On the opening line of "Salt Shaker," a great song by Melbourne-based four-piece Jaala, frontwoman Cosima sings, I lick salt right off my hand/ helps me to feel like I'm still by that ocean. Her voice, a little punk and full of soul, is instantly arresting. Anyone who grew up even a little close to the sea probably gets what she means, and how visceral those memories can be. But for Cosima, the salty waves were extra sacred, as they provided a refuge from her stifling, dead-end Australian hometown. I'd rather give my two good playing hands, she sings later, than stay in that hot climate and marry one of those men.
In the song's video, debuting above, she wanders around a desert in a long black dress and some beat-up old boots. The narrative is seemingly about grappling with her complicated past. It's not all bleak, though: at one point, a creature made of stuffed animals and other childhood relics emerges from the sand, like a playful manifestation of the good memories—or something. Cosima is certainly a magnetic protagonist, and the song's artsy, off-kilter slackness suits the surreal Where The Wild Things Are-esque imagery. In an email to The FADER, Cosima explained the story behind the song and clip. It was too good to edit down, so I've included the whole thing below.
COSIMA JAALA: "'Salt Shaker' is about abandoning the pimply-arsed town I grew up in. South East of Brisbane, in a hot soup of shopping mall carparks so hot you can die like a dog in your car. The men don't speak, they grunt at you for more beer. The pub; working there was nice. I saw a man dip his chode into the communal vat of tomato sauce. I spent 18 years watching the television - on average about six hours a day. The ocean was saviour and lord, heavy waves were a welcomed beating. I once had a little nap in the patrol tower, as a junior cadet lifesaver, hungover because of an archaic beer-soaked ritual the night before where I watched respected club honchos draw blood from each other's asses with flippers in the gear shed. "Salt Shaker" serves as a neat little cathartic bundle of all of these memories and more. The conflict between an awareness that your integrity depends on leaving and the pain of forsaking familiarity.
Making the clip felt like a ritualistic coming-to-terms with my childhood, a strange exorcism. Things got weird: we were out on the dunes for nine hours in the sun. Thomas Henning, the director, became a tomato, as did I. I never saw him drink water; I myself suckled the warm XXXX Gold tinnies, because it 'felt right'. A man called Bruce was out there getting some time away from the missus, slaying the dunes in his buggy. He helped us carry gear back and forth. Thank you Bruce; we would've been royally fucked without you. In much of the clip I am on the toilet, where shits, revelations, decisions, and songs come to be. The toilet is also a place where I can practice peeing whilst standing up."
Jaala's new full-length, Hard Hold, is out November 20th via Australian label Wondercore Island