Comprised of Oakland, CA-born vocalist Miguel De Vivo and Colombia-born producer Kenny Soto, the Los Angeles, CA-based electro pop duo Soto Voce can trace its origins to the do of De Vivo and Soto bonding over a mutual love of electronic music and industrial and a similar experiences of being outsiders — De Vivo who was born male, grew up gender non-conforming and was teased and beaten up “for being like a girl.” And as a result, De Vivo wound up changing schools more than a dozen times before attending high school. As Soto recalls in press notes and in an interview with the folks at Vice NOISEY, “I remember being five or six and knowing I was going to a new school tomorrow, and I would pray two things, before I even knew what gay was: That they wouldn’t call me gay, and that I wouldn’t get beat up. But usually those were the two things that would happen the first break or lunch time situation.”
De Vivo, meanwhile, fled his native Colombia with his family as a teenager in the 90s, after his port official father refused to collaborate with Pablo Escobar’s cartel.”It was either you participated or you were shunned out and in the outskirts,” De Vivo explains. “We were really broke when we got to the States. We came with nothing. We were living in an apartment with ten cousins. It took a year before I wasn’t sharing a living room space with my five cousins and brother and sisters, so it’s something that I absolutely respect of my father to stand up for his own morals.”
The duo’s debut single “Better” was quietly released and within a few weeks of its release, the track grabbed the attention of the blogosphere for a brooding, cinematic difficult to pigeonhole track that many of my colleagues have described with Sade-fronting Radiohead comparisons. And while being a bit reductionist, I think that what a lot of my colleagues have missed is that the song possesses a deeply personal and aching plea for acceptance, both within and without, in which De Vivo’s vocals manage to be sensual and aggressive within a turn of a phrase are paired with a production that alternate between moody atmospherics and club-banging, propulsive cascades of shimmering synths.
Although the video was specifically made as a comment on the deeply troubling and unsettling times we live in, complete around tensions around Black Lives Matter, Transgender and LGBTQ rights and fears of greater global unrest have reached boiling points, the video manages to not just be timely but serves as a fitting description of how uncertain things seem for minority groups around the world and how close to our destruction we actually are. As the duo’s Kenny Soto explains of the video ” In the video, I’m visualizing [sic] some really dark images, or maybe they’re being broadcasted to me. It depends on your perception. I’m watching people being desecrated and killed, crosses being burned. There comes a point when the car stops and Miguel steps out to open the door. I’m handcuffed, and he pushes me into a grave, and I come out on the other side another version of myself. For us the Black Lives Matter stuff, of course that’s something that becomes relevant [now], and it wasn’t necessarily we made it for that in any way. But it obviously is relevant to the current , and culture in general. Then the gender stuff as well, and both of those things kind of tie in and maybe being seen as worthless.”