For many years as a journalist, Salli Edwards wrote about newsworthy subjects: crime, politics, celebrities. Now, she is writing – and singing – from closer to her own heart. But, don’t expect the same old songs about heartbreak and relationships. “I like songs that peel the layers and approach them from different tangents, as you would a news story. Like a song about a breakup doesn’t have to be the usual I’m so heartbroken angle. It’s like taking a snapshot of a situation and writing from there."
Salli's music channels the diversity of her influences, even delving into '80s pop, '90s grunge, electronica and jazz. In San Francisco, she played with folk-inspired duo High Drama and in Canberra with the jazz-influenced band Beautiful Lucy’s Room before embarking on a solo career.
“I've moved around and lived in many different places, but music has been the one constant thing in my life. While my songs are quite personal, I also like them to be universal so that other people can relate to them. It means a lot to me when people say how much they could relate to my songs, how the lyrics reflected how they were feeling.”
In 2020, she recorded and released her debut album "Revolving Doors" while in lockdown. It features the pandemic-inspired single 'Traces.' As described by Beat Magazine, the "genre-spanning" album is a melting pot of her inspirations, exploring everything from '90s alt rock on the Liz Phair-steeped opener, 'Falling Deep into the Sea', to the trip hop feel of 'Damage' and the buoyant 'Anticipation.”
These diverse musical influences and her varied cultural connections provide the perfect backdrop for the profound storytelling of her lyrics - based on her own life experiences and observations of life. Her song "Apartments" which mourns the loss of character in inner city neighborhoods due to rampant development, made the semi-finals of the 2022 Unsigned Only songwriting competition. The song features in her second album released in 2023 called "City Life."
Like her debut album, "Revolving Doors," the new album is a blend of different genres, ranging from alternative rock to folk pop and even jazz, but with an edgier sound replete with gritty and shimmering guitars as can be heard on the single "Stars and Snowflakes." The album also includes a timely tribute to the late Burt Bacharach, whom Edwards counts among her diverse musical influences.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Salli and we hope you find her story as interesting as we do!
Hi, Salli! You recently released a new album. Can you give us a little backstory?
I am a singer songwriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I was born in Tokyo, Japan and
have lived in Manila, Canberra, San Francisco and Milan. I’ve always loved music and
started singing as a child. But, it wasn’t until I was much older and living in San
Francisco, where I worked as a journalist, that I decided to pursue music seriously -
although I wouldn’t say I just got up one day and decided that music would be my
career! I was in a band, or more accurately a duo, and we started out doing covers of
our favourite songs. Eventually, I felt the need to branch out and start writing my own
songs to be able to fully express myself and write from my own personal experiences.
Once I made that decision, it’s like the dam just broke and suddenly all these songs
started to come out! I was also going through a lot in my personal life at the time, so
writing songs provided a much-needed emotional release. But, it was many years of
travel, personal growth and moving around before I finally recorded and released my
first album "Revolving Doors" in 2020 while in lockdown.
What do you like most about your genre of music?
I don’t stick to just one genre or musical style. I like all kinds of music and all my
different influences come out so each song sounds different but they also have a unique
sound that ties them together which a lot of people tell me is really hard to describe!
Beat Magazine described my first album "Revolving Doors" as ‘genre-spanning.’ Same
could be said about my latest album "City Life." It has tracks like "Stars and Snowflakes"
and "My First Morning Without You" that delve into my alternative, shoegaze influences,
"Golden Day"’ which is a folky ballad, "Toronado" has a jazzy, lounge feel to it and
"Patience" could almost be soul pop.
Who are some of your musical influences?
My musical influences are so varied! My biggest influences would be Aimee Mann, Liz
Phair, Sharon van Etten, Stevie Nicks, Burt Bacharach, Neil Young, Beth Orton,
Suzanne Vega and Sergio Mendes. I like everything from indie, alternative, pop, classic
rock, folk, electronica, dance, R&B and even jazz. I love and listen to all kinds of music
and they all somehow come out in my songs.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
Yes, all the time! What I’ve learned is that you can never force the creative process. The
more you are stuck, the more you force it, and then the more you can’t break the cycle.
It’s a real challenge. With songwriting, there is that flow that you aim for, when
everything just comes together effortlessly. But if you force it, then the end product
sounds like it was forced. I find I am at my creative best when I am most relaxed. If
somehow, a song I am working on is just not coming together and I get stuck, then I just
leave it and come back to it another time. Sometimes it could be days or even months
before I go back to it. Some songs I have written in just 20 minutes but others could
take months. I could never write a song to a deadline and I admire people who can do
What inspires you to write music?
I am constantly writing songs – in my head, in my journal, on scraps of paper. I find
inspiration in everything around me, from the mundane to the profound. My song
"Apartments" was inspired by walking around and noticing the rapid pace of new
apartment buildings going up in my neighbourhood. "For All the People" which is the
opening track on my new album, came to me one morning after I had been up almost
the entire night watching the news about the invasion of Ukraine and other stories of
people being subjugated or struggling to survive. My latest single "Stars and
Snowflakes" was inspired by a line from one of my favourite classic films
Moonstruck. I find there is a song just waiting to be written all around me and from
the things I see.
What are some of the exciting projects you are working on now?
I am especially proud of having just released my second album "City Life." I feel like this
album has a more mature and confident sound. It also has an edgier sound, with more
electric guitars throughout. Many of the songs have common themes about life in the
city, such as "Apartments." I wrote the song as a response to the rampant
overdevelopment in the city threatening to ruin the character and heritage of the
neighbourhood forever. I think that song started the whole concept of writing about life in
the city for the album. The songs "Toronado," "Euclid" and "Hello Again" all explore city
life from different angles. I think that is where I channel my journalism background – I
like to observe and write about things from different perspectives.
What do you hope fans take away from your music?
I hope fans can take away something really personal from my music. I like to write
songs from a personal perspective but in a way that’s also universal so that people can
relate to them. What makes me really happy is when I get a message from someone
telling me they have listened to my music and how a particular song really resonated
with them, or that they could relate to the lyrics or the message of the song. Many of my
songs are also quite ambiguous and can be interpreted in so many different ways. My
song "Blindside" from my first album I wrote about deception and being fooled by
someone or something you least expected. But, a lot of people tell me they thought it
was a love song! I love how people can interpret my songs in ways that mean
something to them.