Much like male/female harmonies, musicians currently obsessed with analog synthesizers is another “trend” of sorts that I’m not even close to sick of… LA’s Soft Metals are one of such bands, comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Patricia Hall and multi-instrumentalist Ian Hicks. The two met at a DJ night in 2009 and, in addition to their love of seemingly “antiquated” electronics, the two also share a love of the most subversive kind of pop and dance music, in addition to a Post-Punk attitude and aesthetic. The duo have already released one full-length and one EP and July 16th will see the release of their Lenses LP. The album is a frantic electronic and erotic ride of the senses through the most existentially profound of human experiences. It’s a bit scary, but never less than hyper-enticing… I got a chance to chat with Hall and Hicks recently and they’re quite proud of the album’s danceability, although Lenses is far more than a dance record. It’s coyly (and a bit coldly) intellectual… The kind of thing that would ring of a soundtrack to something from the New French Extremity genre… something that could likely only be produced by two mad lovers. In addition to the upcoming album release, the band will be touring throughout the summer, including an August 31st stop at Ortlieb’s Lounge in Northern Liberties. Our recent chat included discussion of their latest release, their sense of fashion, and what you can expect of the live experience.
Patricia Hall: It’s similar, but perhaps a bit more modern sounding than our previous work. There is something more sensual and intimate about our new album, too.
Ian Hicks: I feel like in the time between the first and second LPs we’ve gained a lot more experience in recording and writing. While there’s always more to learn, I feel like the sound of the second LP reflects this deeper understanding and level of complexity that can only be gained through experience and practice. I think this record sounds a little more introspective than our first.
IC: What would you consider to be the album’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or not?
PH: Playing live shows with the material from our EP and first album was a big influence. We found that it was more fun for our audience and ourselves when we played tracks that lent themselves to dancing. We want people to lose themselves in the music. We want to set your mind and body free. We gave our songs a little more enhancement on the percussion to allow for this where appropriate.
IH: One thing we did on this album that we hadn’t really done before was to collaborate with someone outside of Soft Metals on a few tracks. That proved to be a fun and inspiring experience and I think contributed some great material. It’s always good to change things up and get fresh perspectives.
IC: I realize this is a lame question, but both of you have quite a cool sense of fashion. What does that draw inspiration from… if it’s something you even think about?
PH: That’s kind of you to say. I think we could improve on how we dress. We end up spending all of our money on gear and records, instead of clothes. I do love dressing up, though. Because we are a male/female duo I like to draw strong contrasts- masculine and feminine, black and white, shiny, reflective surfaces reflecting colors and light out of the dark. I draw inspiration from Paco Rabanne’s metal dresses, the fashion sense of Elli et Jacno, Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin. I like contemporary designers Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens.
IC: You’ve been known to play a wide variety of settings and bills. Is there a particular situation that you feel is most conducive to Soft Metals’ live experience, or one that you just-plain most enjoy?
PH: It’s really important to me that the venue we play in has great sound, especially good monitors on the stage. I like lower stages in intimate rooms (so I can be closer to the audience) with great sound systems. An environment with great lighting or projections to give a theatrical atmosphere is nice.
IC: You have a handful of upcoming live dates. What can be expected of the live experience?
PH: We have an extensive North American tour booked from late July until mid September and then we head to Europe for a month from mid September until mid October. Our live performances will involve Ian and I both playing synths. I’m going to sing and really give all I can to the audience. Expect to dance, smile, and sweat.
IC: What are you most excited for in the second half of 2013?
PH: We plan to tour from late July until mid October and perhaps even through November, if we haven’t succumbed to exhaustion. We haven’t done any extensive touring before, so we are looking forward to playing in many new cities and meeting new people. We hope to write while on the road so we can have a new album underway when we get back home.