Albert Salt's new EP 25 Not Doing Alright, is out now! We chat to the musician about the release and more.
Melbourne songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and film composer Albert Salt recently unveiled his long-awaited new EP 25 Not Doing Alright. The 6-track release features singles Daylesford, 25 and Even Out and marks the musicians first major body of work since his 2015 record Wilson Street.
Written and produced by Salt himself, 25 Not Doing Alright examines the all too familiar quarter-life tale of an individual trying to find their place in the world. The project also marks the musicians second venture without long-time collaborator and lyricist Patrick Dower.
Salt has had a busy year, working and releasing his latest EP, scoring his debut feature film, working on new Juno Disco material whilst also recording and releasing YouTube covers from his home studio, including epic cover of one of Miley Cyrus’ new songs, Midnight Sky, effortlessly infusing elements of Chic’s I Want Your Love, Stevie Nicks’ Edge Of Seventeen and Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around Comes Around.
25 Not Doing Alright is out now! Read our interview with Albert Salt below.
Tell us a bit how you began your musical journey…
I started playing violin when I was 3, and then started learning piano the following year (my parents are music teachers). I grew up learning classical music and then later got into jazz and then pop. I started writing and recording music around the beginning of high school.
Your new EP 25 Not Doing Alright, examines the all too familiar quarter-life tale of an individual trying to find their place in the world. How important was it for you to explore and document this theme as you were experiencing it in real time?
I think writing the music was a fantastic outlet for me to express how I was feeling at the time. I’m not sure how much importance I put on it though, I kind of just had this burst of creativity and probably wasn’t super aware of what I was creating, it all just kind of came out. It wasn’t until all the primary songwriting was finished I could step back and realise what I was documenting.
You opted to write and produce the release entirely yourself, marking the second body of work in your career without your long-time collaborator and lyricist Patrick Dower. What prompted you to undertake this project alone?
The vast majority of the EP was written in December last year at an extremely quick pace. I started writing the lyrics to Even Out and when that was done I realised that this would be a very personal record and that I had to write the lyrics myself.
It’s been five years between the release of Wilson Street and 25 Not Doing Alright. What new knowledge and experiences are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating Wilson Street?
A lot of life experience. I was 21 when Wilson Street came out and I’m now 26. A lot of growing up has been done in that period of time and that has had a big impact and informed not only the songwriting but also the ‘business’ side of things.
You’ve released some great visuals for the previously released songs on the EP. How important are the visuals to you when it comes to conveying the story and meaning present on the track and how involved are you in the creative process?
Thank you! I’m extremely involved in the creative process and do it all myself. That’s probably what I’ve learnt most this year. Having quite a bit of time off I was able to get stuck into film making and due to the restrictions in Melbourne, this limitation led to some creative ideas. Specifically using my TV as a backlight for the 25 video.
I think visuals are unbelievably important to the music. These days with Instagram etc. you need to have some form of visual to accompany the music for people to stay engaged. And while I do don’t really enjoy that ‘marketing’ aspect of thinking, I’ve found the best thing to do is to treat it like how I’d make music and have a lot of fun with it.
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners, and what messages do you hope they take away from the EP?
I don’t know, I don’t really have any message for people to take on. The EP is really just me being as personal as possible. I feel like when you do that, it can be weirdly relatable for people and they can draw parallels to their own lives. I think that’s why the “25 Not Doing Alright” line has stuck with so many people.
You put together a pretty epic cover of one of Miley Cyrus’ new songs, Midnight Sky, infusing elements of Chic’s I Want Your Love, Stevie Nicks’ Edge Of Seventeen and Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around Comes Around so effortlessly! How much fun did you have putting this rendition together and what was the genesis of this mashup?
A lot! Miley Cyrus was on the press tour for Midnight Sky and I watched a short interview of hers and then decided to check out the song and immediately noticed the reference to Edge Of Seventeen. So I decided to put my own spin on it. With the mashup side of things, I’ll start off covering a song and then naturally other songs just pop up in my head that I’ll work in. There’s never ever any intention to put heaps of things together it all just happens very organically.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
Basically I’ll start off in my studio, I’ll open up a Logic session and start playing around with different instruments and recording things in. And then I’ll just build from there. the writing and recording process almost always happens at the same time. I rarely come to a session with a song fully formed. I’ll get the instrumental section of the song done in that one session generally, and then I’ll come back to it and improvise vocal melodies and lyrics over the top. Once I hit something good like the 25 Not Doing Alright chorus, I’ll build everything from there. Then once I’m all done on my end, I’ll send it off to Nick Bond for him to mix, it then goes off to mastering and then it’s all done!
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts?
Some of my favourites unfortunately aren’t active anymore but I’lls, Seekae, Gotye, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Slum Sociable, Gordi, Ecca Vandal, Sampa The Great, Harvey Sutherland, Mildlife, Hiatus Coyote
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’ve been extremely fortunate during the pandemic and have really thrived creatively due to having so much free time. But I can imagine it has been extremely unmotivating for most.
You’ve spent the year scoring your debut feature film. How has that experience differed to the creation of your solo music?
It’s all still in early stages at the moment, the film was meant to go into production this year but due to COVID has been pushed back. But it’s been great working on it. It’s called Slant and will be directed by my long-time friend/collaborator James Vinson who I worked with on Lobby Hero last year. He also did the artwork for the EP!
It’s extremely freeing. There is absolutely no structure, and you don’t have to really abide by any rules. It’s all about getting the audience to feel what the director is trying to convey through the film. And while I don’t put any limitations on myself when it comes to my solo music, I’m still generally writing within a pop structure.
You’ve also been working on new Juno Disco material. Can you give us any hint on what listeners can expect from the new tracks?
We’ve got a new single out tomorrow called You’re So Hung Up On My Colours. Which is an absolute bop and we’ll have a new EP out next year. This new single has an absolute killer bass line and is a continuation of what we’ve been doing so far. Next year we’ll be heading in a slightly different and dancier direction.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live, what are your touring plans post pandemic? If any, what can people expect from an Albert Salt live show?
I’m in the process of rejigging the live show at the moment. I’ve brought on my friend Harry Cantwell to play synths. My drummer Lachie Bubb is in QLD for the time being, so we’re looking at using sequencers and a stack of synths and drum machines and playing very different versions of the songs live which is fun. And when Lachie is back in town we’ll rock out extremely hard. Very much looking forward to playing a rock’n’roll show.
Radiohead, Trent Reznor, Massive Attack, Beck.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
In Rainbows / Songs About Jane.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Very, very eclectic.
Best release of 2020?
I haven’t actually listened to much new music this year. I tend not to listen to a lot of new stuff while in the process of making a record so I don’t endlessly go back and fiddle with things. But Midnight Sky slaps and also Sheena Is A Bush Doofer and Post Madonna by Harris. Oh and the new 1975 record! Legend! It’s a good one.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The Clovehitch Killer (which I rewatched it the other day).
The most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Boy & Bear at Max Watts.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Speakerboxxx / The Love Below.
Best concert you have ever attended?
Beck at Margaret Court Arena.
Last concert you went to?
I think it might have been the Animaux reunion show at The Evelyn last Christmas?
Guilty music pleasure?
I am definitely a guilt free music enjoyer, but I guess Nelly Furtado / Gwen Stefani.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a One Direction boy? And why?
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your Spice nickname be?
The most amount of people you’ve ever performed in front of?
I think 1000?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
Louis Cole would be very fun.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
I think Radiohead was hugely influential with the pay what you want idea for In Rainbows. It has kind of informed the state of where we’re at now for better or worse.
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
Keep fucking working.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Hahaha I don’t think I’ve had a choice.