SOFT LAD talks touring with LGBTQ+ icons, trans allyship and her 90s inspired EP
Rising star Sophie Galpin – the musician behind SOFT LAD – is bringing back “big gay pop” after dropping her latest single “The Human Condition”.
As a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and self-described “musical chameleon”, Sophie Galpin has had music flowing through her veins for as long as she can remember.
The 34-year-old, who is a seasoned pro at bass guitar, keys, guitar, backing vocals and drums, has been touring since the age of 14 and shared the stage with legends such as Charli XCX, SOAK, Jessie Ware, Becky Hill and Self Esteem over the years.
Then, on a fateful day in in 2018, while pouring her heart out with some friends over some drinks, they jokingly called themselves “soft lads”, flicking a switch in Galpin’s head. Two years on – when the pandemic halted her fast-paced life on the road – she finally had “the time and emotional bandwidth” to carve out her own voice. Thus, SOFTLAD was born.
“My canvas was so blank and so wide,” Galpin tells PinkNews as she zooms in from Ohio while back on tour across the US. “I didn’t really know what direction to take it with. Butt when I started to disregard what anyone else thought and went with my heart I realised I could do whatever I wanted.”
The alt-pop musician released her debut EP Maximum Feels, exploring “missed connections, unfulfilled potential, love and loss”, in 2022 and is gearing up for her second five-track EP Give It A Go in October.
In August, she dropped the lead single – a “banging pop song” in her own words – “The Human Condition” alongside a music video celebrating platonic love and queer friendship in all its messy glory.
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“I’ve been sitting on it for a while,” she says. “I wrote it in the first week of January 2021 in lockdown, after a particularly heavy New Year’s Eve with my housemates. I got so smashed and ruined my own life from inside the four walls of my house. I was a bad friend.
“The song is about how we always take our worst bits out on the people that are closest to us because you feel like you’re allowed. It’s about how, especially within queer friendships, you can own your f**k ups and own your mistakes and deepen your friendships as a result of being real.”
Galpin’s music is “heavily inspired” by the 90s radio music that soundtracked her youth. Listen to her music closely and you’ll hear the echoes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” from the Spice Girls and notes of British R&B group Eternal.
“When you’re growing up you’re always looking for any culture that relates to you,” Galpin explains about her early inspirations. “It’s even more pronounced for queer kids (even if you don’t know that you’re queer at that time) you’re still looking for something that represents you.”
For Galpin, who identifies as a lesbian, this came in the form of the legend herself, Mel C aka Sporty Spice. “She was the first woman that I saw on TV redefining femininity and womanhood that represented me the tomboy side of me as someone fiercely independent and into sports.”
Nowadays, Galpin looks up to the brilliant LGBTQ+ musicians she has performed with. “I love watching people who stick to their artistic goals and have artistic integrity.
“They have a vision and they don’t compromise on it. They know how they want it to look, they know how they want it to sound and everything is geared towards getting that.
“Doing SOFT LAD, I have a newfound respect for artistry. You have to give everything and it’s tiring and hard to have fresh ideas all the time.”
But working with Self Esteem afforded Galpin the opportunity to “come across so many amazing people” who are “very supportive of us all in whatever we are doing”. Despite her confidence, Galpin has not always been so assured in her own identity, especially as a lesbian.
“Growing up it was something that I was called as a slur and it held such negative connotations. It took a long time to really claim that for myself because you have to unlearn internalised homophobia and transphobia but now I feel totally comfortable with that label,” she shares.
Instead, she has turned her attention to uplifting the transgender, non-binary community who are currently the target of vicious attacks in the public arena over topics including self-ID, gender-neutral bathrooms and trans inclusion in sports.
“It’s really important for gay and lesbian service people to advocate for trans and non-binary folks, at this time,” she says. “Especially when legislation across the world is rolling things back for people.
“Trans women of colour were fighting for gay rights back in the day so it’s definitely time for gay folks to advocate for trans and non-binary people. But I’m really excited for Gen Z [because they are] emotionally articulate and nuanced when it comes to identity and gender and mental health.
“I want it to be better for people younger than me.”
Galpin points to the often cis, straight, white male festival lineups as just one way the industry can improve and diversify. “There’s still a way to go,” she says. “There’s so many amazing, queer female identifying bands at all levels not represented on a festival scale.”
But for now, she hopes LGBTQ+ people everywhere can find “solace”some comfort and relatability” in their upcoming EP.
“[I hope] they feel not quite as alone but know that somebody else is going through the same thing. Or that some of these experiences are universal, and it’s gonna be alright.”
“The Human Condition” is available to stream now. SOFT LAD’s sophomore EP drops in October.
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