Slaves have confirmed their long-awaited return to music and announced that they will be going by a new name, Soft Play, from now on.
The duo – comprised of Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman – formed in 2012 and last released music in 2019. Since then, they have been inactive, with both members working on individual projects.
Around the release of their debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ in 2015, the band drew criticism for its name, with some calling it racially insensitive. At the time, the pair defended the moniker to NME, with Vincent saying: “If you pick up an Oxford dictionary and look up the word “slaves”, there is no mention of any racial context.
“A slave is a person who is owned by another person and forced to work for free. In that manner, people who deem you a racist are being incredibly small minded because slavery has happened to every single creed, race and religion and it’s not a racist term.”
In a post shared on Instagram earlier today (December 9), the duo said they no longer felt aligned with the name Slaves. “When we called our band Slaves, it was intended solely as a reference to the grind of day to day life,” they wrote.
“As younger men, we responded to criticism of the name from a place of fear and defensiveness. Feeling backed into a corner, our own pride caused us to fight for a name we weren’t even sure we wanted anymore. It felt at times as if our band name had defined us and we were scared of what might happen if we changed it.”
They continued to say that, now, they recognised their “original intent doesn’t change the fact that the name Slaves is an issue”.
“In this day and age we believe it is very important that people change and make improvements no matter how far down the line they are. The name doesn’t represent who we are as people or what our music stands for any longer. We want to sincerely apologise to anyone we’ve offended.”
The band asked their fans to respect their decision and, regardless of their opinions on the subject, not argue about the move amongst themselves. “When it comes down to it, the music and the community surrounding our band are what matter the most and we don’t want anything to stand in the way of that community being as inclusive as possible,” Soft Play wrote. “Our music is for anyone and everyone.”
Addressing their return to and absence from music, Vincent and Holman said “life changing events” had put them on hiatus and there were points when they thought they would never “step foot on a stage together again”. “We are very happy to be back together again and are excited for what the future holds,” they concluded.
Last week (December 3), Soft Play joined Bob Vylan onstage during the latter’s gig at London’s Electric Ballroom. Together, they performed Bob Vylan’s ‘The Delicate Nature’ and Soft Play’s ‘One More Day Won’t Hurt’ from their 2019 record ‘The Velvet Ditch’.