We pick the hottest new acts so you can tell your friends you heard them first. Meet Melbourne artist and composer Albert Salt who is crafting eclectic and introspective genre-spanning pop music.
You’d be hard pressed trying to sum up the eclectic musical catalogue of multi-faceted Melbourne artist and composer Albert Salt in just a few words.
His list of influences – and the genres he pulls from them – are worlds apart. From Pharrell to Maroon 5, The Neptunes to The 1975, Radiohead, Nils Frahm, A Tribe Called Quest…the list goes on.
But in between it all, there is Albert Salt. Distinctly carving out his own musical path and seamlessly spanning genres and projects, yet somehow managing to pull it all into a package that is instantly recognizable as his own.
Hailing from Hamilton in country Victoria, Salt’s introduction to music was very early on. His musical parents led him to the violin when he was three years old, and the piano when he was four. From there classical music became jazz and more contemporary sounds, until he discovered Radiohead and his true musical path was set.
But that’s not to say his path has been conventional. Throughout his career, Albert Salt has crafted neoclassical film scores, started a synth-pop duo with Melbourne-based producer Flamingo Jones, recorded a string of mash-up covers, and that’s before we dive into his solo discography.
Salt first gained attention following the release of his debut record, Dearest Stranger in 2011. Its lead single ‘Fear & Loathing’ earned support from triple j Unearthed and led to him being named an Unearthed High finalist in the same year. He followed his debut with a succession of EPs, before the release of his sophomore album Wilson Street in 2015.
In 2017 Juno Disco was born, and in 2019 the tropical dance-duo released their debut self-titled EP and hit the road together. But Albert Salt, never one to slow down, continued releasing a string of one-off singles under his own name, leading to his first solo major body of work in five years, 2020 EP 25 Not Doing Alright before kicking off the new year with single ‘Think It’s Time To Get A Job’ – which clocked immediate rotation on Double J and spins across triple j.
And that is where we meet Salt, with his latest single ‘Family Tree’. Offering a stunning take on alternative pop, the track delves into the closing doors of relationships. After seeing the newly formed Radiohead side project The Smile perform a livestream for Glastonbury this year, Albert Salt was inspired to write a Krautrock song.
This only adds to the eclectic nature of his catalogue, further building on his unique, introspective pop soundscapes and promising that there is plenty more still in store.
Albert Salt has shared the stage with the likes of Client Liaison, Kele, Boy & Bear, Jinja Safari, Safia, Luke Million, and Julia Stone. The score for his first feature film with acclaimed composer and conductor Nicholas Buc, Slant, is due for release in 2022.
After I had recorded the instrumental I got to work on the lyrics. With my most recent EP and last single I had drawn from extremely personal situations to write the lyrics, and found that it had been my best work despite it being very revealing and intimidating. I decided to go down the same path with this song and it explores the aftermath of the ending of close friendship but framed in a way to make it appear as if it was a romantic relationship.Albert Salt on writing his new single ‘Family Tree’
To celebrate his new single ‘Family Tree’, we sat down with Albert Salt to get to know him better.
Check out ‘Family Tree’ by Albert Salt:
The Albert Salt Story
From the beginning
Albert Salt: “I started making music when I was 12. I grew up playing violin and piano from an early age, but I always really wanted to write and record music. I think my dream as a kid was probably to be a producer/songwriter behind the scenes and write music for pop artists, like Timbaland and Pharrell.
“I was always obsessed with the idea of keyboards hooked up to computers. When I started high school, I got into jazz and was fortunate enough to have limited access to music recording software which I learnt how to use and started writing my own music. At first it was all kind of jazzy electronic improvised stuff but later I started writing songs and singing. I wrote a few demo EPs, and then finally released my first album when I was 17, which very conveniently coincided with the triple j Unearthed High comp.”
What you’ll hear
“My sound draws upon a lot of different influences. I’ve always gravitated towards artists that blend multiple genres together and are constantly evolving their sound, and I guess I’ve shared this philosophy ever since I started writing music.
“You can definitely hear the influence of my favourite artists and my film work in my music. Everything from A Tribe Called Quest to Steve Reich to Nelly Furtado along with my classical upbringing which I think gives a really nice Salty flavour.”
Influences & inspirations
“My biggest influences are Radiohead, Trent Reznor, The 1975, Beck, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh and Norm MacDonald who tragically passed away this week which really hit me hard. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a hero of mine pass away and it really is just devastating. I really can’t believe he’s gone.
