Surrey’s Softer Still have combined their musical talents and influences to create an album filled with laid back tracks packed with hazy guitars and reflective escapism.
We asked them how it all came together and what’s next on the horizon…
Your debut album Nuances has just been released – how would you describe it to someone who’s never heard you before?
Lyrically it’s an exploration of the deepest aspects of connection between two people, at times melancholy and others optimistic, with stylistic nods to the very best of 80’s and 90’s guitar / synth music with a few interesting twists.
Musically this album is the expression of everything that’s influenced us for as long as we’ve been listening to music. We were never trying to create anything specific, there wasn’t a goal in mind or a particular sound or style we were trying to create, we simply felt we had a perspective we wanted to express and, of course, were hoping it would be a perspective potential listeners would find meaningful and connect with.
How long did it take to put together and who else was involved who deserves a mention?
Time permitting we could have finished this album a lot sooner but, as is often the case for an unsigned band self recording and producing their debut album, it took a while – around one year for the newest tracks. We included some of our best tracks from our previous EPs but, at the time of writing and recording these, we weren’t working with the single goal of creating an album.
The one person who without a doubt deserves a mention is our manager Chris, he’s always believed in us since day one, it’s difficult to express how important this is for overly self reflective and self critical musicians. Also a crucial part of the way we’ve ended up writing our music is the fact that we do it in our own studio, at our own pace. When we started we didn’t think we were good enough to record and produce everything ourselves but Chris always encouraged us to stick with that. Now the album is complete, it’s clear to see that we wouldn’t have been able to articulate our vision as clearly as we might have had we been burdened with the financial and time constraints that come with recording in a conventional studio.
How do you decide which tracks become singles – is it something you all agree on?
We’re democratic in our decisions as a band, so it always comes to a group vote. We’re all more or less on the same page creatively which means the votes on decisions like this are almost always unanimous. Honestly though with the last few singles we released, it was very much hand to mouth – as soon as we’d written something new it was time to release a single, so that’s what went out.
What’s on your favourite albums of 2018 list?
We’re a little behind, I guess we’re still working our way through the decades, there’s just so much good music to get through! One notable mention from 2018 would be The Daysleepers – Creation. Other mentions in terms of albums that influenced this album (sorry 2018, we’ll get to you soon) would be Choir Boy – Passive With Desire, Celebrine – Happy Tears, Espen Kraft – Those Days, ‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry, Joni Mitchell – Dog Eat Dog and Icehouse – Measure for Measure.
You have some live dates coming up – what’s the best and worst thing about touring/playing live?
The best thing is the sense of completion it brings to a very long process. Specifically though it’s getting to meet fans and hearing that the work we did meant something to them. It’s one thing to see the plays going up on streaming but something else to feel someone’s reaction in person.
I wouldn’t say there’s any one ‘worst’ thing, just a whole lot of little inconveniences that are necessary to get on to the stage with everything in its right place. Musicians are notoriously disorganised and putting on a gig that goes smoothly requires a lot of organisation leading up to and on the day of a show. But in all seriousness none of that stuff matters, it’s all a part of the build up to the show, almost like a ritual. It’s a great feeling when you pull it all off and get up on stage and everything is in its right place. It’s an honour and a privilege to be on stage and share our creation with the world. The hard work makes the reward just that little bit sweeter.
Plans and aspirations for Softer Still for 2019?
We want to focus on playing shows. We’re hungry to share the album with audiences in a live setting again and, after spending so long on the album, the itch to get back out on the road is strong! Hopefully the album will be well received and we’ll get some opportunities to support artists we love whose audiences we feel would enjoy our music, such as Drab Majesty, Ice Choir, Lost Children, Moscow Club and Chain Wallet, to name just a few.
You can catch Softer Still on the following UK dates, starting tonight so don’t hang around – remaining tickets available here
21st Nov – The Horn, St Albans
22nd Nov – Sebright Arms, London
29th Nov – The Crofters Rights, Bristol
1st Dec – Think Tank Underground, Newcastle upon Tyne
26th Jan – The Soundhouse, Leicester
Stay updated with what’s happening for Softer Still over the coming months
Listen to / purchase Nuances on multiple platforms now
Interview by Siobhan, photos via Lucid Online PR
21st November 2018