INTERVIEW: Derek Sallmann



Derek Sallmann


I am ending the day by speaking with Derek Sallmann


COVER DESIGN: Brennan Elias Alban-Springer 

about his latest single, Love, Future You. He reveals whether there is more material coming and what the inspiration behind his latest track is; whether there are particular albums/artists that have affected and driven him – Sallmann highlights a rising artist that is worth some time and we should be checking out.

Sallmann discusses when music came into his life and which artist he’d support given the chance; if there will be tour dates coming up and whether the American will come to the U.K. and perform at some stage.


Hi, Derek. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey! I’m doing well and I hope you’re having a great week too! I’ve been busy planning out everything for the single release for my song, Love, Future You.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Definitely! My name is Derek Sallmann and I’m a twenty-three-year-old singer/songwriter based out of the Waukesha/Milwaukee area. I graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2017 with a Biology degree and I was a commuter, so I was able to work on my music and play shows when I wasn’t at school. Biology and music are my two biggest passions.

I released my first album, All Seasons, in 2016, which was composed of ten tunes produced by Tony Schueller of Anton Music Productions in Lannon, WI. After I released that album, I did a lot of co-writing and wrote a lot of different songs - over sxity in the past year alone. I got connected with producer Bill Lefler (Ingrid Michaelson, Dashboard Confessional; Joshua Radin) and we did one song remotely with me in Wisconsin and him in Los Angeles. I sent him the demo of a song and he liked it; he produced the track and sent it back to me to put the vocals on. It was a lot of back and forth, but that’s just kind of the nature of working long-distance like that. Since the track went so well, I decided to travel to L.A. to work with Bill in person on a few more tracks on the E.P.

The E.P. will be titled Love, Future You (the same title as the single) and will be composed of five tracks total. I would describe them as ‘Indie-Pop’ and each song definitely has its own personality. The official release date for the E.P. is December 14th, 2018.

Can you reveal the story behind your latest single, Love, Future You? How did it come together?

Totally! Love, Future You was the first song I co-wrote with my friend Kyler England and we wrote it over the Internet. I had been through this really bad break-up and we talked a lot about how, when you’re in a situation like that, nothing feels like it’s going to get better…even though you know in your heart that it will. We channelled those feelings into this idea of a love-letter from your future-self to your present-self; telling you that everything is going to be alright.

When Bill and I were in the studio we actually sampled a bird call in the song (I love birds and my brother and I run an educational birding show on YouTube called Badgerland Birding) which I thought was really cool. The track came out great and when we were in the studio we thought it would be cool to have Kyler sing background vocals on it. She agreed and added them in later on and it really helped pull the track together.

Might we see more material next year perhaps? How far ahead are you looking?

The rest of the E.P. will be released by the end of this year but, yeah, I’d love to be able to release new music on a consistent basis. I love songwriting and turning an idea into a piece of art. I think the whole process is incredible.

Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?

My parents are both very musical and my dad taught me how to play guitar when I was thirteen-years-old so music has always played a big role in my life. When I was just learning how to play guitar and sing I remember hearing the song Smooth by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas and thinking how amazing it would be to perform that song one day. It just really pulled me in and made me want to be a performer.

It’s amazing how much influence one song can have on your life. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a singer and performer and it took a lot of work from that moment to get to where I am today.


What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

One of my main goals is to get the new E.P. to chart on iTunes. People can help with that by pre-ordering it. I’ll be posting on my website and my social media pages when it’s available for pre-order.

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

Oh, man; there are so many good memories I have from music. One of the main ones is playing on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at Milwaukee’s music festival, Summerfest, with a full band. It was my first full-band show and it was a dream of mine to perform on a big stage at Summerfest. One day, I’d like to be a headliner there.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

That’s a tough question...

Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind

It definitely has had a big impact on me because I listened to it a lot growing up. If I hear any of those songs it brings me right back to my childhood.

Yourself or Someone Like You - Matchbox Twenty

It is really influential to me as well. Matchbox Twenty was one of the bands where I just started liking every song I heard by them. I was a big fan of the song 3AM and listened to that whole album a lot.

I’ve also really enjoyed Lauv’s i met you when i was 18. (the playlist)

All the songs are so honest and catchy and I think it’s inspiring that he produced a lot of them himself.


If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Good question. There are so many options. I think I would have to say Ed Sheeran. I’m a big fan of his music and work ethic and he seems like a really fun guy to hang out with.

I think the rider (if it really can be anything) would include having puppies on the tour bus at all times; allowing me to talk about animal conservation at some point in the show and unlimited bottles of raspberry iced tea.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I would tell them to write as much as possible and be obsessed. It’s easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing, but do your best to stay focused on working hard every day and creating goals you can achieve on a daily basis. It’s definitely a grind and it’s important to keep at it.

Also; keep in mind that there’s not really anyone who is successful because of just luck. Those who are at the top (99% of the time) put in the work to get there. It’s not a mistake, even if it looks like it. Just keep in mind that if you put in the work you will get to where you want to be.

There’s that phrase “Everybody wants to be the beast, but not everybody wants to do what the beast does.” I think that’s a big part of it. Everybody wants to be successful, but not everybody wants to put in the work. Put in the work, show-up every day and don’t give up. 

Also, don’t let other people discourage you. Be able to take criticism but assess whether it’s valid or not before moving forward. There are always going to be people who don’t agree with what you’re doing and that’s okay. Surround yourself with other hard-working musicians. That way, you can all motivate and encourage each other.


Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?

I have a few shows coming up to finish off the year but most of them are private events. I’m taking part in a songwriting retreat at the end of October and will be planning an album release party in honor of the new E.P. I’ll be posting on about the date for that as well as my other social media pages along with a few other tour dates I’m finalizing at the moment.

Will you come to the U.K. and play at some point?

I’d like to. I don’t have any plans to go there on my tour schedule at the moment but the future is wide open right now.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Kris Angelis

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Definitely! My friend Kris Angelis just released a new E.P. that Bill Lefler actually produced as well. I really enjoy listening to her music and she has a great voice. Check her out.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I do actually. I work with an organization called The Friends of the Mukwonago River and part of my job is leading paddle events, bird walks and hikes. Additionally, my brother and I run the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel and I run my own called Badgerland Fishes. A lot of the work we do for the channels involves going out and exploring, fishing; snorkelling and other fun activities that help me relax and recharge.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Sweet! I’d recommend Kris Angelis’ song, Stained Glass (smiles)


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