An important figure in the rise of both house music and hip-hop in Auckland, Rob Salmon is originally from Dunedin but grew up in West Auckland.
As a 16-year old schoolboy and DJ, he was running underage parties on Sundays at Auckland’s Box, when he was spotted by the club’s owner Simon Grigg and offered a job as a trainee DJ in 1990.
He was soon a tastemaker and a major player in the music scene centred on Auckland’s High Street.
Within six months Salmon was the resident DJ, garnering a large following with his often lengthy DJ sets at the club. He was soon a tastemaker and a major player in the music scene centred on Auckland’s High Street, working extensively with other musicians and acts playing or creating as part of that inner-city creative hotbed.
Parallel to his club DJing, Salmon was also a third of Leaders of Style, with schoolmates Zane Lowe and Ollie Green, an important early Auckland hip-hop trio who changed their name to Urban Disturbance in 1993 and released an album and several singles for Kane Massey’s DeepGrooves label. In 1994 Urban Disturbance would win Most Promising Group at the New Zealand Music Awards.
Salmon’s Box residency lasted until 1995 when he moved to New York City and was replaced by Greg Churchill.
In New York Salmon continued both his DJing career and his production work, releasing his first single ‘Running Towards A Dream’ – a highly regarded collaboration with legendary NY dance producer Rob Rives – via Deep Dish’s Washington DC based Yoshitoshi label in 2001. The record was a global club hit and the duo followed it with a sequel on the same label the next year. A series of singles followed for NYC-based labels, including Chez Music, one of the labels of the moment.
In 2003 he was commissioned by Virgin to remix The Human League’s ‘Love Action’, released globally as part of their remix package that same year.
Returning south, Salmon was based in Auckland (2003 to 2005) then Sydney (2005 to 2009), thereafter returning to New York where he has been based since.
He has since released over a dozen singles on various New York labels and is still a heavily booked working DJ.
The Alexander Turnbull Library has chosen Rob Salmon's work for preservation as part of the National Digital Heritage Archive.
Leaders of Style - back: Oli Green and Rob Salmon, front: Zane Lowe
Rob Salmon & Rob Rives - Running Towards A Dream (Rob Salmon Re-edit)
Urban Disturbance - Zane Lowe, Rob Salmon, Oli Green
Murray Cammick Collection
Rob Salmon at Box, 1995
Photo by Simon Grigg
Rob Salmon at the Sydney Opera House Bar, 2006
Urban Disturbance - Impressions
Rob Salmon & Rob Rives - Shop Talk
Rob Salmon outside Auckland record store BPM, High Street, November 1995.