Salt of the Sound first got on NRT's radar a year ago, when husband-wife team Ben and Anita Tatlow released a meditative, ethereal, ambient electronic Christmas project, titled Waiting For The Dawn. With peaceful instrumentation and otherworldly, angelic vocals, Salt of the Sound quickly made a name for itself as a player in ambient music.
Fast forward a year, and the duo has been busy. Not only have they released a new side project, called Narrow Skies, but they've also unveiled a concept album (and accompanying visuals) designed to guide people through times of prayer. Appropriately titled In Prayer, the Tatlows are using Salt of the Sound to resource the Church to find precious moments of rest and solitude with their music.
On the heels of the release of In Prayer, I chatted with the Tatlows a second time for an update.
You've been busy since we got to know you a year ago with your Christmas project! What has 2017 been like for your musical pursuits?
Anita: It has been a huge journey for us, musically. We had planned to write a seasons project as Salt of the Sound, but as the creative journey progressed, the songs and music had a very different flavor to previous releases. Combined with a few other factors, we were forced (in a good way) to really look the identity of Salt of the Sound as a whole. We came to the conclusion that its focus is on creating reflective Christian music and the new seasons album was a departure from this. Long story short, we decided that our creative output needed more than one outlet--specifically one that allowed for music with a more exploratory and a storytelling nature to it. So, 2017 has been a year of not only releasing In Prayer as Salt of the Sound, but also branching out and starting a new musical project called Narrow Skies, under which we have been releasing a selection of seasons-themed EPs.
In Prayer is the new project. What inspired you to create a soundtrack specifically for quiet times of reflection?
Ben:In Prayer is an encouragement to enter into a peaceful place, be that at home, on the move, or in a church environment. Personally, I feel that music can be a unique tool in prayer, helping to still the mind and focus the heart. When we looked back over our output over the past four years, the songs we felt achieved this intention the most were those with repetitive, chorus-like themes, and instrumental tracks, so we were excited to go deeper into this type of music for a full EP.
We also felt inspired by the idea of truly encompassing and conveying a meaningful sense of reflection and meditation, while still retaining positive momentum and interest throughout the songs. It's easy for ambient or instrumental music to become boring or musically lacking; we very much hope we've avoided that!
You also had a visual component release with the album. How did you go about creating that, and what does this part add to the overall experience?
Ben: Fairly early on in the development of In Prayer, we felt that it would be both appropriate and inspiring to create a meditative video accompaniment to the music that would guide the listener through the whole EP. We also wanted to involve our listeners from all over the world in some kind of collaborative project, and this video felt like the perfect fit. So in one of our newsletters, we asked people to sign up to be a part of this video. I think we had over 60 people volunteer, and it was wonderful to have the chance to personally connect with people who listen to and enjoy our music on a one-on-one basis.
Anita and I then created a flow of readings that had helped shape the project along the way, and we asked people to record a specific verse or two. We also asked people to share 20-30 second "still" videos of places of prayer or reflection in their lives. It was a truly beautiful experience to watch and collate all the submissions, to see some of the themes that emerged, and it was a simultaneously tricky task trying to incorporate all the fantastic submissions into the final video in a coherent manner!
Overall, though, our hope and prayer is that the video, and the EP itself, allows people to stop and take stock for 17 minutes before, during, or after a busy day.
What are some things you've heard already from people who have used this project as intended, for prayer and reflection?
Anita: It is both humbling and encouraging at the same time to hear from people, especially when they share part of their story and tell us how our music has impacted them at crucial and difficult times in their lives. This has continued to be true for In Prayer, and many have told us how it has formed part of their daily prayer routines. We are so thankful that our music reaches and speaks to people and we hope and pray that this continues to be the case.
What did you learn, and how did you grow in the midst of making this project?
Anita: I think as we look back at all of our releases, we realize how they have helped to shape our identity and improve as creatives, musicians, and songwriters. I would say that this is the first complete Salt Of The Sound project where I continue to feel the depth of the music and the meaning behind it well after the writing and production have ended. It has been the most spiritually helpful for me personally, if that makes sense.
What's next for you both? And how can people be praying for you?
Anita: I'm really excited by the timeline we have for both Salt of the Sound and Narrow Skies next year. For Salt of the Sound we have a packed schedule with the next in our instrumental Mediations series (Vol. 3), shorter Easter and Christmas EPs, and hopefully a full-length album in the fall. The idea at this point--but don't hold us to it!--is that the Easter and Christmas releases will include Salt of the Sound-style versions of both classic hymns and songs, and that the new album will be original music.
Ben: And for Narrow Skies, we'll be continuing our seasons-themed EPs, releasing the full seasons album in the summer as well as some collaborations, and starting to write music inspired by whichever Nordic-inspired theme we decide to focus on next!
We're so thankful for the encouragements and support that people have shown us throughout our musical journey, and particularly over the past 12 months. This has actually coincided with a challenging year in relation to our lives here in Stockholm, although we've both learned and grown a lot! Our prayer is that God will continue to show us the road ahead, inspire our music-making and that we will be open to following whatever that guidance and calling is.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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