Salaam Remi is one of the most gifted producers in music. The man behind everything from some of the most classic tracks from Nas, The Fugees and a host of others has helped shape the last twenty years of popular music, and one of his most renowned collaborators was the late soul singer Amy Winehouse. Remi worked with Winehouse from the very beginning of her career; and during Remy Martin’s “The Producers’ Series” semifinal in New York City, Remi talked about how he met Amy.
“I’d just remixed Jamiroquai’s ‘Virtual Insanity’ and that blew up and I’d just produced for this artist called Ms. Dynamite and I did most of her first album. So I had a lot going on,” he recalls.
Remi was in Florida when he first got the call about this young woman from the U.K. who was looking to work with him on her debut album.
“My publisher, I’ve been with the same publisher for the last 20 years and he’s based out of London, and he said there’s this girl in London who’s looking for you,” he says. “She liked this record I did for Left Eye before Left Eye died called ‘Block Party.’ We just hit it off.”
Of course, the two would go on to work together brilliantly on Winehouse’s debut album Frank and her multi-platinum blockbuster sophomore effort Back To Black. They were recording tracks for her follow-up when the 27-year-old star was found dead in her home in Camden, London in the summer of 2011.
Remi says that his success isn’t just due to his own individual talents, but the fact that he’s encountered personalities like Winehouse’s who are creative and inspired. Collaborating with great artists makes a great producer tap into his own creative potential.
“I couldn’t claim to be a great producer unless I’d been able to come across the talent that I came across,” he explains. “Amy Winehouse made me make music that I wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t met her. That’s what it comes down to. And you have to be able to listen [to artists] and to what’s going on and what people are saying and constantly sharpening your craft. I’m always trying to figure out what I can do that I haven’t done yet. There could be somebody 15 years old right now that in three years is going to be 18 with a story to tell.”