A French film and a Kanye West song both served as inspiration for "Softly."
1. Parks had been watching a series of films by the French director Celiene Sciamma. One of them, the 2019 movie Portrait of a Lady on Fire
, especially spoke to her. "At the heart of it is this real sense of yearning," she told BBC Radio 1's Clara Amfo. "I wanted this sense of desperation."
2. Prior to writing the song, the piano and the drums from Kanye West's 2010 hit "Runaway
" caught Parks' ear. Coupled with that, the singer had been listening to plenty of disco, funk and '90s indie pop. "I wanted something that had all those elements," she told Clara Amfo. "Moving through it with the kind of poetic element that I've always loved."