Dreampop duo Soft Set debut 'Love and Dancing' EP, mixed by Ride's Mark Gardener
"A golden web of acoustic guitar... Such a beautiful slice of sunshine and hope, rolled up and delivered on silver platter in sonic state. A brilliant teaser for their debut EP, leaving us wanting more" – Big Takeover Magazine
"Wonderful song pieced together with originality and creativity and set to beautiful harmony and love... takes a soothing toll on the senses in a glorious way that inspires" – Jammerzine
"On a mission to make beautiful music – quite convincingly achieved here clearly... listeners can revel in these 5-tracks of ultimate sonic bliss" – Louder Than War
Toronto-based dreampop melodic indie rock duo Soft Set present their debut 'Love and Dancing' EP, a five-track offering loaded with indie pop / dream rock excellence. This follows their first 7" vinyl release of tracks 'Never Die' / '7 On Up' and 'Love and Dancing' was mixed in Oxford, UK by Ride frontman and celebrated producer Mark Gardener in his recently-launched world-class OX4 Sound Studio.
Drawing on influences from iconic artists that have inspired them on their musical path – The Stone Roses, Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, RIDE, Slowdive, Happy Mondays, Boo Radleys, Mercury Rev – it’s no surprise that Soft Set’s debut EP is a body of work that is sure to appeal to a broad audience. Soft Set is a songwriting and music collaboration between James Gray and Nathan Athay, two life-long friends who became musical collaborators years after growing up together in Barrie and then Toronto, Ontario.
Laced with dayglo dream-inspired sonic glee of 90s indie rock royalty such as shoegaze icons Ride, Soft Set's brand of melodic pop-rock is earnest and natural. Cloaked in the finest realm of nostalgic reverie, this debut single 'Never Die' is equally stunning and infectious. “We really wanted this album to have a theme that’s relatable to everyone and we feel that our second single titled “7 on Up” does just that. We wanted the audience to think about adolescent summer nights and that longing for a first kiss, dance, or letter from their crush saying that they feel the same way as you do about them. It’s what eveyone wanted back then right? Both James and I are really proud of this track and it’s actually the first track of the album as we felt that the song really sets the tone for the rest of the EP,” says Nathan Athay.
Not long after meeting during high school, they quickly realized that they had much in common, especially when it came to their taste in music. Nathan started playing drums in a local shoegaze, space rock band and James wasn’t far behind, learning guitar and writing songs of his own. Soon after, James became the band’s backup guitar player, filling in whenever the main guitar player couldn’t make a show.
Although that band lasted only a few years, James and Nathan continued to work separately on other projects, as well as working together whenever they could. Things really amped up in 2006 when James and Nathan were part of a Toronto indie rock band, recording their debut album at E5 Studios Downtown. James and Nathan learned a lot about recording and production through this process, inspiring them to continue to push themselves musically, eventually creating what is now Soft Set.
"Before we started this project, we agreed to never intentionally try to sound like anyone but ourselves. We really wanted to take an honest approach in the process and never discounted any ideas that we presented to each other. We gave everything a chance to see what worked and what didn’t and took it from there," says James Gray.
"I think what makes this album so special is that it’s very relatable. The lyrics are about feelings and settings that everyone experienced in one form, or another and we feel each song is consistent with that". The 'Love and Dancing' EP will be released on September 4. The 'Never Die / 7 On Up' 7" is also now available as a limited edition 7" vinyl run of 100. Both can be ordered directly from the artist via Bandcamp, in addition to digitally via online stores and streaming platforms.
Photos by Heidi Athay