quinta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2014

Fiction Prediction with Soft Riot - An Interview

Soft Riot é Jack Duckworth ou JDD como ele mesmo assina, e seu projeto/banda é uma viagem sem volta a virada dos 70´s para os 80´s, pegue a cena eletrônica de Sheffield, pegue a onda minimal wave alemã e européia, acrescente 4AD e ainda os expoentes experimentais da fundamental Kranky Records e você tem Fiction Prediction último álbum do Soft Riot que é uma imersão atmosférica e hipnótica, lenta e climática, suas 12 músicas contemplam uma era que tende a retornar cada dia mais fortemente.

E maravilhosamente Fiction Predicttion esta disponível, em formatos, vinil, cd e k7, ou seja serviço completo, aplausos a Mr JDD.

***** Interview with Soft Riot *****

Q. When did Soft Riot start? Tell us about the history.
The Soft Riot that is out releasing records and playing shows today is pretty different than the one that started a long time ago. It was around the mid-2000s, when I was playing in other synth-punk and post-punk bands that I wanted to do something a bit more minimal and atmospheric. I was really into stuff like early 4AD releases, Kranky records, John Foxx, Ike Yard and that sort thing and looking to do something vaguely in that arena. I recorded some demos in 2006 under the name JJ Wax and did one show in Vancouver (where I’m from originally) with two friends of mine as a backing band. It was an alright show. Someone called me “Trent Reznor” from the audience which I thought was funny.

But I couldn’t really grasp how I wanted it to sound or how to work it live so I put it on ice for a number of years until after I had moved to the UK. I started a short-lived band called Savage Furs and it was only after being in that band for a while that I finally had a eureka moment for that old JJ Wax project — now called Soft Riot — that I was looking for. This was late 2010 going into 2011. Those songs ended up on the “No Longer Stranger” record, which has most recently been re-released on Volar as an 8-song LP.

Savage Furs disbanded and Soft Riot became my only project. I experimented doing it as a one-man show and have been developing the sound and the live show since then. It’s all a discovery process as I go along.

Q: Who are your influences?
It’s a bit trickier for me these days to pick where influence comes from. When I was younger I was more aware of what music I was referencing, especially genres or bands. Nowadays all of these influences have manifested into a personality of it’s own. I’m obviously into synth pop and early new wave/synth wave but over the years I’ve grown to investigate things like modern avant grade, ambient and electro-acoustic music, etc. Coming from a punk rock background I’m always fucking with the formula regardless of how hard I try to. There’s a very subtle sense of humour to the music as well. I have a soft spot for melancholy italo-disco music that comes into play here and there. As serious and dour as it can be there’s a light, airy feeling to it and it’s always entertaining to listen to as well.

There’s a lot of influence outside of just music as well. I’m very interested in film and watch a lot of rare and strange films that likely a lot of people might not pick up on. In my live set there’s reference to some of these. The moods and images from a very striking series of pictures may have as much influence on me as a more obvious thing, like a synth pop track or something.

Lyrics are very important to me as well. I find myself experimenting more with lyrics than sounds sometimes. On the last record, and especially the new record I’ve been experimenting with linear narratives. All my lyrics are in the third person (I never use “I” in any Soft Riot track) as the vocals are intended to take on the role of a narrator. I’m really into subtle, dark humour in music — Bauhaus and The Human League were good for that, especially the Canadian punk band Nomeansno. I love really surreal comedies like Kids In The Hall and The Day Today, etc. so influence comes from so many places for me!

Q. Give us a list of your top five albums of all time…
It’s always tough condensing my favourite music down to five albums but I’d say the following five are not only music I love but sort of relevant to the Soft Riot sound:

The VSS “Nervous Circuits” (1997) — In the 90s when I was more in the post-hardcore scene, this was a band from that scene that put out this one album fusing a 90s post-hardcore sound with a Wagnerian psychedelic/coldwave synth sound, maybe similar to Gary Numan, “Flowers of Romance”-era Public Image limited and that sort of thing. Before that synth pop to me seemed like something that wasn’t relevant to me as in popular culture it was packaged as misty-imaged nostalgia. With The VSS it was cool seeing musicians around my age, and possibly knew through several degrees of separation, doing this sound and playing all ages and small club shows in the West Coast right then and there. A hidden gem from that time period.

Cabaret Voltaire “Crackdown” (1983) — I’ve recently moved from London to Sheffield, a smaller city in northern England that has great history of electronic music, especially for it’s size: The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, ABC, Clock DVA, Warp Records, etc. “Crackdown” was a great mix of the experimentalism of the Cabs earlier stuff while moving them forward into more “song”-oriented dance music. Soft Riot has been compared to Cabaret Voltaire often enough. I do see it, maybe in the drum production and the vocals a bit.

US Maple “Talker” (1999) — I have an on-and-off obsession with this band. Upon first listen they sound totally unrelated to the music that I do. I love how they have a completely different language with music and they’re a great escape when you’re constantly hearing heavily quantised or melodic music around you all the time. The music is incredibly loose sounding, with a bizarre sounding vocalist who when you seem them live is almost acting this strange Lynchian character. Their music sounds like they can’t play but when you see them live they sound exactly like the record, which is incredible. The track “I Wanna Lay Down Next 2 U” from my first record is Soft Riot trying to take a US Maple approach to songwriting but in a completely electronic realm. “Talker” was produced by Michael Gira of Swans.

Bauhaus “Burning From The Inside” (1983) — Out of a lot of the classic post-punk bands I listened to when I was younger, I think I come back to Bauhaus more than the rest of them. I think they’re a bit overlooked, and by that I mean that most people focus on the obvious: their look, the dourness, the “goth” aspect, etc. I think they’re great musicians and have a varied palette of sounds, like dub, rock, avant grade, etc. They’ve also got a great sense of humour. This album for me is the most exciting, mainly as the dynamics are so varied and knowing the story how it was created, with Peter Murphy struggling with addiction, filling out the story behind the sound.

