An Introduction to Roy Salmond

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Roy Salmond was the keynote speaker at Under the Radar’s Escape to the Lake music conference this past August. He is a record producer living amongst the exceptional beauty of British Columbia—a mythical land with real autumn that makes us Southern U. S. folks envious. Working with artists such as Carolyn Arends and Kelley McRae, Roy’s approach to production is less dictatorial and more prophetic, and his light creative touch brings out the best in the recording artists. He’s also a lover of the poetic works of Malcolm Guite and Scott Cairns. Roy was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

FH: What do you see as the interpersonal role of the producer when putting a record together?

RS: The answer depends on how a producer defines “interpersonal.” If the producer is relational like I am, then the relationship of the artist with the producer comes into play. I like collaboration and serving the artist—I want to help him or her achieve their vision. I see myself coming alongside and cheering them on and saying, “Watch for this!” or, “Have you thought of this?” I also ask a lot of questions from “What is a sonic template we can use as a starting point?” to “What are you trying to communicate here?” Usually in the course of an extended album, I’m not only the sonic documenter, but also the priest, the psychologist, the friend, the fan, the lover, the antagonist, the parent, the theologian, and the musician.

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Irons in the Fire

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I didn’t necessarily grow up in an arts-centric home. My brother, a hard rock drummer, was the musician in the family, and when he and my dad were learning to play guitar together, I decided I had to learn also. Though they thought it was a whim, my folks very generously bought me an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was nineteen. Two years later, I wrote my first song. I was hooked. For the next twenty years or so, my focus was on writing lyrics, words, and melodies. Several years ago, I reached a point where I needed a creative outlet for my creative profession. It wasn’t that I was brimming with ideas, but I needed an outlet that did not involve language or words. I was coming out of a dark season at that point, and though fear certainly held court, I was drawn to a new mode of expression, to push back against and confront some of my long-held fears.

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Weep Together

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The woman in the purple dress said, “My eight-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer this week—and I wanted a drink so bad.”  The room fell silent.  Suddenly I could feel my heart stand at attention.  It was like a queen had entered, speaking to her most trusted advisers. We all listened close.

Tears fell down her face as she shared her story. When she finished, I looked across the room at an older man shaking his head in the corner. He whispered in an honorable tone, “That’s horrible, just horrible—but I’m glad you didn’t take a drink.”

It was my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

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Material Limitations

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He centers the clay with a Thwack!
Now the gritty hum of a potter’s wheel
Sends a sheen of slick mud orbiting.

My brother has spent sixteen years
Getting to know this foreign terrain,
Learning the language to make signs
With subtleties of palm, wrist, and thumbs.

He sponges water across the face,
Leaning his body forward, bearing up
Indigenous architectures in limber clay.
Pulling vessels from mire,
Carving breath along the materials,
Pulsing fluency into earth.

He co-operates within its given
Cosmos: diction’s  imprint blesses,
‘Let there be listening ‘ discovering
What forms can be uncovered—
He takes hold to unfold and free
What dust never imagined it could be .

My brother Sam is a ceramic artist. For nearly four years now, we’ve been housemates and have spent countless hours discussing what it means to make a living as full-time artists. The two car garage has never had a car in it since Sam has lived in this house; upon moving here, he immediately converted it into his pottery and sculpture studio. Some kind of wonder comes over me when I watch Sam slap a mopey lump of gray clay onto his wheel, press it down with his body weight, and slowly raise the material up until it is transformed into a beautiful vessel.

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The Gospel of the Fat Cactus

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“Poetry is as visual as are painting 
and the cinema.” – Charles Simic
If you are lucky, you will
find yourself reading poems
by Jim Harrison or Ted Kooser
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Only When You Open

 

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You are a white screen begging
for color, pleading to deep
from the deep. Full of meditations
and repressions, you pursue
the art of stuffing.

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Healing in Creative Community

Dory

I spent four days last week at the Escape to the Lake music conference in northern Indiana. Every year, I discover afresh how needed and how wonderful this gathering is. The efficacy of the conference was in question this year, what with a new venue (which worked out beautifully) and a new time, along with major changes currently going on at Under the Radar, the organization producing the event. It went off without a hitch, however, and what hiccups there were seemed to play into the conference instead of working against it. This was my third year, and I’m always struck by the degree of healing offered through this congregation of musicians and listeners.

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