By: Shayla Lee
From independent artists like Emily Vaughn blessing us with empowering bops like ‘Priority’ and ‘Over That’ to pop superstar Ariana Grande gracing us with her latest ‘God is a Woman’, female empowerment in music is more and more prevalent every single day. London-based musician Salt Ashes recently released her own girl power anthem, fittingly titled ‘Girls,’ with the aim to inspire and empower women.
When I hit the play button on ‘Girls,’ I immediately fell in love with Salt Ashes’ powerful lyrics, her voice, and the overall message she sends in the track. Staying true to her dark synth-pop roots, Salt Ashes’ beautiful vocals melt into the layered and moody production, resulting in a track that is equally as danceable as it is empowering. I was nodding my head in approval at her lyrics like “Stop treating me like one of those girls” and “you just don’t know when to quit / you think I’m playing hard to get / guess you don’t really know me” because they are just so real.
I had the chance to chat with Salt Ashes about the inspiration behind ‘Girls,’ her new music video, and what she has in store for us this year!
Femme Riot: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspired you to become a musician?
Salt Ashes: I always wanted to sing and perform so I can’t really pinpoint a moment of inspiration, however seeing my sister, who’s 10 years older than me, singing in a band may have had something to do with it.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
I would probably describe it as dark and crunchy, synth-pop with a dusting of lust.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Who are some of your musical influences?
I mainly draw inspiration from my life; things that are happening or have happened to me or people around me. My songs have a door handle which lets you see into my head!
I grew up listening to a wide range of bands and artists like Madonna, TLC, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and later discovered disco with the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Change, Daft Punk.
I’m loving your new single ‘Girls!’ On SoundCloud, you explained that the track is about “breaking the stereotypes of people who want to express themselves and their sexuality freely without the “slut shaming” or being told that they’re “asking for it.” I’m all here for it and I feel so empowered when I listen to it! Did it feel liberating to create such an empowering song? Can you tell us more about this track?
I’m so fucking happy that it’s made you feel that way! That’s the ultimate goal, so that’s just made my day. It felt great to write the track but hearing comments like that is why I write songs.
The song is about knowing your boundaries and not making assumptions based on the way a person is dressed or because they are friendly with you! No one should make any assumptions, especially when the words coming from the other person’s mouth is NO.
I would love for this track to inspire and empower people to trust their gut and speak up in situations where the other person is telling you “it’s only a bit of fun” or “stop taking yourself so seriously” and trying to belittle you into doing something you don’t want to do. I know this song has come at a time where this subject is widely discussed and some people think it’s overly spoken about but this shit has been happening for years so yes we need to keep talking about it until everyone takes a look at their own actions and makes sure they aren’t crossing any boundaries or pushing someone into something.
The music video for ‘Girls’ is just as empowering as the song itself! How did you come up with the concept for the music video?
Thank you. That was the goal so I’m glad you feel that way. I wanted to get as many people who identified as female in the video to fully express themselves in whatever way made them feel great and confident. I wanted to show how different people are from each other and how that should be accepted.
Initially I was thinking of getting people into a studio and filming their scenes there but it felt too restricted and linear. So I reached out to my friends and fans and asked them to get involved and film and direct themselves. This way, I felt I’d get more of an honest performance of someone, in a space where they felt comfortable and would see more of their personality even from the location they chose to shoot or the clothes they wore. I was overwhelmed with all the entries I received – each one so different, so expressive and individual.
The scenes you see of the models and I stemmed from wanting each still to look iconic, bold and unapologetic. The variety of bold colours represents how people are all different and that should be accepted by all.
I wanted the video to represent unapologetic confidence, self expression and individuality but all as a visually powerful piece of art.
Who are some females who have inspired/empowered you personally?
My friends and family who I surround myself with to be honest empower me every day. Life can be fucking hard and just keeping your shit together is inspiring enough to me and puts things continually into perspective.
Have you experienced any adversity being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you have any tips for other women going through these types of challenges in their own lives?
Other than men assuming I can’t work certain musical gear or know how to engineer vocals etc, I haven’t really experienced much adversity which I’m grateful for. Hopefully that continues.
What else can we expect from you this year?
A lot more music! I’m working on new material at the moment which I’m really excited by so I can’t wait for you to hear it.
What songs are you currently listening to?
Nicolas Jarr – No
Esther Kirabo – Kill U
Nick Murphy – Forget about me
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Hmmm no, but did you know that the word “samba” means “to rub navels together.”
The cover photo was shot by Debbie Scanlan (Wolf James Photography)