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft “Gold Und Liebe” (1981) — I had a period around 15 years ago where I was listening to DAF a lot. It sounded quite alien against the more indie/punk rock sounds I was surrounded with in Vancouver at the time. The synth sounds are so in-your-face and raw — they sounded like they could have been produced 20 years after the fact. A good exercise in space and minimalism, as well as atonal composition, which is important to me when music can tend to be by-the-books chords and harmonics…

Q. How do you feel about playing live?
I quite like it, although the format I play live in is still quite fresh to me. After years of playing in bands where you always have at least one other person to play off on stage, it’s relatively new territory for me to play seated with a lot of synths and hardware that I operate as well as signing the songs. My first live show in this configuration was just over three years ago in London and it was suited for the more low key material from the No Longer Stranger record that I was playing at the time. Now, as the new material is more upbeat and synth pop sounding, my performance when playing live has evolved with the music. I’m more animated now I think and more comfortable playing many things at once.

It’s not without it’s challenges though. I usually share the stage with a lot of other great acts that benefit from having a front-person for the band and where their live set-up is more free for performance. Playing seated and just being one person I think weirds people out a bit (I hear “Why don’t you playing standing up?” a lot…). There’s some really big shoes to fill when I start up the set as it’s almost one continuous piece of music from start to finish. I’m grateful that most of my sets have gone pretty smoothly but there’s some shows where I get more “into the zone” than others and I let my intuition guide me into being absorbed into the performance.

Q. How do you describe Soft Riot´s sound?
I try to keep it really simple. I just use the phrase “atmospheric, psychedelic minimal synth pop” and that seems to work.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
I’m currently finishing of recording eight new songs that will be a new album. I’ll be mixing those in London with my friend, engineer Owen Pratt in October. Usually most of the ideas come into my head when I’m not even in the studio. I could be walking somewhere, on a bus or doing something really banal like washing dishes or something. I get a lot of ideas when I’m listening to constant machine noise, like being on a train or hearing a refrigerator unit or something. From there I start to flush out the ideas in the studio using the synthesisers, etc. It’s a very complex and all-encompassing process. There’s a lot of emotion, technical detail and even philosophy thrown into the mix. Songs often go through a few phases. Sometimes I’ll shelve a song for weeks or months and come back to to it when I all of a sudden have a breakthrough idea on how to finish it.

When I started working on the new record my idea was that the songs would be more minimal sounding but more hard hitting than Fiction Prediction but it’s ended up being more pop and fuller sounding. I thought about why that might be — my life has been so busy this past year (moving, self-employed work) and the world so full of so much informational noise that I think that’s perhaps why it went in a different, more fuller direction. I’m thinking the next record might take the course I originally intended.

Q. Which new bands do you recommended?
Playing throughout Europe and meeting new people I’m coming across a lot of people doing great and engaging synthesiser and post-punk music. I think Europe’s got a really great “synth wave” scene that’s been emerging over the last 5+ years. It’s very DIY, well networked and feels like a community of sorts.

Now for the bands! I bought a cassette by a Polish group called Alles that is quite good. From my hometown of Vancouver there’s Animal Bodies, Sur Une Plage, Sally Dige and Terror Bird. Good friends of mine are doing amazing synthesiser-based or electronic music such as Noi Kabát, Keluar, Mild Peril, Marcel Wave, Martijn Comes and Transfigure. I’ve also been seeing great new acts by chance at shows and festivals such as Lola Kumtus (Finland) and Paradox Sequenz (featuring a member of Nacht Analyse). The new LP by the Prague-based group Neden has been on my stereo a bit — great kommische style sounds great for evening listening.

Q: Which bands you love to made a cover version?
Doing cover songs for me is difficult as I’m very picky and always trying to make sure I do something that offers an interesting but worthy take on the original song. On my first album I did a cover of a band called Hoover, who were a post-hardcore band on the legendary US label Dischord records that most European audiences are likely not familiar with. That’s all for cover work so far. I’ve got a few recording sessions that are half-finished of cover songs that have been sitting around for a while that I’ll likely pick up. I’m keen on doing a classic Canadian new wave track but not sure exactly what yet!

To be fair I’ve done a lot of remixes over the last year which falls in that general area. Check out http://www.soundcloud.com/softriot/sets/the-music-of-other-people/ for remix work that’s been released so far.

Q: What´s the plans for future?
Well, right now I’m really focused on getting the new record completed and mixed. I’m then in Canada for a few weeks visiting and playing shows. Once I return in November I’m taking a few months to remain stationary. I’ll be working on promo videos for the new record as well as the Some More Terror cassette I just released. During this time I’m not going to be writing any music. I need to do a music “detox” after pumping out two full lengths this year — refresh the studio, clean the slate and let new ideas come in.

I’ll also be turning my attention to rehauling the live show and booking live dates for next year to support the new record.

Aside from that myself and my girlfriend (MM Lyle of Marcel Wave) are launching a new synth club night in Sheffield in November called “Der Hammer” so that’s something to look forward to. If it goes well we hope to get live acts locally and from afar.

Q: Any parting words?
Get involved. We recently had a Scottish Referendum here in the UK where Scotland was given a choice to separate from the UK. The motion didn’t pass but there was it was a close vote and those in favour of separation where passionate and well-researched on their decision. It’s a wake up call to how politics in the UK need to have more involvement from the people. The system here is corrupt and broken. And that’s not just an overview of the UK. That view is a global one as well.
Thanks JJD