Imagine a world where music became categorized by the emotive journey they allowed us to travel over the genres we so often attempt to rigidly confine it too. That’s what both the music of Soft Glas and Cehryl transformatively do. The two emerging artists have mastered the art of transforming the intimately sentimental to a genre-less space of audible and sonic exploration of personal memory. With an ever-evolving state of consciousness, and paralleled creative process, it is through the ethereal nature of their work that allows melodic instrumentation and meditative lyrics to reimagine the nostalgia that ruminates in their internal worlds as they navigate the ever-changing landscapes of their external one.
As individual artists, they deliver unequivocal compositions rooted in honest dissection of their personal journeys that enters the listener’s ear and continues a path of diffusion through the remaining sensory body. As collaborators, they create complementing harmonies that intertwine seamlessly creating an amiable experience and extend a familiar sense of comfort to the listener.
In March, Soft Glas released a remarkably stunning LP in the form of How Strange: a compilation that sits in the rumination of memory at the intersection of experimental lo-fi indie meeting latin-inspired jazz. In April, Cehryl released her EP Time Machine, a transportive work that uses honest emotive lyricism layered over ethereally gentle guitar instrumentation to encapsulate and hold onto moments of her life during moments of movement. The works displaying the intersection of individuality and collaboration, as they include tracks where each have lent their talents to one another.
LADYGUNN caught up with Soft Glas and Cehryl over Zoom as the duo interviewed each other about their latest releases, friendship and collaboration, mental health, car rides soundtracked by John Mayer, and constantly evolving their creative process that strive for a generation of genre-less music.
Soft Glas: How are you doing Cheryl? I’m actually very jealous of you. You know you have your late night voice and then you have your early voice, and right now you have your morning voice.
Cehryl: I just woke up!
Soft Glas: For which I’m so jealous of you. Morning voice is the best voice in my opinion.
Cehryl: Do you not have a morning voice?
Soft Glas: Oh, I do. It’s just 10PM for me, so I don’t have it right now.
Cehryl: I see. Yeah, I honestly woke up like 20 mins ago.
Soft Glas: Well Cheryl, congrats! You just released your project Time Machine.
Cehryl: Thank you! Yeah, we actually talked about this two days ago when you messaged me and you asked me how I felt and I said – nothing. But also, gratitude. Otherwise, kind of a sense of underwhleming-ness a little bit.
Soft Glas: I felt exactly the same way with How Strange. It was both underwhelming, which I think it’s inevitably underwhelming especially when we take so long to make things. It’s impossible to feel everything in that one day, like all that time is just instantly rewarded. But I’m curious because I felt gratitude too, what were you grateful for specifically?
Cehryl: I think releasing music feels like the end of a birthday. You’re grateful for all the love, but then there’s a cynical part of you that’s like “in a few days they’re going to forget about me.” Which sounds super whiny, but there’s an awareness that it’s not as special to everyone else that it is to you. Have you always felt that with all your previous releases?
Soft Glas: Oh yeah – I think you and I have pretty similar relationships with our work and how we feel about our own music. It’s so volatile because when we’re making things, we can be so excited and extremely passionate for the project we’re working on. Then, and we’ve talked about it before, time passes and that magic starts to fade away and you’re just left with this thing that you hope means as much to people that it meant to you when you were making it. I also had to accept that I, for example, will discover “new music” like a year after the release date. I know that we put so much pressure on ourselves to have the release day be a sort of finish line, or like you mention the end of the birthday. I’m trying to work on reframing it to the beginning. Like now it has the ability for people to find it, one day.
Cehryl: That’s true. I think as an artist it’s exactly like you said, on release day you expect all the people that will ever like it to be in love with it and support you for the rest of your life. Realistically, that’s not how we consume music. Even as artists.
Soft Glas: Yeah – like did you listen to your current favorite albums on their release day?
Cehryl: Some of them, yes. But that’s mostly for albums where you’re waiting for the artist to release something, then they do and the album doesn’t disappoint. So it’s the really cliche ones like, Blonde. Everyone loved it when it came out, but that’s also because he’s Frank Ocean. Do you think that if you spent less time on the music, not as in less effort, but if your timeframe from first musical idea to the release was shorter you would feel less doubt or disappointment with releasing it?
