The SoapGirls completed this fantastic interview for me while I was on the first leg of the virtual tour with AL1CE. So that would have been in May of 2020. I waited to publish it until things were a bit less frantic around here. The SoapGirls have been putting on pure punk rock live-streams on Facebook live - with different cities and themes for every show during the pandemic.
They were so awesome to interview and are definitely worth checking out. If I can arrange a virtual interview with them in the future, I surely will. Read on!
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(All Photos Provided by The SoapGirls (c) Andrew Ball)
Eclectic Arts: Hi Millie and Mie! Are you back in South Africa right now during this pandemic? How are you holding up?
The SoapGirls: Hi Mark and everyone out there - we are currently on lock down in Cape Town South Africa. Interestingly enough last night the government added even more insanity to the current situation we are living in a Nanny state that speaks the language of dictatorship and it is not going down. We abhor politicians and any government that renders people into a voiceless mass. Right now we can say that there is nothing democratic in the country - freedom of speech, freedom of movement , freedom of choice and even the freedom of being able to work has been cut off. It’s a very worrisome state of affairs and we cannot wait for the first opportunity to get the fuck out of here…We are very outspoken against the government and civil rights and human rights abuses which in turn creates a lot of stress and challenges as it is we cannot afford to be arrested as we want to get the fuck out of here as soon as is possible…….Cake and Anarchy that is what is needed right now!
EA: What are you doing with this unexpected "down time"? Are you working on new music or other creative projects you didn't have time for earlier?
TSG: We don’t see this as downtime at all in fact more than ever is the need to work even harder if possible! Prior to this “house arrest bs” we had just managed to record half of our new album so we will have lots of singles we hope to release soon. Since we are unable to tour physically we have taken to live streaming and started a ‘virtual tour’ courtesy of crack airlines doing themed shows X-3 a week. Although it's quite challenging since stationery among many items are deemed now illegal by the government so we are pushing our limits on a creativity level to always recreate new themes. It's keeping us alive in many ways we are lucky to have such an incredible fan base who ‘buy’ tickets in the form of donations but more than this just being able to keep our fans engaged and occupy them to keep their heads out of the ugliness we all globally are having to try to live beyond.
EA: I understand your third full-length release; "Charlie Brown" is in the can and ready to be released. What can you tell me about the process of writing and recording it? Also, where did the name for it come from - why "Charlie Brown"?
TSG: We ended up changing the name to "Elephant in the Room" as it was more reflective of where we were at when we wrote most of the tracks as many of our tracks were bringing into focus the Elephant in the Room so to speak. All of our songs are written from personal experiences we have lived through and after a long grueling tour we had a lot of emotions to get off our chest. The recording was very difficult and at times bordered on near impossible as we were having to record with multiple power outages every day due to rolling blackouts in South Africa.
The day we started recording we were thrown into the pits of Hell by an individual who was blackmailing and harassing my sister Mie and absolute psychopath. It was so bad that we would be recording and have to stop because the shock was so overwhelming and both my sister and I were crying so much! In fact when Mie could not record because she was in such a state I wrote "I Stand Alone" in the middle of the night and went into the studio the next day to record it.
EA: What the fuck? This asshole was blackmailing your sister?! What the hell is that all about?
TSG: A married man working within the UK music scene exploited his position to try force his way into my sisters life with very bad intent and tried for years unbeknownst to us to ruin our reputation and to get my sister to leave the band. Being double her age he manipulated her into sharing private moments and tried to instigate a situation where she would have to leave or he would share her personal information. He was very threatening and aggressive and the hatred I felt after seeing his threats to my sister which, again, inspired our track, "I Stand Alone". It taught us more now than ever how important it is to be very wary of who we let into our personal space.
EA: I came to know The SoapGirls music from the Wolfman (Alex Story - the mighty Cancerslug (SlugCultRISE) and Doyle). What was it like playing some shows with the band Doyle?
TSG: We were completely blown away and had such a great time meeting them! They are larger than life and fearless as well as being animal rights activists which we respect hugely and they are unapologetically themselves! We were so ecstatic to get to interview them at the festival, play with them onstage and seeing them live is mind blowing! They are ferocious onstage but the nicest people you could hope to meet in person.
EA: Indeed they are!
EA: The band name was derived from your childhood sales of soap when you were ages 8 and 9 (correct me if I'm wrong). I understand you got to see the best and worst in people from all walks of life during this time. People spitting at you, saying nasty things, stealing from you, etc - how did those formative years affect what you do now as a band?
TSG: We started out selling home made soap for charity and street performing from a young age 8/9 yrs old. It taught us early in life to grow an extra thick skin and never allow the hatred, disdain and disbelief of others to change who we are nor to stop believing in ourselves. It certainly taught us to not give a fuck about other peoples opinions/perceptions and to believe in ourselves to the point where nothing felt impossible anymore.
We met some absolutely amazing human beings from all walks of life and even to this day we meet people that bought soap from us years ago at our shows and they are so proud that we never gave up. Even as kids it wasn’t always easy being the ones standing out and unfortunately we were targeted by the community, kids at school, parents, and even teachers! We were bullied relentlessly, mocked, ridiculed, and attacked for daring to be different but that only fueled our fire more. It also made us aware of how many people have no voice and aware of the need to create a platform in which we could share with others and encourage them to live life beyond themselves. Also, to take to task any injustice from animal cruelty to human abuse to human trafficking and also embrace the fact that they don’t fit into society and even more importantly keep questioning their governments/politicians! We understood from all the years on this journey that to be a misfit is actually a joy and the biggest form of self freedom! We are glad that we can inspire others to embrace everything they are and to live life on their terms!
