Feature: L.A. Salami – My 5 Biggest Influences

For our latest ‘My 5 Biggest Influences’ feature, we spoke to L.A. Salami, who releases his new record The Cause Of Doubt & a Reason to Have Faith on July 17th.

‘My 5 Biggest Influences’ is when we talk to some of our favourite upcoming and established artists, delving into their greatest influences and inspirations, to see how bands, records, tracks, friends & family, hobbies and even environments have impacted on their work and music.

More about the new LP below, but first, here are L.A. Salami’s 5 Biggest Influences…


Conway is part of a trio from Buffalo, USA, called Griselda (Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn being the other two). Conway is a god to me. Griselda are re-igniting the flame of lyric based hip hop / gangster rap – whatever you choose to call it – and out of all of them, Conway is the one who consistently and relentlessly speaks to my soul. The first time I heard him was three years ago now – It was a song called ‘Bishop Shot Steel’ from the album G.O.A.T. It’s a song about the betrayal of a friend. From then I was hooked. And he’s only grown more bold with his output since.

I get so excited whenever he’s releasing a project, something I rarely feel about any music these days, and releasing music is something he does often. As I type this he has released two projects this year and is getting ready to release a new album in a few weeks. His lived experiences come alive when I listen to him – I’m there, and I am fully immersed, and have yet to get bored in any way with his stories. Listening to his music is like going to the movies, every line is like a gut punch, every producer he chooses to work with elevates his voice and absorbs me completely. As I’m typing this, I’m listening to his latest release, Front Lines. It is a great honour to witness a legend be born.


As someone who is a retroactive fan of talk shows such as Dick Cavett, Michael Parkinson (he retired when I was one, so only caught the last part of his career), and even William F. Buckley, I appreciate Joe Rogan and his podcast immensely. In an era in which masculinity has become somewhat demonised, and mainstream media has failed us all by limiting expression and thought by focusing on partisan, identity focused nonsense issues, Joe Rogan is a shining beacon. Like the legendary talk show hosts I mentioned, Joe Rogan has people on from all walks of life, with all different types of backgrounds, ideas and opinions; it is often on in the background, and I can learn about all sorts of things as Joe Rogan talks to his guests. He is an international treasure. We must protect him at all costs.


I could sit here and wax lyrical about how much of a genius Joanna Newsom is – Or about how much of an influence she had on me ever since I found The Milk-Eyed Mender on a recommendation shelf in HMV, back when you could sample the records in-store – Or how I stood there and listened to the album in it’s entirety and fell in love with this mysterious woman and her mystic fairy-tale language and harp playing – Or how my heart broke when I read that she’d married Andy Samberg before I ever had the chance to meet, and propose to her. I could do all that happily, but today I’m going to just highlight the song ‘Only Skin’, which is featured on her masterpiece album Ys.

I have cried to this song countless times and I still have no idea what it’s actually about. I’ve never looked it up, nor have I ever felt obliged to. It is pure magic and that’s all I need to know. It’s 16 minutes long and it always feels like it ends too soon. The poetry in it is immense, uncontainable, eternal. It affected me so deeply and has stayed in the core of my being ever since.


Allen Ginsberg is, in my opinion (and i’m sure to many would agree), one of the most important poets to ever live. ‘Howl’ is a masterpiece of his. It had a profound affect on my writing growing up. He encapsulates the rhythm and philosophy of the Beatnik in the most fully realised manner in a way that appears effortless. I come back to this book a lot. ;In the Baggage Room at Greyhound; is one of my favourites in it, but it can change often.


I could fill this influence list with all blues musicians, but for the sake of variety I’ve limited an entry to one spot. It was between this and Willie Dixon’s ‘Weak Brain, Narrow Mind’. I chose this simply because it is stuck to the surface of my mind at the moment. To me, blues folk is the purest form of music – the source of all modern pop culture. To have “The Blues” to me, means simply to be able to channel the power of the universe through guitar and voice. To be talented. Some people have it, some people don’t. Some people have perfect singing voices, but they just don’t have “The Blues.” Because the structure of the blues is so consistent, a hundred people could play the same song, and from those hundred, you would see that only a precious few had “The Blues.” Mississippi Fred McDowell is one of those people. And this performance is simply the blues incarnate. People like him are why I felt I could pick up a guitar and express myself. Thank you Freddy.

Purveyor of rap, psychedelic folk, and sultry grooves, L.A. Salami is set to release his upcoming album The Cause of Doubt & a Reason to Have Faith, which is being released on July 17th.

The new album sees Lookman Adekunle Salami explore new experimental ground, touching on a bit of everything which venture into extended hypnotic jams. Lookman describes the inspiration behind his new album: “I love the deliberateness, cleanness and colour of modern music, but I also miss the complete chaos of old, like some Captain Beefheart and Velvet Underground records, or even 90s HipHop records with the peaking 808s and static compressed vocals al la Wu Tang, or blues records like Robert Johnson’s. Somewhere in there is the carnival I’ve been searching for. This entire album could very well be a love letter to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.”

Earlier this month, he released new single, ‘The Cage’ – a song about feeling like you’re going crazy, which for most of us is probably pretty relatable as we’ve been being trapped inside our own houses for the past 8-weeks! The video for the new single features Lookman and was made in lockdown by producers Ruff Mercy: “I suppose this video represents my tearing up of old dead plans and re-establishing who I am and what I am and what the world means to me in lieu of what it really is to itself in the universe where we are simply organism that reside on it. I fell in love with the Ruff Mercy collective and instantly thought that the style would suit the single version of the song.”

Lookman began writing poetry at a very early age, which then evolved into writing lyrics and he then self-taught himself the guitar aged 21. Fostered from birth, Lookman was periodically re-united with his birth mother from the age of 5, which he describes as being emotionally confusing, “I find it rears its ugly head consistently in my life, and music became one of the easiest ways to release that pressure valve every so often.”

L.A. Salami’s two albums to date, Dancing With Bad Grammar (2016) and The City of Bootmakers (2018), have seen the London-based artist present a singular vision. His evocative, poetic lyrics span everything from grand existential questions to vignettes of everyday life as well as the affairs and anxieties of modern Britain.

For more info, head to: www.lasalami.com


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