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Nathaniel Epp and Keely Rochon are both founding members of their band Dead Soft. // Photo by Wilson Turk

By Carl Bryden

Dead Soft, an alternative rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia, came through Bellingham Thursday, Feb. 20, to promote their new album, Big Blue.

The group played an energetic and exciting set at Gruff Brewing Co. Bellingham was the group’s first stop on a short tour down the coast, promoting their new album that released October 2019.

Record label, Arts & Crafts Productions released Big Blue. The record label reached out to the group while they were in the process of finishing Big Blue, following an interest the label had in producing an album with the band. According to Nathaniel Epp, the group’s vocalist and founding member, the album took three years to finish.

“[During] the first session we had for Big Blue, we had like 10 songs or something. We went into that session with the expectation we were going to finish the album in a matter of a couple weeks,” Epp said.

Over the course of its three-year production, Big Blue drew from sources of inspiration that changed often. The group struggled with finishing the album and presenting the project as something they were proud of.

“I won’t lie, it was difficult and kind of a disappointment. It forced us to go back to the drawing boards over and over again. By the end, though, we had a finished product we were really proud of,” Epp said.

Dead Soft drummer Alex Smith at Gruff Brewing Co. // Photo by Wilson Turk

On the surface, Big Blue presents itself as heavy alternative-rock. The album goes much deeper in its subject matter. It draws on serious issues from the personal lives of Epp and Keely Rochon, another founding member of Dead Soft as well as a multi-instrumentalist in the group.

“[Rochon] and I both deal with mental health stuff. We pulled from experiences with that. The album itself was kind of a struggle and so it became a part of the process,” Epp said.

The album was shaped to be healing. The group has “always tried to make music that’s healing,” Epp said. Their discography of singles, EPs and full albums reflect a reverence, love and admiration of grunge and post-rock that still shapes their music.

The group said they all had grown up in the thralls of the grunge scene, which has heavily influenced the band’s sound since its beginning. 

Nathaniel Epp, lead vocalist for Dead Soft, playing a show at Gruff Brewing Co. on Thursday, Feb. 20. // Photo by Wilson Turk

“Being a PNW [Pacific Northwest] kid, we were all just obsessed with grunge and all that, you know: Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails,” Epp said.

Moving forward, the plan is to get bigger and more sustainable, the group said. On their idea of what it means for them to be successful, the band agreed, “Making and playing music sustainably … Being able to do it all the time and not only when we can afford to.”

With this and their goal of creating catharsis in their music, Dead Soft has established a reputation for themselves throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

“The best thing I’ve been told about one of our albums is that it was a cathartic experience,” Epp said. The group's biggest take away after finishing the album is the experience of making something and finding its meaning later. “Sometimes you write a song about something and you don’t even know what it’s about. Then you finish it and it’s like, ‘Oh there it is, obviously,’” Epp said.

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