Meet: We chat to Salarymen plus review their sparkling single ‘Runaway’

Out of the depths of a Sydney winter (a rather benign concept, I admit), Salarymen have released an absolutely delightful ray of sunshine in the form of the single ‘Runaway’.

Infused with a dappled sunlight aura and recalling the kind of hedonistic joie de vivre epitomised by the swinging sixties in the form of Serge Gainsbourg and his muse Jane Birkin with its vocal interplays, ‘Runaway’ tilts along in a delicious canter – bright, melodic and effervescent.

And yet, antithetically, there is an air of wistful melancholia that simmers beneath the surface – regret, nostalgia and a sense that everything is ephemeral and transient, perhaps.

The result is something quite delightful – intelligent, melodic indie pop that sparkles – a sentiment perfectly caught by the nostalgia-tinged video directed and edited by Todd Stephen Logan:

Sunlight, beaches, gambolling feely in pristine nature: something to yearn for. Absolutely endearing indie dream pop of the highest order.

You can download/stream the single here, and catch the band performing in a COVID-safe environment at The Vanguard in Sydney on 29 August 2020 – tickets and details available here.

I had a chat with singer Renee de la Motte about the band, the single and life in lockdown:.

First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Who are Salarymen and how did you come together?

Salarymen is made up of Thom Eagleton and myself, Renee de la Motte. We had been dating for a few years before we decided to start the band. It’s not always easy start a band with your significant other, but at least you can be honest when one of you is playing something shit (laughs).

You are based in Sydney – has this geography influenced your music at all?

I think things are always a little more chill in Australia, than some other fast-paced cities like London/New York. I think our music definitely reflects that, I want someone to put our songs on when they have their feet up in the middle of summer and an ice cold beer in hand.

How have you been coping with the COVID situation and lock down?

We’ve been doing our best, just taking the time to do more creative things that we wouldn’t normally try, like painting and other forms of art. We try to remind ourselves each day to be grateful that we are in a country with such a good healthcare system.

Of course, the name ‘Salarymen’ to me suggests the millions of downtrodden white-collar workers in Tokyo – what inspired the name?

Creativity and the modern working life doesn’t really mix very well – at the end of a 9 hour day, you aren’t exactly ready to write your next big hit. So the name came from exactly that idea of feeling a bit stuck in the cycle of work, and having no time to pursue your real passions. We also love Japan so much, so it made sense to reference it somehow in the name.

Indeed, the single ‘Runaway’ seems to be the complete antithesis of the image of salarymen enslaved by their jobs – can you tell us how you wrote it and the inspiration for the lyrics?

We have had the bones of the song for a couple of years, but the lyrics were written very recently and were finalised during COVID lockdowns, when we were stuck in the same place all day every day. The desire to just get out there and travel has always been strong for us, but when we realised we probably weren’t going anywhere for a couple of years, it was truly gutting – so in came Runaway, which is an expression of the sense of escapism and wanderlust we are all feeling at the moment.

There is a sixties summery feel to the instrumentation – what are your main influences (musical and otherwise) when writing? What are your favourite bands?

The Beach Boys and The Beatles are some huge influences – specifically the innovative chord progressions layered harmonies which are quite hard to perfect. We also just love 60s and 70s fashion and cinema icons such as Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, and you can really see those influences coming out in all of our songs and film clips so far.

You have an EP coming out in November/December– can you give us any details?

The EP doesn’t have a solid name yet, but it will contain our previous singles ‘Please’ and ‘That Man’ as well as two new tracks! So it will be really fun to release a bigger body of work for the first time

How have you recorded the material – at home, in a studio?

We record everything in our home studio in Sydney’s Inner west. It’s a totally DIY approach that lets us spend as much time as we need perfecting our songs without worrying about running out of studio time.

I know it’s hard to predict what will happen, but do you have any live gigs in mind in the future?

Yes! Absolutely. We have our single launch coming up on August 29th, which will be a seated performance. It will look a little different to our normal gigs but we’re just stoked to be playing. We also actually just got locked in to support Hayley Mary (The Jezabels) for a few shows in September which is great.

What other local bands should we be keeping our eyes out for?

The Lazy Eyes
Hayley Mary

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