Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller: SoftSpot
Checklist for tour?
Car key, spare key, musical gear, wearable gear and coffee supplies. We have a power inverter so we can boil water and grind beans for our press while driving. We roll with sleeping bags and hygiene supplies too. Plus whatever merchandise we have to sell. Gas is expensive!
What’s it like making music with someone you’ve known since the sandbox?
It seems quite natural. We have known each other for a really long time, so we have an innate understanding of the other. We are both really intense people so we are pushing each other as much as we can within all areas of our relationship. Music just happens to be a big part of who we are. We didn’t just decide one day to start a band together.
Differences in process for new album?
The new process is that there is no process. We just try to harness the inspiration when it's available to us. Comparatively, this album is a complete collaboration between the two of us. Whereas the last one was more of me adding to or making over songs that Sarah had already written. We seemed to have settled into more defined roles as musicians on this one as well... so far.
The Fashionable Bystander: SoftSpot
What are your music backgrounds?
Sarah was star chorus girl back in high school and was operatically trained since a young age. Meanwhile she's underage slamming beers on the weekends in parking lots at punk shows. I was next to her slamming beers too. I just grew up in a pretty musical family so I had a lot of instruments around to mess with. I picked anything up I could get my hands on and could usually figure them out really well. I studied theory briefly on the trombone, but that's the only training I've had. We started playing a little over a year and a half ago when Sarah was going to record some songs she had been working on. I went with her just to hang and show some support, but I ended up adding and hashing stuff out with her and our buddy/roommate Colin who records and works on all our songs with us. Then we started trying to make it work live and a year and a half went by.
SoftSpot presents visual understanding that materializes into innovative styling and music video directions. Do you see this it as another outlet for expressing the music? Or would you just consider yourselves fashionable musicians?
We have a certain taste in aesthetics for sure. We also have some really close friends who are designers or stylists who are always down to collaborate with a video or photo shoot. It means a lot to us to use our creative friends within our creative vision which ends up taking on a look and feel on it's own.
Favorite venues in Brooklyn?
We have actually played way more shows outside of New York than within I think. We like Death By Audio a lot, which we are actually playing on April 6th before heading out of town again. Places like Silent Barn are great too. On the legit venue side we've enjoyed Coco66 in Greenpoint and Bruar Falls on Grand St (which makes sense because we love it's sister CakeShop). One great show we played was over a year ago at an art show called "Mythed Connection" in a basement in Bushwick. We try to find similar style spots in every place we go to on tour as well because there is usually someone throwing great shows in creative spaces.
Collaboration is pretty key with you two. What are some you have going on right now?
We always collaborate with our roommate Colin Alexander who records everything we do. He has a lot of helpful insight into the songs we are making because he listens to them over and over and over again. Right now we are playing with a drummer named Andrew Spaulding. He's a writer and performer as well as a killer musician and has been a blast to have part of the project. We have an artist named Meredith Connelly in North Carolina who is making glowing stalactites as an installation for one of our shows, and we love to wear fresh duds that our friends have made. I love the clothes a former drummer of ours named Stephen Zerbe makes. You can see some of them in the photos you took. Designer Savannah Wyatt has made some special pieces for Sarah to wear in an old music video and some other pieces to perform in. Look out for that girl.
The weather for sure. I dig simplicity. I also love things to fit right. Socks are pretty important I guess. Sarah is all over the place. I don't think there is a definite inspiration. She'll draw inspiration from a 50 year old woman wearing stripper heels to a young woman in a maternity dress. True story.
Photos and interview by Crystal Gwyn