Soft Riot is the project of Glasgow-based, Canadian/British synth auteur Jack Duckworth (also known as JJD). With origins from the mid-nineties in the vibrant Art-Punk/Hardcore dominating the West Coast American/Canadian underground at the time, Jack has clocked in over twenty five years of musical output in various bands and projects, including first-wave Post-Punk revivalists Radio Berlin (1998-2005) and Industrial Synth-Punk collective A Luna Red (Gold Standard Labs, 1999-2003).
When playing live Jack handles no less than three synthesizers, a microphone, an on-stage mixer, and a variety of outboard effects with a large output of sweat, movement, and energy. Soft Riot has toured Europe numerous times over the years, from Spain to Russia and many places in between, as well as in a majority of cities in the UK.
Soft Riot has shared the stage with such peers as Absolute Body Control, Parade Ground, She Past Away, Selofan, Ausgang, Linea Aspera, Drab Majesty, Uncanny Valley, Lebanon Hanover, Qual, Buzz Kull, Section 25, Robert Görl of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, and more.
“For over twenty years I’ve been playing in bands and projects that take inspiration from the first wave of synthesizer groups of the late 70s onward, as well as Post-Punk, EBM, Italo Disco, Ambient Music, ’90s Hardcore/Punk, and more. There isn’t really any particular list of bands I take inspiration from as my interest in those genres has led me to discover so many great Artists past and present over the years, so there aren’t really any fixed bands or artists that provide direct inspiration.”
“If anything a lot of things not really related to any particular artists inspire the music such as music theory, constructing blocks of sound, films, events in life and even conversations with friends and people I’ve met over the years.”
Instruments and Studio Set-Up
“Currently I’ve been trying to find a nice middle ground in a studio set-up that works for production and writing but more in a configuration that I’d use live. This has been a sweet spot I’ve been trying to nail down for years but lately I’ve got a set-up that has been getting close to that. Over the years my arsenal of synths has shifted but I’ve always had an enjoyable rack of effects, with effects units by Electro-Harmonix and Ohio’s Earthquaker Devices, namely the SR Disaster Transport and the Afterneath units which are fun to work with.”
“With my new, tenth album ‘No.’ released August 11th, 2023, my main focus at the moment is to fill out my touring schedule over the next year and with that rehearsing the live set as much as possible. I’d like to get into a regular rehearsal routine so I have a nice pool of songs I can choose from to play out live over the course of the albums that I’ve released over the years. I’m aiming to get out to Europe quite a bit over the next year as well as having my eye on some possible North American dates if I plan it out well!”
“With that said I’m aiming to write new material, but I’m in no rush right now. As we start coming into winter that’s when I tend to get the most creative in the studio. Ideally I’d like to keep the bar low on writing in terms of expectations, just composing new tracks as I feel the inspiration and momentum to do so and when there’s a nice group of tracks that I’m happy with trying to plan out how those might be released in the future. When I have free mental space is when I find the best ideas come to me.”
“I’m also aiming to write new tracks under the ‘Ostrofti’ moniker, which I use for instrumental, ambient synth work. I’ve already composed a lot of material for this so it’s just a case of allotting some time to re-visit those recordings and get back in the zone for creating more material in that general style.”
“I’ve been doing music for quite a while now and the infrastructure of scenes and a broader music industry have always been changing. Running in tandem with my time creating and playing music, I’ve also been a self-employed graphic designer, web developer, and video editor for quite a while now which is my actual day job. Both require a lot of time, inspiration, and a great ability to multi-task, so at times it gets somewhat difficult to juggle both given there’s only 24 hours in a day.”
“Plus as both of these occupations are generally dealt with solely by myself, being a solo artist, I find the bandwidth for not just the creation and performance of music, but also all of the admin and promo that comes along with it can get pretty narrow at times!”
“What role does technology play in your music, and how has it evolved over
“Prior to getting the Soft Riot project off the ground around 12 years ago, the majority of the bands I had played in had varying degrees of reliance on technology. Some of these bands where mainly in the traditional ‘rock’ band format and others incorporated more electronic equipment such as sequencers, synthesizers and drum machines.”