EA: You've described your music as "Revolt Rock". You've made it clear that there is always something to revolt against when you're The SoapGirls. What topics are front and center today?
TSG: As long as the Governments are fucking people over with their endless changing of laws and pushing the senseless slaughter of animals and people alike all in the name of greed and censoring our freedom we’re going to have something to say! We’ll never stop being the voice for the voiceless, right now especially in South Africa there are so many human rights violations going on all under the guise of so called protective measures. The fact that in 2020 people are being beaten to death for speaking out against and asking the government questions is insane! If we give up revolting against the “system” then we become the system. The same goes with society at large in particular the so called ‘punk’ of nowadays who seem to belittle anything that does not come from a well commercialized ideal ‘punk past’. Where are the punks now when they should be standing up now more than ever instead of agonizing on how “not punk” others are or agonizing over what is long past? We try to create as much awareness as we can and remind people that the government should be working for the people NOT the people working for the government!
EA: I've seen in every live photo both of you have writing on your arms and legs. What do you write on your bodies for live gigs? You also wear headpieces. What do those represent? How important is image to The SoapGirls? Does the band discuss how you're going to present yourselves on stage?
TSG: Mille writes the set-list on her body as well as anti political statements, and animal activist group names, the all seeing eye represents looking beyond what society teaches you to see. Our headdresses are somewhat ironic as they are beautiful to look at but the topics and messages we sing about are not, some people get a big wake up call as after the first song it wasn’t what they were expecting, which is important especially in today's cookie cutter society. Everyday is a new day and depending on how we feel and the available materials we have to work with will determine what we wear onstage. A lot of the time we will just be body painted which is hilarious as we're essentially naked, but because people can't see skin or nipples then we’re less threatening as opposed to us wearing bikinis onstage. Sometimes we get fans to give us t shirts or pieces of material so we can make outfits out of - everything about us is DIY. The stage that we play determines the shoes as not all of them are stiletto heel friendly and snapping a heel on stage ain't that fun, though that’s actually how Mille got the idea to take her shoes off mid-set as her heel broke and she just let loose, plus no shoes makes for better jumps! It's always funny gauging how clean the stage was by the color of her feet after the show.
EA: I know it was looking like you were going to be playing the US for the first time in 2019 - then that got pushed to 2020. And, well, we know what's going on now with live events - especially for bands from overseas. Do you think a tour will finally happen in 2021 in the US? If so - will you change anything about your live performances to fit the more conservative US clubs and venues? (Btw: please make sure Seattle, WA is on the tour itinerary! ☺ )
TSG: We are definitely coming to America in 2021 and it’ll be the right time. It’s been a dream of ours for years to get that side of the world and no we won't be changing aspects of our show. Maybe a good dose of raw uncensored and unfiltered punk rock is what America needs right now. We’re met with a lot of hostility for how we choose to express ourselves but conforming and censoring ourselves has never been an option. Of course we hope to keep growing our platform in America so that we have the support base to achieve this.
EA: If you had to describe one another - what would you say about each other?
Millie: She’s the most fierce and loyal person and friend you could ever have, super talented, doesn’t suffer fools, is determined and passionate to a fault. If you’re lucky enough to be a member of the audience you’ll be amazed at her energy and fearlessness onstage. Everything she does is done with heart and is 100 percent honest in her craft and in herself.
Mie: Is insanely talented and one in a billion, it’s great to be in a band with such a brilliant artist and person. There is never a dull moment with her around and its always a joy to be onstage with her.
EA: Both of you are The SoapGirls but live you have a male drummer. Have you thought about getting a female drummer?
TSG: We’ve played with both male and female drummers over the years and gender is never something we think about. It’s more about the energy and synergy we feel when we are playing together than the gender.
EA: I caught the majority of your virtual tour gig this morning (well, morning here in the US). I missed the troll comments that you put on blast later during the show. Is this the sort of shit you have to deal with online, etc? Trolls with nothing better to do than to harass you?
TSG: Since we started out street performing as kids we have dealt with a lot of love and a lot of hate! It has given us a thick skin and has kept us highly motivated to keep on going. Social media is great for artists and bands but its also unfortunately used by bullies that enjoy the safety of anonymity and the distance a screen provides to hate and attack strangers for no reason! We are so used to it we laugh because if you allow that kind of hatred and negativity to get to you mentally you will never feel happy again. We take it as a good sign that we are such a threat to people highly indoctrinated by society’s rules and we want people that don’t fit in to society to take strength from our resolve to stay true to who we are! Hater’s add fuel to our fire and it is pretty funny having a rant back at some of the serious haters. It's all mad though because they are hating on us for living our lives and playing our music but they will never stop us!
EA: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about The SoapGirls?
TSG: We get judged a lot based off our appearance from being told we’re too blonde, too skinny, too pretty, not punk enough, etc. We’ve heard it all. Also, that we don’t write or produce our own music and that we come from a privileged background and that everything's been instant for us which is insane as we’ve been on this journey for years.
EA: What do you want people reading this to know about The SoapGirls who know nothing about you?
TSG: That we’re a band that is predominantly about humanity that fights fiercely for what we believe in, what you see is what you get, we are completely DIY. We’ve been out in the public fighting for causes from a very young age and we will continue to do so. Musically we are very diverse and our songs are always honest and reflective of the situations we find ourselves in and every song comes with a story behind it. We are a band who has a message and we are unafraid to deliver it!
EA: Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview. I really appreciate it!
TSG: Firstly, thank you Mark for the opportunity to spread our message and music! People need to encourage themselves and everyone around them to stand up for freedom and fight censorship and to never stop being true to yourself and to keep fearless! One life you need to live it true!
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