More than any technical obstacle, and very often more than any artistic or inspirational challenge, very often the single biggest enemy of music making is time. Finding a way to comfortably develop ideas anywhere, therefore, is a godsend. And some of our favorite artists are the ones who’ve found a way to simply keep producing. Whether it’s a laptop, a gameboy, a manuscript notebook, or indeed an Apple tablet, it’s always nice to see some of the tools that make music creation mobile and inspiration always-accessible.

Chicago-raised, LA-based artist Salva has been lighting up the radar of a lot of DJs, cities, and outlets like Resident Advisor and FACT, and recently was accepted to teach a session be a participant at Red Bull Music Academy. He’s also been lighting up the radar of air traffic controllers — all of that success and endless gigs mean some time on the road. He’s swapped his laptop for an iPad in order to keep writing. Here, we get to watch as Paul Salva constructs music from scratch using Tabletop, a modular creation environment for the iPad.

Check out the step-by-step process in the video at top, as Salva constructs a tune. Found via Prefix Magazine, which notes Salva is appearing alongside the likes of some other artists we love – Sepalcure and Starkey, among others – in an upcoming compilation:

Salva, Sepalcure, Starkey Appear On Frite Nite Comp [Prefix Magazine, an excellent and prolific source of music reporting]

Retronyms, the developers of Tabletop, were naturally excited by what Salva was doing with their software. “We had a good time working with him,” says Retronyms’ Keith Pishnery, “as he gave us a invaluable feedback during the beta stage as well as really pushing the limit of the app in his demo songs. For version 1, he created a custom 808 kit, but has plans to create more sounds for other instruments in a future update.”

Retronyms have also done an interview with Paul on their blog, as well as the video chat here, which elaborates on the step-by-step vid above.

Tabletop Q+A: Salva (Frite Nite/Friends of Friends)

Paul tells CDM a little bit more about what he’s doing:

Salva himself; photo by SPACE CAT.

How’s the iPad fitting into production — or is this just a one-off here?

Paul: As relates to my setup, Tabletop has now become a writing tool for me on the road and at home. I started working with Retronyms on Tabletop a few months back, and the more I worked on it in the development stages, the more I got hooked. I’m working on more content — synth/sample patches, drum machine kits, etc. to offer up for the next round.

Now that I’ve integrated the iPad, TouchOSC is another universally awesome tool which helps me integrate with any midi-ready device that I use alongside Serato and Ableton. For device communication, really stoked about Korg’s WIST technology [wireless “sync-start” used in Korg’s iPad apps] as well, which Tabletop utilizes too.

What’s the rest of your rig like?

Like most producers I know, I utilize a hybrid of software and hardware. I love analog synths, but I use a lot of virtual instruments as well. I use Logic and Ableton in my production process for DAWs, a bunch of outboard gear and turntables and mic recording play a big part. My studio is growing with lots of vintage goodies as fast as I’m able to collect!!

Or, as Salva puts it to Retronyms, “Late mornings in bed on the weekend, in the airport, chillin’ on the couch — its nice to have a little portable studio for some creative time.”

Some Tech: A Little About Tabletop

Let’s back up here for a moment and have a look at Tabletop, for those of you with iPads or curious about the app. It was just released at the end of July.

The model’s interesting: you get a selection of modules (a launch special nets 15 of them for five bucks), and then add on others you need as in-app purchases.

Out of the box, you get:

RS3 – Polyphonic Keyboard
Gridlok – Touchpad Sampler
M8RX – Tone Matrix
Filtr LP – Low-Pass Filter Effect
SpinBack – Turntable Player
Mr. O – Master Output
Goblin MX8 – Eight-Channel Mixer
T101-Triggerator – Sequencer/Master Controller
Recorder M2 – Input Recorder

And as in-app purchases, you can add:

Ekko – Delay Effect
Filtr BP – Band-Pass Filter Effect
Verve – Reverb Effect
Xpand – Chorus/Flanger Effect
Goblin MX4-FX – Four-Channel Mixer with Sends
XFade – Crossfading Mixer


