Salt Ashes is the dame of dark-pop who penned her latest hit in the middle of a typhoon.
If you don’t know Salt Ashes, get to know her. The dark-popstar has toured with the likes of Tove Styrke, Alphabeat, Little Boots and countless other alternative icons, amassing over 3.2 Million Streams on Spotify in the process. Having burst on the scene with her self-titled debut back in 2016, Ashes made a name for herself by combining Giorgio Moroder-esque disco with the electrifying abandon of modern club music, a totally delectable combination we must say.
Over the past few years, Ashes has honed in on her sound, and the stories she wanted to tell, piecing together the puzzle of her artistry with highly successful tunes like “Girls,” “Go All Out,” and “Totally Faking”. She even released an EP earlier this year, titled counting crosses, exploring the deepest and darkest recesses of the pop world. But it’s on her latest track, “Cut You With A Kiss”, however, that we see the star at her most vulnerable and forward-thinking.
“Cut You With A Kiss”, tackles the integrity of a pal’s new partner, spotting those tell-tale signs that this new entity isn’t exactly glowing. In a dark place where honesty gets confused for jealousy, the singer becomes trapped in her thoughts for fear of speaking out of turn. “Maddox Jones and I wrote the chorus for this in my bedroom and I fell in love with the catchiness of it straight away,” admits Ashes. From there, the singer finished the rest of the song during a typhoon in South Korea, bringing it back to the UK for Louis Souyave, who produced it into what Ashes refers to as a, “sonically haunted house”.
Catching up with the singer below, we dug a little deeper into the new track, creative isolation and her ever-evolving sound. Take a look…
Hi Salt Ashes, how has this uncertain time been for you? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
The first few weeks of lockdown I got into a flow of filming acoustic versions of some of my favourite songs and doing solo photo shoots in my creepy basement… I found a full and unopened bottle of semi-skimmed milk from 2007 down there by the way… I used to travel a lot so being at home, initially, was pure bliss as it felt like I was given permission to do all the random stuff like organising my underwear draw… Wild, right? Generally, it’s been pretty freeing to have so much time to think about what’s important to me, social causes, personal relationships, values etc which later, inevitably, will affect my songwriting.
Why the name Salt Ashes?
I saw the words Salt Ashes scratched on the side of a small boat in Brighton and wanted to use it as a song lyric but when I was thinking of a project name that just felt right. I was writing a lot about heavy emotional topics, love loss, anxieties and using wild, imagery with the 5 elements at the time so it felt quite fitting and, I felt, embodied me as an artist.
Where are you from and how did it influence you sonically? Who did you listen to growing up?
I come from Brighton which is a creative hub of inspiring and talented people. I went to BIMM where there was a constant flow of new music and bands spilling from the cracks… you had to be creating something new and exciting, to be seen and heard otherwise you’d drown and be flooded out. You would hear a lot of the same sounds; musicians copying the last great band they saw so I tried really hard to avoid that. It forced me to sit back and think about what I actually wanted to create and not just create something because that band were doing it successfully.
Growing up, I listened to whatever my older brother and sister were listening to. Sometimes there were two stereos competing from both of their rooms. They listened to artists like Nirvana, Lauryn Hill, TLC, Oasis, Tracy Chapman. That mixed with the radio and some of my mum’s favourite Spanish classics filled the house.
You specialise in dance music with a dark edge – how do you want your music to make people feel?
I want people to feel something so deep and buried, like something’s lurking in the shadows keeping them on edge but with a warm embrace. Yeah, I mean I just want people to want to bloody dance and cry and scream and feel as intensely as they can.
How has your sound progressed since you came on the scene with your debut album in 2016?
My sound has definitely evolved. The first album was very 80’s disco noir influenced with heavy piano, that four to the floor beat, stacked vocals and harmonies and it’s progressed into darker, weightier sounds with dryer and more focused vocals. For the next load of tracks I want to take it somewhere else and experiment with different vocal fx and more organic instruments.
Congratulations on your latest single “Cut You With A Kiss” – what is it about?
I took the idea of questioning the integrity and sincerity of your ex’s new girlfriend and dramatised it into this kind of Stanley Kubrick-esque storyline. One where this new girl has secrets that he’s blind to… maybe she’s a witch or creature that is bewitching or poisoning him… or maybe you’re just a crazy bitch that’s jealous your ex has a new girl!!
Where do you pull most of your lyrical influences from?
Generally from my own experiences or those around me. Sometimes a film will inspire me or a photography or dance piece but the subject will always relate back to me somehow. Even if it’s just something I’m passionate about.
What is your favourite lyric or line from the song?
“Falling in love is a beautiful flaw”.
What’s next and what are you looking forward to?
I’m working on new music, maybe an EP for the start of the year. I’m going to get deep into the studio this winter and expel all my thoughts and fears into my new songs and then really focus on getting the visuals as I want them. Having directed the last couple of music videos I want to develop this more and see how messed up I can make things.