interview: ben salter
Songster Ben Salter has just released his first solo album, The Cat, after ten years in the Australian music industry in outfits including The Gin Club, Giants of Science and the Wilson Pickers
For Salter, after playing solo as well as in a band for over a decade, it was only a matter of time before he properly branched out on his own.
“I guess I got to a stage where I had a bit of a break,” he says. “I had money that I had saved up and kept talking about doing it.
“I’ve been talking about doing it for about five years…I just thought, it seemed like the right time to do it.”
The reception to The Cat has been positive, something that Salter appreciates.
“It’s been really great,” he says. “All the reviews have been awesome. It seems to be a bit of a slow burner. People keep coming up to me and saying ‘the album is great’. I couldn’t be happier.”
For the Cairns born song-writer, releasing the album was liberating. “I was glad to let go of that one, I was sick of it,” Salter reflects. “By the time you release an album, you would have heard it five million times and people will be still picking it up in another six months and I’ll be just ready to do another one. It’s been really great.”
With the increasing difficulty of getting record labels on board, Ben Salter asked his fans to crowd fund the new album. “I noticed that there was a lot more of it happening,” he said. “It’s getting increasingly hard to get record companies to give you money. You have to try and find new models to figure out a way to bring out new albums.
“It’s more like a pre-order. People pay for it before it comes out and they get the album and whatever else they can order. Some people ordered the vinyl, some people ordered the cd.”
While this may appear like a gamble to some, for Salter it was possible because of the close relationship he shares with fans of his other projects.
“One of the few kind of currencies that I have is that I’ve been playing in bands for such a long time. I’ve got a lot of people, a small group, but a group nonetheless who are fans of what I do,” he says. “I was able to capitalise on that by using the crowd sourcing website indiegogo, basically where people order your album … It only works if you’ve got a reputation already, you couldn’t do it if it was the first album you’ve ever done. It worked really well for me.”
Salter is wrapping up a string of tour dates, a mixture of solo headlining spots and support gigs for the likes of BusbyMarou. Spanning from October to now, he underplays the work load as he fights a yawn.
“I’ve been playing pretty much non-stop since October. I don’t really do anything else, just play and play. It’s just like getting my album out. Just like having a job, it’s what you do.
“I’m getting better as I get older. Looking after myself, sleeping in until five o’clock,” he laughs. “I really love it, it’s not like its difficult or anything. It’s unusual and different I guess from working from nine till five.”
Salter recently made the move from Brisbane to Melbourne, and has so far enjoyed his new location.
“It’s not as humid, which is something that I like,” he says. “I really like Brisbane because its very unpretentious and a close knit community up there, and every kind of knows each other. Which can be a good thing and it can be really bad.
“I basically needed a change. I love Melbourne, I’ve been going there for years. It’s just easier for me to get work down there if I want to play all the time. There’s so many more venues, and places that cater for those sort of things. I really like Melbourne.”
For the moment, Salter is now focusing on his solo career and fully embracing it.
“I’ve been playing solo since before I was in any other bands. I’ve always played solo gigs, so I’m kind of used to doing that. I’ve never been one of those people who’s been scared of playing by myself because I’ve always done it.
“I recorded the album with a band, it’s got a full arrangement on it. I did the initial album tour with the band, but since then I’ve been touring by myself. That’s been something that I haven’t really done much of. Travelling around just by myself. And that’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed playing, just the freedom and the independence. It also sucks because you don’t have anyone to hide behind. You don’t have your little team, but it’s been really good though.”
As the year wraps up, Salter has his eye on an overseas tour in 2012. “Hopefully I’ll be living overseas for six months over in Europe, I really just want to travel as much as I can,” he said. “That’s my main aim at the moment. I’ve spent my years in Brisbane building up a body of work I guess, I just want to go and play to as many people as I can overseas, all of the world.”
Ben Salter’s solo album, The Cat, is out now and available to purchase from here!