“With Soft Riot I’ve had to experiment with different formats, especially for the live show. Over the years that considered a balance between portability, reliability, and ease of playing—all allowing me to focus on vocals at the same time.”
“At the heart of it all however it’s generally about 3-5 synths running off a master Ableton track, which has bare-bones backing tracks elements like the drums, but mainly to send out a lot of MIDI information to the synths like sequences and program changes.”
“I’ve considered ditching the computer for an MPC type device but I haven’t really found a suitable solution that could deal with the heavily customized MIDI routing that I need. That and the fact that I need to bring a computer along anyway when on tour as I’m generally doing some design work on the road. Such is the nature of being 100% self-employed.”
“When recording and producing however it’s generally all hardware I’m using to create the sounds.”
“How do you see your music evolving in the future, both creatively and professionally?”
“I’ve never done music ‘professionally’—at least in the way that any music I do comes to be my main source of income, and I don’t expect it to either. If anything I’m a bit relieved I don’t have to become dependent on music for income in this day and age as it increasingly becomes more of a challenge to do so.”
“At this point in time I’m considering my approach to new material I aim to write for Soft Riot. Where ‘No.’ was somewhat a product of the pandemic lockdown and is a somewhat high-energy and at times dense record, these days I’m looking to work on more mid-tempo and slightly slower material, without losing the energy or subtle menace that’s weaved into the music I do. If anything I’m wanting to write material that has more space in between the notes without compromising on melody, momentum, and power.”
“The fact that I know the general parameters of where I want to go with the music, that makes up for half the battle right there in terms of creative direction for the music in the future.”
“What trends in electronic music do you think will be popular in 2024?”
“Before the Internet became an important tool in sharing and discovery of new music, trends were a lot more cyclical and it was easier to see their rise and fall, mainly as discovery of music and what was popular at the time was dictated by magazines and other underground publications.”
“These days things are far more atomized, with many thousands of niche genres out there where artists are working to mold their music into certain styles can work within those scenes for a long time without falling out of favor.”
“I can see AI becoming more of a presence in music in the coming years, especially electronic music. Artists won’t be replaced by music written by AI of course—well, maybe as far as ‘corporate’ usage of music is concerned (adverts, etc) but I can see it being used as a writing tool by some musicians out there to assist in composition or to add a new dimension to the overall creation process.”
“Perhaps there will be people out there who aren’t turned on by the laborious writing and creation process who will be inspired to become musicians with AI handling the writing as they have ideas in their head they’ve always wanted to try out, even if just for fun. But overall music is a human experience and at the core it’s because we as humans get the rush, emotion, and enjoyment out of music so that it will remain an art form being created by humans for years to come.”
“What is the most important lesson you have learned in your journey as a music artist?”
“Over my time in doing music, I think the most important thing is that the excitement and ideas for creating come first and that should be the core base of why one does music.”
“Live performance is important as well—if that’s something a musician enjoys. In this day and age a musician is expected to do more peripheral activities, mainly to promote their music: reaching out to contacts, being active online, and any number of tasks that can eat up one’s time.”
“As long as the ideas are coming and they’re ones that I can get excited about and push me to get back into creating new music, all of the other elements will in some way fall into place.”
A Message from the Artist
“You can support me in the way that a lot of bands can get support: listen and purchase the recordings! That and merchandise as well. It’s more and more tricky these days to actually recoup money and time for recordings through traditional record sales, due to any number of streaming services out there. I’ve been somewhat lucky that I’ve got fans out there that buy the physical formats when I release them and I can generally move them onto curious listeners when I’m on tour. Despite music becoming more streaming platform based as time goes on, there are still enthusiast folks out there who still like having a physical recorded format.”
Support Soft Riot
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Soft Riot’s latest album ‘No.’ is now available via Possession Records (UK) and Wave Tension Records (NL) in digital, vinyl LP, and Digipak CD formats:
Now you can listen to music by Soft Riot and discover new indie electronic Artists from all over the world on Mythic Rhythmic Presents only on Massive-Radio.com.