Brooklyn-via-Colombia indie pop duo Salt Cathedral released the newest single off their forthcoming debut album earlier this month. Titled "No Love," it's a light and shimmery dance song colored with steel drum flourishes and lead singer Juli Ronderos's vibrant vocals. However, with lyrics like: "Tell me when will we see our brothers stop killing each other like animals," it was clear that the song was meant to be more than a breezy summer hit.
"This song is a little bit about that relating to what bodies are," Ronderos explained to me over coffee. "If your body is a vehicle or an instrument, why not make it an instrument of dance, which is way more instinctive than making it an instrument of violence. Why is it so hard to be nice to each other and be loving? Why all this violence in the world?"
Today, The FADER is premiering the accompanying video to "No Love," an equally colorful visual that features scenes from a small neighborhood in the Caribbean-influenced city of Cartagena, a popular tourist destination in Colombia, according Ronderos. Shots of brilliantly hued homes, lush greenery, and energetic locals converge to paint beautiful portraits of joy and dance in the small town.
Watch the "No Love" video above, and continue reading for our short conversation on the filming process in Cartagena, meeting the locals, and how they approached filming in a community that wasn't their own.
Can you guys introduce yourselves?
Juli: We're Salt Cathedral. Nico [Losada] is 29 and I'm 30. And we've been making music for maybe 5 years? We're from Colombia in South America, so we kind of moved here to New York starting from zero. And then we've been kind of paving this way of discovering, what's our music like and exploring a lot of different types of music.
Nico: Well, growing up in Colombia, we were born and raised in Bogotá, we grew up in a dance culture. We were interested in a style of music like jazz and improvisation. The interesting thing about our journey as a band is that we have this dance culture behind us.
Tell me a bit about the town you guys filmed the video in.
Juli: [The video] takes place in a big tourist town, Cartagena. It's a very elegant place in the Caribbean. Where we recorded is a neighborhood in that city that's not the glamorous side of the city.
Nico: Have you seen The Florida Project? I feel like it's a good analogy for Cartagena because Cartagena is the most touristic city from Colombia. People get married there; it's like Cancún. It's beautiful and everybody goes there, but they go to a certain area. Once you go outside, it's really, really difficult. It's poor. It was the director's idea to shoot there. He said, "I know the area, I've worked with [the locals], and it would be cool because we can tell their stories." People should see their side; it's really beautiful and where incredible singers come from, incredible dancers, incredible musicians come from.
Was there anything that you guys were cautious about before arriving there and filming?
Juli: I was scared to make them think that we're just coming to appropriate their situation or the physical aspect of it, [because] it has this Caribbean look and vibe. That's why we were so happy to work with [our producer] because all the work they do, there's a backend where they're helping out the community.
The thing as a musician, you always feel like, OK, how can I do better to the world? But then you look at yourself and you're just a musician making music. And you don't have this giant platform, you're no Beyoncé. And it's like, How can we at least shed some light on a thing that's important? So going there, it almost feels more right than if we did a New York video where we look like New Yorkers.
There's one character featured in the video that I especially love, La Reina. How did you guys find her?
Nico: Everything was really random because we were shooting and 50 percent was the director had everything planned. The other 50 percent we were improvising. While we were shooting, La Reina came and she was like, "Hey, do you guys wanna shoot me?" We were like, "What, who are you?" [She said] "I'm the queen and I have a hundred something grandkids, my family is so big. I won this contest. Look at my dress." And she came back with a dress.
Juli: She put her outfit on for dancing, but we kind of wanted her regular outfit because she looked so great. So she took the dancing outfit, we took photos of it, and then they printed the photos. And in the testimonial, you can see that she has the photo in her house. And a physical photo of us, too.
What were some surprising things that y'all encountered during the shoot?
Juli: To me, it was the hospitality and the generosity. I remember I had to use the bathroom and La Reina was like, "Come in — come into my bathroom." It was just the love in which she was like, “Come here," and then she brought out a chair for me and she's like, "Sit in my porch, please!" It was just seeing people who have so little yet are so incredibly generous, and you see the contrast of people who have so much and are not generous.
Nico: I think the biggest value about this is, it's so cool showing a place that's unknown for so many people, including Colombians. I think that's a great value. I'm happy we're using this medium for something positive.
Juli: I feel like I just want this to be out there because this music is more meaningful than anything that we are. It just has a life of its own.