sammy bananas chats in-line skating, asphyxiation and why EDM is death
Anti-house music purist Sammy Bananas, creates soul-fun music. Raising one yellow finger skyward, the Fool's Gold producer drops a fresh, positive R&B licked, disco funk mix, exclusively to i-D.
Sammy Bananas by Flora Hanitijo
Releasing his saxo-sexy Flexin EP at the beginning of the year, Brooklyn based king of the remix Sammy fell in love with science, cooking and blowing notes on brass when he was just a baby Banana. Mixing up the music, experimenting with flavoursome rhythms and fiery BPM's, vibes flow free and wild when Sammy takes to the booth. Personally discovered and then signed by Fool's Gold owners A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs and currently touring Asia, Sammy Bananas' fanbase is scattered wide and now burgeoning. Dead set against the garish rising trend for EDM, playing out his support for old school originality, Motown Philly by Boyz II Men is the moustached players number one track of all time. Currently working on a top secret production for a big deal R&B artist, Sammy remains tight lipped about his next major wave project. Referencing Basement Jaxx, Pharell, MJ, TLC and Björk as big influences, Sammy believes Flexin to be his most ambitious release to date. Peeling out tune after tune, the fruity beat maker chats in-line skating, asphyxiation and why EDM equals death.
Do you remember any music your dad used to play you in the car when you were young that you really got into?
We listened to a lot, obviously a lot of Beatles, stuff like Talking Heads, Paul Simon. Also jazz stuff - I play the sax, that's how I got into music.
How old were you when you first started to learn to play the sax?
I think I started when I was in fourth grade, which I think is like 12 or 11.
Did you ever nearly pass out when you were first trying to learn?
You just can't play very loud. I've been trying to play saxophone more on the music that I'm making now. One of the tracks from the Flexin EP has me playing on it. I did this thing a couple of months ago when I went into the New York City subways and sat in with the street performers, that's actually up on Instagram, if you look for 'saxbombin'. I've played on the street before, that was my first foray into being a professional musician. I grew up in Boston and there's this really busy area, right in Harvard Square, and l would go there and play saxophone and people would give me money. There were a couple of times when I would make 70 or 80 bucks an hour. I was probably thirteen, but l looked like I was 9. That was when I first got the taste.
You used to in-line skate when you were younger....
I did, yes. I used to skateboard, and then I thought skateboarding was too hard, so I started in-line skating.
Who got you turntables?
I got them for a birthday present.
That's a good birthday present...
Yeah, it was good. I started making music on the computer and producing around the same time. So I started buying records and sampling stuff, and figuring out how to use the different software programmes. I was using a software programme called Cakewalk, that is so cumbersome by today's standards, it's like ridiculous to even think about how difficult it was to make stuff on.
Are you still big on cooking?
I went to school to be a scientist and I worked in labs. I guess that cooking is a way that I keep the scientist in myself alive. It's creative and it's ephemeral, because you cook something and then you eat it, it doesn't last forever.
I don't have much patience cooking if I'm hungry, l'm just going to eat whats there.
It's hard to cook when your hungry, it's not a good combination. Cooking is like making music in some ways, because there's a linear process of it going forward, there's different ingredients. Sometimes I think about listening to music and making food with the same kind of adjectives, the same way of thinking about it. Particularly with food sometimes, I think about how it tastes, like a frequency spectrum. You know the really high notes, the high frequencies - those are the most spicy - then there's the meatiness or richness and that's a solid mid-low end type taste. That solidifies everything in the way that the bass and mid-low mid of a song will just glue everything together.
What are your plans for tonight?
I'm just going to keep working on this, and then I have a gig tonight actually in the city. I'm starting a new month party, so the first one is tonight.
What's the theme of that?
It's going to be called Yellow Pages, there's a Banana type tie-in. I mean, when's the last time you saw an actual Yellow Pages phone book? It's been a while. The next big thing for me is that I'm going to Asia next week, I haven't announced the tour dates yet but I'm going to Shanghai and Singapore.
Have you been before?
I've been to Japan and to Taiwan. I'm actually really excited about going to mainland China. When I went to Taiwan last year, you could just sense how fast everything is happening in that part of the world - how fast things are being built, how many people are moving to the city, all of the energy - it was really overwhelming. When I went to Japan I was blown away by the train system and the Shinkansen bullet trains, I knew that they had fast trains but I wasn't prepared for the fact that there are trains that travel 200mph that leave every 10 minutes. It's like going to a subway station except that there's a train that pulls up that takes you to the bottom end of the island, and those trains leave every ten minutes. They're always busy and they always come on time.
Yeah, we'll see, there'll be a lot of planes and a lot of flying.
Text Milly McMahon
Photography Flora Hanitijo