The dynamic trio that is SoftSpot hails from Bushwick and is made up of Sarah Kinlaw (bass, keys, vocals), Bryan Keller (guitar, keys, drums), and Blaze Bateh (drums). Along with many other NYC area bands, SoftSpot headed down to Harrisonburg, Virginia for MACRoCk this past weekend. I was able to get a quick interview with Keller about their thoughts on MACRoCk and what they’ve been up to recently!
So you’re both (Kinlaw and Keller) originally from NC but managed to reconnect a few years ago here in NYC and started to write together. What was that moment when you realized this was more than just jamming out in someone’s bedroom? Or rather, what made you decide to take your collaboration to the next step?
BK: Back in ’09 Sarah started writing some songs and I helped her fill them out by playing different instruments when she recorded them. We started collaborating on ideas more and more, and it just kinda turned into a band as we started performing them live.
Do the two of you solely write all of the music or do you welcome input from the others (folks who play with you live or on your records?). With that being said, can you elaborate on your writing process especially for the added instruments? Do you have your songs pretty much written before you hit the studio or do you do a lot of writing in studio?
BK: Sarah or I come up with a skeleton of an idea or a song, but most of the time we don’t really settle into it as a song until we work it out as a full band. Blaze has a killer ear and is really sensitive to what the song might be needing. The added instruments are usually something we do in the studio because we feel like experimenting with sounds we can’t necessarily pull off live. But before we go in to record a song – it feels best if we’ve spent some time with it rehearsing, playing shows and even touring with it. A lot happens to it over time and it makes sense not to capture the song pre-maturely. We try to be careful not to wait too long though.
What do you really hope to get across to the audience during a show? What do you want them to walk away with? How would you want them to describe you after listening/seeing you for the first time?
BK: There isn’t some set idea to get across, but there always is a lot of energy that we hold behind each set. It feels the best when it’s somehow reciprocated by the people we are sharing with. We’re all just trying to be open to opening up.
You’ve done some touring in the past, where is your favorite spot to play? Where is your favorite place to eat while on the road?
BK: We have always had a lot of fun with the homies down in Savannah, GA. Last time we were there we played a spot called The Sparetime that had the same flooring from the civil war that Robert E. Lee and his boys were rumored to have slept on. Raleigh and Philly are always a killer time… as well as Quebec City up in Canada. Atlanta has this killer BBQ place called Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt that we always go to. Tall boys, blues band – the works… y’all should check it out. And just south of Baltimore off I-95 we always stop at this health food store called Mom’s.
Being from NC, had you heard of the Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference (MACRoCk) before being asked to play? What are you most excited about for playing this festival?
BK: I hadn’t heard of it until we started touring through Virginia. People in other bands or at shows have told us about it and said it was a good time and worth coming down for. I’m most excited to get out of the city for a little bit, play some music and see some bands I’ve never seen before. We have some friends from NY that will be down playing so it’ll be great to hang with them too! Virginia is for lovers right?
What are your immediate and long term goals for the future? Do you plan on doing any touring? Writing for a new record?
BK: We are immediately wrapping up some demos for a new record we have plans to record in the near future. Long term: put that record out and move onto the next. We definitely plan to go out on little jaunts here and there. Once we get some new content out later this year we’ll be hitting the road for a longer period – for sure.
Anything you would like to add?
BK: Sarah is a Scorpio, I’m a Scorpio and Blaze is a Capricorn (right on the cusp of Aquarius)