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Written by Johnny Papan

Photo by Ryan Walter Wagner

Vancouver is a tough city to live in. On one hand, we have a thriving arts scene, musicians, filmmakers, and other artists of all styles, genres, and grandeur cultivate here. Communities are tight knit, and individualism can be expressed freely within any subculture with open acceptance. On the other hand, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Many people born here are being forced to move while landmarks of Vancouver arts culture are constantly under threat of being torn down so condos can be built over their graves of rubble.

Dead Soft’s ambient sound seduces listeners with grungy, garage rock washed in a dream-like substance. Distorted yet atmospheric, the Vancouver-formed trio are set to release their newest effort, Big Blue, an album inspired by the financial and mental stress caused by living in Vancouver.

Bassist Keeley Rochon takes the time to talk about Big Blue, which drops October 18. They begin their North American tour that same day, at the Astoria in Vancouver.

Q & A

Rekt Chords: You are about to release your anticipated new album, ‘Big Blue’ - why did you choose this as the title of your new record?

Keeley Rochon: The title ‘Big Blue’ was inspired by the blue glow of the ocean and sky that occurs at dusk after the sun sets, but before darkness fully sets in. It was something that we had never really noticed or appreciated until moving away from the city.

The album was written about the experience of being driven out of the financially and psychologically unsustainable Vancouver. Can you talk about this? What exactly was your experience living in and leaving Vancouver?

The album was actually written and recorded while we still lived in Vancouver. for the most part. Finishing touches were added once we had moved - it was a lengthy process. It wasn’t really our intention to write a record about fleeing the city, though listening to it after the fact, it is pretty apparent that we were longing for a change of scenery. Nathaniel and I grew up in a small town up North called Prince Rupert and are pretty nostalgic people in general. These themes tend to work themselves into the writing from time to time.

The financial instability is an obvious that most of us living here can universally relate to. What about Vancouver did you find psychologically unsustainable?

I think for us, the financial instability went hand in hand with our psychological instability. We’ve been a band since 2011 and started booking our own tours shortly after. It's life-changing and fun but can also be incredibly difficult and costly. We realize that it’s an immense privilege to be in a position to make touring and recording work, even if it was by the skin of our teeth, but there were times when we felt like we might have to throw it all away just to regain some semblance of stability. It was very dark and challenging. People like to rip on Vancouver a lot, but we will always love it and still spend a lot of time there. Being isolated from the rest of the world by mountains and distance makes for a very cool and tough arts community that we are happy to be a part of.

The band moved to an isolated community off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. What is this place called? What has life been like for you since the move? Do you feel different? Would you say things are better for you?

We moved to a small island off the coast of Nanaimo called Gabriola Island. Life has been truly awesome. Living in the woods comes with its own set of challenges, but the reward is very much worth the effort. It has afforded us space and privacy which we were desperate for by the time we left our last expensive and shitty Vancouver apartment. Not having the hammer of living costs hanging so heavily over our heads at all times has freed up a lot of mental energy that we didn’t even realize we were expending.

Do you miss Vancouver? Would you move back if the city was more affordable? Given your experience, do you have any advice for people still living in the city?

We definitely miss Vancouver once in awhile. The convenience of life in the city is undeniable and we miss seeing our friends all the time, but Alex lives in Abbotsford and we still rehearse in Vancouver a lot so we are still around. I don’t foresee us ever moving back there, though. I don’t have any good advice for Vancouverites, mainly because I felt like I was flailing most of the time while I lived there. Everyone has their own way of making life work in Vancouver which is cool and inspiring in its varying degrees of complexity.

What is the meaning behind the band name ‘Dead Soft’?

Dead Soft is a term that is used to describe the most malleable form of wire used in jewelry-making. I heard it from a friend while she was describing an art project she was working on and thought it sounded cool - the rest is history!

You have an intriguing sound, this garage-rock washed in an almost dream-like substance. What are the emotions that inspire your songwriting, and what effect do you hope it has on your audience?

Contrasting heaviness and darkness with joy and light is a big part of our sound I think. We are sensitive and earnest people, but we also have a sense of humour and have a deep love for rock n roll in all its forms which I think comes across in our music as well. Our hope is that people can hear the sincerity and optimism in our music through the walls of distortion and feedback and know that we understand how tough life can get but that happiness and healing are always imminent.

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