As The Salty Caramels see it, nothing is sweeter than the sound of female harmonies.
The Salty Caramels, a local band comprised of Molly Winters, Sarah Overdier, Emily Ng and Paige Vandiver, made a name for themselves with folk- and Americana-inspired tracks. In recent years, they have switched to a rock-based ’60s throwback sound, Winters said.
Winters said that when she created the band, she knew female vocals had to be at the core of its sound. The all-female band features Winters on vocals and electric guitar, Overdier on vocals, bass and acoustic guitar, Ng on violin and bass and Vandiver on drums.
“To me, there’s nothing like a female’s harmonizing,” Vandiver said. “It’s different. It’s just a different sound.”
Winters said the local band started when she wanted to revive the same special quality that she found playing with girl groups in the past.
“Molly was looking for some other girls to play music with, and the four of us kind of all crossed paths within that month, sort of coincidentally. It was like the stars were aligning,” Overdier said. “So September 2012, we started rehearsing, and it was magic. From the first time we met, it was magical.”
Searching for a local influence in its music and brand, Winters said she created a band name that reflected one of her favorite elements of Columbus, Ohio: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. The salty caramel flavor was the first that came to mind.
Seven years later, having experienced career changes, the addition of two “band babies,” marriages and divorce, Overdier said the quartet has watched its popularity grow and develop alongside Jeni’s and its namesake ice cream flavor.
Part of the band’s evolution came from toning down the use of more unconventional instruments to create a stronger rhythm section, Ng said.
“In the beginning, we were more acoustic, until we would be trying to fill it in with a lot of different instruments and quirky things, like washboards and saws and stuff,” Ng said. “Now we still play those instruments, but it’s a little more rock. And when we’re playing the quirky instruments, we’re more intentional of like, ‘This is what it adds to it.’”
The group partly attributes its loyal fanbase to its continual presence in and welcoming nature of the local Columbus music scene, Winters said.
“There’s only a handful of all-female bands in Columbus, but that’s just how it is. I mean, it’s just hard, but that’s not our only thing going for us. I think our longevity and just the amount of opportunities we’ve had and the records we’ve put out,” Winters said. “I think we do have a respectful crew of people that like us, and they would come up to see us wherever, and that’s the great thing about Columbus.”
Winters said a rewarding element of being in an all-female band is the ability to serve as role models for other women in Columbus.
“I have a sense of pride about that too, because I feel like we’ve all given younger generations of women and little girls just [the ability] to see other women playing instruments and performing,” Winters said. “It’s really great that they got to see us do that this whole time, just to provide that for the community because you don’t see that very often.”
Being in a band alongside other women gives a special characteristic to The Salty Caramels’ chemistry and dynamic, Ng said.
“I mean there is definitely a level of camaraderie that is a little special, and I think there’s something between camaraderie and openness that you feel sometimes with other women,” Ng said.