Interview: Salli Edwards

Can you tell us about your latest project? What inspired it, and what can your fans expect from it?

My latest single “Hello Again” was literally taken from pages ripped from my journal. I wrote the song with my friend and collaborator Mike Cooper in San Francisco.

It was inspired by my time in San Francisco – one of my favourite things to do was sit at a café and just watch the world go by. I had musings about what it would be like to randomly bump into an old flame and what would happen, especially if things ended rather awkwardly. My friends and I at the time had many conversations about this, what it would be like to run into an ex. San Francisco not being a huge city, and with people running in similar circles, it seemed like something that was bound to happen more. So the song just imagines a situation like that.

Songwriting can be a cathartic process. What emotions or messages do you hope your music conveys to listeners?

Yes, a lot of my songs are emotional songs, written from personal experiences. I don’t think I could write about something I have not experienced or closely observed, it would not feel authentic to me. To me writing songs is an emotional release, a way to unpack my feelings and try to make sense of them. That’s how I’ve been drawn to music my whole life. I have favourite songs that have carried me through difficult situations or that I associate with happy memories.

Many of my songs are love songs or breakup songs – but I don’t like to write from a typical ‘I’m so heartbroken’ perspective. Being a journalist by background, I like to look at situations from different angles. I also like to keep things rather ambiguous. So even though a song is quite personal and intimate, I try to make it universal so that people can relate to it. One way of doing this is taking a snapshot and writing from that point, rather than telling the whole story – people can then fill in the blanks with their own experiences. For instance, my song ‘Blindside’ I wrote about deception and being ‘blindsided’ by someone. Whereas many people who hear the song say they think it’s a love song!

How has your musical style evolved over the years, and what do you hope to convey through your music now compared to when you first started your career?

I’d like to think I have grown more confident with my songwriting over the years. Listeners have commented that my second album has a more mature, confident sound with more complex songs and arrangements. My earlier releases were also more folky, with acoustic guitars throughout. My newer songs have more electric guitars, delving into my alternative, shoegaze and indie rock influences.

Many fans look up to their favorite artists as role models. What advice do you have for aspiring musicians who hope to make a name for themselves in the music industry?

I think it’s more important to focus on your craft and be true to yourself – that should be the goal rather than making a name for yourself. The fame and fortune can come as a byproduct of that goal.

In the age of streaming and digital platforms, how do you navigate the challenges of making a living as a recording artist, and what advice would you give to aspiring musicians trying to break into the industry?

It’s a two-edged sword. It’s good in that it levels the playing field and enables independent artists like myself to release music and be heard anywhere in the world through streaming and digital platforms. But the flipside is that you then have to compete with millions of other artists to be heard and noticed. The market is now so saturated that it makes it really hard for an artist to stand out.

I can’t say I have overcome this challenge at all – it’s a constant thing all artists go through – but to me, it’s not about having thousands of fans or millions of streams. I am happy when I get a message from a listener telling me how much they enjoyed my music, or how a song really resonated with them. I find these personal connections much more rewarding and it’s really the reason why I write songs. The challenge is changing your expectations about what you want to get out of making music and reminding yourself of what is really important to you.

Your image and style often become part of your brand as an artist. How do you approach your personal image and fashion choices to express yourself and connect with your fans?

Earlier in my music career, I aimed for a 1960s look because I was influenced by musicians from that era, like Burt Bacharach and Francoise Hardy, but that look didn’t last very long!

I do put a lot of thought into my image and how I dress, especially for gigs and photo shoots. It’s part of the whole package, the how you look as well as how you sound. They go together and it’s part of the feel or vibe that you want to convey with the music. I also like to dress up when I do gigs – I rarely turn up in jeans and sneakers. To me, it’s about putting on a show and dressing up for a special occasion. It shows the audience that I am taking my performance seriously and approaching it as a professional.

The future is always uncertain, but what are your long-term goals and aspirations as a recording artist, and what can your fans expect from you in the coming years?

I’d like to keep making music for as long as I can and keep being inspired by things around me. I think if I stop being interested and curious about the world around me, that would make the ‘well run dry’ so to speak! I would love to do more collaborations with other musicians. The loyal listeners I have out there, the ones who regularly listen and write to me, can hopefully look forward to more new songs and me trying different sounds or genres for another album or project. In fact, I’m working on a new song right now that sounds totally different from anything I’ve ever done before! Who knows where it might take me?




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