Q&A: Salem

Midwest-by-way-of-Chicago doom juke trio Salem has hypnotized a legion of die-hard fans with the release of only three 7-inch EPs and their MySpace page—a brilliant feat for a band with no full-length record or impressive touring schedule under their belts. Their reverb-drenched synth-hop ballads are unlike anything electronic music has seen before, earning them serious attention in both the underground and the pages of some of New York’s glossiest fashion tomes. How appropriate, considering highs and lows seem to be a part of their mythology, and a tenet of their dark, ethereal sound. Their latest 7-inch single, Frost, featuring b-side track, Legend, is available now on Audraglint Records. I decided to talk to my enigmatic friends about their new release as they hole themselves up in rural Michigan to hammer out their first full-blown album. 

Patrik Sandberg: Tell me about these two songs and how you came to write them.
John Holland: Frost was the only song written and recorded in New York City. Heather had left New York months before and it was the first time in a while we weren’t living together. It was a purging of all the things we felt because of this separation. Legend was written in Michigan over last summer. It was a hot night when I made Legend and my head felt like a bowl of punch from a party that had ended days before.  

PS: Who took the photo for the cover? Where do you cull your imagery from?
Heather Marlatt: Our friend Bea Fremderman took the photos for us. There is this room in Jack’s basement in Chicago we call the dusty room because all of the ash from the fireplace. The basement is made of old bricks and there is a hole in the wall you have to climb on a chair to crawl inside. It is basically under the house, it’s like a little catacomb.  Most of the imagery is just us doing things we like to do or think look pretty. Our first album cover was a still from a video we made where we tied up Jack with packing tape and put cold water on him.

PS: Do you have any videos planned for these?
JH: I want to make a video for one of the songs where a girl is in a room with a pool and a diving board and she climbs the ladder, dives in and swims for a while. The next scene will be at dusk and she’s walking somewhere from the pool and it’s hunting season and her hair’s still wet and it’s dusk and she gets shot by a hunter mistaking her for a deer. Her death will be like that of a queen being burned at the stake. That’s how important her death will be. The whole video will be in slow motion.

PS: You’re from a small town away from all the craziness of the fashion and music industries. How does it feel being photographed by Terence Koh for V or being featured in other high-profile glossies? Do you ever get approached in Traverse City about it?
HM: I met Terence when I was like 18 so that wasn’t a new experience. I was really happy V featured us. I like to be in the prettiest magazines. Actually, no, we don’t get approached here about anything. Sometimes we go to the town but no one cares about us.
JH: I think the fashion world is stupid. I like that there’s no fashion world here in Michigan unless you consider Carhart from Walmart to be the next big thing.

PS: What’s planned for your album?
HM: It’s a secret.

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