Interview: Soft Velvet Lounge
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Z- Back in the days of pre-illegal Napster, I'd sneak onto the family computer and download music until the Sun came up. I'd spend hours listening to songs on repeat trying to pick out every element in the recording. Before playing music, I thought I was going to grow up to animate cartoons.
J- I was always writing poems and lyrics as a kid. My mom pushed me musically and was my biggest supporter. We'd always sing our favorite songs together. If I hadn't gotten into music, I'd either be working with art or become a teacher.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Z- Whenever I'm not damaging my hearing with music, I'm busy ruining my eyesight with graphic design. Sometimes I work on music and design projects simultaneously, jumping back and forth whenever there's a spark.
J- I’m a very artsy person and I always have to be doing something with my hands. Whether that’s drawing, pottery, or making music. My outlet really is just being creative in general. I love skateboarding and just cruising whenever I'm not doing music.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
J- I was born in Hawaii, but moved to Los Angeles at an age too young to even remember. My music is heavily influenced by west coast culture. I did live in Alaska for six years, and now reside in Texas. Even though I’m not in LA now, there’s no way I could separate that from my life.
Z- I currently live in Victorville, CA. It's a small Roy Rogers town with lots of pretty dirt. It's close to the best parts of California. You can visit the mountains, beach and city all in one day if you really wanted. How could you not come home inspired? I love it, but lots of locals hate it. It's not for the bored or unimaginative.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Z- Any show with any lineup implies fantasy scenarios aren't off the table, so I'm playing a show with 90s-era Smashing Pumpkins.
J- This is extremely difficult to answer. I listen to a wide variety of artists of different genres and eras. If I had to pick in the indie genre, Tame Impala for sure.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Z- Everything is temporary so it doesn't matter anyway. Tell that girl you love her. Wear that tacky suit to school. Invest in Amazon. You'll get pancreatitis if you live off of cinnamon sticks and trail mix.
J- There's so much advice I wish I could give my younger self if I could go back. To be gentle on myself and not care what anyone says. Also, even though you are related to someone, it doesn’t necessarily make you family. You can choose your chosen family, and the people that truly care will gravitate to your life.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
J- The lyrics in 'Blood' mean so much to me and share a small bit of the struggle I dealt with growing up. Something I still am dealing with even in adulthood. It's just very vulnerable and raw. A lot of the hardships of growing up in LGBTQ+ community with no support from family and just feeling really isolated.
Z- I had the most fun writing 'House Party'. Jazz let me get creative with the wordplay on that one and it brought about the album title, Life of the Party. I loved that Taking Back Sunday always had albums titled after lyrics rather than song titles. The original structure was absolute bonkers so we almost nixed it, so for me it represents what can be achieved when you take a step away and come at it from a different angle.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
J- A lot of it has to do with my own experience as an LGBTQ+ member. I try to write about my own authentic experiences in family, friendships, and partners. I know growing up, it would've helped if I heard a song I could relate to. Music really is an art but it can also help as therapy or a good coping mechanism. It means something to people. I’m the kind of person that if I fall in love with a song, I'll listen to it over and over again for life and won’t ever get sick of it.
Z- It all comes down to saving lives. Some genres endorse only a handful of moods. Anger, sadness etc. I think forming your identity around a single music genre can be somewhat dangerous because of that. You're most likely not enjoying the sunset when you're listening to extreme death metal. Be mindful of what you put in your head the same way you would foods. Maintain a healthy mental diet. You can end up damned by denim if you don't. Expand your horizons, throw on some fitting music and catch the sunset.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
J- Just to work on more new music and shows is the plan. Also, the vinyl will be ready in a couple of months!
Z- We're expecting to get Jazz to California for some shows before winter and I've got another project releasing music later this year under the name XYZ Superstar. It should be fun!