“He was someone that was completely uncompromising when it came to his craft and really a true genius in every sense of the word. If you’re reading this and you’ve never checked him out before, do yourself a favour and go down the Norm Youtube rabbit hole. The funniest person to have ever lived.”
On new single ‘Family Tree’
“I wrote the song fairly shortly after the release of ‘Think It’s Time To Get A Job’ during the fourth lockdown in Melbourne.
“The new Radiohead side band The Smile had just performed at the Glastonbury online festival, and I was really blown away with what they were making, and their track ‘We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings’ has this great Krautrock beat. Initially I attempted to make a Krautrock song but ended up going in a very different direction.
“The Silversun Pickups track ‘Lazy Eye’ was also a big influence on the vocal delivery in the chorus. Lyrically, the idea came about when hanging out with one of my good friends and discussing what the next song should be about. I decided to write about the ending of a very close friendship of both of ours. I recorded and produced it all in my studio at home, then sent it off to all of my usual collaborators.
“My Juno Disco bandmate Nick Bond did the mix, Joe Carra at Crystal Mastering did the master, and then James Vinson made the artwork. I then made the videoclip at home using rear screen projection and took influence from The Strokes’ ‘Repitilia’ videoclip.”
For the love of music
“It’s hard to say because it’s something that’s so intrinsically me, and I don’t think about it much. But I think it’s probably the only time that I really live in the moment. I’ve never been able to successfully meditate, but I imagine that’s kind of what it’s like.
“When I’m onto something, whether it’s a great chord progression for a song or an interesting synth sound for a film score, I’ll disappear into it for a certain amount of time and when I finish and look back it feels like ‘How did that happen?” I’ve noticed this is a pretty common sentiment among artists.”
“My biggest achievement would have to be completing the score for Slant with Nicholas Buc. We just finished mixing yesterday. And while it’s kind of stopped and started due to the pandemic, it really has been like a marathon.
“We made over 80 minutes of music for the film, which in context is the same amount of music there is in the original Star Wars. It’s been such an insanely amazing and rewarding experience, we recorded an orchestra remotely in Macedonia last week which was a lot of fun, and I just can’t bloody wait for people to see it!
“It was incredible working with Nick who actually was my composition teacher in high school and is without a doubt the most talented musician I’ve ever met. There is no way I would’ve been able to get to the finish line and with a result like we did without him.”
Overcoming struggle town
“Definitely finishing SLANT. In the beginning it really was like being at the bottom of a mountain and thinking ‘How the heck am I going to do this?’ But having Nick bring his expertise to the table and being able to bounce ideas back and forth and having such a long time with the film before production really helped us come up with a musical vocabulary for the film with James Vinson (Director).
“I realised the other day that the first piece of music written was in January 2020 and we’ve only just finished, so we’ve been with it for a long time. I think everyone in my life is sick of me talking about it.”
The year ahead
“It all kind of feels like it’s wrapping up for me soon. I’ve just completed the score for SLANT and ‘Family Tree’ coming out is my main focus for the next bit, but my band Juno Disco will be releasing our new EP House Of Juno on October 29 and after that I’ll get to work on my next record over the summer! It’s been probably my busiest year yet and I’m really keen to just keep going!”
Essential Albert Salt Listening
Albert Salt – 25
“This one was funny because I really didn’t have that much faith in it initially. I’d written the 25 Not Doing Alright EP in Nov/Dec 2019 and had always thought this was one of the weaker songs on the record. I sent the demo EP to my friend Ben who really talked me into thinking about it as a single and when I sent it to Nick Bond to mix he was like ‘This is the track!’ He worked his magic on it, shortened the intro, and it sounded so bloody great and ended up being the defining/most popular track of the record.”
Albert Salt – Daylesford
“This was the third single from 25 Not Doing Alright and was written at the beginning of 2019, after the ending of a long term relationship. It was initially never intended to be released due to the extremely personal nature of the song and I don’t think I showed anyone it until maybe midway through last year. But once I did, I was convinced to release it. I was so anxious about putting it out, I remember the day it came out and people being really knocked back by it. I think it’s the best song I’ve ever written.”
Albert Salt – Shade Your Eyes
“I think this is one of my most overlooked tracks partly due to myself not really releasing things properly at the time. It’s a great trip-hop inspired track for fans of Massive Attack and Portishead with some really great lyrics from Patrick Dower. He’s not happy with me at the moment as I’ve been writing my own lyrics but we will definitely do something again in the future.”
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