Meet May's Artist of the Month, The Royal Foundry! We initially caught them throughout last year's Peak Performance Project (and the final one), where they won third place, and were captivated by their sound and stage presence.
We talked to Jared and Bethany Salte about their art as a business, their PPP experiences, how they mix marriage and business and what they have planned next.
Did you both grow up in Sherwood Park?
Jared Salte: No. I grew up in Sherwood Park and Bethany grew up in Ponoka.
Bethany Salte: Small town farm community.
You’re currently in Edmonton. Did you make the move to further your music career?
Bethany: We still live in Sherwood Park but, when Jared and I got married, his studio was there but it’s a great home base. Chris Wynters, he’s the Alberta Music director, he wrote an article about how a lot of bands move too soon to the bigger cities like Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto to try and further their career and it’s always too soon and you end up struggling to get noticed but it’s almost like their career has come to this point where their dreams of going to the big city is giving them a bad taste in their mouths because they weren’t able to take their music to the next level, as they’d hoped, by moving. Basically, he was expressing the importance of establishing your home base so you can have a great support and is it really so bad for you to travel to these bigger cities to perform when you can grow your community.
How did you both meet and start making music together?
Jared: I had another band called Junkyard Poets and we were playing in Bethany’s hometown. Bethany was setting up an all-ages concert and she was coerced into opening and playing some of her acoustic songs.
Bethany: And then he just wouldn’t stop bothering me. We met up for coffee and then we kept in touch. As soon as we got married, we started writing songs because Jared has a studio. First he was like, “I need help writing this for this little piece here” and then we wrote a song randomly and then 10 songs later we were like, “we have enough for an album, let’s just make one”. Which is probably not what you’re supposed to do, you’re supposed to have at least 150 songs to choose from then you weed out the bad stuff.
When you say you have a studio, is it a studio you work at or is it a studio you’ve developed?
Jared: It’s a studio I’ve developed. I record a lot of different bands from Edmonton there.
What made you decide to open the studio in Edmonton?
Jared: It’s just because I grew up there and my dad was into music. He had all this studio gear so I started with that and set that up and tried my hand at it and then organically a base of customers came together. That’s sort of why, it wasn’t very intentional like “I’m gonna pick this city off the map”.
Bethany: But you knew you wanted to be a producer really early on.
Jared: I always knew I wanted to record.
What was your experience like throughout the Peak Performance Project?
Bethany: Second time or the first time?
Let’s do both.
Bethany: The first time it was super overwhelming because it was our first introduction into even the Edmonton arts community because we were newbies at that time, we were only a few months old as a band when we did it the first time. The second time we were so much more stoked because we knew what was coming for us and it was such a great opportunity. They want to push you, as a band, to take your music and craft your art to the next level. They really desperately want that for you. Knowing that, we came into the Peak thinking, if we don’t give it our all, if we don’t put the work and effort into at least placing this year, then it’s another waste because it’s a lot of work. We really took that to heart and we got our act together and we really worked hard at it.
There’s a lot of money on the line. The first year we were added, we didn’t place the top three but we got so much exposure and it totally opened so many opportunities for us for the following year. We got our stuff together and really pressed it. We got great mentors like Alberta Music, they were always there along the way to help us and encourage us. That’s what they want. It’s an incredible initiative and we are 100 per cent supportive because it’s amazing.
You said you knew what you were going into the second time. Was there anything you picked up that wasn’t taught or you might’ve missed the first year you picked up the second year?
Bethany: Like everything. The problem with us is we were so new to the music world, because we had just started the band the first year, we were looking at the big picture thinking “holy crap, we have so much to get organized” and, like all art, I truly believe it’s 90 per cent business and 10 per cent creativity because you need to be able to understand how to take your art and sell it.
Jared: And something people connect with. I think that’s the end goal, creating music that touches people in some way and, if that makes money, that’s great, but if it does at least that, then we’re happy.
Bethany: Coming in a second time around, we understood where our shortcomings were and we’re just going to focus on those. We were obviously doing something right, if we’re getting this much recognition for our music, so let’s hone in on our weaker areas and our biggest gaps and take the time, which is the key thing, to become better.
A lot of people don’t realize, really, a band is a business.
Bethany: Totally. And it helps because we own a business together with the studio and it’s nice having already that business mindset in order to say, “okay, this is like my break, to make my art, but I have to recognize that I need to put in the hours of business in order to be able to maintain this ability of what I am creating”.
How do you make everything work when your relationship is so interwoven within your job?
Bethany: We’re very fortunate in a way which is probably unlike a lot of couples where we have a band together, we have a business together and we genuinely like hanging out with each other even after all that is said and done. Obviously there are times where we definitely need our space, of course, like anybody. I think we make a good team.
Jared: We’re getting better and better.
Bethany: It’s a lot of work, obviously. Like any relationship, there’s always things you don’t like about the other person but then there’s this act of not being so self-focused too and knowing you have to put other people ahead of yourself even if it means you’re not going to get your own way. But that’s what a relationship is, is serving one another.
What are your plans for this year?
Jared: Release a new album.
Bethany: Tour, festivals.
Jared: We’re just really excited to make new music. Our previous album, I think it’s two years now it’s been out and it’s not even close to our style right now so we’re excited just to put something out that’s officially who we are.
Bethany: It’s a weird transition but it’s exciting at the same time