REGGAE | Black Salt Tone

IRIE™ Magazine | REGGAE - Black Salt Tone

Black Salt Tone


Black Salt Tone joined forces in February of 2011 and have been pounding away at the reggae-rock scene ever since. Based out of Orange County, California, Black Salt Tone’s nomadic draw is what allows them to freely and regularly tour along the western region of the United States.

Black Salt Tone’s music is a masterful blend of reggae-rock-alternative-electronic. They have a reputation for innovating musically and blowing up the stage with high energy performances. They lovingly craft honest lyrics, brutal beats, thumping bass lines, scorching keys, passionate vocals and moving guitar solos. Black Salt Tone stays at the forefront of political, humanitarian and environmental issues and shows their support online as well as marching with protestors in the streets. Their continued effort to understand and improve this earth reflects in their music as well as their activism as we are all trying to leave this world better than we received it.

Having released three albums; Into the Unknown, Rise, and Diversity Voltron, they are hard at work on their 4th album, due out in 2020. Black Salt Tone has toured the west coast extensively and continues to do so. They have played the smallest to the largest music festivals including; California Roots, Blaze ‘n Glory, Oregon Hemp Fest, Reggae Rise Up, and More.

They have been featured on Solo Live Music, featured in Tapout Magazine and have been interviewed on many radio shows and podcasts. Keep an eye out for upcoming music videos and tours as they continue making sonic waves spreading an honest message of hope, survival, love, and progress on their musical journey. Super, Mega, One Love. IRIE is proud to introduce Joshua Black (Vocals, Guitar), Kobo Tone (Keyboard, Sampling) and Tree Salt (Drums) aka Black Salt Tone.

The Interview

IRIE. Take us back to February 2011. How did you all come together to become Black Salt Tone? BTW, we love the band name! Genius!

Black Salt Tone. Tree and I (Shua) are siblings, we’ve jammed together for a good majority of our lives. We met Kobo passing out flyers for his show at a bar. We stayed in contact for several years. Eventually, we realized we had a similar vision, which is pretty difficult to find. The 3 of us decided to start a new project based on our collective musical preferences. The band name is literally representative of that discussion. Black Salt Tone translates directly to “Dark Tonalities over Salt on the Wound subjects. – Shua

My brother (Shua) and I traveled a lot growing up. We’ve lived on the east & west coast and were fortunate to experience living in countries like France, South Korea and Panama. What I most remember about 2011, is that we had just recently moved to Socal as we were tired of the inequality, religion and politics of Salt Lake City. When the group was formed as BST, I was playing a mean avocado shaker while harmonizing with my bro’s (Shua) dynamic vocals. We didn’t have a drummer or bass guitarist and the only musicians that had functioning gear was Shua playing on a Marshall Half stack and Kobo had an LP conga set. April 2011, my bro surprised me with a pdp drum set for my birthday and I’ve been smashing away ever since. – Tree

2011 Anaheim CA, BST equals Joshua Black on a half-stack Marshall amplifier, Tree Salt on an Avocado Shaker, Myself on a Six Piece Conga Set, and a Bass Player that did not have his own gear. It was a mess piecing together Joshua Blacks vision with that set up but it evolved to something special over time. – KOBO

IRIE. Can you share with us how each of you were first introduced to reggae?

Black Salt Tone. As the youngest of six kids, I was influenced by all of my elder siblings. Though they weren’t around much because they were out chillin with their friends, their CDs were. I regularly swiped their music, and the Bob Marley ‘Legends’ album really made an impression on me. When thinking about the introduction to that album, I can visually see the posters & concert tickets tacked onto my bedroom walls, I can smell the spf-10 coconut lotion that I regularly wore that summer. It was certainly a moment in my life that have shaped who I am as an adult. – KOBO

I often think of my introduction to Reggae as,”When was I first introduced to Bob Marley?” In reality though my first reggae experience was hearing the song “Red Red Wine.” in the 80’s by UB40. When we were kids, my mother went through a phase where she expected us to write only Christian music. I wasn’t onboard with writing lyrics that weren’t authentic. I wanted to write lyrics that felt honest and conveyed my true sentiments. Needless to say, my foul language wasn’t appreciated.. It’s a little more complicated than that, but it was enough to get kicked out and to live on the streets for a minute. I slept behind dumpsters, stayed in crack houses and eventually ended up meeting the local stoners. They introduced me to Bob Marley around 15 years old. They’d feed me, get me high and put a roof over my head. The first Bob Marley song I ever heard was “Redemption Song.” It brought me to tears. – Shua

I was 16 years old when I was first introduced to, “Bob Marley and the Wailers”. If I remember right, the song was Buffalo Soldiers. I felt like my soul couldn’t get enough of this music cause it spoke to me. His music resonated deeply with me along with his compassionate, empowering message to stand up for your rights. – Tree

IRIE. It’s no secret that Black Salt Tone is one of our favorite bands! As a group, you have a special sound that we love which you describe as a blend of Reggae-Rock-Alternative-Electronic! How did your sound evolve to what it is today?

