NewTracks New Artist: Soft Plastics

NewTracks New Artist: Soft Plastics

Wellington three-piece Soft Plastics have embraced a new shoegaze style whilst still paying homage to their garage-pop beginnings. Their ironic latest single Day Job is very relatable, and comes accompanied by a similarly charming music video. NZ On Air Music included it on their NewTracks compilation this May.

Who is Soft Plastics and what instruments do you each play?

Soft Plastics are Sophie Scott-Maunder (bass, vocals), Jonathan Shirley (guitar), and Laura Robinson (drums). Sophie is originally from Tauranga but has been living in Wellington for the past 12 years. Jonathan is from the Waikato via Blackpool, UK but has been living in Wellington for the last 13 years. Laura was born and raised in Wellington. 

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

All three of us studied music in high school and Jono went on to get his honours degree at the Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.

Any previous (or current) projects we might know you from?

Sophie and Jono used to be part of the psych surf band Beatcomber which disbanded in 2017. Jono also plays in bands Goya and The Spectre Collective. Laura plays in another band called EUG.

What’s the background story of how Soft Plastics came to be? 

When Sophie came back to Wellington, after a small stint in Dunedin, she was keen to start up a new musical project with Jono who she’d played with previously in the surf group Beatcomber. Sophie and Laura became friends after realising their parents flatted together in the ’80s. After discovering that Laura played the drums, the two asked her to join them in Soft Plastics. With Jono on guitars and Laura on drums, Sophie learned to play bass to create the three-piece. Occasionally we are joined by the incredible Oliver Devlin (Hans Pucket) who plays synths and lends his voice for some backing vocals.

How has the band’s music evolved from those early days to now?

In the beginning, we were dabbling in a fuzzy garage sound which was something we were familiar with. Over time our music has evolved into a more moody and shoe-gaze sound, with moments of noise and pop. Each of us brings our different music tastes to the table to create our original brand of indie rock.

How and when did you come up with the name?

Soft Plastics was originally our team name at the moon quiz in Newtown!

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

We played Parrotdog’s 10th birthday party alongside Silicon and King Sweeties which was a big event and an amazing experience. Highlights also include visiting the RNZ studios in Auckland to play a live set!

What makes Day Job stand out for you as a single?

Day Job is the first song that we have received NZ On Air funding for! The song is upbeat, poppy, and funny. 

What’s the story behind Day Job?

Day Job is a tongue-in-cheek song about disliking the mundane aspects of your job. It’s about working, and feeling dissatisfied – something that most people can relate to. Day Job shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and the music video helps reinforce that.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

We love a good disco beat! The bridge section is also a great moment in the song as it really builds the memento for the ending.

Who did you record/produce the single with?

We recorded Day Job at The Surgery in Newtown with James Goldsmith who also mixed the song. 

How do you generally work out what would make a good single?

When the song gets stuck in our heads it’s usually a good sign.

Anyone else in your team?

We are working with producer extraordinaire James Goldsmith, and work alongside Zac Arnold from Naked PR.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

We have a couple of exciting shows in the pipeline including going on tour with Fur Patrol in August (Mt Maunganui, Auckland, Napier, and Wellington). We are also working on our debut album with James Goldsmith.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Was there any NZOA criteria you’ve struggled with? Got any advice for others out there?

When we were a fresh band in the middle of a pandemic we struggled to get the live show criteria. Once we were able to play gigs it was easier!

Build up your hype and expand your audience. Develop relationships with industry people and other bands similar to you. The song not only has to be good but you need a track record of being able to get your music and brand across.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re all super into?

We really enjoy the KEXP live videos as well as the NPR tiny desk and new music podcasts. A good local channel is Flying Nun’s What was that thing? series. Undertheradar is our go to place to get local music news. Sports Team’s Trash Recital is lots of fun and Charlie XCX’s Best Song Ever is a great one to nerd out to.