Soft Fangs, the musical project of singer-songwriter John Lutkevich, has recently been getting attention for creating a melancholy, lo-fi sound reminiscent of Sparklehorse and Elliott Smith and blending it with hints of hopeful pop sensibility.
His songwriting is beautifully personal and heartbreaking in the most cathartic way. Last year, he released his debut LP ‘The Light’, which was “about death, life, nature and all the little things people forget”, and now he’s ready to release a new album titled ‘Fractures’ in September via Disposable America. To fit with its overarching theme, the album was recorded in fragments. ‘Elephant Girl’ is our first taste from the record, a dreamy, almost shoegaze-inspired track that has more of a garage feel but is characteristically intimate. “Watching a cigarette burn so close to your mouth, ash falling out/ I don’t know quite what to say, so I take my tongue and put out the flame,” Lutkevich sings.
GIGsoup caught up with Soft Fangs to talk about his new track, upcoming album, and future plans.
How would you describe your sound? Are you comfortable with the term lo-fi pop?
Honestly, I’m comfortable being called anything, my music has been called a lot of different things. I’d tend to describe it as folk-gaze if I had too… But I’m not sure if that’s a thing?
What does the name Soft Fangs mean to you?
Quiet music with a bite.
Apart from your musical influences, what other artists act as an inspiration for your music and in what way?
I like to read a lot. I studied creative writing in college and like a lot of poetry, some of my favorites include Robert Creeley, Emily Dickinson, Richard Brautigan… As far as visual art goes I really like the work of Paul Klee & Ray Johnson, among others that I can’t think of right now. I think that artists working primarily in other mediums inspire me because it’s a different approach to the same idea. We’re all grasping at something, just in different forms.
Even though you wrote the songs for your new album over the span of a year, you recorded them within three days during a snowstorm. Did this environment change the nature of the songs?
Yes, I’d say that it did. I knew that I had to get them all done in three days because that’s just what I had decided, so I didn’t leave the house and just never stopped playing. It was one of the most focused processes I’ve ever been a part of, and it was nice to drive home in the snowstorm and have a full album to listen to.
How was it different from recording in your childhood home?
Less cramped, less memories… The biggest change on this record was that I had two other people engineering, whereas previous recordings I’d handled all of that stuff. This definitely sped up the process, as well as allowing me to focus solely on the performance and not the more technical aspects.
Would you call ‘Fractures’ more abstract than your previous LP?
I would! Whereas ‘The Light’ had more of a number of concurrent themes that ran throughout, this album is definitely more fragmented.
What was the process of writing ‘Elephant Girl’?
‘Elephant Girl’ was written on a friend’s porch after the night of a really weird show. It was a house show (aka not exactly legal) and someone came to the show impersonating a police officer. He was asking for my friend who had put together the gig for all this information, threatening to arrest her… all this stuff. The two of us eventually figured out he wasn’t a cop, so we proceeded to make him leave the show. It caused a huge ruckus, the show got cut short and a bunch of people left, so I went out onto the porch and wrote this song.
How do you approach themes of fragmentation, loneliness, and nostalgia?
Since those all of those themes are so universal, I think the only way to approach them is with the purest intent, people are going to know if you’re faking it. And it’s important to notice the little things, because those are often the most inspirational.
Is the vintage feel of the album cover and the artwork in general related to these themes?
The album cover is a picture of my grandmother who passed away about a year ago. It’s more so a ‘Thank you’ than anything.
Are you excited about your upcoming shows?
Yes, I’m always excited for shows! I want to be on tour forever.