When a musician really loves what they do, their passion is evident. They research their craft, spending countless hours listening and experimenting with technique, honing the sound they put out into the world with the precision of a surgeon. Such is true for Saltus, an emerging artist who has spent his entire life surrounded by music, beginning with classical guitar at age nine. Diving headlong into music theory at such a young age has led Saltus, first name Will, to develop a keen ear for sound, and allowed him to segue into talent curation and music marketing with MASS EDMC, one of the forerunners in the New England electronic music community, beginning in 2011.
Through the majority of the past five years, Will has helped to bring some of the most buzzworthy talent of the burgeoning electronic genre to Boston, first with MASS EDMC and now with Rezinate, all while producing his own music behind the scenes. Until this year, you’d be lucky to catch Saltus performing live. Gaining experience at private parties, Saltus made waves this past summer with a four hour set at the MASS EDMC Electric Forest Sound Camp and made his formal debut opening for Ganja White Night in Cambridge this fall. His first official release, entitled Shades of Truth, reveals an artist who has carefully explored the depths of bass music with a refined ear. Since its release a few weeks ago, the inaugural EP has gained enormous traction, receiving positive feedback from listeners and fellow producers alike. Not one to rest on his laurels, Saltus is already back in the studio, creating new music for his growing audience.
[Lost in Sound] You’ve been producing music for quite some time, and studying it for even longer. What was the driving force behind the release of this EP as a complete body of work as opposed to your previous single releases?
[Saltus] I wrote these three tunes all within the same few months, and although I was in different moods for each of them, they all came to feel connected in this way. I think it’s partly because this was a phase when I really wanted to take my sound a step deeper and prove to myself that I could. It was really exciting.
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You have quite a bit of field recording incorporated into your work, particularly in this EP. What recordings did you use in this EP, and what has been your favorite organic sound to utilize in music production so far?
Well I generally match field recordings to a song based on the energy and sentimental value of the recording when I took it, so I don’t really have a ‘favorite.’
I recorded a luggage belt at the airport and used it in “Shades of Truth” – I really liked that one. I also used a recording of some kids having fun on a playground in Rome as well as shaking some coins and keys in that tune. In “Drone”, I recorded myself crunching a Cliff Bar wrapper in my hand and some light rain. I don’t think there were any field recordings in “In a perfect world..”
I love recording nature and human emotion whenever I can.
How do you feel that your time with MASS EDMC and Rezinate has influenced your personal style?
That’s an entire story in itself – but long story short, my personal growth as a musician has been hand and hand with MASS EDMC/Rezinate because they’re my life, it all feeds into the same thing: me. So the more music I hear, people I meet, things I see and meaningful experiences I have the more perspective I gain. We have also always loved bass music and digging deeper for sounds so that has influenced my taste a lot.
You have quite an intricate voice when it comes to your production. Walk us through your creative process as it relates to this EP.
My writing process usually begins from a source of inspiration – whether it’s a field recording, a song, or a mood or head space I’m in. Writing music and channeling how I’m feeling into music has always been an avenue of therapy for me. It provides a tangible window into my life and my personality, which is nice to have, listen to, share, and reflect on.
I was feeling very passionate when I started each of the tracks on the EP but with “Drone”, I was feeling cloudy that day and wanted to break out of it. “Shades of Truth” was after listening to “Induction“ by Djrum and “Volta“ by Indigo and I wanted to match that vibe with the airport belt recording. Deep, dark, samurai, mechanical, yet beautiful and orchestral. “In a perfect world” came from listening to “Pathways” by Synkro, and I wanted to make a tune in that vein. Once I’m in the Ableton session, I’m usually first working in a synthesizer and building a palette that matches the mood. When I’m feeling it I’ll throw in some drums and start laying down the arrangement. Then, I’ll pretty much try to flow through it in that one sitting and at least get down the skeleton. In a later session, I’ll go in and tear it apart and get into the nitty gritty. I kind-of have this idea that if I don’t get the vibe and arrangement down in the first sitting or two, it becomes really tough for me to finish it. It’s hard to put my head into the same space or mood again when the next time I go to work on the tune I’m not feeling that way anymore.
This was definitely the biggest challenge I faced with the EP. I wanted to take the tracks as far as I possibly could and finish them all together so I could release it as a solid body of work, but I kept losing perspective after so many consecutive sessions. I had also been writing and listening to newer stuff that I really excited about. So I took lots and lots of breaks – especially in the final stages when I was tinkering fine detail.
You draw a significant amount of inspiration from underground styles of music. Which artists inspire your musical styling?
“Lost & Found” Music – Saltus // Video – Winterhalter
What upcoming plans do you have for Saltus now that this EP has hit public ears?
For now to keep writing music, having fun, and improving my sound. I would love to play some festivals this summer and share with people.