Nearly 300 unique sounds including multisample instruments, loops, and phrases.
Record sequences, arrange into songs
Adjustable quantization (pre- and post-record)
Recordable parameter automation
Overdub and replace record modes
Trigger sequences and patterns live
Sampling via internal mic and line in
Adjustable tempo via tap or dial
Import/export sounds via iTunes File Transfer
Support for imported .mid phrases
Undo history
44Khz, studio-quality audio
WIST compatibility (Korg’s Wireless Sync-Start Technology)
Import sounds from dozens of apps with AudioPaste

Retronyms Tabletop

Some Music Listening: Salva Mixes

Yeah, iPad, um, schmiPad. We do want to actually hear music, the tool aside. So Paul was nice enough to compile for us some recent mixes. Plenty of stuff to grab, and some great listening for your weekend.

And yes, these count as very eclectic, especially taken together. You might hate one and love another, hate them all … but I think it’s good stuff, with delicious bass.

I’m downloading them now:

Resident Advisor Friends of Friends Mix (Salva + Lazy Brow)

01. Mexicans with Guns – El Moreno ft. Helado Negro
02. Burial – Shell of Light (Shlohmo Remix)
03. Kelis – Milkshake (Shlohmo Remix)
04. Robot Koch – Overnight ft. Jahcoozi
05. Salva – Keys Open Doors (Devonwho Remix)
06. Larytta – You Got Nothing
07. Gun Selectah – Villa Ghetto (LOL Boys Remix)
08. Gun Selectah – Villa Ghetto
09. Beans – Blue Movie (Salva Remix)
10. Groundislava – My Unexpected Return to Olympia
11. Asura – Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey)
12. Groundislava – I Bet I Do (Supa Blanco)
13. Shlohmo – Just Us

XLR8R Podcast 189: Salva

01 Lando Kal “Run It”
02 Tete De Tigre “Pelican Bay” (Squelch & Clap)
03 Twist It! “Funky Monkey (Canblaster Dub)” (No Brainer)
04 HxdB & Self Evident “New Stylee”
05 PhOtOmachine “Technicolor” (Super)
06 Gun Selectah “Villa (LOL Boys Remix)” (Friends of Friends)
07 DJ Wreck “On Top of Bass feat. Lock Cool Jock” (Triangle Earth)
08 Distal “Apple Bottom”
09 Bok Bok “Look At Me DUB”
10 DJG “Automatic” (Brownswood)
11 Distal “Manimal”
12 Think “Our Texture” (New Moon)
13 B. Bravo & Teeko “The Roll Out” (All City)
14 Jacques Greene “Another Girl” (LuckyMe)
15 Machinedrum “No Respect” (LuckyMe)
16 Kahn “Like We Used To” (Punch Drunk)
17 Braille “Leavin Without You” (Rush Hour)
18 Rainbow Arabia “Blind (Salva Remix)”
19 Canblaster “Clockwork” (Nightshifters)
20 Canblaster “Clockwork (NastyNasty Edit)”
21 Comma “Mezcal Hologram (Om Unit Remix)” (Frite Nite)
22 Eprom “2 Fly (Juke Mix)”
23 Dorian Concept “Toe Games Make Her Giggle” (Ninja Tune)
24 Shlohmo “Places” (Friends of Friends)

Salva Mixtape @ International Tapes

1. Krystal Klear – Tried For Your Love (Hud Mo Remix)
2. Lone – Cloud 909
3. Jacques Greene – Holdin On
4. Thunderball – Runaway (Ghosts On Tape Remix)
5. Le Le – Breakfast (Lando Kal Remix)
6. Salva – Mag Clips (Ango Remix)
7. Salva – I’ll Be Your Friend
8. Lone – Petcrane Beach
9. Groove Patrol – Need Your Love (Original Mix)
10. Azari & III – Reckless With Your Love
11. Mr. Fingers – For So Long
12. Logic – The Final Frontier (The Groove)

Also, a mix for LuckyMe:
LuckyMe Mix Tapes (scroll down for 89. Salva 10th Day Feng Shui Footwork Mixtape)