Black Salt Tone. Black Salt Tone is a piece of us. It is a marriage and a special bond between each and every one of us. We have peaks and valleys in our lives that reflect in our lyrics, music and performance. So basically our music is the shared growth, pain and knowledge between us. – KOBO

The music focuses on real world issues and usually tries to refocus the visceral reality of those punishing experiences into something we can repurpose. Repurpose into a positive idea, a positive experience. Although, sometimes reality is an immovable object and we’re left with our real-life experiences.

IRIE. Take us through your process when creating new music? Is it a band effort or do certain members have key roles in the creative process?

Black Salt Tone. Joshua Black is the singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist of the band. When it comes to the band room, as well as studio time, he can hear all aspects of the represented music being presented. He definitely makes sure that the product being displayed on stage, as well as in your ear buds, is worthy of your time and energy. – KOBO

IRIE. Who are some of your music influences?

Black Salt Tone. Simon & Garfunkel, Rage Against the Machine, Deftones, Def Leppard, Bob Marley, Santigold, Damian Marley, Outkast, Beatles, Joan Baez, Guns N Roses.

IRIE. Songs like ‘Lion’ and ‘Galaxy’ get heavy play in our studio. The songwriting and lyrics are powerful. How do you go about deciding on the topic for each song?

Black Salt Tone. Song topics are life experiences. You do not decide life experiences, they come with living. – KOBO

IRIE. Yes, I! You guys continue to tour extensively, playing the smallest and the largest music festival. Do you have a memorable moment from performing live/being on the road?

Black Salt Tone. One memorable moment during one of our tours was playing a, now non-existent, reggae festival that involved an underpowered generator that couldn’t keep up with the voltage needed to play our set. This festival was also included a drunk, 3 am flute player right next to our tent… that eventually included vomiting for an hour during the climax of his moonlight/spotlight/solo which involved him starting a fight with security at roughly 4:30 am once he started fighting with other attendees of this festival. One other memorable segment of this music festival was the naked civilian swimming in the river, on mushrooms threatening security with a gun, during our morning coffee session. That was a very memorable experience as it was one of the most majestic and beautiful places that I had ever been to in my life. – KOBO

IRIE. You’re not just a kick-ass reggae band, you’re also serious activists who speak loudly about political, humanitarian and environmental issues. We see you! Much Respect! What issues are very close to you? How can others get involved to address these issues?

Black Salt Tone. Some of the topics that are close to us is the environmental issues such as climate change and medicare for all. We feel that the best way to get involved and to spread issues that are important to you is simply to talk to people about what is important to you. Open up the dialogue and expand. – KOBO

Do something, do anything, just don’t expect someone else to do the work for you. At the end of the day, you are responsible for the change you wish to see. Recycle, have a conversation, go to a protest, donate to your candidate (cough, Bernie Sanders!) Clean up a fucking beach. Clean up a highway, avoid eating meat if you can. Ride your bike to work, feed the homeless. Technically we’re all activists in some form or another. We vote with our dollars, where you put your money is critical.

IRIE. We follow you on social media and will continue to do so because you are an active voice to what’s really going on around the world especially with the rise of ‘fear over facts’. 2020 is a very important year for us in regards to the upcoming elections. If you could share one message with the world, what would that message be?

Black Salt Tone. VOTE!! Make sure that you are registered to vote. Do not only follow and vote on a national level but pay attention to and vote on a local level. They are the ones that make the smallest to the largest changes in your life. Call your local representatives and express your concerns and ideas to them. Make your voice heard! – KOBO

It’s easy to be apathetic and nihilistic. It’s not easy to get out there and give a shit about the issues. Or to deal with the online antagonism debate inevitably brings. Anyone can be lazy and stay home. Even if that’s the path you choose, remember, the monsters of the world…will not stay home. The greedy and the powerful never stay home. The rich use the machine of politics to squeeze every penny and resource out of every rock, tree, stream and human being.

IRIE. What do you hope your fans & first-time listeners take with them after listening to Black Salt Tone?

Black Salt Tone. Give a fuck. Give a fuck about your air, your water, your medicine, your freedom and your happiness. None of them are mutually exclusive. Everything for better or worse is completely connected

IRIE. Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Kingfisha. Life is hard and everyone only has this. So be empathetic.

IRIE. Give thanks, Black Salt Tone! Much Love & Respect!

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IRIE on Spotify Playlist | IRIE on SPOTIFY – January 2020

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