Soft Glas: Maybe. For example, I just started writing music this week because I had a few writing sessions set up and it was the first time I was actively writing new music since a year ago when finishing the album up. I got the same excitement, that same passion like “Oh! I really like what I’m making!” And I thought what an amazing thing that would be if I could feel this the whole time. If I could release it and still feel this way. That put a fire under me to finish it and try to bottle whatever I was feeling. So maybe. I’ve just never done it. I’ve never released anything within a year of making it, which is crazy to think.
Cehryl: When I first released music, I didn’t know anything about rollouts. I didn’t even know how to master, I didn’t even know what mastering was! So I would finish something, roughly mix it and just put it up on SoundCloud. At the time I wasn’t making music for anyone but it was like a symbol of completion. I do think that back then, even with zero audience, I felt that the magic sustained itself after release. And the pride as well. So I do think that it helps.
Soft Glas: Yeah, and you’re right. I was thinking more-so the recent albums but yeah, same. I remember early on, finishing a song and immediately putting it on SoundCloud and playing it over and over because I was really proud of it. The idea of replaying my own music now, is crazy. I don’t want to listen to my own music.
Cehryl: Same! Because now when we release music it’s like a year after the feeling. I think I’m pretty tunnel vision with making music. So I don’t work on music that long. I think when I do find myself doing that, I just hate the song and don’t put it out. So in general I still have a pretty short time span of completing a song. But then with proper rollouts, especially if you have a longer project, it takes months and months to roll singles out and build momentum and that’s what loses the magic for me because I feel a sense of disconnect with the audience. I feel like once people listen to it for the first time, they’re listening to a younger version of me that isn’t accurate anymore about how I see the world, etc. I think that disconnect makes me feel just a little less. It makes me doubt the genuineness of the song just a little more.
Soft Glas: Same. It’s both the ideas and also the music itself. I feel like my taste changes pretty quickly, like whatever sounds I’m into. My recording and production changes pretty quickly too. So by the time it’s out it’s like 3 versions of me ago. I’m just like I don’t even sound like that anymore! I don’t sing like that anymore, I don’t produce like that anymore….
Cehryl: …I don’t look like that anymore! Soft Glas 3.0.
Jeanette: Do you feel like quarantine has added more elements of quickly shifting dynamics or changed your process of making music, especially since it has changed the way the industry looks and functions as a whole?
Soft Glas: Not for me personally. I don’t think my process has really changed at all. I mean I would usually make music alone and remotely anyway. Even when Cheryl and I would collaborate, I think we’ve maybe only worked on one song of the four together in person? And that song is not even out. So of the music we made together that exists, we have never even been in the same room. I don’t even know her…..
Cehryl: ….Who is Cheryl?
Soft Glas: Just kidding, we do know each other.
Cehryl: We’ve hung out a lot – but rarely for the purpose of recording music. We just cook and eat.
Soft Glas: And go to the mall. I think it’s called friendship? I think that’s the word.
Cehryl: Yeah, we’re friends because of this wonderful thing called SoundCloud. I think we were both just putting out music at the same time. I befriended our mutual friend Alex Szotak, who is an amazing bassist and was working with both of us on our music. The first time I met Alex he was staying at yours in New York. Then you eventually visited me when I was out in LA. Have we hung out in New York before?
Soft Glas: No I don’t think so. I think because we hadn’t met in person yet when Alex was staying with me. He was like “I’m meeting up with Cheryl!” but I didn’t want to impose and be like “Can I come?” as if I was obviously invited, you know. But yeah, I think we ended up meeting in person in LA.
Cehryl: Wait – No! The first time we met was at the Sports show because we were both opening for them in Santa Ana or something. That was really cool.
Jeanette: At The Observatory? Interesting. I covered that show – but in LA. I think Yeek opened up?
Soft Glas: I played that show in LA with Yeek!
Jeanette: Wow, so I probably have old pictures of you somewhere in my hard drive.
Soft Glas: It was very forgettable, clearly.
Jeanette: Not at all! It was one of my first shows I photographed. I have a good eye but was always terrible at camera settings, so I was in a panic the whole time because my photos were just so incredibly bad. I think I just tried to block out the whole experience on my own end.
