ny creatives the black soft will toughen you up
Chase and Joey are New York duo The Black Soft, an amalgam of influences currently wowing the world of fashion.
Describing the band as "ART MUSIC FASHION BLACK WHITE!" it's clear that they're used to telling it to people straight. Named after Joey's pet dog's fictional band, they merge classical elements with disjointed synth riffs and end up with experimental sounds that seem to appeal to fashion crowds the world over. Self-releasing their work (and that of their friends) on Terror Of The Understood Records, team Black Soft are also talented artists and serial collaborators of fashion folk. With brutally honest new album The Slow Burn due to drop next week, our chat skips from working with Nicola Formichetti and being inspired by Tim Burton, to sexuality and world domination.
What does your name mean?
In our art and music we are always playing with the balance of light and dark. We were trying to come up with a name that really embodied us and we started joking that if Joey's black great dane had a band it would be 'The Black Soft', and it just fit!
Which famous duo are you most like?
It's definitely difiicult to compare ourselves to other artists, but if we had to pick a duo we would choose Charles and Ray Eames. We chose them because we too strive to acheive a unified vision across multiple platforms.
Your new album The Slow Burn comes out next week. What can we expect?
The Slow Burn is our 4th studio release under our record label Terror Of The Understood (TOTU Records), and is our longest to date, having 12 tracks total. The album is more emotionally driven than the previous albums and challenges us more. The music is bigger, the vocals are more difficult and the subject matter is brutally honest. The songs are about relationship violence, overdosing, diseases, prostitution, sexuality and love. This is a journey not out of the dark, more a a survival tale for those of us living in the dark. Just like life, the album plays like a slow burning cigarette.
Do you have a favourite track? What story does it tell?
Our favorite track would have to be Streetlight because during those days the only hours we had to record were from midnight till 5am. During our numerous beer and cigarette breaks on the fire escape, we would watch stories unfold underneath the streetlights of St. Marks Place, and Streetlight is the lament of the creatures of the night.
We heard you like classical. Who's your favourite composer and what's your favourite piece?
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky because he was the soundscape to our formative years. His music was everywhere from Disney movies to ballets to the holidays and always contained that perfect balance of light and dark. Our favorite track of his is The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66, purely for nostalgic reasons.
Why does fashion matter to you?
Well the fashion industry was the first to believe in us and gave us our start with composing music for fashion films. Since then we have found a wonderful creative family of designers, stylist and makeup artists with whom we are still collaborating. As far as the tactile side of fashion, our personal style is an extension of the music and art we create in The Black Soft.
Who are your favourite designers and why?
Iris Van Herpen because hello. Comme des Garcons because of their relentless imagination. And lastly, Rad Hourani for making it possible for a boyfriend and girdriend to share a wardrobe.
You've worked with Nicola Formichetti. How did that collab come about?
We met Nicola during our second show at the legendary Pyramid Club in the East Village and talked about collaborating. The first thing we worked on together was his Self Portrait for MAC Cosmetics. Since then we have collaborated on numerous projects for The Black Soft, projects for Mugler and Diesel and a new secret project in the works. One of the best things about working with Nicola is that he creates the perfect environment for an artist to take risks.
If Nicola Formichetti was a Disney character, who would he be?
Definitely Thumper because he's cute, funny and helps you find your legs.
Is the visual aspect of your project equally as important as the music?
Yes. We both come from different creative backgrounds; Chase studied fine art and Joey studied music. When we created The Black Soft it was very clear from the beginning that the art influenced the music and vice versa. Without both, the world would not exist.
Your artwork is very Tim Burton-esque. Is he an inspiration of yours?
Having grown up in the '80s and '90s, Tim Burton's unique style was everywhere in pop culture. Having it as the visual backdrop to our childhoods definitely made an impact. His abilty to stay true to his voice throughout many platforms is something that we admire and aspire to do as well.
What else inspires you?
To be honest, we pull inspiration from everything. The trick is learning how to harness it and turn it into something.
Your music is definitely futuristic. What year would you say it belongs in?
The Splendid Futresent.
Why did you start your own record label?
We have all heard the horror stories of big record labels. We wanted to create a platform for artists to create work without having to sacrifice integrity. We really believe that the best artists in history are the ones who stick to their guns and stay true to their vision.
How do you select artists?
In both our creative and personal lives, we surround ourselves with likeminded people and it often leads us to meeting a slew of creative types and leads to serendipitous collaboration.
If The Black Soft had a third member, who would you select to join?
Who would you have as a backing dancer?
If you could be somebody else, who would you like to be?
To get specific, David Bowie at his last Ziggy Stardust performance or Leigh Bowery, anyday.
Which fellow musicians are you into at the moment?
Kelela, Fiona Apple and Damon Albarn.
What's so great about NY?
It is a city that cuts through all the bullshit and pushes you to get a lot done in a short amount of time. But above all we love New York for its rich artistic history. Just walking down the streets makes you feel like your are a part of it.
Best place for a wild night out?
Inside our apartments.
Favourite French word?
What would be your dream creative collaboration?
Both visually and musically, Bjork.
What's the 5 year plan?
We're gearing up for the release of The Slow Burn as well as the work of Miss Chemis (who features on 3 songs from The Slow Burn) on TOTU later this year. We are working on a new series of artworks with an exhibition planned in the fall. Lastly, we're working on our opera and a number of secret projects that we are very excited about and are soon to come. Overall the most important thing to us is staying true to who we are and continuing collaborations with other creative people, whether in fashion, art or music... oh and world domination.
Text Francesca Dunn