Sky Salt are a New York based band who are attracting rave reviews for their brand of melodic alternative rock combined with a striking visual image. The band comprise Xenia on vocals, piano and guitar, Mark AD on guitar and Lillie Charlotte on bass. Xenia is also a talented fashion designer and make-up artist. Their debut album is called I BELIEVE IN FAIRYTALES and you can check out Xenia's make-up tutorials on http://www.limecrime.net/
How would you describe your music? I think your image (particularly that of Mark AD and Lillie Charlotte) is quite Gothic influenced but the music less so.
MARK: I usually say "fairytale rock." I think the music is definitely dark, but not so much "gothic". I'd call it guitar driven, kiss and tell glam, flirting with metal and indulging in a little alternative introspection and irony. That's all summed up as "fairytale rock" for me.
XENIA: We coined the term "fairytale rock" because we felt that we didn't really fit into existing categories. We could say we play "modern rock" but we tend to be a bit more inventive than Nickelback (not offence to those guys). We could say we are a Visual K band but the closest we've come to being Japanese is having a half Japanese bassist. We are pretty dark but wouldn't exactly make Siouxsie proud. So yeah, Fairytale Rock!
LILLIE: I'm --- not really sure what I call it. I say "Come to our next show and see for yourselves."
You called your album I BELIEVE IN FAIRYTALES. What is your favourite fairytale and why?
XENIA: I write my own! I enjoy Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), Harry Potter and the Brothers Grimm.
LILLIE: I like Alice in Wonderland, cheesy as it may be to state so, for many reasons. It was written by a madman to begin with, and I've always seen myself as an Alice-like character. Misplaced in my own everyday "wonderland."
Xenia, how do you think your Russian background is an influence on your music (if indeed you think it is)?
XENIA: It's hard to say. I lived in Russia for 17 years but mostly listened to English-speaking bands. My "secret" Russian influence is this quirky band called Agata Kristi. They sing about everything from murderous clowns to glorified drug use in the 1920s and instilled in me the love for creepy music boxes.
You play the piano and guitar. What do you think are the particular qualities for each instrument (as in how they differ from one another, would you prefer to use one for a sad song, for instance)?
XENIA: Piano is my first instrument which I have been playing for as long as I can remember. I am classically trained on piano and music theory. In my late teens I rejected piano entirely as an instrument as "too lame for rock 'n' roll". That was when I picked up my first guitar and discovered songwriting! Today, 80 % of my songs are written on guitar. I turn to keyboard for certain effects and textures (like the Fairy Tale intro) but guitar is definitely a more universal songwriting tool for me.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
MARK: Beautiful --- it just rocks hard and it hints at our love of Alice in Chains without aping their sound completely, which is very easy to do if you're not careful. It's the essence of fairytale rock and is the defining track of the record in my estimation.
XENIA: That changes every day! One day I'm digging on Beautiful, the next I'm all over 2 of a Kind, and the next find myself playing Low on repeat.
Lillie Charlotte has been the newest member to join. This is for LC --- how did you come to join Sky Salt and what do you like most about the band?
LILLIE: You'll hear many variations of how I joined Sky Salt, let's suffice to say --- it just sorta happened. I like the visual style and musical style, since they are both rather similar to my own project.
If you had to do a cover version, which song would you do and why?
MARK: We actually do mix covers into our live set. One old standby is Ozzy's "I Just Want You", love that for the epic Ozzy-ness of it. It's a lighters in the air kind of tune without being cheesy. We add some piano stylings that make it our own. It becomes a F'Tale anthem.
We've also done a stripped down version of the Beach Boys classic, "In My Room" which is very haunting with Xenia's voice and altered lyrics about dolls and other elements of her childhood.
The whole band has a very stunning and distinctive style. What other musicians' style do you admire?
XENIA: Anyone with a strong presence and a penchant for rock star antics. Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper.
MARK: I tend to love guitar intensive metal and hard rock . Zakk Wylde, Alice in Chains, Lillie recently turned me onto to Dir En Grey and I can dig it. I love violin music --- especially Pagannini. But at the end of the day, kick ass guitar music gets me going. Slash, Dimebag (RIP), Van Halen.
LILLIE: Sonata Arctica totally owns me but I'm a sucker for over-the-top theatrics like Mana's bands Malice Mizer and Moi Dix Mois. My biggest influences are probably the bands from the now defunct Key Party record label such as Noir Fleurir, Noi'X, Aliene Ma'riage and Missalina Rei.
As you're such a visual band, I'm really looking forward to seeing any videos you might make for your songs, what sort of imagery would you like to use?
MARK: Scary little girls in cute dresses a la "The Shining" seems like a good start.
XENIA: Ditto! I am an extremely visual person so I think about video representation of our music all the time. Imagery varies depending on the song but for the most part it's either ethereal little girls (huge fan of Nightmare on Elm Street) or over-the-top rock star shit like white doves flying out of a black Porsche. "laughs".
LILLIE: They say the camera adds twenty pounds so I'll wear a dress that won't make me look fat!
Xenia, you also design and make clothes for your own fashion label, Lime Crime. What other fashion designers do you admire?
XENIA: Oh man. Too many to name! Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Heatherette and my friend Yana aka Supayana.
What's been your most memorable gig so far and why?
XENIA: Tribeca Rock Club --- because it sucked! Everything that could go wrong did, but we ended up having fun nonetheless. But oh man, it was definitely one of the most embarrassing shows we've ever done! Mark offered nudie pics of himself as part of the compensation to the audience but figured it would only add insult to injury. "laughs".
MARK: The most memorable show? I'd say MASKARA! Because we organise it and it's great to see everyone dress up and have a good time! It's good to take some of the elitism out of the fashion industry and share the stage with other bands we respect and admire.
From the MASKARA website: MASKARA is just what it is: a Legendary Festival of Deviants. Call it the most disturbingly real fashion experience you'll ever have or a debauched Bacchanal for freaks and drag queens, one thing is true: no matter what you've heard about it, no words good or bad, can convey the impact this party has on the city that never sleeps.
What are your future plans --- will you be touring Europe/the UK soon?
MARK: In terms of touring we want to explore North America a bit but Europe is not safe from the Fairy Tale infection by any means ;)
XENIA: My future plans include fully transforming myself into a man and touring Europe with a cucumber in my pants. I think Lillie and I share the same vision.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS DONE BY E-MAIL IN MAY 2005. ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2005.
ALL PHOTOS OF SKY SALT FROM THEIR ORIGINAL WEBSITE. FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: XENIA, LILLIE CHARLOTTE, XENIA, MARK AD.
NOTE: Sky Salt have now split up but check the tags on this blog for an update on what they're up to now.