The Mix 017: SoFTT - Music - Mixmag

The Mix 017: SoFTT

South Florida Trance Team - the Miami dance duo whose seriously fun maximalist club bangers are helping Latin ravers to feel represented - deliver a high-energy mix full of pop edits and unreleased tunes

  • Words: Ben Jolley | Photos: Matías Vial
  • 12 June 2024

Miami-based producer-vocalist couple SoFTT are making some of the funnest club music out there while also helping Latin ravers feel more represented on the dancefloor. With Trevor McFedries on production and Kablito, AKA Karen Freire, on vocals, the duo’s high-energy sound fuses Spanish-vocals and elements of Latin pop with hard dance, Euro trance, donk and hyperpop.

When Mixmag Zoom calls the pair, they are hard at work preparing for their Primavera Sound debut (a wildly hedonistic party hosted by Boiler Room). Having only been to the festival for the first time last year, 2024 is proving to be a banner year for the roommates turned lovers and collaborators.

Coming from entirely different music backgrounds, they decided to combine their experiences and expertise. While Karen grew up in Ecuador and studied music and choir before starting her own solo project in Latin pop, Trevor was raised in Midwestern-America and spent his teenage years in hardcore bands and at cornfield raves before becoming a producer for popstars and rappers.

Having first met through mutual friends, around the time that the pair re-connected, Karen had moved to Miami to embed herself in its Latin scene, while Trevor was in LA “trying to do the pop producer thing”. After a call out on Instagram for a place to crash, Karen moved into Trevor’s apartment. It’s safe to say they’ve not looked back since.

Read this next: Has dance music got harder and faster?

When it came to making music, the idea was to create tunes that they would want to hear in a club. Their debut single, ‘Kiero K Me Kieras’, formed the perfect introduction to the SoFTT universe around summer 2023. In November, they followed it up with ‘Besos En El Club’, with a bouncy donk beat, trance production and pitch-shifted vocal that made for an irresistible combination.

They’ve been on top form this year, too: as well as releasing underground bangers ‘Quiero Ser Sexy’, ‘Daddy Vaquero’ and ‘JaJaJa’, they’ve secured a booking to play at Berghain – an impressive feat considering the pair’s cutesy sound likely wouldn’t have even been considered for the Berlin techno haven a few years ago.

It’s a fact that’s not lost on the couple. “I can appreciate the purists that want to keep Berghain minimal techno or whatever it is, but I also really appreciate this idea of having moments of jubilation in a place that can feel so dark,” Trevor says. “Going to Panorama Bar and being able to sing along at the top of your lungs to a pop hit, it can be done quite tastefully. I think it’s quite refreshing.”

Having both taken music very seriously previously, the SoFTT project was, Karen says, “more about just having some fun and not caring too much”. Trevor, who still works as a software engineer, adds: “We came at it from a less precious place. It was more ‘let’s just do what we want to do’, and if Miami comes around then great. And Miami has, which is awesome.” Though they secured a European booking agent long before any other territory. “I think if we would have compromised what we were doing, we probably wouldn't have had that,” he reflects.

As well as speaking about their fusion of Latin sounds and Miami culture, supporting horsegiirL in America and why Mexican audiences have been so receptive to their songs, SoFTT have delivered an hour-long mix full of fan favourites, wild edits and upcoming releases. Check out the interview and mix below.

How did the SoFTT project come about?

Trevor: It was a bit of an accident. I was feeling burnt out from my job in tech and Karen had posted on Instagram looking for a place to crash. As we knew each other previously through mutual friends before, I said yes and Karen moved in.

Around that time, I was talking to my therapist and asked ‘how do I get inspired again?’ He said ‘what did you do when you were 13?’ I was like ‘I don't know. I just tried to make hard dance music’. They said ‘go do that’, so I went and made some songs.

Karen: I didn't even know he did music, I thought he was just a tech guy. So when he was like ‘you should try to do something over this’, I kind of put him off for a while. I was rolling my eyes at him, but it turns out he's a really good producer…

Coming from different parts of the industry, what did you each bring to the party?

Trevor: I think it's been really cool because she didn’t have a club background and wasn't going to raves. She's a singer-songwriter and introduced me to the Latin music she grew up on. And for me to play her Rotterdam Terror Corps, it's been fun. I think it's been a lot of learning in both directions.

