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  • Softcult
  • Softcult

When the world came to a screechinghalt in early 2020, twin sistersPhoenix (They/Them) andMercedesArn-Horn (She/They) saw theopportunity to begin anew. Aftermore than a decade ofmakingmusic together, they seized theopportunity toexplore somethingnew and different, notknowingwhere the road would lead them.“Mercedes and I had been considering launching a new project, but when these songs startedcoming to life, we instantly felt an excitement and passion that had been unknowingly missingfor such a long time,” Phoenix says.From the get-go, thetwinsknew shaking things up was essential to keep them engaged with theproject. This isn’t to insinuate they had been previously coasting, but several different factorsseemed to workin their favour.“You don’t get too many chances to start over. I’d say the biggest difference with Softcult wasthe fact that it was something that grew in the studio, as opposed to the road,” Mercedes says.“Previously, the studio was the vehicle to getback on the road where this time around, weallowed the studio to become an extension of what it was we were looking to do. It wasrewarding in a whole different way.”Driven by the upheaval that seemed to dominate the bulk of 2020, including the mobilization ofthe Black Lives Matter movement that resulted from the killing of George Floyd, as well as thesocial and financial inequality exacerbated by the pandemic, the sisters found themselveschanneling their frustration with the world at large into themusic they were creating.“Softcult is very socially and politically driven,” Phoenix says. “A lot of others seem to talk thetalk but then never match actions with their words.”“We did our best to not overthink the songs and just see where they led us,” Phoenix says.“There was no question that there are dark undertones to the material, but we are also infinitelymore confident that these are the right songs for the right time.”The duo’s forthcoming EP release, Year of the Snake, effectively capturesthat disillusionment.Acknowledging the songs were darker in feeling in comparison to the duo’s debut EP, Year ofthe Rat, the sisters agree they were considerably more confident of their sonic footing withthese new songs.“We definitely feel as though we’re coming more into our own. If you looked at Year of the Ratas being an adolescent, this new EP has seen us grow to young adult,” Mercedes says with alaugh.“The most important thing is that we don’t want to feel as though we’re treading water,” Phoenixoffers.Ontheguitar-driven,grunge-tinged“SpitItOut”,Softcultlooktodo away with detrimentalsocietal norms that have, in many instances, endured because they were never called out orquestioned.“’Spit It Out’ is all about rejecting harmfulnorms in our society,’ Mercedes says. “We’reconditioned to believe certain things from the time we’re young, especially concerning classesand capitalism. But if you never challenge those norms, nothing will ever change, and injustices will persist. Meanwhile, the vocals swirling around the sentimentally melodic “House of Mirrors” show thataforementioned depth the duo have found with their newest material.“This song comes from more of an emotional place,” Mercedes notes. “It stems from feeling asthough you’ve somehow disappointed people you love or those people that believe in you. Ithink everyone has an idealistic view of how life is going to go and then you come to realizethings don’t always work out the way we plan.”The brash “BWBB” (Boys Will Be Boys) tackles the sensitive yet timely subject of gender-basedviolence and how so many males get let off the hook for their mistakes in circumstances wheregreater punishment is called for and warranted.“It’s infuriating to see the continued hollow justification of gen-der-based violence,” Phoenixsays. “It’s rooted in misogyny, and it seems as though we’re stuck in this ongoing dance of onestep forward, two steps back. We have no choice but to keep pushing ahead.”Elsewhere on Year of the Snake, Softcult balances their biting social commentary with the moreintrospective songs “Perfect Blue” and “Gaslight.” Complemented by their powerful vocal har-monies, “Perfect Blue” shows a depth to the duo’s songwriting that gradually reveals itself as thesong progresses. Meanwhile on “Gaslight,” a refrain of “I don’t know what I’m doing” anchorsthe rhythmic track as the song’s narrator attempts to discern reality from what it is they perceive.Seamlessly combining Grunge, Shoegaze, Dreampop, and punk into their “music with amessage”, Softcult has quickly become the band inspiring a new Riot Grrrl movement for thedigital age. PRO: feminism, social activism, creative freedom, self-empowerment, genderneutrality. ANTI: sexism, racism, homophobia, trans-phobia, patriarchy.Unafraid of using their music as a force for good in the world, the socially-minded Softcult is ready to turn the world on its ear.