Soft Riot is JJD; a former Vancouverite now residing in the UK who has clocked in around twenty years of musical output in various bands and projects, including half a dozen art-damaged punk and hardcore bands as well as first-wave post-punk revivalists Radio Berlin. Moving from Vancouver to London UK in the late 2000s, Soft Riot came into full being, having released a couple of acclaimed albums and EPs and staging numerous tours around Europe.
With origins from the mid-nineties in the vibrant art-punk/hardcore dominating the West Coast American/Canadian underground at the time (the first EP, No Longer Stranger, is the name of a track by hardcore band Universal Order of Armageddon), JJD followed a trajectory through to the revival of synth-based post-punk music just over a decade or so ago, which spawned a number of highly successful Canadian artists out of that scene.
Soft Riot’s sound is an amalgamation of JJD’s personal experience with music, containing elements of synthesiser-based film soundtracks, romantic italo-style flourishes, throbbing arpeggiations and angular, psychedelic synth-pop all tied together with an underlying tension. It is a science-fiction heavy soundscape that narrates the listener through today’s fractured, excessive landscape with hints of black humour.
Soft Riot, coming from a more punk rock pedigree, often places more focus than the norm on his lyrical content, bringing in detailed pictures and sometimes even linear narrative storylines to subjects such as modern living, technology, surveillance, environment, overpopulation, enlightenment, life elsewhere, forewarning about catastrophic events, vain people in gyms, and not having enough time. The influences come less from other musical artists but more so from written fiction and film —a future predicted by fiction.
2018’s The Outsider In The Mirrors is the newest release on the Possession Records: a new, fledgling Glasgow imprint founded by JJD, Claudia Nova (aka Hausfrau) and Andy Brown (Ubre Blanca). It is a consolidation of all the stylistic elements Soft Riot has pursued in the past, fusing his maximalist sonic palette with a sharp-edged sense of post-punk anxiety, unique synth interplay and brooding, claustrophobic new-wave dread. The music is tense, synthetic and precise, embodying and exploring issues of isolation, urban alienation and social paranoia. Yet despite these dark thematic preoccupations the Soft Riot sound is not without its warmth and humour.
Prior to that came 2015’s You Never Know What Might Come Next (EXBTN), which further developed and fine-tuned Soft Riot’s evolving minimal, atmospheric sound that started gaining momentum on the 2013 full-length, Fiction Prediction.
In 2014 came Some More Terror, a recording consisting of 11 tracks of instrumental, ambient-influenced synth sounds that provided a slight detour from the more song-based, synth-pop trajectory presented on the two aforementioned albums.
Soft Riot has previously put out two other releases, the first being the No Longer Stranger EP on the Canadian label Panospria in early 2011. Featuring a more subdued and esoteric sound, this release attracted attention from various points around the globe with little promotion. This EP saw a re-release with a full vinyl treatment in January 2013, extended into an 8-track LP. This record contains a cover of “Electrolux” by Hoover; former Dischord Record artists from their 1994 debut (and only) album. The other release is 2012’s Another Drone In Your Head, a digital EP featuring remixes from a number of similarly minded artists.
When playing live JJD mans no less than three synthesizers, a microphone, an on-stage mixer, and a variety of outboard effects. Soft Riot has toured Europe numerous times, most recently France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium as well as Moscow and a number of UK cities. Stages have been shared with such peers as Keluar, Lebanon Hanover, Noi Kabát, Robert Görl of DAF and more.
Image manipulation by JJD Works.