If you’ve never heard of The SoapGirls, prepare to be astounded. Noemie Debray and Camille Debray have been operating under the name ‘The SoapGirls’ for quite a while now, and have toured the world with their music and their strand of fearless activism. I caught up with these two DIY artists just before they were about to kick off their next world tour, to talk about their music and the issues that affect them the most.
Janelle: If you could describe your project in 3 words, what would they be?
SG: Empowering, thought-provoking and rebellious.
Janelle: Take us back to the very beginnings of The SoapGirls. How did you two decide to form a band?
SG: We’ve been performers since we were kids. Music and entertainment were never conscious choices; it was just a natural evolution. Our name – the SoapGirls- was given to us by the public from our years of performing in the streets and selling soap as kids…it was just a natural progression.
Janelle: Growing up, who or what inspired you to become musicians and more importantly, activists?
SG: Our mom raised us to be aware of the needs of others, whether that refers to humans or animals. Growing up in a third world country opens up your eyes to many injustices and issues brought about by poverty. From a very young age, we wanted to help, and we looked up to artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson, who used their platform and voices to help on a larger scale.
Janelle: As a band, you’ve got a strong stance on several social issues. Why do you think that it’s necessary that musicians nowadays use music as a platform for activism?
SG: We’re living in very turbulent times: social media is rife with online bullying, and so many of the youth are misguided and lost. Musicians have a massive platform to address all the issues of inequality, bullying, censorship etc. and to make people aware and to dissuade those who are fuelling the hatred and those who are affected by it. Change is inevitable and standing together is so important. It’s a platform that reminds people that they matter; that they count as individuals.
It also counteracts mass commercialisation of people who struggle to accept their bodies due to perfection being pushed in our faces! There are so many issues that need to be addressed, and art is another way to encourage people to question their governments on issues such as the inhumane and unnecessary scale of commercial farming and animal abuse, not to mention the humanitarian plight.
Music is such a powerful tool. Being in a room full of people of all ages and from all walks of life, and having them all on the same page because of a piece of music or a profound lyric is incredible.
Janelle: What are the most important lessons that you have learned from touring?
SG: Touring honestly keeps you very humbled. It reminds us how simple life really is and why, as humans, we need always need to remind ourselves how important interaction, empathy and love are.
Surround yourself with good people and never waste time on those that don’t understand you. A good sense of humour can get you through most things and never put your expectations onto others. Also, a good pillow goes a long way 😉
Janelle: In the past, you’ve been assaulted due to the fact that you aim to normalise female nudity. Do you still experience these kinds of assaults, and do you think that societies, in general, are progressing in terms of feminism and de-objectifying the female body?
SG: Of course! We still have to deal with small-minded idiots. As a society, we still have a long way to go. As long as the government is running societies, we will continue having these problems. It all comes down to fear and control, and the quickest way to have a cowering society is by diminishing people’s self-esteem and playing on their insecurities.
Janelle: What are your aspirations as humans and also as a band?
SG: To be the difference we want to see in the world; to keep on growing our “soap sud” movement, and to inspire as many people as possible to embrace themselves and their freedom to be. We also want to inspire them to become part of the change that is very much needed in this mad world we live in, and to encourage others to stand up, be fearless and spread love…to live life loud on their terms.