Soft Glas: Yeah, it was that tour. I’m not sure why you didn’t do the LA show Cheryl, but we did the Santa Ana one together. Oh, and San Diego.
Cehryl: I remember we were driving back from San Diego when we realized we had the same taste in music, essentially.
Jeanette: What was the band that did it?
Cehryl: It was really cliche stuff. I think all of our other friends were like too cool for our music taste but we were like “Omg, I used to love John Mayer too!” And then stuff like Beastie and Radiohead, all the cooler stuff. No shade to John Mayer, he’s great still. In case he’s reading this…
Soft Glas: John, if you’re reading this, I’m a huge fan my man! Please listen to my music. And also Cheryl, I don’t know if you remember but we had a parallel moment when we were driving back from another San Diego show. The first San Diego show was the first time we met, and the last San Diego show we went too was the last time I saw you.
Cehryl: Oh you’re right. It wasn’t the same venue but it was San Diego.
Soft Glas: On the drive back we were also listening to a bunch of like Elliot Smith and stuff and you actually ended up covering a bunch of the songs that we were listening to in the car. Very poetic stuff. I feel like we view life very poetically.
Cehryl: Yeah, definitely. I actually find it kind of hard to collaborate with people, quickly anyway. In LA, I went to a few writing sessions and it’s not that it felt impossible to make music with other people but I find…even within all my music friends…it’s just hard. But with João, every time he sends me something I feel that I can enter the world of the song pretty quickly. I mean, it’s probably because we both have good taste.
Soft Glas: I don’t know if it’s good – but it’s the same.
Cehryl: I would say that it’s good.
Soft Glas: It is good. I do think that we have great taste.
Cehryl: Thank you, thank you.
Soft Glas: I mean I agree. I would say that it’s also pretty hard for me to collaborate with people because I’m still not very confident in my ideas when it comes to sharing them in their rawest forms with other people. But with Cheryl, I usually know we’re coming from the same place. We hear music pretty similarly. If I have an idea, you probably have that idea already floating around in your head. It’s just about connecting them. I remember when you sent me “Outside The Party,” I was thinking about doing a song in that like 5-8… everything about it. I was like this is too easy to work together. There’s no friction.
Cehryl: There’s no trying to breach or master or learn another language, it feels like deja vu or something.
Jeanette: And that’s the most recent collaboration that’s out between you two right?
Cehryl: The most recent, yeah.
Soft Glas: We did stuff on each others projects that recently came out.
Cehryl: How Strange was in March, right?
Soft Glas: March 19th. And you sang background on “Half Your Size” right? And I sang background on “Outside The Party.”
Jeanette: Was that a planned exchange?
Cehryl: No, I think we just had songs laying around where we thought “Oh he or she may sound really good on that song.” We didn’t know these songs were going to be on these projects. I didn’t know “Half Your Size” was going to be on this track-list, and he didn’t really know that “Outside The Party” would be on mine.
Soft Glas: We usually send each other music pretty frequently when we’re working on stuff. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked on stuff and never not had you mind. Like I would love for you to sing on every single song – but I try to not bombard you.
Cehryl: Feel free to bombard me.
Soft Glas: It’s coming. I just started working on new stuff, you already know.
Jeanette: Is there a consideration to work on a project collaboratively together?
Soft Glas: Like a joint project? Have we talked about that?
Cehryl: We have not, but perhaps we shall.
Soft Glas: We should start a band together Cheryl.
Cehryl: We should. We can call it Radiohead.
Soft Glas: We’ll call it The Radiohead. The Stroke. Just one stroke. You’re a huge Strokes fan aren’t you?
Cehryl: I am.
Soft Glas: We are too.
Jeanette: I feel like I’m known for being a Strokes fan.
Cehryl: Why do you both, respectably, like The Strokes?
Jeanette: [Redacted & spared long heartfelt answer from Editor outlining younger fandom days] João, your turn to to answer!
Soft Glas: I don’t even know if I can even call myself a fan now.
Jeanette: You absolutely can, I just put myself through some really crazy experiences.
Soft Glas: It’s not crazy. I think fandom is such a pure thing. Especially like that. There are so many reasons to be an artist and a lot of those reasons aren’t necessarily always for the best reasons. But being a fan, it’s just such a pure thing.
