It was only 2 years ago that the Canadian music industry fell in love with rising Toronto R&B artist Anders. New listeners quickly tuned in as his first EP, 669 acquired millions of streams in a few months. In turn, artists and record labels intently focused on anyone associated with the NST movement, and specifically the producers behind the scenes.
Enter Mississauga-based producer S.L.M.N. – one of two founding forces behind Anders’ definitive sound. While little is publicly known about the producer aside from his deep roots with NST, his recent placements for Mariah Carey, Roy Woods, and Johnny Yukon have secured him as a top producer to watch in 2019.
“I’m from Africa. Sudan, actually,” says S.L.M.N. as he gives us a tour of his in-house studio. “My government name is Mohamed Sulamain. I was born in the city of Khartoum, moved to Canada, and was raised in Hamilton, Ontario,” he tells.
His studio is filled with instruments that glow under the moody neon fluorescent lighting. “I always played instruments,” he explains, “I was always into music cause’ my dad was into music. There was a lot of eastern melodies in my head. I learned drums in school and loved it, so my high school music teacher let me take home the drums for the summer. That really got me into making music and beats.”
Joining our conversation is peer and fellow producer Prezident Jeff. The two are long-time friends, and S.L.M.N. describes PJ as someone who has remained supportive throughout all stages of his career. He describes the process of eventually leaving behind his 9-5 job for music:
“When I went to college I focused on volleyball and going to school for architecture. Once I graduated I went right back to music because I did the school thing for my parents. Growing up with African parents mean you’re going to school. You’re about to get this job. It was about 4 years ago when I started taking it seriously (music). I met Chef Byer, and he definitely played a mentor role to me. He was teaching me things that he didn’t have to. I appreciated that.
S.L.M.N. explains how his initial goals in the industry were passion-driven. “I think the common thing between us producers, and creatives in general, is at first it’s not about the monetary gain. It’s more about expressing themselves. We view ourselves as unique. We need to show that to the world, and prove it to ourselves. We go through this whole process, without knowing that you can make money from it,” he affirms.
Aside from his work with Anders, his production on “Say Less” for Roy Woods remains one of his most successful placements to date. On working with the OVO Sound artists, he relays that, “Sonically he was doing something so far left of what I thought he was going to do. Now I get it. When we did it a year ago the verse wasn’t on it. It was just the hook, ‘Say Less.’ I didn’t hear the song before it came out. I was in Sudan when it came out. Everybody in Toronto now says it. Now they associate it with a track and that sound that I made. There was a moment where it was bigger than us.”
S.L.M.N. also notes that working with fellow NST co-producer LUCA on “Say Less” was a defining moment for the collaborative duo. “That beat is really special to me because it was the second time that me and Luca ever met. The first three beats we made all got placed. Luca hit me up on Snapchat and said we should link. It turned into the lead single for that album. People don’t know that story,” he conveys.
However, looking back on his journey thus far, S.L.M.N. feels like his self-released single, “Too Much Time” truly changed the trajectory of his career. He explains:
“The craziest part is that I made that beat in an hour. I just felt like Emerson needed to be on it. Emerson happened to be feeling creative – goes in and does it in an hour or two. The next morning I’m at work, so I pretend that I’m sick. I call Luu (Breeze) and he’s like, ‘I have a flight to catch at 2.’ I went right to the studio and played him the beat. 15 minutes later I come back and he’s done. It was recorded and done at 7pm that day, in 24 hours. The next week it was out. That song got 4 million plays in total and got me signed. That moment changed my career.”
For the producer, resulting interest from record labels have produced numerous offers. “I almost signed a deal that could have fucked me,” he confirms. “I’m so glad that I didn’t do it.”
Whether he feels that deals are an overall positive move for an aspiring producer, he clarifies how it varies. “I don’t think signing dictates your success,” he affirms, “I think signing depends on your situation. A couple years ago if I had a deal on the table I would not have signed. I would tell myself to not take the deal. The reason it’s good for me to take a deal right now is that I need the space and the time to be able to create more. This deal allows me to get to where I want to go faster, and eliminates the restriction of financial problems.”
S.L.M.N. remains thankful for his work with Anders. “A lot of people know about Anders. It’s what we did together in that moment that created something people wanted to be a part of. You’re responsible for your part of that career. It’s a team thing. I don’t know one person who has done everything on their own. People saw that I could be a part of something from the ground up. Now they want to see how I’ll do in their world,” he adds.
His advice for aspiring producers is simple, “Focus on what you can control. There’s things that are out of your hands. Everybody’s story is different. Everyone’s circumstance is different. You’ve gotta’ work hard and be honest with yourself. Being honest with yourself makes you honest to other people.”
Follow the producer on Twitter for future updates. Stream “Caution” by Mariah Carey below – produced by S.L.M.N. & LUCA, and No I.D.