Entertainment Features

The Royal Foundry: Forging Great New Canadian Alt Pop

By David DeRocco

When you bring raw materials into a foundry you’re going to wind up shaping something entirely new. When those materials include a mercurial blend of folk and prog rock influences cut with Brit-pop production and kinetic art-pop energy, well – you a uniquely shaped musical hybrid forged by THE ROYAL FOUNDRY.

Established with the musical and literally marriage of bandmates Bethany Schumacher and Jared Salte, The Royal Foundry has morphed from a folk duo into an super-charged electro-alt-pop band that create super-catchy songs and visually stunning videos. Since their formation, the band has been building a growing constituency across the country, due in part to their 2017 debut Lost In Your Head , but also as a result of their recent awards, exposure on TSN’s CFL broadcasts and their latest single and video for the song, "Don't Know." 

To promote their appearance on a November 2nd bill at The Sanctuary opening up for Monowhales, The Royal Foundry’s Jared Salte took time to chat with GoBeWeekly about their recent awards, the new album and living up to their influences.

GOBE: 2018 has been a great year for The Royal Foundry. There was the recent win for Pop Recording of the Year at the 2018 Edmonton Music Awards, and a nomination for Pop Artist of the Year at the 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards. Plus the nomination and win at the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. What impact do those acknowledgements have on the band.

JARED: They’re just really encouraging things for us as a band. It’s always great to get that recognition because sometimes you’re just recording and writing all on your own in an isolated space and it’s tough to know if what you’re creating is going to resonate with people. So to get that is just a big motivation and a big motivation for recording the next material.

GOBE: You’re in the process of follow up to your 2017 debut Lost In Your Head.

JARED: Yes, we’ve been working on something new the past few months and we hope to release something in 2019.

GOBE: You’re both splitting your time between Edmonton and Nashville. So many Canadian artists sing the praises of heading there to write. For a band like yours, which is certainly not a country band – not that that matters – how do you fit in and how does that environment help you creatively.

JARED: It’s just a really unique diverse scene down there. There’s a huge alternative and hip hop scene sort of burgeoning in Nashville. Our publisher’s down there, our manager’s down there, so it sets us up with lots of opportunities to create with different songwriters that are just taking a unique approach to music. That really stretches us as musicians, just working with different people and seeing how they approach writing from completely different perspective than we can. Working with that community is a great way to refine our own craft.

GOBE: I spoke with Terry Clark who is also living down there, and she mentioned she wandered into a garage party where people like Kid Rock were just hanging out. It seems like a great place to be as an artist.

JARED: It’s wonderful to talk to different people there.  You can kind of just tell them what you do as a musician. There’s never any sort of prejudice, it’s always 'cool, I’m a songwriter here too.' It’s good

GOBE: What were the biggest lessons you learned around the writing, recording and touring of your debut.

JARED: I think collaboration was the biggest thing for us. About half the songs we did completely on our own other than the mix. That was really great for us. Touring was a great way to see how our songs were received. So what we’re doing differently this time is we have half our album done already, and we’re testing those songs out on the road when we come over to Ontario. It’s going to be a great way to see what moments and what songs and arrangements are really connecting with people., then take that back to the drawing board if something’s not working.

GOBE: Is the single “Don’t Know” indicative of the direction you’re headed.

JARED: Yes, that’s sort of the general direction, a little more edge, a little bit more guitar driven.

GOBE: It’s definitely an aggressive track, and hard to describe or label. When I was reading your bio there were many references to such diverse influences as Yes, Supertramp, Whitehorse, Arcade Fire and The Civil Wars. Those seem like strange bedfellows. How do you manage to weave those disparate influences into the tapestry of your music.

JARED: It’s not like we’re trying to intentionally graft five percent of Supertramp, 10 percent of Yes and all that. That’s just more so how we grew up in music. My dad was super into prog rock. That kind of trickled down to me. That can’t help but affect certain arrangements and certain moments. It’s just how music is created. I think we all like to think we’re all brilliant and coming up with these unique individual thoughts, but art is borrowed. It’s what you listen to and what shapes you. That’s the music that shaped us. As we listen to more music we’re being shaped differently. That’s true of all art forms to a degree.

GOBE: True, and you can’t help but integrate the new experiences into your evolution as a songwriter and musician. Your videos are such an elaborate mix of visuals and images. Do you ever think people get disappointed or underwhelmed when they see live performance that doesn’t measure up to the colourful, kaleidoscopic visuals reflected in music videos.

JARED: I think that can definitely happen with some bands. Some music is really hard to translate live just because there’s so much going on. We’ve done our best. We do a lot of instrument changing and swapping through the set to keep as busy as we can to sort of replicate that. We definitely want to get into adding more visuals to sort of appease the social media world we live in.

GOBE: When you’re making music not specifically targeted toward mainstream, how does that change what you do. Is it liberating from a creative standpoint.

JARED: Yea, I think that’s the best way to approach it all together. There are some people who are writing very intentionally to the mainstream. But when you think about the bands that are mainstream now, the real movers and shakers, people coming up with unique stuff are the ones that have the lasting impact. I mean, Arcade Fire is mainstream now but they weren’t when they first came out with their hit singles. That sort of shaped what mainstream was. That’s our approach too. We’d rather be creating something unique than just following trends.

GOBE: It really does help to be fearless doesn’t it.

JARED: It really does. To take those risks musically. And it’s more fun to play it goo

GOBE: For you, what element do you enjoy most about The Royal Foundry. Is it creating the music, writing and recording or touring and playing live.

JARED: I don’t know. It depends. I think it’s the creation of the music but the live show is also a lot of fun. It’s tough to say (laughing). It depends on the day

GOBE: Or it depends on how cold it is in the van

JARED: Yea, exactly.

GOBE: For fans who haven’t seen you live, how do you present the music.

JARED: We do it as a three piece, pretty electric. We’ve got a lot of drum machines on stage, and keyboards and synthesizers. It’s very hectic but it’s a lot of fun. We’ll be playing half songs from Lost In Our Head and a lot of new tracks.

GOBE: Final question. What was the original goal for the band when you set out, and how close are you to that realization.

JARED: The goal is to create something that’s innovative and inspires us, so I mean, I think that’s constantly evolving for us. As long as we’re excited and inspired by what we’re creating then we’re meeting that goal. So for us there’s not one ultimate goal. It’s about the journey.

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