Cehryl: It really is! There are no stakes or no guaranteed result for it. You really just do it out of pure love. Sometimes it is obsession, but it always comes from love.
Soft Glas: I feel like The Strokes are a really cool band to be that much of a fan for. Like, I get it.
Jeanette: I’m glad you all feel that way. Some people hear stories and they just…have no words. But I enjoy that it’s a part of my life story now. They were definitely a lot of fun memories.
Cehryl: She’s The Strokes girl.
Jeanette: Just a fan who got lucky somewhere down the way. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Speaking of, have you all had any funny/crazy/wonderful fan encounters?
Cehryl: I haven’t had any insane obsessive fans luckily – but also where are they?
Soft Glas: Let’s go! Where the stans at?
Cehryl: I’m actually really happy I don’t have weird people that like my music. I have definitely had moments at shows where people will come up to me though. I have noticed they are usually Asian and they are women, that’s really nice. There were a few times where people have said to me that they were suicidal or depressed and my music really helped them. And I would feel so… almost mad at myself for ever thinking about things like where my music career was going etc. because I don’t make music specifically for anyone or to make anyone feel anything, but when somebody does I think it’s really humbling. It makes me think everyone should just do what they’re good at or what they want to do really badly because you never know how that’s going to help someone.
Soft Glas: Yeah, for sure. With my fans it’s usually anxiety problems. People will tell me that my music has helped them with that. Like you said, it’s always very humbling when you hear that from people. It’s also very…same – I get angry at myself because I can usually get caught up in the dumbest, most toxic mental cycles that get a bit warped for me. I can start stressing about Spotify or shit like that. In those moments, you realize how much of an impact music can have and how incredibly lucky I am to be in a position to…
Cehryl: …to have someone listen to your music
Soft Glas: Exactly. Like that one person standing in front of me, whatever I did and whatever I made affected them in a positive way beyond numbers or metrics – on a real, emotional level. That’s when things kind of shift back into focus for me. I think when I first started putting music out and having those interactions, it was almost a lot of pressure or felt like a really big responsibility. Like “Oh my gosh. I’m responsible for making people feel better or I have to put good music out to help people.” But I don’t know, I think the reason people can connect the most with an artist is when an artist is being their most honest and vulnerable.
Cehryl: …and vulnerable.
Soft Glas: Jinx!
Cehryl: That reminds me of what we were talking about in the beginning. How sometimes releases feel underwhelming because you feel like people don’t understand what you’ve been through or what you were feeling when you wrote it. In a way, this is the opposite because sometimes people feel even more than what you went through or felt when writing it. So it’s not about your experience sometimes, it’s just about being honest.
Soft Glas: There’s a really funny Phoebe Bridgers interview where she mentioned how she’d be playing a show and looks at the front row to people bawling their eyes out to the song that she’s playing and she feels…nothing. The idea that it’s strange that the song means more to this random person than it does to her.
Cehryl: It’s almost like when you put music out in the world it doesn’t belong to you anymore. You’re now the vessel for performing it, but it’s not really yours. Everyone is going to slap their own interpretation on it. It’s such a weird thing that something personal can become so public.
Soft Glas: Do you feel misunderstood, generally speaking, with your music?
Cehryl: Sometimes. I think I like to feel misunderstood, so I think it might be an unreliable narrator situation. How about you, do you feel misunderstood?
Soft Glas: Yeah. I do feel misunderstood, but on a micro level. For example, when I put out “Rust” as a single, I remember when I was recording that song I was yelling into the mic and standing on the other side of the room screaming at the top of my lungs for the backing vocals. It was the most emotive I’ve ever been on a song. Then it came out and one of the write ups was like “another chill track from Soft Glas.” I was like “What? What do I have to do?” It’s fine because people will obviously perceive it the way they want but I feel like I have a hard time translating what’s in my head and what I think it sounds like, and how others perceive it. I think there’s a disconnect there. That said, when people do get it or are on the same page as me – that’s like a high for me. That means the world when people understand you as an artist. I think I’m constantly chasing that. Like I don’t really know if my music is good enough or not…
Cehryl: …I know. And it’s not. I’m just kidding!
Soft Glas: Let’s just get that out of the way.
