Across a soundscape of authentic lyricism and compelling electro-pop production, San Diego-turned-Nashville duo Body Salt leaves you basking in the introspective afterglow of their luminous artistry.
Named after the first song they created together, Ezekiel Morphis and Jonathon Bruhin have taken each of their individual styles and talents and curated them into an exquisite sonic experience, driven by a harmonious balance of the simple and complex. Their influences range through genres far and wide – Seven Lions, Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Deadmau5 – and where they find value in nearly every natural and man-made sound, they translate into their own concoction of themselves. The delivery of their integrative aesthetics flowing distinct and solid.
The construction of their songs is executed in an atmospheric luster, spanning along the broad scope of pop music, while also appropriately suited for an electronic rave. Chock-full of pulsing cadences, vibrant synth waves, and vocals rich in its impact and passion, the music is inexhaustible in its fluctuating advances. What Body Salt excels at – which is often overlooked when analyzing music – is their astounding ability to resonate such sentimental poignancy, whilst accommodating sounds that exhibit a sense of urgency and seduction.
Their fierce perception of the human experience is highlighted in their recent singles “Just Want To Know” and “Please Avoid Your Grave.” The former, an ethereal ballad whose refrain rivals a Bon Iver inflection, uses vaporous swells and reverberant keyboards to manifest a sense of yearning regard for the one they love. Maintaining the theme of devotion, the latter contrasts the fragility of life with the persistence to keep your lover safe from any and all harm, highlighting the importance of cherishing every moment for the beauty it possesses through anthemic textures and thoughtful lyrics.
The band recently had the opportunity to feature their song “Within” in Thy Tran’s emotional and perceptive short film SummerWinterSummer, which touches light on “the struggles a gay Asian American man endures living in the US” and seeks to remind the viewer that Asian men feel life just the same as everyone else. The dark, honest track can be heard in the film’s trailer, carrying a haunting piano, expressive strings, and echoing beats.
In our interview with the twosome, we had the chance to discuss their music, their plans for the future, and much more.
To begin, how has your year been so far, and what have you guys been getting up to and gearing up for?
It’s been an incredibly intentional but intense transitional period for both of our lives. We are moving our personal lives and musical base across the country. That said, we’re grateful to be able to have the perspective and clarity we have, and to continue to create more music. As far as what we’re gearing up for, we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the music scene here in Nashville, explore the growth that’s happening in the progressive electronic scene, and connect to the community of creators and listeners.
What’s the story behind how you two met, and what was it about each other that made you click musically?
We were introduced through a group of friends while we were working in the service industry. We had a night out at one of our favorite local dives drinking beer and playing darts, and ended up back at Jon’s apartment. His tiny basement studio apartment was littered with instruments and recording gear, so we started discussing music and checking each other’s songs out. We immediately felt a vibe, and recorded the first part of what would become our our first track for our EP Sex Tape. Ezekiel shared a line of a song/poem he had just began tinkering with and Jon ran with it and built out a song. Our obsession for music was an immediate part of what connected us to working together and we haven’t looked back since.
What’s the San Diego music scene like, and what made you want to ship across to Nashville as opposed to say your neighbor up in L.A.?
San Diego is an interesting place. It’s beautiful, fun, full of some of our favorite people and the ocean is well, the ocean. That being said, certain cities in the U.S. have a threshold for what they can offer in the way of infrastructure and cultural demand for more progressive forms of music, and San Diego definitely fits this description. We’re so grateful for everything that we learned and built there, but Nashville is more what we’re looking for in terms of growth potential, music being a part of the culture and community.
Los Angeles is an amazing city as well, but it feels like the real movement and beating heart of the original music industry is coming from Nashville right now. Also, full transparency- who can afford to live in CA and create music? Haha. We love the positivity, the people, and the warmth of the community in Nashville and the unfamiliar is a wonderful catalyst for life growth and creativity.
