In this interview spotlight, I chat with Salty Moses about the new single, Borrowed Time – A Climate Change Prophecy, as well as other topics such as challenges, motivations and more.
Full Q&A along with links and music below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I am from Spokane, Washington. I was born and raised in this area – spent some time in the Navy – am a war veteran – then returned to the area, went to college, got married and started a family. I always enjoyed music however I didn’t start seriously playing music until one of my daughters wanted to learn to play the violin. I love fiddle music we gravitated in that direction together. The Ludiker family is also located near us in Spokane. Tony Ludiker was a 5 time grand national fiddle champion – and their whole family played. We took lessons from them and played in fiddle contests in the area.
I got a bit burnt out on the fiddle contests and felt it made more sense to participate in other ways to share my love for music. With fiddle contests you can prepare all year to play a few short songs – with only about a 3 or 4 minute exposure to the audience – and in a contest – it seemed to me – that all the fiddle music started sounding pretty much the same. In contests everybody’s playing contest tunes. When you take those contest tunes out to play in public you might find that the guitar player isn’t familiar with that particular tune, or other fiddlers aren’t able to play them. Another problem with fiddling is that fiddlers are melody players – they don’t know how to play in a group where vocalists are singing the melody.
So I did a couple of things. I started taking violin lessons from someone that played in the Spokane symphony – to learn how to make better sound and how to read music. I also joined a bluegrass group. It was a hard transition from being a fiddler to being someone that played to support a band, and someone that could read music. It took years, and I’m still learning. My most recent violin teacher taught me the basics of music theory, and how to play in a bluegrass group. I still have much to learn, however she taught me enough that I learned that I could write music.
My favorite guitar player, that I’ve known for a long time, and plays in the same bluegrass band suggested the band should make it a goal to write some of its own music. That’s how I started writing music. The first piece I wrote I titled “Borrowed Time: A Climate Change Prophecy” and we named the group that recorded it “Salty Moses”.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
The Ludiker family played a huge part in leading me down this path of music. JaDean Ludiker was my daughters and my first fiddle teacher. She was a Washington State fiddle champion. Then we took from her husband Tony. Tony was a 5 time grand national fiddle teacher. Both Kimber and Dennis Ludiker, their daughter and son are well known fiddle players now – and they play professionally. Kimber plays the fiddle in “Borrowed Time: A Climate Change Prophecy”.
Erin Held taught me how to read music and get a good sound out of my violin and helped me learn how to play in a band to support the rest of the band. Caridwen Spatz taught me music theory and got me started writing music. She is also a section leader in a community orchestra that my wife and I play in. She’s been huge in helping me transition into being a songwriter.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
This is my first release, and it is the first song I wrote. It was written because of my passion about the issue and desire to try to make a difference in the way people think about climate change. There is a great deal – volumes – of information about climate change and I had to try to boil it down to the basics, and try to get the message across that there is a sense of urgency here. We as a civilization must embrace the reality of this issue. To ignore it comes at great pearl and price.
I appreciate your perspective of seeing the climate change debacle as a huge opportunity and agree this is a time of disruption for positive change in many aging industries. How did you come to be so passionate about the topic of climate change and it’s role in our future?
I’ve taken a great interest in this issue from when I was first introduced to it – probably back around the time “An Inconvenient Truth” was released. Since then I tried to read most newspaper, and magazine articles I saw on the topic. I read some books about it.
When I was a kid I spent a lot of time during the summer at a place called Waitts lake. My grandfather built a cabin there when I was about 5 years old. There were a bunch of us relatives that all had places in the same area on the same lake. I became an avid water skier and attempted all kinds of stunts – skiing backwards – turning around on skis – trying to ski bare footed – trying to fly being tethered to the boat. My wife and I inherited my folks place on the lake and built a home there. Over that last number of years though – summers are not what they used to be. August used to be the absolute best month of the year to be at the lake. Now however August has become fire month. Forest fires were never a concern in the past – we never lost lake time because of them. Now the entire month of August is horrible. It is not safe to go outside and breathe the air/smoke. Climate change is responsible for this.