Karen: Trevor and I both have very different backgrounds, but the one thing we have in common is that we were both emo kids.

Trevor: That’s the dissonance. Our music is fast pop, but it’s crying in the club a bit too.

Did things flow naturally when you started making music together?

Trevor: Somewhat, because we both had friends who were in music. After we made our first song, ‘Kiero K Me Kieras’, we started sending it out in group chats. We said ‘we made something that’s totally insane; it’s so fast and crazy’. Karen’s friend shared it and Dean at True Panther records heard it. He was like ‘hey, what is this? Do you want to put it out?’

Living in Miami, how does that culture play into your sound?

Trevor: At the start, we were both doing a lot of reflecting, and still are, about what it means to live in Miami. It's this totally Latin American country in the middle of Trump America. It’s decadent, horny, lawless and fun. So we wanted to make some music that felt like that. That’s why even the name SoFTT with two T's was a play on the South Florida Trance Team, recalling the childhood radio we’d listen to with the drops and the era of big pop remixes.

Read this next: The Mix 015: DJ Sueño

Why did you want your music to recall that period of time?

Trevor: I was thinking about how much Basement Jaxx meant to me as a kid. Listening to their music really changed my life. Those kind of songs you can sing and feel, with wild percussion and sound effects – that’s a big part of what we do. That made me want to make really maximal music.

What don’t you like to hear in a club?

Trevor: I hate when I walk into a club and it's the same one-note screechy techno for three hours. I love screechy techno, don’t get me wrong, but the thing that I enjoy the most in the club is having a lyric with some emotional chords that grab you in the heart and pull you up off the dancefloor. Where you can close your eyes and let loose, so it’s the peaks and valleys of big electronic music production and then melodies and lyrics.

Do you think the sense of fun and being carefree was lost in dance music for some time?

Trevor: In terms of club music, that was definitely something that we were responding to. Where I was at musically, there wasn't a lot of that. Things were minimal and reserved, even when I’d go out in Miami it would be tech-house or melodic techno. It felt constrained. The dominant sounds were Anyma and Tale Of Us. I think there are cycles in club culture and, for whatever reason, it was nice to make some fun music.

How do you choose which tracks to make edits of?

Trevor: It’s usually about us wanting to play the tracks in our live show but them not really working. It’s like ‘that’s a great song but it wouldn’t really fit into this super banging set’, so we end up doing a version of it. For most of them, we write a verse which Karen sings, and the production changes. It's really our own creation with this moment inside of it that we hang on to.

Karen: Generally speaking, there are songs that we love or grew up with, like our Shakira edit. It’s us thinking ‘we wish we could have this at the club’.

Trevor: A good example is our edit of Waxahatchee. She’s a southern American country singer, and my favourite artist of the last 10 years. Even that got way better reception than we ever could have imagined. People are excited about the blending of different musical sounds, whether it's Latin or Americana in dance music.

Did you ever expect your songs would find such a global audience?

Trevor: It amazes me how many people like it. People either get it or they don’t. Some people are like ‘woah, it’s so fast?’

Have you found that audiences in certain parts of the world react differently to your music?

Trevor: Yes. In the States, we have play a lot of vocals. They don't really know what to do when you're playing a 155 BPM instrumental track.

Karen: They need Britney Spears or other pop hits!

Trevor: In the UK we played at Ministry of Sound in London for an NTS Radio party. It was great but a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a legendary club that I always wanted to play at… but it was also a Saturday so we had NTS ravers and then some Russian tourists asking us to play David Guetta. We had to be like ‘she’s singing live’!

Karen: Our first show ever was in Mexico, with MCR-T and Miss Bashful, and every kid that showed up knew the lyrics. I was like ‘wow, I guess the song really hits people’.

Trevor: It’s interesting because the lyrics really resonate with our Spanish-speaking fanbase. But then when we're playing in non-Spanish-speaking places, it’s way more just the palette. Because it’s fun, fast and loud.

How were your US shows with horsegiirL?

Karen: They were fantastic. So many kids turned out and I feel like there's a really passionate group of people that feel maybe underrepresented by current club life. They were very, very excited. And she’s super sweet. We play with her probably more than anyone else. We’ve played with her four or five times and we’ve only been playing for a year, so we see her every few months.

