Announces album ‘Natural’
Out May 12th on City Slang
Shares lust-fuelled new single & video “Come Home”
featuring Brooklyn-based drag artist God Complex
Softee (the stage name of rising DIY pop creator Nina Grollman, she/they) has announced details of her debut album for City Slang, ‘Natural’, to be released on May 12th. Alongside the news, she has shared new single “Come Home” along with a lust-fuelled, brutal video featuring Brooklyn-based alternative drag artist, God Complex.
Following the humour-filled celebration of getting high and falling in love, “Molly”, and the tongue-in-cheek tirade on elitism “Red Light Green Light”, Softee continues to invite us into her world of freedom and mischief with the sensual bedroom pop of new single “Come Home”.
Alongside the track Softee shares a potent new video, where themes of sexual freedom collide with a brutal and surreal ending. Speaking on the video, Softee comments: “When we were ruminating on Come Home, the concept of devouring kept coming up. When lust is so powerful, it completely devours you. That’s what the song is about, and we wanted the video to reflect that in an interesting way. God Complex was in our conversation from the very beginning, because Machel (my fiancé and the director) and I are both huge fans of their drag. We landed on a concept that felt both campy and brutal: what if Softee’s lover was a demon? What if, when summoned, the demon devours her and becomes Softee? These are the images we ended up with, and it surprises me how romantic the final product ended up being.”
Pulled in and hooked from the get-go, Softee blazes through this fragile soundscape and creates this alluring and compelling landscape filled with delicate harmonies and an uncompromising attitude. Intricate rhythmic patterns glide with the electronic attributes sculpting the piece, elevated by the sultry vocal notes creating this articulate world for the lyrics to resonate within.
Nina Grollman’s moniker, Softee, isn’t just a sardonic nod to the thrifty, soft-serve giant, it’s an earnest – sometimes painfully so – descriptor of the Brooklyn based artist’s approach to love and music. The pandemic found Softee in and out of love with a pace that could demolish the emotionally unprepared, but the artist found solace in her emotions, and soothed herself with influences of R&B, funk, hip hop, and the pure melodrama of 80s pop, not to mention her guides: Robyn, Little Dragon, and Janet Jackson. The result is found in her first formally-released album, Natural, a giddily contradictory, genre-bending, mercurial collection of subversive pop that takes us through her heartache and into a soaring love affair…a roller coaster of emotions that Softee’s never afraid to ride.
‘Natural’ represents the synthesis of emotional and professional growth she underwent during the anxious months of pandemic lockdown. Personally, she found herself in the ambivalent situation of ending a 6-year relationship whose flame had long gone out, while falling wildly in love nearly simultaneously. The long hours spent alone at home had the effect of an incubator on Softee’s musical skill set, her talents at engineering and producing reaching new heights. The transformative period introduced a rare openness to Softee’s music-making, “I literally couldn’t contain myself from being honest and vulnerable. At the time, there was just so much going on. I was too raw to have the energy to put on a facade for anyone.”
The album bloomed in Softee’s tender state in a studio in Berlin, a project co-produced by a kindred spirit and musician, Jeremy Chinn (aka sweetbbyj). Chinn’s personal life had brought him to Berlin, and the pair found themselves working through many of the same spiritual experiences as they crafted and refined the album’s 10 tracks. Softee’s mother is German, and she was raised bilingual: heading to Berlin felt written in the stars. As Softee puts it, “working on the album, we were both moving through different forms of new love and grieving our old life, and that cocktail created a creative chemistry even stronger than I realized.” Chinn credits a diversity of influences in the engineering of ‘Natural’ including Lumidee, LION BABE, Raveena, and “of course,” Timbaland. ‘Natural’ emerged as a magnetic amalgam of achey, sensual, and lust-filled anthems structured as seasons of a relationship.
While Softee has recently been festooned with praise, (her song “Crush,” featured on the 2022 Queer as Folk reboot, was described by Rolling Stone as “a swooning synth-pop gem that opens up at the bridge with a stream of strings that give the song a vintage disco feel, like glittery teardrops hitting the dance floor,”) things started off for her like any regular kid: sitting at home, trying to express herself in the ways she knew how.
The Moorhead, Minnesota born artist remembers Fargo-esque winters in which snowfall and freezing temperatures all but relegated her creative work to a computer screen in her makeshift bedroom studio. Hours were spent recording Katy Perry covers and uploading them to Youtube, writing songs, and unleashing the emotional rhythm that would eventually lead her to experiment with loop pedals across New York City DIY stages alongside Linda Diaz, Sir Babygirl, Blaketheman1000 and Francesca D’Uva. Needing more creative freedom than her own name could allow, she chose from a hand-scribbled list of a dozen potential pseudonyms, and Softee was born amidst the shimmering rays of a discoball’s glittery orb.
Beyond the DIY scene, Nina Grollman was a successful actress on Broadway, working alongside the likes of Denzel Washington, when she realized that her undeniable craving to express her own ideas, not the ideas of long-dead playwrights, was worth the risk of leaving her shiny new career. Her initial work as Softee include an EP entitled ‘Slow Melt’, and a self-released album entitled ‘Keep On’, whose title track and production spoke to her early-COVID-era frustrations and fears. Both projects were well received, with GOMAG succinctly capturing her essence, as encapsulated by her song Crush, “it’s queer escapism and thoughtful vulnerability in equal measure.” Similarly, the inaugural full-length project ‘Keep On’ represents Softee’s endearing approach to music and life: “feeling the anxiety but sort of dancing wildly through it.”
For Softee, life’s lessons aren’t easily won, but she’s no stranger to the value of painful experiences and what they can teach you. “I learned that when I began inviting my grief to guide me instead of fearing it, it became much easier to navigate. The death and rebirth of love is natural, beautiful, heart-wrenching and celebratory.” And as her newest album testifies, Softee is just as soft as she needs to be.
‘Natural’ track list:
1. The Floor
2. Isn’t Enough
5. Come Home
6. Fix It (ft. Jordan Webb, Namir Blade)
8. Real Love
9. Red Light Green Light
10. U + Me (WDYT)