But it’s not just the loss of a month or month and a half to fire season that makes me passionate about this issue. It’s much bigger than that.
In a book titled “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” Carlo Rovelli wrote: “I believe that our species will not last long…What’s more we do damage. The brutal climate and environmental changes that we have triggered are unlikely to spare us…I do not think that we will outlast them unscathed – especially since public and political opinion prefers to ignore the danger that we are running, hiding our heads in the sand. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of our individual mortality. I fear that soon we shall also have to become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilization.”
After writing “Borrowed Time” I was trained by The Climate Reality Project to be a climate change leader and speaker. But the thing is – that’s not enough – we can’t simply go around convincing people climate change is real. We must do more – we’ve got to show how we can tackle this issue and come out huge winners during our own lifetimes. So I started looking for solutions to this problem – and I found that they exist, and that there is every reason in the world to embrace these solutions. I believe this energy revolution will be the biggest and best thing mankind has ever done. The rewards will be both immediate and long term.
In the book “Drawdown” 80 solutions are outlined that are 1) Commonly available, 2) Economically viable, 3) Scientifically valid, and are No Regret Solutions (benefit society and the environment), and have relatively short payback periods. The book contains the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming – yes, that’s right – to actually REVERSE global warming. The reason I believe an energy revolution is at our door is because the economics of it are inevitable, clean energy is less expensive, and because the monopolies fossil fuels have enjoyed are being broken. The economic data gathered and analyzed clearly shows that the expense of the problems in the world now exceed the cost of the solutions. Three different scenarios are shown in the book. Each scenario shows what it would take to implement the solutions and the impact that scenario would have. The least of the three scenarios would re-sequester the equivalent of 1,051.01 gigatons of carbon dioxide. This scenario is projected to cost $27.4 trillion dollars, however would produce savings of $73.9 trillion dollars. These are worldwide projected costs and savings.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
Interesting question, and it calls to mind another book I love. It’s titled “Hit Makers” and it talks about the difficulties one faces in “making it big” vs. being a failure. One’s end product can be every bit as good as the most famous product ever known – and yet it can fail. The reasons for failure or success can be numerous. I believe being an indie musician puts one at a distinct disadvantage simply because people really don’t like a lot of change. People like what they are familiar with, and they may very well not be familiar with any particular indie musician. Thus, being unknown is a huge challenge.
Time and money are also very difficult challenges. Like the joke – What’s the difference between being a musician and a pizza? Answer: A pizza can feed a family of four.
For me I’ve worked and had a career, so I don’t need to generate an income related to music. I generate music for a different purpose – it’s like a higher calling for me. I want to write and produce music that is meaningful, that people can associate with, turn to and enjoy. Time is also a bit more available now than it used to be. I work part time in my regular career now, and that helps me find a bit more time for music.
I could not possibly get my music heard by very many people without technology. Without technology the only people that would hear my music would be live audiences, which is something that doesn’t occur very often, or in very many venues (for me). I am not making the most use of technology that I could be making – again boiling down to time and money being available to get the technology up and running and in place, and maintaining it.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
I believe the best place to connect with me will be through places like MTM and Youtube. I only have the one song out there that’s been professionally recorded so far – but I believe there will be more – I’ve written a few more and continue to have ideas about other new songs.
Anything else before we sign off?
I really appreciate you Joshua! Thank you for the exposure you’re providing to my song “Borrowed Time: A Climate Change Prophecy”. It is very difficult to get heard as an indie musician. Interestingly the song seems to becoming a bit more popular in Europe and other parts of the world. I believe there are now 3 radio stations in the Netherlands carrying it, and it did make it to the # 3 spot of a stations Indie Artists in the UK last month.
Please keep playing it!
I would love it if a musician that has already made a name for themselves would approach me and ask permission to record this song. My goal for this song is to have it heard by as many people as possible. I believe it is important for the world to hear and associate with this song.
Thank you very, very much!