Emerging as a lauded figure in the thriving Californian Darkwave scene, musician Justin Chamberlain has crafted a distinct sonic persona with his solo project, SOFT VEIN. Known for his electrifying performances with Harsh Symmetry, Chamberlain has ventured into the realms of dark post-punk, coldwave, and industrial soundscapes, resonating deeply within the underground music community.
Chamberlain”s solo venture commenced in late 2022 with the unveiling of singles “GIVEUPTHEGHOST” and “VIOLENTIA.” These tracks hinted at a unique blend of haunting melodies intertwined with industrial echoes, a signature that has now become emblematic of SOFT VEIN. Through this project, Chamberlain not only reveres the deep-seated roots of the international darkwave scene but infuses a contemporary, personal flair that has impressed both audiences and critics.
SOFT VEIN’s debut album, PRESSED IN GLASS, is out now and available under Artoffact Records, showcasing his evolving musical ingenuity that was inspired by the legacy artists of the 70s and 80s, as well as his contemporaries today.
Order PRESSED IN GLASS here
Delving deeper into this musical arcana, Chamberlain has unveiled “15 Picks From His Record Collection That Influenced PRESSED IN GLASS. This list serves as a window into the albums that ignited his creative fervor, molding the unique soundscapes of SOFT VEIN. Each album is but one facet in a baroque tapestry of emotions and narratives, now echoing through the threads that weave the aural soundscapes of PRESSED IN GLASS. This collection showcases a delicate fusion of past inspirations with contemporary experimentation, painting a vivid picture of SOFT VEIN’s evocative yet enthralling musical identity.
In no particular order, here are Justin”s 15 picks from his music collection that influenced PRESSED IN GLASS:
NITZER EBB – THAT TOTAL AGE
A throbbing, muscular, visceral record. Douglas McCarthy’s explicit, blunt lyrics about bodies, lust, rage, etc., chanted repeatedly over pumping basslines and cold, clanging drum machines, had a significant impact on my approach to writing songs like “VIOLENTIA” and “LEASH.”
Favorite track: “Violent Playground”
SELOFAN – VITRIOLI
Driving and mysterious, dark and danceable. A cold, haunting record and my personal favorite from Selofan.
Favorite track: “Give Me a Reason”
TUBEWAY ARMY – REPLICAS
The first time I heard “Down in the Park” as a kid, I remember being sort of entranced and creeped out. That unsettled feeling is still there when I hear that song. Such incredible synth sounds and production and effects on this album, really simple machine-like drumming.
Favorite Track: “Down in the Park”
SPIKE HELLIS – SPIKE HELLIS
I find this album very inspiring. Clanging, pumping, industrial-tinged EBM, with samples and synth sounds evocative yet modern. Silky smooth at times, always with an undercurrent of danger. Visceral lyrical horror. Amazing record.
Favorite track: “Help”
THE BLUE NILE – HATS
It’s such an aching, lonesome synthpop record. Very raw and honest vocals, beautiful, clean production, and excellent synth sounds.
Favorite track: “The Downtown Lights”
JULEE CRUISE – FALLING INTO THE NIGHT
It is a gorgeous, dreamy record with obvious ties to Twin Peaks, which holds a special place in my heart. A swaying, whispering, midnight kind of record, with ambient guitars and soft synths everywhere, and stunning vocal production. Julee Cruise and Angelo Badalementi were amazing talents, and this record is a perfect combination of their artistry. A lot of the synth sounds on my record were pulled straight from this record and the Twin Peaks Original Score.
Favorite track: “Falling”
IGGY POP – THE IDIOT
Clanging and droning weirdo krautrock album produced by Bowie (what else needs to be said?) Iggy Pop is a genius, constantly straddling the line between understated, caveman simplicity and something more profound. The production on this record is in the back of my mind almost always; the synth and drum machine sounds, heavy use of plate reverb, etc.
Favorite track: “Nightclubbing”
BAUHAUS- IN THE FLAT FIELD
Again, an obvious choice, but one that’s had a lasting impact. Dark and swirling and hypnotic and bleak, but punk and sloppy and sneering too. Favorite track: “Dark Entries”
SISTERS OF MERCY – “FLOODLAND”
In the category of early influential picks so basic and obvious they go without saying, but I’m including it anyway. Eldritch writes in a detached, observational way that I’ve been inspired by in much of my writing. It goes without saying that sonically this album is a dark, lush, gothic masterpiece, with breathy vocals from Andrew Eldritch, Patricia Morrison’s basslines, and those doomy drum sequences from Doktor Avalanche all having an impact on my own approach.
Favorite track: “Dominion/Mother Russia”
DEPECHE MODE – BLACK CELEBRATION
One of my favorite Depeche Mode albums. Has lots of icy, breathy, ethereal samples and synth sounds I find inspiring.
Favorite track: “A Fly on the Windscreen”
BOY HARSHER – LESSER MAN EP
An obvious choice for darkwave/ebm musicians (and every goth night DJ), this EP was hugely influential when I started SOFT VEIN for the most obvious reasons. They did so much with so little on this EP and it has a really pleasant, slightly unpolished quality to it. Still my favorite of theirs. Favorite track: “Lust”
TYPE O NEGATIVE – OCTOBER RUST
Romantic vampire graveyard sleaze. This record has great contrast. Sadness and lust. Grit and sparkle. Some of the songs feel like the rose, some feel like the thorn.
Favorite track: “Love You To Death”
NINE INCH NAILS – NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS EP
Nine Inch Nails was my first introduction to synth-based music as a kid and has been an influence in everything I”ve done since. This EP is a less obvious choice and unique in the NIN catalog, but I have a fondness for its production and its ties to the Twin Peaks universe.
Favorite track: “She’s Gone Away”
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – MURDER BALLADS
Feels like classic American Gothic literature set to music. I find Nick Cave’s exploration of murderous and violent intrusive thoughts, presented as allegory or legend or myth, to be very inspiring. Written as the thoughts (and actions) of an imaginary character or observations of a third-party narrator, they’re removed from the writer almost completely. I was trying for something similar on my song “PERFECT TEETH,” exploring graphic violent imagery as a way of exorcizing something or evoking a feeling in the listener, expressing something in a removed way.
Favorite track: “O’Malley’s Bar”
MOLCHAT DOMA – С крыш наших домов (FROM THE ROOFS OF OUR HOUSES)
Doomer lo-fi post-punk. Great synth and drum sounds. The guitars and understated vocal production greatly influenced my own approach to recording my album.
Favorite track: “Тишина (Silence)”
Listen to a playlist of Soft Vein’s favorite tracks from each of the 15 albums below:
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