Soulful, dynamic and in thrall of the redemptive powers of music, sassy local duo Salt and Steel, (singer and guitarist Briony Edgar and drummer and percussionist Elle Steele) have been wowing audiences and musical tastemakers alike wherever they’ve chosen to plug in and play over the past few years.
Peddling an impressive amalgamation of hip shaking roots rock and gypsy-inflected folk, the girls have seen their profile explode recently, off the back of winning the ‘champions prize’ at the 2016 Battle of the Buskers, as well as success at Bluesfest and the Airlie Beach Music Festival.
And things are about to get even bigger, with their debut EP, ‘Breathe, Connect, Grow’ in the can. It was recorded here on the Gold Coast, at that fertile musical hotbed Love street Studios, and was mastered by Paul Blakey, who’s also worked with Amy Shark and the Round Mountain Girls. Ne sure to check it out.
The girls will be premiering it with a headline performance at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse on 9 February.
In the lead up to the show, Anthony Gebhardt got the good oil on the dynamic duo and what they have in store for 2018.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got together musically, and how long you’ve been playing together?
While travelling together and meeting people from all walks of life, we were blessed to be exposed to and inspired by musicians and creatives locally and from across the globe. These experiences planted the thought and desire that maybe one day we could do that too!
I (Briony) had been playing guitar and singing for my own enjoyment for some years. Elle on the other hand, had hardly picked up an instrument before! Although, she did always have a strong dream to play drums. Once she bought her first hand drum, only 4 or so years ago, she hasn’t stopped!
As we began performing at open mic nights, we started to gain momentum. With each new step, opportunities would arise and with each new opportunity, growth. We get so much enjoyment out of creating, sharing and connecting with so many beautiful people that we have a continual drive to keep working hard and to keep growing and learning.
For those new to the band, what would be the ideal descriptor of your sound, and what you’re aiming to deliver musically?
We’re always changing our sound haha! Lately we’ve been describing it as folk, rock, roots with a hint of gypsy. We both listen to a lot of heavier music and have always really loved the high energy power it gives. A lot of Briony’s guitar riffs really show that influence.
Our music explores both the light and the dark as we feel both need to be acknowledged.
We want the listener to feel empowered. Before ascending to great heights, you first have to make your way through the valley and up the mountain. We want to take our audience on that journey.
You both originate from the Northern NSW area. Have you found this a fertile breeding ground for honing your musical chops? And is this where you still base yourselves?
We both grew up in Grafton, NSW. We met a few years after we finished school and hit the road together not long after that. After adventuring along the coast line of Australia and overseas we found ourselves feeling at home in North Tumbulgum, a very magical place. We are so blessed with community, forests and creeks in the area, while still being so close to the ocean.
Our home has a lot of character and history of nurturing musicians and holding concerts. We have the thought that the studio we live in may have even been the old ‘green room’ back in the day, as one of the doors leads right onto the stage in the shed (or dance hall as we’ve been told.) There is a lot of creative energy on the property and it definitely plays a part in our writing!
As for the future, we have so many places yet to explore, that we have no idea where we will end up. Wherever that is, I’m sure we will love it!
How do you generally approach your craft? Do your songs evolve from live jams, or are you actively creating and tinkering in the studio (or both!?)
We’ve written a couple of songs, such as ‘Whiskey Love’, around the camp fire, in the early hours of the morning after a big night, with the sun rising, birds chirping and with thoughts of all the responsibilities of the day ahead haha! Other songs have come from a groove or a guitar riff that we jam. The song ‘River’ came from a long car trip. We jammed some body percussion with some lyrics Briony wrote and there it was!
What’s been your biggest musical highlight to date?
We’ve been hitting a few milestones the past year or so. It’s been such an adventure! Winning Battle of the Buskers at the end of 2016 really kicked it off for us. I remember waking up the next day after the comp and realising that we might actually be able to make a career out of this! Since then we’ve been working so hard. We have now jumped on the festival circuit, which was one of our main goals. Winning Buskers by the Creek helped deliver all the things that have really got us moving in our music career. Now we have an EP thanks to Love Street Studios, a way to promote it through Kitty Kitty Bang Bang and this interview thanks to Blank GC!
You must be excited to be launching your EP at the wonderful Mo’s Desert Clubhouse in February. What can audiences expect from you in the live realm?
So excited! We have so much fun at every show and we want to continue to share this energy. We believe in the healing power of music and we like to deliver our performance in a way that helps our audience let go and be here, right now! We have been working especially hard to create what we will perform on the night of the EP launch. We have some new songs and have revamped some old ones. Be ready for a whole lotta foot stompin’ fun! We can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with!
What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Salt & Steel?
Lots of driving haha! After the EP launch we start our first ever official tour, which will involve travelling down to Canberra and back up to the Sunshine Coast. After that we plan to return home for a little bit to recharge and rejuvenate. We’ll be heading off North on another tour mid-year, with our destination being the Black Mountain Unplugged Festival. We’ve had such a great response so far with the EP that we’re excited to record again too. That may or may not begin this year – stay tuned. Overall, we want to keep growing, learning, adventuring and travelling both personally and musically. We figure if we keep our minds and hearts open, we’ll keep doing just that!
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Salt and Steel hit Mo’s Desert Clubhouse on 9 February.