Contagious cool with God-tier storytelling from one of Berlin's chillest outfits. Soft Milk charms the listener; Americana meets the lovingly odd-ball in this band of troubadours who play like they're born to it and bang out song after smile-inducing song.
Tell us a little about your band.
Eli from Soft Milk, We started off in Ypsilanti, Michigan with just two members. The initial design was based on some hang-outs my friend and I were having, where we spend days hanging out together wearing sheets and pretending we were the first and second coming of Christ. Then we wrote a song called 'are you god together' and started working more and more on the idea of having a music/performance project. It didn’t take long before we were playing all around town. We were doing something quiet and intimate, more about theatre and poetry than rock’n’roll, but not giving up on having a grungy raw end to our sound. We played with 10 watt practice amps only, even for the vocals. It seemed like that was refreshing for people to not be overwhelmed by loudness and get a chance to here what the singing was about. Now in Berlin we look more like a normal rock band, but we still try to keep it on the lighter side of sound.
Why did you start make music?
In school, we were given a music aptitude test by a new band director named Dan who was trying to revive the music program at our school. I did really well on it, and he found me later and encouraged that I joined band. He was a percussionist and came to all the classrooms and did a drum performance. I thought it was really badass and he had a nice young excited teacher energy that as a child I could relate to so I joined band. I wanted to play sax but it was too expensive for my parents to buy one, so we did percussion. Just need some sticks and I was good to go, and my sister had already done percussion and quit once so it made it the natural thing to do. I’m really glad for it though because drums really steered me into making punk rock and playing guitar, which is the way it became possible in my tiny Michigan town to continue music at all after school. There are no classical assembles where I come from.
What’s been your best moment as a band so far?
We had a show at a big Co-Op house in Ann Arbor, Michigan once where the cops came and busted the show before we played. Everyone was super bummed. There was a load of people there to see us because they had been hearing about some of our wild Ypsilanti shows involving lots of paint and naked people running around bars and singing together. What we did in the end was load up into the van and perform from the van while slowly riding around town. I was driving with a microphone plugged into a Roland Microcube sitting on the roof. We played some recordings from the stereo and I sang my heart out, windows and doors wide open. Dylan ran around with some percussion making bird and cricket noises and rounding up all the fans around the van with his sheet flowing in the wind. It was pure magic.
Who are three bands everyone should listen to right now?
Connie Converse, Mega Bog, Sun Ra.
How do you prepare for a gig?
Depends on the gig I guess. But a group hug and some shots of vodka is a classic. Dylan and I used to have the dressing up ritual, and oftentimes a big wet brotherly kiss to get in the zone. I miss those times. Things have changed a bit since then, but we are still rolling on the cool freaky friendly family vibes that I love.
What can people look forward to about your set?
Listening to some poems and getting a chance to cut loose and do whatever you like to do with music. I haven’t fully figured out the best way to tap into the Berlin audience yet honestly. It took some time for me to get used to the change. In Michigan people are really ready to go nuts to anything. I had to learn that people not going nuts doesn’t mean they don’t love what they see. My goal for music is to have a party where people are comfortable around other people, I think that’s the best thing music can give.
Finish the sentence. If I wasn’t making music I would…
Be dead. I apply the way I think about music to most things I do. So even if I couldn’t use “instruments” I’d still be making music in the way I talk and walk and whatever else.