Shoplifting with Softee

Rough Trade Records

May 21st, 2023

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Softee’s Nina Grollmen joins us for a sugar-coated session and chats about her favorite pop influences.

Grollman’s moniker, Softee, isn’t just a sardonic nod to the thrifty, soft-serve giant, it’s an earnest – sometimes painfully so – descriptor of the Brooklyn based artist’s approach to love and music. Her work is a kaleidoscopic exploration of wrought emotion, tinged with influences as sundry as Robyn, Janet Jackson, and the pure, unfettered melodrama of 80s pop. But whether she’s wrestling through a heartbreak, or making sense of her sexuality, Softee weaves her anxiety and unrest into urgently joyful, angsty queer pop.

Her song “Crush,” featured on the 2022 Queer as Folk reboot, was described by Rolling Stone as “a swooning synth- pop gem that opens up at the bridge with a stream of strings that give the song a vintage disco feel, like glittery teardrops hitting the dance floor,”. Back in the day, the Moorhead, Minnesota born artist remembers Fargo-esque winters in her makeshift bedroom studio: recording Katy Perry covers and uploading them to Youtube, writing songs, and unleashing the emotional rhythm that would eventually lead her to experiment with loop pedals across New York City DIY stages alongside Linda Diaz, Sir Babygirl, Blaketheman1000 and Francesca D’Uva.

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We caught up with Softee at our NYC store for our newest session of Shoplifting. An invitation to roam the racks in pursuit of the recorded material which has most inspired and shaped her sound today.

Who isn’t influenced by [Hounds of Love]? Everybody at this point in the world is influenced by Kate Bush. She is mother.

Erykah BaduBut You Cain’t Use My Phone

I’ve never actually seen the back,  I’ve only seen the front cover. The back is so cool. It’s like a vintage ad for different phones. I love this record.I remember listening to this and being like I’ve never heard anything like this before and she’s just from outer space and one of the most influential artists to me and also just one of the sickest people on planet Earth. She’s a channel for something Godly, you know? So this is an amazing record.Very cool to see it in person.

Starchild & The New RomanticForever

I saw him play, I think in 2018, this random, NPR session show. It wasn’t Tiny Desk, It was something else. But I just remember being like, who is this Prince reincarnate? I love his visuals, I love everything about his sound and his songwriting is so interesting. I really think he’s Prince reborn. I have so much admiration for him and what he does is really cool. He’s a visionary artist. He used to DJ at Baby’s all the time and I remember being like what the fuck? What’s he doing here?

The StavesDead and Born and Grown

I chose this because it jumped out at me and this was a very sentimental record for me in high school. I would listen to it in the fall when the leaves were changing and really romanticize my life. It’s a beautiful folk record. It’s these three women and they sing the most gorgeous three-part harmonies you’ve ever heard and the songwriting is so beautiful and it’s poetic and oh, I just remember falling in love with it. I love everything about this album. When I hear it, it makes me cry because it brings me back to that time and it makes me nostalgic. But I also just think it’s very timeless.This style is kind of old school in this way that I really love. They’re awesome and they’ve really branched out in their sound. They still have the amazing harmonies going on, but there’s some more complexity in the arrangements. It’s been cool to see their trajectory, too.

Kate BushHounds of Love

Who isn’t influenced by this? Everybody at this point in the world is influenced by Kate Bush. She is mother. There’s not much to say. This is the blueprint. She is finally getting her flowers in a way that is so wonderful to see because she deserves it. She’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and she’s getting all these accolades and it’s so earned because this is just so revolutionary. I think she’s still ahead of her time. Like even now I’m like, this is so futuristic. Yeah, she’s mother, that’s mommy.

Britney Spears…Baby One More Time

This is the album from that era, from that pop era. I mean, it’s obviously sugar pop, but it’s also got an R&B influence. The songs are just so classic and this is the era where you have a mega team of people writing these songs and they’re just bangers that will never leave your head. They’re designed to be drilled into your subconscious, which is what pop should be. It should be something that you can’t get away from. And I love the aesthetic. Obviously we know she was going through some major shit during this time, which gives it a new perspective.

Lil YachtyLet’s Start Here

This is my favorite record right now. It’s so wild and it goes to so many different places. He has so many featured artists on it. It’s like a rock opera. It’s really wild. I’m addicted to it. I love listening to it top to bottom. And to be honest, I’m more of a songs person, I skip around a lot when I’m listening day-to-day and it takes a lot for me to want to listen to an album all the way through more than once. The first time I listened to this record I played it twice in a row back-to-back because I was like, what the hell? What is that? It’s so epic. It’s so huge. I feel like this should be on stage. It’s so conceptual and you could totally put a story to it. It’s definitely my favorite album so far this year. He’s onto something really special and it’s cool to see all the collaborations and the way he features vocalists and all these different people and also the album art is absolutely crazy, so bonkers.


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