Hip Hop Headquarters sits down with Chicago, IL-based producer, songwriter, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Doug Saltzman a.k.a. dug.
You spell your name in an original way. How did you decide on that?
The spelling of my name actually came by accident. At the time I was working on my first original production and wanted to separate my name from my engineering work. I was in the studio with Denmark Vessey and B Forrest. It was the first real hang I had with them and when we weren’t tracking they were calling everyone “dug”, saying “what up dug?”, or at least that’s what I perceived it as. I was constantly confused but it became this universal name for me. Then when B Forrest was putting out his record “Back to Bodhi”, he sent me the art proofs for the vinyl and he spelled my name Doug “dug” Saltzman in the credits. I just ran with it from there. Thanks B!
What made you decide to devote your life to music?
Music has been a part of my family and life for as long as I can remember. My grandpa was in the music business his entire life and my brother has been killing it on every instrument he picked up, and that created a lot of inspiration early on. This originally got me into playing and once I started I was hooked. Music is the only thing that really feels natural to me in life. I am a pretty introverted and social anxiety ridden human, and as a result, music became my outlet. It just made sense since it is the constant that I can always count on to bring me out of a dark or challenging time. I think when you find something that can remove the illusion of time, you should stick with it.
What’s the first hip-hop song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
The first hip hop song I vividly remember hearing when I was younger was “Big Poppa” by Notorious B.I.G. I was so drawn into the melody and hook that I didn’t realize at the time it was really hip hop, I just loved the contrast of his voice with the instrumentation and it was such a new sound for me. At the time it was also cool to me because it was not something that someone else showed me, I discovered it on my own. Funny enough, I think it was from the movie ‘Hard Ball‘. I listened to this on repeat for weeks.
How did “In Unknown” come together?
I was almost done working on the EP (Keep It Honest) in the summer of 2017. I had the first two songs completely finished and had one at the time that I was trying to wrap up. It just didn’t feel right to me so I ended up scrapping the third song. One night I just sat down at my Juno and came up with the chord progression and it all happened pretty quickly. My actual song writing process is usually pretty fast. The majority of that time is spent tweaking, making things interesting and experimenting a lot with my voice. I started off creating background almost pad-like layers with my voice and out of that sprang a melody and I just went with it. I feel like In Unknown was one of the first songs I really let myself be comfortable with my voice. Most of the track was made in the late hours of the night in my studio apartment in Chicago.
What are your predictions for 2018, for your career and music in general?
As far a my personal aspirations, I think 2018 is going to be genuinely good for me. I want this to be a year that I go all out and really make myself known as an artist as opposed to just a producer and engineer. I’ve spent years helping others develop their sound and bringing other people’s visions to life and as result, I have put my own music on the back burner a bit. I will always continue producing and engineering, but my focus has definitely shifted. My real goal is to just release as much music as possible and stay in true my voice and instincts. I have no desire to sound or be like anyone else and I can only hope that people will enjoy and listen to my music. Music has always been an outlet for me, and I never want that to change. Hopefully there will be more people along for the ride so I can continue to create. I think there is so much dope music out right now. It is sometimes hard to realize that since the market is so over-saturated, but there is really incredible art being made daily and consumers are really seeming to become numb it. The fact that anyone with a computer can record and release a song really provides the opportunity for anyone to be heard, which is a beautiful thing. The challenge is trying to stand out while staying true to yourself and your unique voice.