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Soft Powder Walks Us Through The Artists That Inspire His Lo-Fi Dreamscapes

Melbourne artist Soft Powder has just dropped his first single of 2022 ‘Running Through The Dark’, and today has given us some insight into the inspiration behind it.

After finding international success with UNFD-signed alt-rock group Storm The Sky , Andy Szetho decided to step out and begin his solo project, Soft Powder. As Soft Powder he has released two EPs- ‘Shangri-La’ in 2018 and ‘Faber Ria’ in 2019 and toured with the likes of Pinkish Blu and Egoism.

In this latest offering, the dream-pop producer weaves cinematic synths with lo-fi guitars and 80s influences to create a deeply immersive sonic experience. Speaking about the new neon-tinged track, Andy said: “‘Running Through The Dark’ echoes those moments when your mind spins, everything’s a blur, and it feels like you’re spiralling out of control. It’s about frantically searching for a “spark” to make the anxiety disappear, despite not knowing when or where this “spark” will present itself. It’s about becoming obsessed with this idea of momentary relief.”

To give us more idea of what goes on in his creative mind, Andy provided us with five of his biggest artistic influences- check them out below:

Rowland S Howard

I love everything that Rowland S Howard has been a part of; from his solo work, to his early music with The Birthday Party and Nick Cave, and his more recent collaboration with HTRK. It was his ethos and the way he approached his guitar playing which taught me to lean more into writing expressively rather than technically. When I listen to Rowland S Howard’s guitar playing it feels eerie and unsettling because you can hear his emotions so clearly as it’s so expressive. People have said that his guitar sounded like it was crying. He’s also an incredible songwriter and I think ‘Shivers’ is one of the best songs of all time; it’s simple, catchy and powerfully emotive.

Kate Bush

Kate Bush has had a huge influence on my sound in lots of ways, but the most obvious would be through her synth sounds and her songwriting. I’ve spent countless hours trying to recreate the distinct and infectious synth sounds on her Hounds of Love album. In the process, I’ve found synth sounds that have ended up forming the foundation of lots of my songs. She is also the queen of songwriting. She somehow manages to write perfectly crafted, audacious pop songs whilst consistently breaking new ground and pushing boundaries. She also produced a lot of her own music which is what I’m trying to do and she’s a huge inspiration. I love how her albums are conceptually cohesive and have overarching narratives, which is something that I am also trying to do (poorly) with my releases.

Cocteau Twins

The Cocteau Twins are the coolest band ever and they’ve influenced my sound in so many ways. I’ve always tried to emulate their guitar and drum machine sounds. The guitars sound like they’re glistening and they’ve always reminded me of icy water droplets. I like how they sound cold and sharp whilst making you feel warm and calm. On the other hand, their drums sound present and distant at the same time, like they’re being played in an echo chamber. The fact that for a long period of time the Cocteau Twins didn’t perform live with a real drummer, instead using a tape reel with their drum machine tracks, is just so cool. It’s what gave me the courage to write and record music without an actual drummer. I also love how Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals are often indecipherable. It gives the songs a haunting, otherworldly quality, and forces the listener to feel the music rather than try to interpret its literal meaning. I’ve tried to incorporate all of these elements into my own music, to some degree.

Wong Kar-wai

Wong Kar-wai’s films have a melancholic, slightly ironic, and chaotic atmosphere. His films are visually and aesthetically dynamic, and the dialogue is witty and bashful despite following tragic narratives hinged on loneliness and unrequited love. I really like this combination of moods and feelings, and I try to evoke them in my own songs. When I write my music it’s very much a visual experience, and I always picture my songs playing behind a WKW film.

To me, WKW’s films also convey feelings of familiarity and comfort, and I think it’s because the characters look like me, and speak the same language and eat the same food as my family and relatives, something I’m not used to seeing in Western films. It feels nostalgic watching WKW’s films as they bring back fond memories of watching old Chinese films and Hong Kong dramas with my grandparents whenever we’d visit them in Malaysia. I try to channel and express this nostalgia in my music.

Edward Yang

Edward Yang is another film director whose work inspires my music. His movies have a wistful, downtrodden and somber quality, and on the surface they feel quite mundane. Simultaneously, his films follow characters with fragmented identities, and they have fractured, intersecting storylines which kind of evokes an unsettling feeling of discontent and conflict, which I really like. I think it’s this restless tension that his films create which inspires my music. As I said previously, I approach my songwriting both from a sonic perspective and from a visual perspective, and I feel as though there’s a similar tension in my songs. I’m not sure if it’s obvious to listeners, but it is to me. 

Listen to Soft Powder’s ‘Running Through The Dark’, out now!

Written by Alice Powell