Noise music has always been far more of an ethos than a strict definition of genre and Leeds’ duo Soft Issues are a prime example of this phenomenon.
Channeling a wide variety of definably harsh noise, at points Merzbow worship and at others, crunchy industrialized grindcore – Soft Issues self-titled debut has been one of the freshest, and bone-crushingly heaviest releases to drop into the Astral Noize inbox recently.
As such, we felt compelled to bring the duo’s twisted machinations to your listening pleasure:
What different strains of noise music go into Soft Issues?
C – A lot of harsh noise (like Gerogerigegege), the bleaker end of techno and some more ambient noise stuff we like (Yellow Swans etc).
J – The main music that really does it for me is like noise/power electronics stuff so i spend a lot of time listening to that strain of electronic music. I enjoy a lot of techno too. Artists who are constantly versatile and inventive within noise music are inspirational to me like Russell Haswell for example.
What, if anything is your debut EP an outlet for?
C – I don’t think there’s really an outlet, we just wanted to do a harsh noise band, but make it more like a hardcore punk band. I think it was more of a goal of trying to do something that interested us than an outlet for anything.
J – Power electronics/noise music is a naturally self-indulgent form of music. The volume and the abrasiveness exists to provoke a physical reaction in the listener. I believe the music we make is not meant to be processed and studied.
Noise music is a very wide spectrum and there are sometimes discourses around artists being unhappy with the ‘noise music’ label. Are you guys happy to be labeled as noise artists?
C – Yes, definitely happy. The sort of people who do things like play noise, or punk and are then upset when someone calls them ‘noise’ or ‘punk’ are stupid and deluded.
How does working as a duo work out for you guys?
C – Really good, the work rate is fast and there’s only two of you who have to get to practice so makes it much easier to get in a room together.
J – Chris is my best friend in the world.
What do you think of cassette releases, do you feel that the slightly more lo-fidelity aesthetic of cassettes lends something to noise music?
C – we just love the way cassettes look and sound, it’s such a beautiful looking thing and also the nostalgia aspect – I loved having a tape player as a kid and holding a tape brings back happy memories.
J – I’m a big fan of cassettes. I’ve recently started a cassette label called Concrete Block. The first Soft Issues EP was released through this label and also the debut release by my other band The Shits.
How do you approach playing live? If you haven’t played live yet, how come? And do you have plans to do so in the future?
C – we’ve played live about 4 times so far, which is not bad seen as though we’ve only been going since mid-last year. We aim to play live as much as possible – we’re definitely not a bedroom noise act.
What’s the DIY scene like in Leeds?
C – amazing. So many good places like Temple of Boom, Chunk, Wharf Chambers. You can go see a great gig any night of the week and make some good friends playing in bands.
J – Temple of Boom is an amazing venue and I feel privileged to live in a city where it exists. You can take the ‘Leeds DIY scene’ for granted at times.
What does 2018 hold for Soft Issues?
C – Play live as much as possible and put out some more stuff – another EP and some splits/collaborations. We’ve got some really good shows in the works too – playing with Godflesh next year (at Woodland Gathering Festival), Knifedoutofexistence in Leeds and then in October we’re going on tour to Europe.
J – Hopefully Chris will overcome his ketamine habit.
Soft Issues is out now, get your copy here.
Words: Richard Lowe