Cehryl: I think that’s just a lot of music publications though. I appreciate them covering both our music, but people love describing our music as chill. And we’re not very chill people – at all. We’re both pretty dramatic. In a good way, a useful way. Also, people love calling us bedroom-pop. I know we’ve talked about this but we both disagree.
Jeanette: How would you both describe your music?
Soft Glas: I don’t know. And I don’t really care anymore. I think whatever or however I would try to describe it would just fall on deaf ears or cheapen anything I tried to do. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to describe music, I just don’t think that’s my job anymore.
Cehryl: You’re right. I never really know what to say. This has happened before in interviews. I would describe how I feel like my music gets boxed in and then they would ask me how I would describe it and then I would really regret that because I don’t know. It’s a hard question.
Soft Glas: I also feel like my thought process for that question is like “Ok, what are my references? What do I internalize?” It’s just a combination of stuff and then out comes whatever I make. So I know that if I tried to answer that question, I would just know my references but I don’t know what that final product sounds like to other people. I just know where the combination comes from in my own realm.
Cehryl: Yeah. I also feel like when I try to answer that question, I’m probably wrong. Like there’s someone out there that knows more specifically about the characteristics of music. I feel unqualified to answer the question, but at the same time when I write something that’s super emotional and they write something like “It’s so chill” I’m just like ugh!
Soft Glas: It’s not wrong, it’s just a disconnect. It’s just – what I think my music is, is just totally different from what someone else does. I’d just rather not be in charge of or have the responsibility to classify it.
Cehryl: Yeah I think that’s a good way to look at it.
Soft Glas: I wanted to ask you Cheryl – this is kind of a music nerdy thing to ask but it’s been on my mind today since I was working on stuff. What are you kind of into right now, musically?
Cehryl: I think when I first started putting out music in 2018 or something, I was really concerned with the idea of the moodiness of the music. Since last year, I’ve been listening to so many hits from the 60s, like Motown. I love the idea of still making music in that spirit of a very pop mindset, but the spirit feels very theatrical. It’s not really about being edgy or having a personality in the song. That’s something I’m really into. Something else I really love – it’s what I love about The Strokes – is how fun they are. Julian Casablancas always talks about Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground and that spirit of…just being very cool. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s very confident, it’s very punk, it’s very nonchalant. I guess I’m really interested in delivery and classic melodies. Like the Bedouine song I sent you last week, that melody is so classic! What about you?
Soft Glas: Very similar to you, I was really obsessed with the vibe and making sure the sound was very cool. I think lately, especially since I finished How Strange, I’ve been really into simple chords arranged in an interesting way. I also really like the idea of these things that are tried and true. I feel for a while I was so obsessed with breaking the rules or not following them, but now I kind of want to read the rule book and find out why they work so well. Then find cool ways to do them. And then, just the idea of the song. I think you’ve always been ahead of me in this. You’ve always been a songwriter, and that feels very new to me. I always thought of myself as a producer, and slowly have accepted my role as a songwriter. Lately, I kind of want to embrace that and invest time in just getting really good at songwriting. I don’t want to hide behind production anymore. I think you’ve always had that and it’s something I’ve always loved about your music. Anytime you post a video of you singing one of your songs with guitar, it’s like “Oh yeah, still works, still sounds great!” I remember trying to do that for some of my earlier stuff and it did not work. You subtract the vibes and it just makes no sense, like this isn’t even a song!
Cehryl: I guess I feel the opposite in that I always wanted to catch up on my production. I feel like my production circles around the song so closely that sometimes I feel like I just get lazy with experimenting with new sounds and stuff. So definitely something I’m trying to expand on.
Soft Glas: Your sound still sounds good and very ubiquitous. I think that it’s hard to understand how hard that can be when it comes so naturally. My mom used to tell me that. I would show her my music when I was younger and be like “It’s so bad! I’m sorry!” but she’d tell me “But you have a sound – and it sounds like you!”
Cehryl: Yeah, and I think that’s more important actually.
Soft Glas: Yeah. And I do think that you have that. Your sound is so inherently tied to you, as a person. And it’s not about your techniques.
Cehryl: I honestly feel the same with you and songwriting. I don’t hear that you’re a producer first, songwriter second precisely because your sound and style are so unique. I think the other things you can develop later, but it’s hard to develop a sound if it isn’t natural.
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photos / Courtesy of Artists
story /Jeanette Diaz