Have you had any surreal moments so far?

Karen: It’s all been pretty surreal because it's happened really fast, especially having been in the music industry for so long.

Trevor: I'm always blown away when kids get tattoos and lyrics and stuff, and we’ve already had that. I'm still in disbelief that a year after we started this people would want to do that. We have one guy on Instagram who constantly asks us to put out a song that we’ve played three times in live sets. The fact that there are some people paying attention to everything is really flattering too.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

Trevor: Some of the new stuff we're making, it’s very guitar-driven. Our newest song ‘Ja Ja Ja’ was inspired by living in Mexico, listening to corridos (stories told in song) and wanting to programme guitars.

Karen: It’s inspired by that, but it sounds nothing like a corrido. It ended up being just one element of something we like that we then took to a completely different place.

Trevor: We're also listening to a lot of Tegan and Sara… song-songs.

Read this next: The Mix 011: DJ Anderson do Paraíso

Which other artists do you rate at the moment?

Trevor: The label Muakk in Bogotá. What CRRDR, 2AT and Aleroj are doing is some of the most interesting music in the world to me. Brenda is really special, too, and Nick León and Danny Daze in Miami. We’re also playing a lot of Jõao Lágrima de Ouro who remixed ‘Ja Ja Ja’; Brazil lives in the future, they’re already there. zpectrum, from Peru, is really good too.

What’s your ambition with the project? How big do you want SoFTT to be?

Karen: I see it as a ‘fuck around and find out’ type of thing.

Trevor: The more I think about it, I was listening to Everything But The Girl and we both have creative practices. Karen has a bikini brand and designs fashion, and I’m still building software projects. The idea of that group having a family and all this creative output for 30 years is super cool. I don't know that we want to headline Coachella next year, I’d much rather be able to play Primavera in 20 years and have people show up.

What message do you want to get across through your music?

Trevor: At least in the States, I've seen dance music really explode with EDM in my lifetime. But the beating heart of it, to me, was always Latin kids. Whether in Los Angeles or Miami, or even at EDC, Mexican kids put tickets on a credit card, show up and properly rave. But then you look at the party footage and it's blonde girls with champagne, so to have Latin kids be like ‘it's so fun to go to a club and hear Spanish’ and sing along is great.

What have you got coming up this year?

Trevor: An EP, but we're thinking about what we want to say because, originally, there wasn't much thought. We like songs, melodies and emotional lyrics, but otherwise the palate changes. The idea of hard music for soft people has always stayed consistent though.

Karen: We’ve got a song with Babymorocco coming called ‘Portarnos Mal’ – he’s so fun. And our one called ‘Asserin’, which samples a nursery rhyme, that we’re going to try and get out.

Trevor: We're in this moment where we're trying to figure out how to push our sound further, so a lot of guitars. I don't know if they’ll make it, but we're figuring it out. For six months we knew what we were doing and now we're going in wondering ‘what if’ and seeing what comes.

Can you tell us about your mix?

SoFTT: This mix is somewhat of a reflection of the absolutely insane year we've had. It’s a collection of music we've made, edits we've thrown together before shows, and finishes with a nod to the highest praise we've ever received when, after our Primavera set, an older man came up to us and compared our show to "Everything But The Girl on speed." Strap in!

Ben Jolley is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter

SoFTT - Kiero K Me Kieras
Troye Sivan - Rush (SoFTT Remix)
SoFTT - Quiero Ser Sexy
frog chaser - club classics
DJ Dean - Its A Dream (DJ Marian vs Yanou Remix)
Circo & Blk. - Parasomnia(SHEE Edit)
Gigi D’Aggostino - Lamour Toujours (MRD Remix)
iphi - ☆ Gata Guaya ☆
DJ RUSSIAN AIDS - NitroQuest -SP33D-VA 02- - 13 I LIKE IT
SoFTT - Daddy Vaquero
DBBD - Ice 166
Human Error - Don't Stop (SoFTT xxxplicit edit)
Puterrier - Marolento (PZZS Remix)
SoFTT - JaJaJa
Sidney Samson - Riverside (Guaracha Edit)
SoFTT & Babymorocco - Portarnos Mal
Everything but the Girl - Feeling Dizzy

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