about. Yeah, at the moment, those!
Text, interview & Polaroid pictures: René Biernath
Instant Film: Color, For Use With 600, Deep Sea Dive-Edition