Local label Soft Abuse shares new music and rates cocktails at Gather

Local label Soft Abuse shares new music and rates cocktails at Gather

You don't need to twist the arm of Chris Berry, founder and head honcho of local label Soft Abuse, to hang out and try some cocktails. Such was the case earlier this week when Gimme Noise met him for a tasting at the Walker Art Center's Gather by D'Amico restaurant which is celebrating it's one year anniversary Thursday night.

With Gather mixologist Josh Reigert at our service, Berry hoisted a double album's worth of new blends at the bar while spilling the beans on what's been up for his prestigious indie label. With each gulp of our liquid lunch, Berry not only connected a musical parallel with our summer drinks but also gave the low down on his own label's music mixology as part of the burgeoning vinyl indie label scene.

On the Lavender Lemonade: "Dangerously good. A perfect summer drink."

Its musical equivalent: Chris swallows more of the fragrant elixir and responds, "I don't know. I'd say it's like something on K Records. A hint of coy sweetness cut with a tart naughty side."

It was in 2003 as a student and college DJ in Tallahassee, Florida, Chris started putting on shows and started his own record label, Soft Abuse. "The coolest show I did was Destroyer with Frog Eyes at this bar on campus."

On the Purple Rhumba: The blueberry, mint and lime combo cools him down, "I'd say this would be a nice late night cocktail. A burn one and drink one kind of drink."

Musical equivalent: "I'd say it's kind of in line with '80s No Wave kind of stuff. The jaggedness of DNA guitar with the subtle complexity a la Mars. Like Suicide mixed with Police Band."

With a boatload of new records on Soft Abuse and as a Twin Cities transplant in 2007, Berry's musical tastes are as wild as the martini he's just been poured. "Often labels document a scene. But I'm not that way. There's too many interesting unheard things everywhere," he explains. Minneapolis' Brute Heart are the only local band on the Soft Abuse roster.

On the Meet Me in the Garden: Savoring the cilantro and ground ginger Berry perks up. "Wow, this is sort of a populist drink."

Musical equivalent: "I'd say this would be like an Al Green or Ann Peebles single. With the people, something anyone can enjoy. From the real heads to the casual fans of cocktails."

Excited about upcoming output on Soft Abuse from NYC's Suspensors and Californian freak folker, Ulaan Markhor Chris tells me about Brute Heart side project, Myrrh, "It's a 2 piece with Jackie Beckey and Andie from Mother of Fire. It's kind of doomy, stoner like. Really cool."

With a bit of a blush Berry dives into our final cocktail.

On the Spicy Margarita: "I love margaritas, they're my favorite drink and this is the best I've ever had. Whenever I drink these I listen to a lot of reggae."

Musical equivalent: "This is a slow burn. Like an Augustus Pablo dub track, or Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Reggae is the beginning of everything in modern music. Everything happening now happend in Jamaica 25 years ago."

I mention how cool it will be to see Brute Heart play out on the field outside the window where we are sitting at Gather. As a special commission for movies and music this year, Brute Heart will be performing a live soundtrack to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari later this summer.

Polishing off the last tasty beverage, Berry agrees "They reminded me of some bands like Quixotic or Family Fodder but they're really a unique band. There's nothing else like them here. Every new song is better than anything they've done before."

For more information about Soft Abuse records check out the label website.

DJ Soft Abuse is part of Modern Radio Night this month at the Kitty Kat Club tomorrow night, June 7 with Magic Castles, Robust Worlds and DJ De Stijl. 9 p.m. Free

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