Steve Salett

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Steve Salett
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Princeton, New Jersey
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Musician
  • Songwriter
  • Record producer
  • Business owner
  • Stan (father)
  • Elizabeth Salett (mother)
RelativesPeter (older brother)

Steve Salett is an American musician, songwriter, record producer and business owner. He has performed as The Poison Tree[1] and was formerly in the bands The King of France[2], The Kelley Deal The Kelley Deal 6000[3] and Deformo[4]. He has worked with Sam Amidon, Thomas Bartlett (musician), Josh Kaufman (musician), Sam Cohen (musician) and Amy Helm. He is the owner of the Saltlands Studio complex in Dumbo, Brooklyn and co-owner of Reservoir Studios in Midtown Manhattan with Grammy Awards producer and engineer Pat Dillett.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, to Stan & Elizabeth Salett. He has one older brother, Peter, who is also a singer-songwriter. Salett currently lives in Brooklyn New York with his wife Dara Sicherman Salett; the couple co-parent two children from Salett's and three from Sicherman Salett's previous marriages.

He attended Oberlin College studying Religion and graduated in 1993. He relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota and began playing in bands including Deformo (1994 - 2001) and the The Kelley Deal 6000 (1995 - 1997). Deformo attracted positive attention and was named best band by MPLS City Pages in 1998 and compared favorably to "...the energetic abandon of early Pavement" by Tape Op.[5]

In 1998 he relocated to Brooklyn, New York City. After Deformo split in 2001, he formed The King of France with drummer and journalist Michael Azerrad. The band released their debut album, Salad Days, on Egret Records in 2003 followed by their national debut, the self-titled The King of France, on Echo Records in 2005.[6] The band caught the attention of director Michael Showalter who featured their track Just a Body in his 2005 film The Baxter. The same year Salett starred in a series of MTV commercials for "The Real World: Austin," for which he composed and recorded a different 30-second song for each character in the show.[7]

Since 2000, Salett has operated the Saltlands Studio complex in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Founded with the goal of providing safe, affordable rehearsal space for musicians in New York City, the space was nicknamed the Saltmines for it's subterranean location.[8] Salett opened a recording studio in Saltlands with Dawn Landes and Gary Mauer in 2007 to serve the community that had grown around the rehearsal studios.[9] Around this time The King of France dissolved.[10]

Without an active band project, Salett focused on studio projects co-producing Caithlin De Marrais's "Red Coats" album with Josh Kaufman (musician)[11] and The National (band) cover of Peter Katis's "Twenty Miles to NH pt. 2".[12] In 2010 he composed the music for's campaign "Accidental Duet" winning a Cannes Lion award for “Best Use of Music”.

Salett returned with his solo project The Poison Tree in 2010 after recording new material at Sear Sound in 2009 with an ensemble including Thomas Bartlett (musician) on keys, Jeff Hill on upright/bass, drummer Konrad Meissner, and later adding Josh Kaufman (musician) on guitar and CJ Camerieri on trumpet. The album was and mixed by Gary Mauer at Saltlands.[13] The album garnered positive coverage from Stereogum,[14] The Wall Street Journal[15], and an invitation to perform live in studio on the influential radio program New Sounds (radio program)|New Sounds.[16]

Shortly after the release of The Poison Tree album, Salett's wife of ten years, Estella Schoen, whom he met while studying at Oberlin, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.[17] In the following years Salett's focus was on caring for his two children, but continued making music and performing with friends and colleagues often performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge for Thomas Bartlett (musician) Burgundy Stain Sessions along with Sufjan Stevens, John Cameron Mitchell, Norah Jones, Joan As Police Woman and St. Vincent (musician)[18] and contributing music to and co-producing musical indie film Becks (film) which would go on to win best film at the LA Film Festival

In 2016 Salett opened Reservoir Studios with producer and mixer Pat Dillett. Located in the former Skyline Studios space at 36 W. 37th Street in Midtown Manhattan, the live room was left unchanged, but underwent a significant renovation to the rest of the space building writers rooms now occupied by producer Thomas Bartlett (musician), composer Nico Muhly, guitarist Smokey Hormel and others. Since opening in its new incarnation, Reservoir has hosted sessions for Blondie (band), Paul Simon, Questlove Supreme, St. Vincent (musician), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yoko Ono, Mark Ronson and endeavors to create community in the face of a recording industry that has increasingly isolated artists.[19][20]

In October 2022 Salett launched Historical Fiction, a record label and production company with longtime collaborator and business partner Janice Brown.[21] The label's first release was DM Stith's 13 minute cover of R.E.M.'s Man on the Moon (song)|Man on the Moon which was praised by the band's singer and lyricist Michael Stipe.[22] Salett released his first EP on the label since The Poison Tree on Historical Fiction. Recording under his own name for the first time, the Estella Jane EP was written in the months and years following his wife's death. Produced by Thomas Bartlett and Pat Dillett and featuring performances by members of his tight knit musical community, the songs grapple with grief and the struggle to pick up the pieces after a heartbreaking loss.[23]


  1. Staff, W. S. J. (2011-02-08). "Steve Salett's 'The Poison Tree': Exclusive Track". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  2. "The King Of France". Discogs. Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  3. "Kelley Deal 6000". Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  4. "DEFORMO". Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  5. "DEFORMO". Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  6. "The King Of France hometown, biography". Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  7. "The King Of France hometown, biography". Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  8. says, D. Fagen (2011-01-31). "Writer Of The Week: Poison Tree". American Songwriter. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  9. Dollar, Steve (2011-03-21). "Rocking Near the F Train". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  10. says, D. Fagen (2011-01-31). "Writer Of The Week: Poison Tree". American Songwriter. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  11. Lightning, Skeletal. "Caithlin De Marrais - Red Coats". Skeletal Lightning. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  12. Saltlands (2010-12-25). "The National". Saltlands. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  13. "Studio Project: Steve Salett and Gary Maurer on The Poison Tree & Saltlands Studios — SonicScoop". Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  14. "The Poison Tree – "My Only Friend" (Stereogum Premiere)". Stereogum. 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  15. Staff, W. S. J. (2011-02-08). "Steve Salett's 'The Poison Tree': Exclusive Track". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  16. "In Studio: The Poison Tree | Soundcheck | New Sounds". newsounds. Retrieved 2022-07-06.
  17. "Paid Notice: Deaths SCHOEN, ESTELLA JANE". Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  18. Staff, BrooklynVegan StaffBrooklynVegan. "St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, Norah Jones & more joined at Doveman LPR (videos)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  19. "Reservoir: An NYC Studio Takes on a Complex Persona — SonicScoop". Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  20. "Paul Simon Spotted At NYC Recording Studio Working On New Music". 103.7 WQOL. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  21. Santos, Stacy Simons (2022-09-28). "Brand New Record Label and Production Company, Historical Fiction Launches Out of NYC". CelebrityAccess. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  22. Connelly, Chad (2022-10-14). "Static Multimedia | DM Stith Shares Haunting Cover of R.E.M.'s "Man On The Moon"". Static Multimedia. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  23. "Steve Salett – Estella Jane – Historical Fiction Records". Retrieved 2022-10-18.

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