ECLECTIC ARTS

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

THE BOOK IS BARE - a SOAPGIRLS Journal Entry - Part II - December 30, 2020 Eclectic Arts



12/30/2020
Part II

Here’s my attempt at Part II of the written piece about The SoapGirls. As with the first part, I’m going to just write from the top of my head and not over think things too much. This is one person’s opinion or perspective.

Thanks for reading,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts


Missed Part I? Read it here!


*


Many stories have been told during the virtual interviews I’ve conducted with the band. They’ve also done live chats on Wednesday’s, lengthy Q/A’s after each of their live-streams, and of course they will start shows and also break in-between songs to talk about what’s on their minds. So, a lot of information is out there.


This pandemic lockdown has forced people around the world to pivot in their lives. It’s forced me personally to reconsider what I value in my life repeatedly. It’s also forced me to ask myself, “what do I believe in?”


Living in the USA during 2020 has been such an array of emotions and opinions that I could write volumes on the political aspects of this year alone. And no matter what you say someone will disagree with it. That’s a fact.


What would you do if you were faced with a decision that was based on entertainment? Hypothetically, if I was to be reprimanded for supporting The SoapGirls at my new day job (something similar has actually happened to me in previous jobs regarding other artists related to my media outlet), what would I realistically do? What would you do?


It’s easy to pontificate about dreamy wish-like scenarios where you stand up and tell off your boss in such a situation but in your heart of hearts - what would you really do? I’ve already been there so I know what I would do.


In a similar vein, some situations we just don’t know what we would do until we’re actually in them. If a building was on fire and you heard screams inside - it’s easy to say you would do this or do that. Cue the white knight music. But you really don’t know what you would do in that situation - the fight or flight syndrome.


With The SoapGirls it’s very evident that they have been in so many fucked up situations over their lives/careers that they are to a point where they know what they would do because they’ve already done it. They’ve developed their character in such a way that they won’t hesitate to call someone out that’s done an injustice in the world. What other band does this on a consistent basis (based on their own personal struggles)? None that I can think of.


They balance this out by looking at the positive whenever they can but also recognizing the negative (i.e. corruption, racism, blackmail, etc.), too.


This is just one aspect of the band that I admire. They stay the fucking course. From the early years of selling soap for charity to following their hearts when the big music companies were trying to mold them into cookie cutter pop star flavors of the moment to present day efforts to bring people from all walks of life together, the fans know all of this and love them for it. But take a moment and really let everything you know about The SoapGirls sink in. Really sink in. It’s pretty fucking amazing what they’ve accomplished isn’t it?


I am an extremely empathetic person. Beyond anything and everything you may feel you know about me, underneath it all is an empathetic person that cares deeply for others well being. Even when I mentioned I potentially could have missed the interview last week due to being a dingdong and not setting my alarm for AM, if that had happened, oh man! I would have felt horrible and I would have been beating myself up all day for it. Probably the next day, too, knowing how I am. It wouldn’t have mattered if the band understood and said let’s reschedule Mark - no problem. Nope. I would have been mortified that I let them down and myself.


So, just imagine if something major happens. Yeah, I carry that with me for days, weeks even. Millie mentioned something similar during one of the interviews - about feeling bad if she was an asshole to someone that didn’t deserve it (if they did deserve it then that’s a different story). Another example of empathy.


Those two girls that were selling soap for charity years ago haven’t changed in terms of helping others. It’s a part of who they are and their manager Sam, too, of course. It’s a rarity to find a band that is so empathetic yet also so determined to make change in their immediate surroundings. Yeah, you can point out charitable things other artists have done and I would never, ever knock that. But, are they actually living in the situation The SoapGirls are and still doing something about it?


“We Are The Others” is a song by the band Delain. Lyrically written about the real life death of Sophie Lancaster (who was beaten) just for looking different, the “Others” singer Charlotte Wessels refers to are - well - most, if not all, of us SoapSuds.


If you’ve ever felt you didn’t belong at any point in your life, you are one of the Others. I would hazard a guess that many of the SoapSuds fit into this category. Not all but many. And that’s the beauty of the SoapGirls - they’ve been there, too. They can relate from personal experience. And I’ve said it before - I damn sure can relate, too.


Embrace and celebrate who you are at all times. You may consider yourself shy but it could be you never felt you had a safe space to express yourself. Even just to be silly and have no judgment put upon you is a wonderful gift. Studies have shown how the public school system beats down the dreamer, the artistic expressive student, year after subsequent year. By the time they reach high school, they’re already not as expressive as they could have been if not for the fucked up school system.


As an adult we are expected to conform even more to society’s so called standards. I’ve always been of the mentality that if you want to put ketchup on your baked potato and sour cream on your fries I say - “why not”. But that’s not the norm - but I can tell you this. The other people (students and adults I’ve worked with over the years) that think that way - and there are a lot of them/us - gravitate immediately to that type of thinking.


The SoapGirls are you. They are the ones giving off the message of “hey - be yourself - we love it - don’t conform to something you’re not”. I personally love that mentality.


If you’ve noticed I haven’t written much about the actual music yet. Trust me - I will soon. As I said in the first installment of this now written series - there’s so much to write about this band.


Before I do that - let’s talk about the fans for a minute. My goodness - all of those shows in the UK and Europe have created such a cool foundational fan-base. Yes, I know there are fans all over the globe (including some guy in Seattle) but those that have seen the band live in person (God, remember seeing live music? I miss it so fucking much) are fans for life basically. I see the comments, I read the chats, and I see the feedback on my own interviews with the band. It’s awesome that the fans are far outweighing the naysaying bullshit trolls of the world.


