The SoapGirls are a South African based punk band consisting of French-born, sisters Mie and Millie. They began their music career as child street performers at ages 8 and 9 singing while selling hand made soap for charity, which is how they came to be The SoapGilrs.
Years later, armed with unforgettable melodies and catchy choruses, The SoapGirls raw energy and authenticity when it comes to performing live, has earned them a formidable reputation.
Performing internationally and continuously since 2015, these fearless French born sisters Millie and Mie, have slain critics and earned a global dedicated group of followers known as the ‘The SoapSuds’, some of who follow the band across the UK and Europe.
The SoapGirls are society’s rejects and their punk credentials were rubber stamped by scintillating performances at many festivals including the legendary Rebellion Festival and Camden Rocks festival, and such was their success that they were asked to perform again in 2019 whilst on their sniff the strap tour promoting their much anticipated latest album Elephant in the Room.
The SoapGirls write outsider anthems that are androgynous, audacious and straight from the heart. Following the release of their album Societys Rejects, the band have appeared in Classic Rock Magazine, The Mirror, Vive Le Rock and many more. Their last two singles received airplay on BBC Radio and playlisted by Planet Rock Radio and various other stations.
As a new discovery, I wanted to know more about them. Here is what they had to say…
Mie Debray – Guitar / Vocals
Millie Debray – Bass / Vocals
love discovering new music and shamefully I only came across you guys recently via a recommendation. I started with your recent album “Elephant in the Room” and worked backwards from there. You have a huge sound, with great hooks, big choruses and plenty of attitude. If you were introducing somebody to your music for the first time, which one song would point them to?
Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to our music and for the epic compliment! The song that we feel defines us is Society’s reject, if you resonate with that track you will understand us
Visually and musically you’re a hard act to define, which is refreshing. How would you describe The SoapGirls?
We are real and raw passionate and fearless, musically we are very diverse and don’t fit into any specific genre,
Who or what inspired you to want to create music?
We have always been surrounded by music, art and musicians, there was no deciding moment, it was just what we always were going to do and as soon as we heard White wedding by Billy Idol we started playing guitar
Describe your creative process when it comes to writing material.
We usually write as we experience life or major events, we pick up our instruments and express ourselves, we have no set way but as soon as we hear melody the song is born
You’re currently working on your fourth album, what can you tell us about it?
It is very different to all of our previous albums, very diverse, personal and experimental, thanks to the lockdown we have had more time with this album than any of our previous ones
How is this ‘global pause’ affecting that production process?
We started recording early last year and had to stop as the studio was closed but we have recently gone back to do some more tracks, it has been more expensive as we haven’t been able to tour and we also have had many sessions interrupted due to rolling blackouts that occur in South Africa also the lockdowns have created a challenge.
You’ve been putting out some great content online, do you enjoy performing online, or do you find it harder without an audience?
Thank you, we definitely miss the energy of an audience and having the space to move around and having our amps and gear, but we love that we are able to stay connected to our fans from over the years and have also connected to new people through the live streams, it is a lot more work touring from home but we are so grateful to still be doing what we love
I’ve kicked off this series, featuring two upcoming unsigned bands. As an indie band, you’ve successfully achieved a loyal global fan base, How did you achieve that without assistance from a label?
Even from our early days of street performing we have always been outsiders and had a strong connection to people that we meet who also felt like they didn’t belong, we have no walls between us and the audience, our fans are part of everything we do and we have always been interactive on our social media, we have always been consistent with our message of freedom
You were once signed to Universal Music (South Africa) why did you decide to go it alone?
For us being signed to a major label was nothing we had hoped it would be, it was a constant fight for creative control, we were restricted in every way and lived some of our worst moments, we knew what we stood for and what we wanted but we could never be free and so we fought to get out our contract for years
Your ‘controversial’ onstage appearance, at times, has exposed social intolerances, even during some gigs. Do you think people those few are offended or threatened by you, or are just simply missing the point?
They reflect the intolerant, judgemental mindset that society breeds through the sexualisation of the human body, they turned skin into a taboo, a commodity and when you challenge that by being absolutely comfortable in your own skin and not allowing clothing to define you especially as women playing instruments then there will always be resistance but thankfully more and more people are seeing things without being clouded by society’s bullshit
Did these reactions directly influence the title for ‘Elephant In The Room’, or was the name a result of themes within your songs?
We have always been the “elephant in the room” we are outspoken and constantly challenge the status quo, we will never stop broaching subjects and issues that need to be addressed even though governments big corporations try to enforce what they deem politically correct
Do these moments fuel your creativity, as it shows a failure of social acceptance and the empowerment message you stand for?
Yes it drives us to relentlessly find new ways of challenging them and overcoming the censorship
What’s been your most memorable gig?
There have been so many insane and beautiful moments on tour but the last show of our last tour(end of 2019) was on another level, it was freezing our fans all dressed up in fun outfits and we hired a massive foam machine it was sheer and utter madness, the foam covered every inch of the venue
Do you feel photographs are an important part of your show?
Yes they capture moments that remind us to never give up
For a photographer attending your show for the first time, what can they expect to capture?
It’s absolute energy, sweat and insanity at our shows, no 2 shows are alike and its best to be prepared for anything and everything
During a performance, are you conscious of the photographers in the crowd?
No, we get in the zone however if it’s a photographer we trust we let them onstage Photography is a visual expression of art and brings to life our shows, we appreciate photographers so much
When publishing or sharing shots online, what do you look for in a photograph?
We look for a photograph that transports you away from where you are and makes you wonder and question things, it needs to ”speak” to you
Would you rather see one ‘amazing’ shot of your show, or a few ‘good’ shots?
That’s a tough one as different shots capture different elements of a show but there is always that ”one” shot that makes you go WOW!
What’s your thoughts on the smartphone generation during a show?
There is definitely a negative and positive aspect to phones at shows, on the one hand, it takes away the energy of the show when people experience it from behind a screen and it can be annoying to have someone filming everything you do even drinking water, it can make others in the audience more inhibited and self aware but it is also a great way of capturing moments and people have taken some epic shots which then help us reach a wider audience, if it’s balanced and people remember to be present its great
When on tour or on an AAA pass, do you like (your) photographers to get involved in the action or keep their distance whilst behind the scenes?
We love photographers that are creative so if there’s a trust we let them have free reign
From a bands perspective, what can make or break a relationship with a photographer?
We haven’t been in that position but for us, it would likely be a photographer withholding photos
If you could open a show for any artist past or present, who would it be?
Who’s on your playlist right now?
Finally, what’s next for The SoapGirls?
We are continuing with our 4 live stream shows a week so that we can afford to finish recording our 4th album and head out on tour as soon as possible and in the meantime, we are staying creative and engaged with our ever growing Soap Sud community. Here we want to give a huge shoutout to our fans “the Soap Suds” they are incredible and the support they show us is incredible.
Live shots courtesy of Mic Downes