Meet Albert Salt, who returns with Even Out, after having never really left
Amongst film scores, playing alongside Gordi and his work with Juno Disco, Melbourne-based musician Albert Salt doesn't keep still.
Albert Salt never goes too long without creating something.
Even Out, his first single in two years, is as much a return as it is a reiteration. If the mantle of Albert Salt had gone quiet following 2018’s Evaline, the voracious muso poured himself into film scores, studio sessions and Juno Disco, the synth-pop project that paired him with Flamingo Jones. Even as he steps out on his own, Albert’s preparing to play violin alongside Australian sensation Gordi at the Sydney Opera House – at least, that’s the plan.
The last two years saw Salt tour alongside Luke Million, who called Juno Disco “the new wave of upcoming talent”; release a score inspired by Kenneth Lonergan’s 2001 play, Lobby Hero; and, more recently, record a string of unexpected covers-turned-mashups – t.A.T.u and Radiohead? Maroon 5 and Mac DeMarco? Even Out finds Albert channelling this ever-expanding catalogue into propulsive basslines, intricate percussion and fragmented mantras, all key players in the powerfully acute alt-pop single.
If the track is “a reset button” for Salt, it’s owing to a new handful of influences, most notably Pharrell, The Neptunes and J Dilla. There’s a skittish energy to the dense instrumental, and even as it slips into a steady dance rhythm, it pulls the vocal deeper into a catchy vortex of fear, longing, hardship and introspection. Albert’s the first to admit his relationship with influence is subtle, and whilst those early-2000s hitmakers might seem at odds with Radiohead, Massive Attack, Nils Frahm and CAN, nobody’s better equipped to find a dance-ready fusion at that unlikely junction.
Listen to the track below, and better introduce yourself to the Melbourne-based musician underneath that:
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Albert Salt, I'm a 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and film composer from Melbourne. I grew up as a classical musician, so I was playing violin when I was three and piano when I was four. I eventually got into jazz and contemporary music, then got into Radiohead and it kind of changed my life.
It was definitely a defining moment for me, finding them. Also Maroon 5's first album, Songs About Jane. I realized recently that it's kinda the best way to describe my music – a combination of Radiohead and the first Maroon 5 album. Every now and then we have a whole bunch of people around get really drunk and go "let's listen to Maroon 5”... but the best Maroon 5 track ever is not on an album, it's on the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack – Woman.
I'm also a big alternative hip-hop fan. MF DOOM, A Tribe Called Quest, Illmatic...
What’s the vibe music-wise?
I've always had an extremely eclectic taste in music. I mean, the best way to describe it to someone would be like a combination of Radiohead and Songs About Jane, with maybe some J Dilla, Pete Rock influence in there as well. That's the thing – my music is so all over the place, like I've done a dance record, I do neoclassical film scores, I've been listening to a lot of Krautrock stuff recently, so that's been influencing everything. I always feel like there’s an Albert Salt flavour... you can always tell us a track by me if you listen to it, but there are so many different influences.
I've had a lot of people talk to me about Even Out, being like "it's the poppiest thing you've ever done," and while I think it is, it's also... I dunno, I fail to really understand genres and labeling things. Not in just a bullshit musical way, but I'll listen to a track, and then make a track like, "this is so inspired by this music," and people won't be able to hear it at all.
Doing these covers recently, because I tend to mash-up pop songs – like I did a t.A.T.u track from the early 2000s with Radiohead's Videotape – people say "oh it's so schizophrenic, how do you think of it?" It's like you can see behind the hood of how all the songs work. At the end of the day, all music after the '50s is essentially pop music, outside of jazz and classical and stuff like that. It's also pretty basic chord progressions, and so I'll cover something, and then I'll go "oh okay, well this track would work over this," and you can kind of see behind the hood of everything.
I'm still very early days into it, so I don't want to commit to anything at the moment, but I've always been a huge King Gizz fan for, you know, the last three or four years. A lot of this stuff is you know very Krautrock-y, and even Radiohead has a lot of Krautrock influence, especially In A Moon Shaped Pool.
Can you tell us about your new single, Even Out?
Even Out is a boppy kind of early-2000s inspired track, very influenced by Pharrell's production at that time, The Neptunes and Justin Timberlake, that Justified album, and also influenced heavily by The 1975, Pete Rock and J Dilla... and heartbreak. That's another part.
Alternative pop, that's kind of what I'd be kind of labelling it as. If you like all those things, you'd probably be into this. It's the first single from my upcoming record – I say record because it's kind of in-between an EP and an album at the moment, so I'm trying to work out what it's going to be.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you and your music?
It's given me enough time and enough freedom to just go absolutely to town on it. It's the hardest I've ever worked with anything in my entire life, just kind of constantly doing stuff, whether it be writing music for myself, working with Juno Disco, film scoring... everything, so it's been actually a huge blessing in disguise. As sad as it sounds, it's unfortunately the truth.
It’s been two years since you last took on your solo mantle – has the experience of Juno Disco changed your approach to your solitary music?
Yeah, definitely. The film score stuff has definitely opened me up to releasing vastly different music still under my own name, and I do intend to start releasing neoclassical in the vein of Nils Frahm and that kind of area. The Juno Disco stuff as well, it's been great being involved with a secondary project – it's the only other band I've ever been in in my entire life. I think doing this most recent record has really kind of opened me up to that kind of like reinvigoration, releasing music under my own name, and Even Out very much feels like a reset button; the start of a whole new thing for Albert Salt. I think there's gonna be a lot of really exciting stuff to come out of it and I can't wait for people to listen!