Dead Soft’s debut LP ‘Big Blue’ is due out via Arts & Crafts on October 18th, and to prep us for the release, the band have shared a final preview of the album with their single Trimmer. This track follows I Believe You and Step Out, and provides some of the album’s more striking moments as singer/guitarist Nathaniel Epp longs for the unobtainable feelings of home in a Beach Boys-esque harmony arrangement with bassist Keeley Rochon, that blends seamlessly with the driving, grunge-inflected sound behind it. Listen to Trimmer via YouTube below.
Much of ‘Big Blue’ was written while the band were in the process of relocating from their long time home in Vancouver to an isolated community on the forest-covered British Columbian coastal island of Gabriola, and Trimmer plays into the album’s overarching themes, digging into the relationship between a sense of home and of self, as Epp explains “The song Trimmer is about longing and the passing of time. It is also a nostalgic ode to the North. It is about losing a sense of ‘home’ amidst the tumult of life and seeking to find that feeling again, hoping that it will keep you from drifting further away from a semblance of self.”
‘Big Blue’ will be released October 18th via Toronto indie stalwart Arts & Crafts, and the album is destined to bring Dead Soft to the attention of the wider music world. The culmination of almost three years of work, the ‘Big Blue’ refines and focuses the elements that made the band’s early releases so promising while blowing up their cathartic, fuzzed-out power pop to a massive scale. Through a creative process beset with hardships and uncertainty the album is a testament to Dead Soft’s unwavering commitment to their vision, and a powerful guitar record about taking a leap of faith to find the life you want.
Founded by Nathaniel Epp (vocalist/songwriter) and Keeley Rochon (bassist/vocalist), and later joined by drummer Alex Smith, Dead Soft have taken the long way to their debut LP. The band began in 2011 as a vehicle for Epp’s songwriting, and after building buzz on the back of a catalog that includes releases on Nashville’s Infinity Cat (Diarrhea Planet, JEFF The Brotherhood, Colleen Green) they embarked on the first sessions for their debut in 2016. The band was originally based in Vancouver (by some metrics the least affordable city in North America) where Epp and Rochon had worked hard to maintain Dead Soft while they kept up with the high cost of living and where Rochon found herself struggling with what she describes as “a deep-seated mental illness.” These early sessions did not, however, produce the desired result, and in the wake of this disappointment, the band reached a moment of crisis that precipitated the dramatic change that eventually allowed their debut to take shape.
“Living in Vancouver and doing any kind of musical endeavor like touring, or recording required so much work and sacrifice,” Epp reflects. “There was a lot of time, energy and hope invested into those sessions, so when things went sideways the way they did it was really crushing. In the wake of that Keeley and I made the decision to tear down the life we were living and move to a remote community in a bit of a leap of faith scenario. We dealt with a lot of uncertainty but worked really hard to figure out a new life that we wanted, and the increase in time and money that the new life has provided us allowed the album to really take on a life of its own. The struggles and growth were happening while we were creating the album and began to seep into the music. It became a record about our search for peace.”
After scrapping the majority of the original sessions, including many of the songs they had been playing prior to their move, the band dove into ‘Big Blue’ on Gabriola Island. With fewer outside distractions they were afforded the time to fully engage an obsessive attention to detail that helped them execute a record on the scale that they had envisioned, one informed both by their time in Vancouver, their yearning for a new life and the solace that Epp found in his relationship with Rochon.
This is encapsulated in the bruising album opener I Believe You, a sort of thesis statement for an album that travels through some dark places but possesses a hopeful kind of optimism. Epp’s lyrics have a plainspoken poignance as he expresses an all too relatable generational malaise (“I can’t shake this constant sense of longing”), over a squall of distorted guitars and softly sparkling synths, but the chorus is exultant, a celebration of the recognition that the peace he seeks is real, and the confidence in the future that his partner gives him as he sings, “you let me know just by the way that you are/that it’s real and I can feel it when I’m with you.” Elsewhere Rochon takes lead vocals on the almost Portishead-esque The Static, her layered voice repeating the mantras she once recited in her head while trying to control her anxiety during her Vancouver commute. On standout Step Out the band channel the loose guitar jangle of Pavement, and the Pixies’ dramatic dynamic shifts and male/female vocal interplay in a song about becoming a better person by removing yourself from an environment that informs who you are.
Beamed out from their forest-covered island ‘Big Blue’ is in some ways an unlikely record. A debut that acknowledges both the personal history of its creators and the last 35 years of guitar music while displaying a desire to walk a new path forward from both, a hopeful collection of songs about the darkest parts of life, and a sonically and emotionally turbulent album written from a peaceful place, a place that, as Rochon explains, gives the album its name.
“Since we moved to the island we’ve been amazed by the way the light looks at dusk,” Rochon says. “Without man-made light sources there’s a short window of time after the sun sets but before the night falls where the sky emanates a deep blue glow. ‘Big Blue’ represents a turning point, we have become more centered and whole as individuals and as a band and feel more ready and able than ever to share this with the world. Ultimately my dream would be to have this record serve as a catalyst for healing.”
1. I Believe You
2. The Wind
3. Step Out
5. The Static
6. Whatever I Want
‘Big Blue’ is out October 18th via Arts & Crafts. It’s available for preorder here.
In support of the release the band will be embarking on a North American tour that begins next week. Full details can be found below.
Dead Soft have been a source of growing excitement in the Canadian underground for longer than most bands who are yet to release their debut full length. Like their late ’80s and early ’90s forebearers in the Pacific Northwest, the three-piece traffic in a sound that blends a penchant for fuzzed out noise and a rough hewn intensity with a sharp melodic sensibility, and have built a burgeoning reputation through live shows and constant touring, sharing stages with artists like Bully, The Breeders, Broken Social Scene, The Courtneys and Great Grandpa, as well as releasing a stream of DIY EPs and cassettes.
Oct 12 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
Oct 17 – Calgary, AB – Palomino Smokehouse
Oct 18 – Edmonton, AB – Sewing Machine Factory
Oct 19 – Saskatoon, SK – Black Cat
Oct 20 – Winnipeg, MB – The Good Will
Oct 21 – Minneapolis. MN – 7th Street Entry
Oct 23 – Chicago, IL – The Burlington
Oct 24 – Port Huron, MI – SchwonkSoundStead
Oct 25 – Toronto, ON – The Beguiling
Oct 26 – Montreal, QC – La Sotterenea
Oct 28 – Ottawa, ON – Live on Elgin
Oct 29 – Allston, MA – O’Briens
Nov 03 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Nov 02 – Philadelphia, PA – Creep Records
Nov 06 – Nashville, TN – Drkmttr
Nov 08 – Dallas, TX – TBA
Nov 11 – Phoenix, AZ – Trunk Space
Nov 14 – Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
Nov 16 – San Francisco, CA – El Rio
Nov 19 – Portland, OR – The Fixin’ To
Nov 20 – Olympia, WA – Rhythm and Rye
Nov 21 – Seattle, WA – Belltown Yacht Club
Nov 22 – Victoria, BC – Logan’s Pub