It's a joy to introduce you guys to the reflective electronic music of Salt Of The Sound, the musical collaboration of London-based husband and wife duo Ben and Anita Tatlow. This will be our fourth CMB-ite Spotlight on the blog, where we talked a little about their journey in music making, their influences, and the story behind their latest release, Journeys.
CMB: How did you get started in music?
Anita: I think that both of us grew up in fairly musical families so music was around us from a young age. For me, my grandmother was a great pianist and taught me to play the piano - I always had a real interest in performing and singing and continued to pursue music at university where Ben and I met.
Ben: My first experience of music production was when I was 12 and I found that a few school computers had a cut-down version of the original Cubase, called Cubasis. I think I was hooked after about an hour of messing around with a MIDI percussion grid and a synth that sounded like a cross between a pan-pipe and falling rain. It appealed to me that this was something that my parents (being classical musicians) had no experience with: from then on I ditched the piano lessons, not the wisest idea in hindsight, and focused my energy on becoming a video-game music composer!
CMB: Who would be your top three non-musical influences?
Anita: Firstly, and by far the most important is God’s influence on our lives as Christians as well as musicians. We have felt a persistent calling over a number years to pursue music as Salt Of The Sound: we are doing this all for His glory. Also, I think that life as a whole (the calm and the storm) has a way of shaping and moulding you in ways you sometimes don’t even know so I am grateful for new experiences every day.
Ben: I’d add to this the beauty of nature - we’ve visited a few places that have been truly awe (and musically) inspiring. Perhaps the one that sticks out the most for me was the desolate landscape of Iceland: volcanic and glacial at the same time.
CMB: How about your top three musical ones?
Anita: Interesting question. I think Ben has wider ranging musical interests than I do. For me, I love the music of Sara Groves - the truth and intimacy of her lyrics are something which I aspire to.
Ben: I think it’s fair to say that our combined musical influences are pretty diverse! I listen to everything from chilled electronic trip-hop through to country & western music, but probably the producers that I most respect at the moment would be Jon Hopkins and Bonobo. Hopkins’ soundtrack to the film Monsters is one of the most beautiful albums of the past 5 years.
CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?
Anita: So, this really is a team effort. Usually, one of us will start with an idea and I’ll sit at the piano and try to piece together the song lyrically, with some kind of hook for the refrain. Sometimes, I’ll have a melodic idea but the lyrics are wrong or I’ll have the lyrics but can’t seem to find the tune that fits so it can be time consuming. I’ll work on a song over a few sessions at the piano and then I’ll play it to Ben who offers a new perspective. But when we’re both happy with how the song sounds acoustically, Ben gets to work recording and producing to create the final result, which can take anywhere between a day and a few weeks to complete! Sometimes the end result is a fair way away from where we started: that’s the beauty of collaborating in this way!
Ben: We originally started discussing making music together back in 2010, but it took a good few years, engagement, and marriage, for us to be in a place where we feel that we’re in the right place to be able to share the message that God has placed on our hearts. Much of the music in the album is us reflecting on our calling as Christians amidst a hectic yet ultimately comfortable London lifestyle.
Our lives are all increasingly dominated by seemingly urgent pieces of information - often the answer can be found in taking a few minutes away and seeking out the presence of God.
Anita: The idea of ‘journeys’ is something which we can all relate to because no matter where you are in your life, it is something which ties us all together. The album has a range of songs which reflect different stages of our journey; some of which we are yet to encounter: the song ‘Coming Home’ is an example of this. But journeys are not always experiences, sometimes the most difficult aspect of a life event can be the emotions which we are faced with. Some of these themes include having hope, patience and endurance which we really are only beginning to explore through the album.
CMB: As a self-produced band, what recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?
Ben: The majority of the production work is software-based, although we do have a few key pieces of kit: a Nord piano, a couple of Rode mics that go nicely with a Focusrite Saffire Pro audio interface, and most importantly decent monitor speakers in the shape of two Yamaha HS80Ms.
All of the mixing and mastering on the album is done through Logic on a desktop Mac machine, which has just enough processing power to deal with the multitude of synths & effects that typically comprise a Salt Of The Sound song. If any producers are reading this and haven’t downloaded the incredible free PSP Vintage Warmer plug-in, get involved! You’re in for a treat...
CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?
Anita: Take time to listen. It can be so hard to carve out time to write songs and feel inspired but it is so important. Nature and the outdoors are very inspirational for both of us, which is one reason behind why we’ve decided to uproot and move from London to Stockholm, Sweden in the new year.
I think being self-aware and self-critical is also important - even though you may have had a great idea (well, you thought it was great!), if it’s not working, move on.
CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?
Ben: Over the past four years we’ve been fortunate to be part of a really supportive church community at Hillside Church in Wimbledon, London, where we have also led with the worship band on piano and percussion. As the original music we write is not traditional ‘worship’ music, we’ve used it more in times of reflection and meditation, usually during communion or to close a service.
We’re excited to explore what God has in store for us in the next chapter of our journey, as we move to a new country and church in January.
CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?
Ben: Our website (link below) is probably the best first port of call. A few samples of our music are on Soundcloud, and we’d love to connect on Facebook or Twitter.
Finally, Journeys just released on 4th November - all being well you’ll be able to find the album on iTunes, Spotify, and all good online music stores from then!