Every artist has a specific process in the way they create their songs, and I always find it interesting to see how versatile it can get. Can you explain how you develop a song from its initial spark of inspiration to its final production?
Our songs always start with a point of connection between us and the most visceral interactions with our world. The catalyst can be heart ache, mental illness, torment, the desire to move and dance, the feeling of getting away with a lover, and you will hear the magic and whisper of nature sprinkled throughout our music. Sometimes this expression happens conceptually, melodically, or lyrically.
Once we figure out where the spirit of the song is coming from we put as much as we can in a tangible form so that we can begin to mold it and shape it to paint the picture that it needs to be. Sometimes we do this instrumentally, with a poem or go right into beat creation, recording, or production. After we have everything fixed in place we obsess with mixing and mastering. We do everything just the two of us so every song is a labor of love.
Your lyricism and electronic production seem to hold equal importance in your songs’ overall impact. How do you balance making sure the lyrical significance stands out while making sure the production doesn’t turn into mere background music? And if one has a moment where it holds the upper hand, does it happen naturally, or is it more intentional?
Honestly, it’s whatever mood we’re in at the time. Sometimes we want to make bangers, sometimes we want to make cruisers, and sometimes we want something to be soft and intimate. We focus on making sure the story is being told without genre limitations or preconceived ideas. We take the time to make sure whatever we do compositionally and sonically allows these things to work cohesively. Every song is a direct extension of our lives and experiences so we make sure that they are represented in a context that tells the story the right way.
Are there any themes that you typically gravitate towards when songwriting?
Nature is always huge for us, as is the beautiful struggle that is the meandering ways of human existence. Sometimes just being able to convey energy and movement or dance is enough to drive our songwriting. It really is an organic extension of our lives and experiences. At some point it just becomes a natural part of yourself to narrate your life in song, the way that you hear it.
In your opinion, what elements, regardless of genre, would a ‘no skip’ album be contrived of? Any ‘no skip’ albums in your favor?
A deep and authentic connection to pursuing excellence is a must for any artist attempting to create a “no skip” album. Having back-to-back songs that keep a listener engaged in a place where the world is merely secondary to the pseudo-world music can create is almost existential and difficult to explain how one would do that. You really have to get good at mastering “you” as an artist. This comes from years of intentional practice and thought. Whats more is this we believe would have to come without the obsession with writing an album. It seems as though certain albums have been written simply because it was expected of an artist or band. In music, as soon as you fill space to fill it there is disconnect and an discomfort that turns a listener off and takes them away from a story line, movement or simply a feel.
Newer music we can listen straight through easily and stay in the world created by these artists are: Phoebe Bridgers album Stranger In The Alps, Low Hum’s EP Low Hum, and all of the composer Oskar Schuster’s music consecutively.
How does it feel to have one of your songs featured in a small film? More particularly, how does it feel to have one of your songs featured in SummerWinterSummer?
We’re so stoked to be connected to such a wonderful mind who has been so supportive to our music and has become a dear friend. He is enormously talented. And his film is powerful, beautiful and gives an insight into a specific life lived but a desperation for love and connection we can all relate to. Honestly, just to see his film come to life and have a way to give people a greater connection to what that story is telling is really special for us.
In what ways could you see Body Salt growing and evolving?
We know the biggest evolution is going to come as a point of connection with the audience that we grow here in Nashville and continue to give our existing fans quality, vulnerable and honest music and hopefully share it with the rest of the world. It’s thrilling to see where this could go and how many people it could reach.
Are there any upcoming releases or gigs folks can anticipate as we cruise through summer and into fall?
We’re playing the New Faces night at The Basement on August 24th, so that’s going to be a lot of fun. We have an upcoming show back in San Diego on August 31st, and then we’ll be back here hitting the ground running. We’re currently working on a new EP, so keep an eye out for that in the next few months. Again, just so excited to be here and to be a part of everything that’s evolving in Nashville and to continue to grow what we started, become better songwriters, artists, performers and humans.