Brianna Snider grapples with a lost year on new saltlick EP
Forced to spend more time alone during the pandemic, the musician takes a more inward look on the just-released ‘Stuck Here at the Start’
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, Brianna Snider, who is prepared to graduate from Capital University with a degree in music technology, left Columbus to hole up with her family in Pittsburgh, unsure at the time how long the retreat would last.
The first few weeks Snider lived at home amid the coronavirus were accompanied by a creative outpouring, with the musician writing the songs that form the basis of new saltlick EP Stuck Here at the Start, out today (Monday, April 26). Dedicated to “anyone who is stuck,” the album finds Snider pining for a beachside escape (“Throwing Car Batteries Into the Ocean”) while simultaneously turning the camera inward on songs such as “Steel Phantom,” an approach Snider said was driven, in part, by being forced by circumstances to spend too many hours at home alone with her thoughts.
“I was at this big crossroads point when I wrote these [songs], where I had been writing a lot about my external experiences, and now that I had the time and I was by myself I wanted to write something that looked internally,” Snider said recently by phone. “So there’s a lot of inward reflection, looking at how I deal with anxiety and things like that.”
Throughout, Snider, backed here by Geoff Webb on bass and Bexley Moms bandmate Matt McCroskey on drums, wrestles with her perceived flaws (“I make too many mistakes”), drops her emotional guard (“That night I almost said, ‘I love you’”) and continues to forge onward despite the challenging circumstances. “Please don’t stop trying to make it fit,” she repeats on the meditative, album closing “saltlick.”
While generally low-key, the album maintains a sense of humor evident in songs like “Throwing Car Batteries,” on which Snider sings about struggling to take things more seriously on a track that took both its name and initial inspiration from a Facebook meme page.
“That whole song came from a discussion with a person I used to be friends with, and they had somehow come across that meme, and I was like, ‘Man, I wish we could go throw car batteries in the ocean, but we’re landlocked in Ohio,’” Snider said of the song, which evolved from this inside joke into an accidental commentary on a world in which travel is currently restricted. “I always try to find humor in things, and I try to always see things in a positive light, even when things are looking down. Shielding some of that sad message and trying to make it more palatable with humor is how I try to come across.”
Following the early pandemic burst, Snider said she hit a creative wall that extended for months, a time she spent playing video games and enjoying time with her parents and siblings that she wouldn’t have had otherwise, which included getting bombed with her dad to celebrate turning 21.
“I ended up stuck at home longer than I wanted or needed to be, so I just hit a slump of not writing anything for months,” said Snider. “We were in this crazy time, and I wanted to do what I needed to do in order to relax and not get so doom-scrolly, so I was like, ‘If I don’t want to create right now, and there’s nothing coming from me, then I’m not going to force it.”
Some of this creative inspiration returned when Snider moved back to Columbus in September, initially taking unexpected form in a couple of one-off, electronic-leaning singles, which the musician traced to a lingering interest in the late producer Sophie, who died in an accidental fall in January at the age of 34. Eventually, though, Snider opted to pull back into more familiar indie-rock terrain for the new EP, albeit with a new sense of perspective and a few sonic wrinkles.
“Writing in those other genres helped me come back to saltlick with fresh eyes and some new innovations,” said Snider, aspects of which can be heard on the electro-tinged “The Exit Was Closed,” which builds around the propulsive thrum of a drum machine. “It has really opened my mind up both musically and from a production standpoint.”
Moving forward, Snider expects to embrace this growing sonic toolkit both within saltlick’s more insular, downtempo world and alongside McCroskey in the comparatively boisterous Bexley Moms, which exists in part to soundtrack an endless summer, and which has a new album nearing completion geared toward the brighter, post-pandemic days to come.
“We’re talking about taking excursions to a waterpark to finish up the record,” Snider said. “I always tend to get really into that headspace when the weather is getting nicer, where you’re getting into those summery vibes, like, ah, now I can finally go to the pool again.”