I’m doing really well. Thanks for asking. I hope you’re doing great as well.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Love, Future You”?
Yes, “Love, Future You” was a song I cowrote with my friend Kyler England. She’s based out of LA and we wrote it over the computer while video chatting. It’s basically a love-letter to yourself reminding you that life is going to get better if you’re going through some difficult times.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
Yes. I was in a long-term relationship that ended suddenly under terrible terms and just kind of dealing with that and having it all bottled up led to the creation of the song. I always try to find the positives in situations and when things are negative, if some kind of art can be created, it always makes me feel a little better. I do feel that when you experience a negative situation, one positive is that you can relate to others in that situation and I hope that the song provides that feeling of not being alone to others who are experiencing similar things.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
The video we released is an “icon video”, which was inspired by what “Dan + Shay” did on their last album. My friend Tim Burlingame did the animation for it, and we talked about what symbols would best represent the lyrics. I thought it was a unique way to showcase the lyrics in the song in a fun, interesting way.
Why naming the album after this track in particular?
Writing “Love, Future You” was a really meaningful and personal song for me, and it just seemed like a unique title that would grab people’s attention and capture this particular time in my life.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process was very fast. We wrote the song in about two hours, and then we sat with it for a while and made a few revisions.
While I was in LA, Kyler and I wrote the bridge together. When we first wrote it, it didn’t include one but after getting the base of the production done we decided it needed one.
The recording process took about two days to finish the majority of the song, and then Kyler sang background vocals on it at a later time, and we made a few tweaks afterwards as well.
Something cool that we did was we sampled a bird call in the song. There’s a track in the background of bird noises and we made a bit of a rhythm out of it, which was cool, because I’m really into birds.
What was it like to work with Bill Lefler and how did that relationship develop?
Working with Bill was great. He’s a talented producer and a really goofy, fun guy. We actually met because a friend of mine recorded a song with him and she recommended him. I got in touch with him and we hopped on a phone call right away and we recorded one song together remotely, with me in Wisconsin and him in Los Angeles. When you record like that there are a lot of tracks sent back and forth and it takes a lot longer to finish the track. It went really well, and as a result I decided to fly to LA to work on a few more songs with him.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Producers play a large role in the final product but for me it’s always a balanced relationship. When working with a great producer like Bill, they always have little tips, whether it’s in the vocal phrasing or the production to help make the song top notch. It just comes with their experience. When we worked on the songs we would talk about what kind of vibe we wanted them to have, and the style of each one, and then we would both agree if we liked it or not before moving forward.
What role does Wisconsin play in your music?
Wisconsin plays a big role in my music although I think most of my songs are pretty universal. There is however one song on the EP that’s called “T-Shirt Weather” that’s about the first day of spring and I find it to be a very “Wisconsin” song. We spend so much time locked inside in the winter, for me at least it’s such a burst of excitement when it’s finally spring and there’s so much more to do outside.
The full EP will be released on December 14th, 2018.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?
For me, the approaches are slightly different, but mostly the same. I recently started a new songwriting style to help prevent me for getting writer’s block. I choose a theme I want to focus on and do a brainstorming session for 1-10 minutes with any words and phrases that come to mind, even if they seem silly, and then I pick 3 songs that I want to write something similar to. If I’m in a cowriting session I try to have all of that ready, and have my cowriter do the same and then in the session figure out where we both connect. If it’s a new cowriter I like for us to just talk and get to know each other for a while because I think that’s a great way to find commonalities. Sometimes it can be hard to just be super vulnerable right away when writing with someone new, which is why it helps to have that no-pressure period of just getting to know your cowriter.
What aspect of Self-love did you get to explore on this record?
Quite a bit. There are two songs on the EP that are extremely personal titled “Love, Future You” and “Breakdown, Breakthrough”. “Love, Future You” was a really important song for me to write. It definitely helped me deal with a lot that was going on in my life and I feel like it wasn’t necessarily the song I wanted to write at the time, but it was one I needed to write. That one was a co-write with my friend Kyler England. “Breakdown, Breakthrough” I cowrote with my friend Garrison Starr and that one really came from being a musician and feeling like it’s always an uphill battle. It can definitely feel like it’s always “two steps forward, one step back” or just several steps back all the time. Garrison and I really connected about that idea of it feeling like a struggle, but a struggle that’s always worth pushing through. It’s really about that moment when every fiber of your being feels like giving up, but you choose not to.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’ll be performing around Wisconsin until the end of the year and am working on scheduling my tour for next year. I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be headed, but I’m excited about planning the next steps.
What else is happening next in Derek Sallmann’s world?
I’ll be releasing another single before the official EP comes out on December 14th, and I’m working on the music video this month. I’ve also been doing a lot of work with birds and fish lately. I was a biology major in college and love nature, and a lot of my time when I’m not working on music is spent in the field. I was just at an event called “Sturgeon Fest” that involves releasing juvenile Lake Sturgeon back into Lake Michigan to help revive the population. It happens right near the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee and is a cool way to get the community involved in animal conservation.