Beneath the Los Angeles sun, eight-piece band Salt Petal incorporates Latin influences to create a fresh, tropical surf sound. Layering various instruments such as guitar, bass, percussion, synthesizers, brass, you name it, with smooth vocals and steady rhythms, the band creates the perfect mixture of upbeat dance music and laid back surf–rock. Recognizing this sort of musical combination is uncommon. Salt Petal are producing music in a way that captures audiences in an ever-growing market.
Here’s what Autumn from the band had to say:
It is refreshing to hear ‘pop’ music produce unique tropical rock music. What are the band’s influences that have led to this sound?
Thanks! Rodrigo and I both grew up with a mix of styles around. We are the primary songwriters so when we get into songwriting our early influences come out automatically. Growing up, I loved jazz, Haitian music, west African highlife, as well as the Cure, CCR, all sorts of 50s bepop, New Order, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, The Go-Gos. Ro grew up in Argentina where artists like the Rolling Stones and Creedence are idols, and he also loved Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Argentine bands like Los Autenticos Decadentes, Los Redonditos de Ricotta, and Los Pericos. As a teen and in my early twenties I got really into cumbia, samba, forró and 60s Brazilian Pop singers like Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso. So, I guess we blend all of these things together when we think about songs.
The band is said to have Latin American roots and performs some songs in Spanish. Can you elaborate on the roots of the band?
The whole band is pretty mixed as far as tastes, but a core of us like a similar mix of early rock and roll, early punk, early tropicalia with a strong dose of latin dance sounds like cumbia and samba. Rodrigo’s from Buenos Aires and knows what it’s like to grow up with people dancing all the time, as a normal thing to do on the weekends and at birthday parties. Fabio is from Sao Paolo and has similar experiences. Hiroo is from Sapporo, Japan, and I’m from San Francisco and I think we both wished everyone we knew loved dancing, so we started playing music that included that idea in it.
Do you feel the music created has been influenced significantly by being located in Los Angeles?
We are definitely influenced by our surroundings, but not intentionally. We haven’t really lived in other states, but in CA Spanish and latin rhythms are definitely all over the place, but somewhat underrated. It’s always seemed weird to me because knowing multiple languages seemed so cool as I was growing up, but it hasn’t caught on in pop music, it’s still pretty separate. We’re so lucky to have so many influences at our fingertips. When I was little I read a story about a girl who traveled back in time to visit the huge library in Alexandria, Egypt before it burned. It was considered a crossroads of trade and knowledge and I always thought it sounded so amazing. I realized a few years ago that LA is one of those modern day places. It’s just hard see when you’re living in it. Crossroads can be as dirty and messy as they are innovative and exciting.
Brass instruments such as trombone and trumpet are incorporated into the band’s songs. Where did the idea to include such instruments come from?
We started mixing latin dance sounds in to a kind of rock sound we had early on and it seemed natural to add wind and reed instruments. We started with flute and them moved into trumpet and trombone. Now we always have horns on stage. They add a great energy to the songs- kind of like an announcement or an exclamation point that makes you dance. They can also be melancholy and mournful, which we utilized for songs like Darkest Hours. They have a lot of emotional range, like a voice, which is similar to how the accordion can work as well.
What is in store for the next few months?
We’ve been playing some summer festivals and now in the fall we have some big shows coming up. On October 11th we’ll be at a large event in Pasadena with Los Amigos Invisibles, Demian Jurado, and a bunch of other great acts. We’re working out the details of a tour in early November up the Pacific Coast. This has been the time for lots of videos which has been exciting, we have a few live videos coming out soon and some artistic ones being planned with some really great directors. We’ve also been working on new songs, which we’ll start playing in upcoming shows.