The main thing… with the Mercedes Arn-Horn from Softcult
Each week, Essentials allows Canadian music industry personalities to share the things that have helped them through the pandemic and why they still can’t live without it.
Softcult is the new band fronted by twin sisters Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn, formerly of Juno-nominated alternative rock band Courage My Love. Since the release of his first EP, year of the ratin April 2021, Softcult quickly connected with a new audience, primarily through the gothic/shoegaze approach the Arn-Horn sisters took with their new music, as well as the strong feminist stance of their lyrics.
Softcult has just released a second EP, titled year of the snake, which continues to see the group praised as carrying the spirit and message of the original Riot Grrl movement. It grew out of what the sisters described as their experiences dealing with the misogynistic messages they received for being young women in the music industry since forming Courage My Love while in high school. in their hometown of Kitchener, Ontario.
The six songs on year of the snake explore these important issues further, and by choosing the snake symbol for this record, they are also targeting corporations and politicians who make ultimately empty promises about solving problems such as poverty and climate change.
Like they said when year of the snake came out in early February, “Our goal is to raise awareness with thought-provoking music. We want to expose people to realities they may never have been aware of before and speak out on issues that matter to us. Most of these songs are meant to challenge people’s perceptions, but also come from very personal places based on our own experiences. If there are people who can relate to our lyrics, they will know they are not alone. They are part of a movement that demands action.
Softcult’s year of the snake is out now on UK label Easy Life Records, and the band are set to head to England for a seven-date tour in May. Get more information about softcult.band.
Essential song: La Cure, Hundred Years (from Pornography1982)
Right now I’m really into gothic rock and anything that sounds dark, haunting, emotional and melancholic. I listened to a lot of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Smiths, and of course I dove into The Cure, especially Pornography. One Hundred Years in particular enchanted me and strongly influences my current guitar playing and the sounds we have chosen. I can’t get enough of squeaky, dark guitars. I love riffs that use dissonant semitones and unexpected minor chords where major chords should technically be, and this song does just that.
In the studio, Phoenix and I challenge ourselves to arrange music that perfectly reflects the emotions in the lyrics. The two go hand in hand. I think this song does that perfectly. I respect songwriting so much. For me, One Hundred Years perfectly captures the complex emotional palate of simultaneous ‘sadness’, ‘desire’, ‘hope’ and ‘despair’. It makes this combination feel so natural and simple and mirrors how I’ve felt for most of the pandemic. It does what I believe all good music should do during difficult times: make the listener feel less alone and more understood. Right now for me it’s the perfect song and I really wish I had written it.
Essential spoken word: Lydie’s lunch, conspiracy of women (1990)
I feel like I’m late to the party, but I just discovered Lydia Lunch recently and I’m obsessed. I am inspired by what she has contributed to feminism, the liberation of women from sexist gender norms, challenging misogynistic expectations of how women should behave, educating about sexuality and what it means to be an empowered sexual being . Most of all, I admire her ability to use her art and poetry to not only process traumatic events in her life, but to channel them into something impactful and meaningful for others. His art raises awareness and makes powerful statements the same way Softcult aspires to do with our platform. She is an empowering figure for anyone who has been abused. A flawed, imperfect human icon. There are so many things to unpack. Since its discovery through the documentary The war is never overI read and listened to excerpts of poetry from his spoken word album conspiracy of women. I’m about to dive in So real it hurts and his other works published afterwards.
Essential Television: Servant (Apple TV+, 2019-present)
Lately, out of morbid curiosity, Phoenix and I have been binge-watching Servant by Tony Basgallop. It might be one of the darkest and most uncomfortable shows I’ve ever seen. The concept gets more and more twisted as it unfolds. I’m a big fan of slow burn, psychological horror. The script is on point, the cinematography is on point, the soundtrack, the acting, everything. I don’t want to say too much, but if you haven’t checked it out yet and you like scary stuff that explores the dark and vulnerable sides of the human condition, then this show is for you.
Essential movie: Promising young woman (2020)
This one screwed me up in the best way. I think it’s an important film that everyone should see at least once. I love seeing more female directors making art like this and getting the accolades they deserve. I admire how he talks so honestly about the issue of gender-based violence and sexual assault, but doesn’t show any gratuitous violent imagery that I find extremely upsetting and triggering. Perhaps it’s a nod to the superb concept and direction of Emerald Fennell. He shamelessly describes what is unfortunately too often the female experience. I think more movies like this need to be made and praised, not just by survivors and allies of survivors, but by anyone with a shred of empathy and humanity. This moved me deeply. This has been a huge inspiration when it comes to executing art that speaks to dark truths about society, yet is relatable and unequivocally conveys its vitally important and wanted message.