23 November 2015
It has now been a few days since returning from an absolutely incredible string of nine shows with friends Uncanny Valley and Hausfrau in the UK and Europe. Thanks to all the promoters and friends who helped us out as well as the people who came out to the shows. It definitely put this rather wonky year of 2015 back onto the right track!
There are further shows going into 2016, including dates in UK and Germany and then elsewhere abroad — all in the works. Check the Live Events section for more information.
Here is a video clip containing segments of live performance from the December tour taken in Gateshead UK and Bremen DE. Songs in this clip include “A Scene From A Dark Beach”, “The Eyes On The Walls” (new track, currently unreleased) and “Cinema Eyes”:
Over the winter a new promotional film will be created for another track off the most recent album, You Never Know What Might Come Next, as well as a few other such creative projects in the pipeline. The response for the video for the title track has been really fantastic so far. The album is available on digital, vinyl and limited edition CD — you can even get it with a t-shirt.
Here’s a recent interview done with the Gothic Pogo folks in Leipzig ahead of the 14 Nov 2015 date “Altered Waves”:
MAX : You moved to Sheffield and live there. Did the great music history of the town lead to your decision? And do you colaborate with other local artists?
JJD : I was living in London for eight years and previously from Vancouver before that. Myself and my partner (MM Lyle of the synth act Marcel Wave) decided to move to Sheffield as we knew people there and felt the changes happening in London, as well as the expense, didn’t really make it worthwhile there.
Sheffield is currently a temporary measure as we are looking to move next year, likely to Glasgow, which in my opinion is the best city in the UK for doing the type of music I do and the enthusiasm there is definitely a lot more than other cities in the UK. Sheffield does have a great musical history but still has the feeling of a small town. The music scene there is small and insular. We do have friends in Sheffield though: friends of ours run a venue called Golden Harvest as well as play in electronic/synth acts Riders and there’s another synth pop duo I play shows with occasionally called Promenade Cinéma but Sheffield as for synth/wave there’s not really much going on there at the moment!
MAX : Is there an idea behind the bandname? It could be a great idea for a synth band project that’s very energetic live on stage… Whats the story behind the name?
JJD : I started Soft Riot actually almost 10 years ago. It was a studio project only that started in 2006. It was called something else at the time and I had a song called Soft Riot. I was living in Vancouver (Canada) at the time and the lyrics of the song were about gentrification in the city and capitalism pushing people to the brink of action but not quite getting there. People would vent their frustration in conversation or in online forums or social media, therefore the term “soft riot” came about. A more subtle, everyday version of a riot right under the surface of what seems normal and contained.
That song I never play as I stopped doing that project for 4 years after doing a few demos and playing one show. It then changed when I started it again in early 2011 — a couple of the tracks on No Longer Stranger (the first album) are revised versions of songs off that original 2006 demo.
MAX : You played hardcore and punk in the past as well as postpunk and new wave. You now play more experimental electronic stuff. What are the differences? Is electronic music something to fulfill your own ideas and less than the ideas of a group of people? Is it more independent?
JJD : To me all those genres are interconnected in some way. When I was young I was really into record labels like Gravity, Discord, Troubleman, Kill Rock Stars, etc. — more experimental punk/noise/hardcore stuff. The lyrics and composition of the songs I always found very interesting and there was some great talent in that scene. My approach to writing music even now in Soft Riot is more informed by that experimentalism rather that just taking a direct influence from what is more obvious: synth pop, wave, etc. Some of my favourite bands of all time sound totally different to what I’m doing — such bands like Unwound, US Maple, The VSS, etc.
So I get ideas from that background as well as others such as soundtracks, italo disco, pop music, etc.
When I write electronic music it’s a very measured process. Most of the times I write most of the songs in my head before even getting in my studio and starting to record the tracks. So for me it would be difficult to get some other people in the writing process. Also, I’ve been doing music for 20+ years now and being a one-man project integrates more into my life now, rather than being tied into a band. It’s easier for me to travel and get things done and I think it just works better for me.
Having said that, Im originally a guitar/bass player and for that sort of music playing and writing the music in a room with other people is the best format. Maybe I will do a second band on the side one day but Soft Riot is busy enough for me at this time!
MAX : I read you’ve been influenced by sci-fi and film soundtracks. Which ones are the most important for you? Does john carpenter influence you?
JJD : The first film soundtrack that really influenced me was the pieces by Hungarian composer György Ligeti that Stanley Kubrick picked out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The atmosphere and denseness of the composition is intense. There’s other great film soundtracks, such as the ones done by Tangerine Dream for the Michael Mann films “Thief” and “The Keep” as well as William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer”. Other good soundtracks: “Liquid Sky” (Slava Tsukerman), “Videodrome” (Howard Shore), all of Michael Nyman’s stuff for Peter Greenaway films, Popul Vuh’s work for Werner Herzog, “Suspiria” (Goblin) and even more recent films like “The Guest” scored by Zombi’s Steve Moore …and of course John Carpenter!
MAX : Do you think about adding some musicians for the live sets? I love synth bands with acoustic drums, such as DAF.
JJD : I wouldn’t say “no” to the idea but it’s just no feasible at this point. There’s no musicians in Sheffield who would be suitable for what I’m doing, plus you have to arrange band practices, work around people’s schedules, include them in a writing/rehearsing process that’s already quite internalised. Most people I know in London are too busy to meet up to socialise, let alone for rehearsals!
Getting other musicians to play my own music would be hard as there’s no financial compensation for them — I do it for “art” or whatever. And of course, it’s cheaper to travel (especially by plane or train) as one person.
But, if the project was more successful for some reason and I was playing a lot bigger shows it’s a possible consideration!