Salt Cathedral Interview

Juli Ronderos and Nico Losada are Salt Cathedral, a musical group with 3 EPs out already and a debut album set for summer release.  Although the group is currently based in New York, their global pop has deep roots in Colombia (not to be mistaken with WUSC’s Columbia), and their sound features a collage of cultural influences.  They recently released a new single, “No Love,” and performed at this year’s SXSW. Read my full interview with them here, in which we talked about the origin of their band name, their experience at SXSW, what’s to come, and much more.

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is a Roman Catholic church in Colombia, where you guys are from.  How did this play a role in inspiring your band name, and does religion influence your sound in any way?
When we chose a name we wanted something that you could always trace back to our home country because it is such a big part of our identity. The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá is a grand and strange and beautiful place and the concept itself is very mystical. It started out as a salt mine where workers would create shrines to the virgin before going in to perform this dangerous mining job. We think the relationship between struggle and religion is very representative of music. Most religious music is so beautiful – and it’s always our own struggles that inform our music.

Do you guys have a favorite place you’ve visited, or a place that’s given you the most inspiration?
Recently I would say that place was Lima, Peru. The community of artists we met there were incredibly inspiring to us as was the ancient culture and their gastronomy. It’s just a very lively and unique place and it filled our souls with the best feelings.

Why do you release your music in English?
We release our music in English because after we went to jazz school in Boston, we moved to New York. We made some songs in Spanish with our first project but felt that our songs in English communicated better with the people we were playing for. We are actually working on a record in Spanish now!

Since your band gathers inspiration from global sounds, and since you have toured at various places across the globe, what audience in particular do you create your music for?
We don’t have one specific citizenship or race that we create music for. We create music for anyone who is open to understanding and loving other cultures and to accept a sort of new globalized culture we inhabit – like us, being Latinos in the US. Music is a pretty universal expression so we hope that people from every corner of the world feel like our music is for them if they can connect through dance, lyrics, sound or emotionality.  

Since you have global inspiration for creating your music, how does this global perspective make you view the music industry?
I guess it just makes it that much harder because we have to find people to work with in many different territories. But it also breaks barriers, you realize how much of a common language music is. Also, the industry varies a lot form region to region – the US is a different animal than Latin America or Europe, even geographically.

The cover art for your singles/EPs are some of the most colorful and artistic I’ve seen– how do you guys decide upon these?
We work with our absolute favorite artist in the world, we’re so lucky. Her name is Micci Cohan, check her stuff out! We usually choose from artwork pieces she’s already made. We think it’s the best representation of our music because it’s vibrant and collage based – and since our music draws from so many influences, it feels like collage sometimes.  

Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?
Life! It’s usually either about our common social/political/human experience or very personal things – like pain and conflict and love – but then again, aren’t those also part of our common human experience? I really like to portray images!

How do you think your sound has changed throughout the band’s history?
Oh it’s changed so so much. We are such music lovers that it’s been hard to stick to one thing and also it’s a constant process in search of our identity. We both grew up with music from rock to merengue, salsa, reguetton in Colombia. Nico used to play hardcore/metal, we went to school for jazz, and later moved to a neighborhood in Brooklyn where hip hop is predominant. We’re inspired by so many different styles that the sound has changed a lot. I would say the main change from last EP to this new record was taking the sound a bit out of our heads to make music that is more accessible to more people.

How was SXSW?
SXSW was amazing! It was a really brief trip, we were only there for two days playing two shows. We played the Pandora stage alongside incredible artists like Kelela and Tinashe and just got to see some of our friends and enjoy the Austin weather – could not have asked for a better SXSW experience.

“No Love” came out right before SXSW, and was played live there.  How was it received?
When we play that song live, people get really dancey so we love playing it.  The music video is out tomorrow!!

What was it like to collaborate with Assassin for “Run For The Money”?
We collaborated from afar but honestly it was surreal because we admire him so much!

Last fall, you toured with Coast Modern. What was that experience like?
The Coast Modern tour was an incredible experience. Their fans were super receptive of our music and it was fascinating to drive across the entire US playing our music.

What’s to come from Salt Cathedral?
We have a music video coming out, then we have some more singles and our album in late July. We will also be touring in the second half of the year in support of the record – probably through the US and Europe! We’re excited to take our music on the road.

For more information on Salt Cathedral and to track their progress in the music world, you can follow their Spotify or follow their Facebook page.
For more information on artist Micci Cohan, you can go to her website.

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