I love the fact that the fans dress up to match the themes of the live-streams. That’s fucking amazing! I love seeing any time someone’s new merch order comes in and they can’t wait to proudly display their new item with a photo post online.


And think about it. The fans have been so fortunate during this fucked up year that the band has been performing for months now. As SoapSuds you’ve been able to see your favorite band over a hundred times this year! That would never happen in any other time - unless you were rich and could follow the band around. And if you’re that rich you and I need to be friends.


I got to experience that from the inside being on the virtual tour with AL1CE (I will never stop mentioning them - definitely give them a look/listen when you can). I got to open up their shows and then watch them perform night after night this year. I am beyond grateful to them for that. I always will be. Ditto to The SoapGirls for bringing it every week for months and months now. And with all the obstacles thrown in their way to boot. Such love and respect from me.


Hopefully, even if it’s a little bittersweet for those that won’t be able to see them live, their tour(s) in the new year happens. That’s of course the ultimate goal once we’re through this pandemic lockdown. Nothing would make me happier than to see posts from fans that just saw the band live in their town. And you know what? That means international bands like The SoapGirls will make it over here one day to the US. In 2021? I highly doubt it (I hope I’m wrong). There are too many things that have to happen before bands outside of North America will be able to realistically tour here again. But the UK and Europe? I sure as Hell hope so! Maybe even places like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc. I think all of those countries have a better shot at seeing The SoapGirls than the U.S. does for the next year.


It’s 9:45pm PST on Wednesday evening. I think I’ve been sitting here typing this since 8pm or so. Who knows - time means nothing in this seventh circle of Hell known as 2020.


Censorship. Let’s talk about that for a few paragraphs.


The band has had roadblocks put in their way since before they were a band, really. Censorship has happened during the lockdown, during their live-streams, all across their social media, the list goes on and on.


If you watched the first video interview you know that even the upcoming live link on YouTube was either reported by some asshole or from the platform itself. I got the lovely email (that’s sarcasm) that my link had been taken down as it went against community standards. This was before we ever did the interview! So, it only made sense that when we eventually went live - I wanted to talk about this censorship issue as it had spread to my work.


If you want to push my buttons, do something like that regarding censoring my work. I will flashback to all the earlier years that I was against censorship of any kind.


Everyone is eager to do something if there’s no price tag attached to it. No risk. But as soon as there is a price tag/risk involved, that’s when you see who runs and who stays. Me? I wanted to do a fucking series of interviews after that bullshit happened. And you know what? As long as the band has time and interest, that is my intention into 2021 and really beyond. I’m not going anywhere.


Now of course I thoroughly enjoy our interview chit-chats for other reasons. Hopefully that’s obvious to everyone.


Here’s another example of the nefarious shit I’ve encountered on social media regarding the band. I post on Instagram pretty much daily (eclecticartsmedia) - Facebook not as much. I’m on Twitter but I rarely post on it. I’m of course on YouTube. And I have this here blog and I have a photography site but that’s pretty much for PR firms when they ask to see samples of my concert photography.


Of course I tag folks any time that I can. With Instagram it’s easier for me to do completely than on Facebook (phone VS laptop). Anytime I need to tag, say, AL1CE, on Instagram, it immediately auto populates for me because of the amount of posts I’ve done using their page. When I do the same thing for The SoapGirls, I have to type out the entire band name before it pops up and even then it’s at least four or five entries down the list. Shadow-ban at work.


A recent post by the band on Facebook that I happened to catch one early morning over here - I saw it in my newsfeed so I “cared” it and then was about to post a comment but it said the post was no longer available. I screenshot it immediately and then I went to their actual page. Gone. Ten minutes later it’s back (as the post said the time when it was originally posted was ten minutes ago). WTF?


The second interview we did - about 2 ½ hours into it, maybe 3, the camera's views for both mine and the band went black for a few seconds on my end and then reconnected. Normally I would chalk this up to some technology or platform glitch but this has never happened during one of my live-streams. Ever.


I’ve been looking at the numbers on YouTube as well for the band’s three interviews. There was a time back in late November where they changed. And I don’t mean a few views - I mean they changed (as in dropped) by a good hundred. Again, normally I would chalk this up to some lame YouTube quirk. But I immediately checked the views on my other recent videos and nothing had happened to those at all. Damn.


As I told the band before/during the first interview, I have never encountered such censorship during the nine years I’ve been doing this thing called Eclectic Arts. And that was in October - much of the other things above have happened since that first interview.


And of course there's been the numerous interruptions, stops, and take downs of their live-streams.


We all love the new music video for, “Heart In Bloom”. We’ve all been sharing it as much as we can to help the band “override” the shadow-ban. But it’s so disheartening for Sam and the band to even have to deal with any of this. They should be able to create the video, put it online, and have it be seen as intended.


Nope.


The powers that be continue to mess with them. Again and again.


But you know what? They continue to move forward and power on - with the ever growing fan base backing them every step of the way!


I think this is a good place to pause for now before diving into Part III. Thank you for reading this, sharing it on social media, etc. It isn’t about me - it’s about the band and getting the word out about The SoapGirls.


Every fan art you do, every post you make, every post you share, every order you place, every donation you make, furthers the cause of the band.


I already know quite a few people that are now aware of the band because of the interviews and posts I’ve made. One of them just messaged me tonight about them as a matter of fact after reading Part I.


If we all do our part, the band will grow to the point where they can create and inspire without the bullshit getting in the way. They’ll create and inspire anyway but you know what I mean.


Much love to Sam, Mie, and Millie,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
DECEMBER 2020 INTERVIEW



NOVEMBER 2020 INTERVIEW



OCTOBER 2020 INTERVIEW




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