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Chicago's Soft Ledges make dark, angular, delicate music with the belief that the secret to lost is found and the only way in is through. Formed in 2015 by songwriter Shelley Miller (vox/piano/guitar) and Chris Geisler (bass), the band (joined at live shows by drummer Raul Cotaquispe) is set to release their self-titled debut album November 18.
Miller and Geisler, both veterans of the Chicago music scene (Miller as a singer/songwriter, Geisler in the Hamburglars, TAFKAV and several other punk bands), started Soft Ledges with a mission to make brave, honest music beyond the bounds of genre...and to challenge the self-perceived limits of what they were "allowed" to do as musicians and people.
The result? Miller's fevered, urgent whispers and screams on La Niña and Seven Stories. Geisler's bowed electric bass, awash in reverb, on Highlight Reel. Fingerpicking and distortion pedals. Last call, last chance lullabies.
Inspired by artists like Vic Chesnutt, Kristin Hersh and Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Miller and Geisler holed up in a practice space for a winter, teasing new noises out of pedals, drums, mouths, bows and strings, and arranging the ten songs that would become their first album. The songs, all penned by Miller, are steeped in loss (death, abuse, depression), but also in hope, and the idea of 'living through what kills you.'
"I went through a period, right before we were working on these songs, where I lost some people I was close to - several friends and grandparents - and a couple others were dealing with life-changing illnesses, and someone I cared about was telling me that everything I did was wrong on a regular basis," says Miller. "And at first I went numb, and then I threw myself in to finding my voice on the drums and with pedals and just making music that feels as alive and visceral as possible."
Soft Ledges recorded their debut album spring 2016 at Kingsize Soundlabs (Chicago, IL) with engineer John Abbey (who also mixed and mastered). On it, Miller sings and plays drums, guitar, piano and several other instruments, while Geisler plays bass, plus guitar and drums on a couple tracks.
The album (CD/digital) will be available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CDBaby and www.softledges.com on November 18, and on vinyl in January 2017.
4 solo albums/Gold Harvest drummer/devoted cat mom
Winner: 2012 Sandy Lee Songfest Contest
Finalist: 2012 Dave Carter Memorial
2014 Old Town School of Folk Music
Distinguished Teaching Artist
Bass Player/Drummer/Malört Connoisseur
Captain: Soft Ledges Dance Team
Bass Player: The Artist Formally Know as Vince
Bass Player: Cracked Actors
Drummer: The Hamburglars