Toronto-based dreampop melodic indie rock duo Soft Set present their first 7″ vinyl release, comprised of tracks ‘7 On Up’ and debut single ‘Never Die’, recently released as a standalone single with accompanying video created and edited by Heidi Athay.
Both tracks are from Soft Set’s forthcoming debut EP ‘Love and Dancing’, mixed in Oxford, UK by Ride frontman and celebrated producer Mark Gardener in his recently-launched world-class OX4 Sound Studio.
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.
“Like our debut single ‘Never Die’, which was released last month, 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.
Guided by Mark Gardener / OX4 Sound and 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.
“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”.
On August 14, the ‘Never Die / 7 On Up’ 7″ will be available via online stores and streaming platforms. A limited edition 7″ vinyl run of 100, it can be pre-ordered directly from the artist via Bandcamp. The full ‘Love and Dancing’ EP will be released on September 4.
Written by Nathan Athay and James Gray
Produced and performed by Soft Set at E5 Studios Downtown (Toronto)
Mixed at OX4 Sound Studios by Mark Gardener in Oxford, UK
Mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering, Montreal QC
Photos by Heidi Athay