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  • Writer's pictureHYSTERIA BY GIRLONFILM

REINTRODUCING: SOHODOLLS


Teenage girls and Sohodolls, they make you want to cry.


You may have heard of the London-based group Sohodolls if you’re a fan of gritty electroclash music, or maybe you just recently discovered their work on social media. I got to interview Maya von Doll from Sohodolls on everything from her creative process, what happened to Sohodolls, and their long-awaited comeback.


Photo by A&G Songs via Flickr

Welcome to the valley of the dolls...


Sohodolls, formed in 2005, consists of Maya von Doll, Steven Weston, Paul Stone, and Joe Lyons. The London band released their debut album Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation, with snippets of synth-pop, electro-sleaze, and hard-hitting lyrics expressing lust, fear, vulnerability, and anger in September 2007. Produced by Robert Harder (Whitey, Polar Bear, The Sunshine Underground) and Steve Lyon (Depeche Mode, The Cure), Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation is a twelve-track electrifying listening experience with the perfect amount of electro-tinged glam rock. Sohodolls went on a 35-date headline tour in the UK and have toured with the electronic and synth-pop band Ladytron, Daft Punk, and many others.


Recently, the song “Stripper,” filled with sex-fueled synths, and “Bang Bang Bang Bang,” a song that indulges in innate desire from their debut album, resurfaced on social media and re-entered the mainstream’s consciousness. The song “Bang Bang Bang Bang” alone reached over 104 million Spotify streams. Since then, Sohodolls has released five new songs; you can find them here! Recently, they released “Bad.” A piece that exudes explosive sexual expression and screams glam rock.


After almost a decade, Sohodolls is back, and they’re not afraid of bringing back decaying and desperate glamour. Sohodoll’s return was an unforeseen and welcomed surprise for us all. It was especially a thrilling surprise for me as I remember repeatedly listening to their mesmerizing tracks from Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation on my iPod.


If you’re already familiar with the band, here’s your chance to catch up with Sohodolls; if you haven’t heard of Sohodolls, get to know the band that blends velvety and powerful vocals with pulsating glam rock.


Maya von Doll (lead) of Sohodolls answered my questions...


Photo by Rachel Di Biaso (@clashcreates)
Photo by A&G Songs via Flickr

GIRLONFILM:


What was it like when your classics “Bang Bang Bang” and “Stripper” from your debut album Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation made a sudden resurgence on social media?


MAYA VON DOLL:


First I want to say that I am your newest fan - I laughed out loud at the photo of your YSL stiletto heel on the Audi steering wheel.



GIRLONFILM:


Thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate you taking the time to express that!



MAYA VON DOLL:


So in answer to the first question - it came at a time when I was very low and quite lost and there was lockdown on top of that. A teenager on TikTok said about our song ‘Stripper’ ‘I can’t believe that a band from 2006 wrote a song about Strippers that isn’t vaguely misogynistic’!


I keep thanking the universe that my first album was discovered by Gen Z and I am so grateful that they are getting into it for the right reasons - they connect with my lyrics. It’s not just the black gaffer tape around my chest!



GIRLONFILM:


Is there anything you want to tell fans who have newly discovered your music?


MAYA VON DOLL:


What I would tell the new fans is this - I am working on the new album and there are singles coming out every month. And the new songs are the same genre as Ribbed Music For The Numb Generation. So expect more of the same but slightly louder?!



GIRLONFILM:


It’s been roughly a decade since Sohodolls disbanded; why was this, and what inspired the reunion? Was it a big decision, or was it natural?



MAYA VON DOLL:


We disbanded for several reasons. A few of the boys wanted to try their own projects, start families etc. We had come out of a record deal by choice so there was less money and less contractual obligation to deliver the next album. I started writing ‘album two’ but I put it on hold when asked to write for other artists. It was the right decision to write for others because it made me a much stronger writer.


The reunion is because during lockdown our song Bang Bang Bang Bang became a viral hit. We are literally back by popular demand! And it’s not only the band that’s back but we’re also back together working with the old team at the label but not in a ‘signed deal’ way, more of a collaborative partnership.



GIRLONFILM:


Did you feel that the break was of benefit to the band?



MAYA VON DOLL:


The break was definitely a benefit to the band. I had lunch with my old label boss last week, and he summed it up perfectly, what being in a busy touring band is like: ‘Put 5 people in a room and let them kill each other’ !


The pressure to be successful on top of non-stop touring and recording is a real challenge on friendships and professional relationships. The break has been beneficial for sure. We can actually look back now and appreciate that even though we never broke through to the mainstream we actually were a decent band and we brought a lot of happiness to people all around the world.



GIRLONFILM:


During the band’s lengthy hiatus, were you still focusing on music?



MAYA VON DOLL:


Yes, we were all still focusing on music after Sohodolls, some of us had families. I had day jobs or what certain passive-aggressive family members like to call ‘real jobs’!



GIRLONFILM:


Bloghaus, electro-sleaze, and electroclash music are coming back in a big way. What are your thoughts on the “indie sleaze revival,” both within music and fashion?


MAYA VON DOLL:


I love it! It was a short but very unique period in music. What Sohodolls grew out of - partly - was incredible music by Peaches, Miss Kittin, Fischerspooner, etc. Our producer at the time, Robert Harder had his finger on the underground pulse (past, present, and future) and he helped us get our sound.


There were these brilliant releases on Ed Banger and Kitsune Records and then in the UK live scene we had The Klaxons, NYPC, and Arctic Monkeys tearing up the indie dance floors.


Last year a journalist wrote about this era in the mid/late noughties and how it’s the missing link between Depeche Mode and Billie Eilish. Those of us who were doing ‘electro-sleaze’ and ‘electroclash’ didn’t get the benefit of neither the traditional printed music press because (we were ignored) and neither the benefit of the streaming platforms like TikTok and Spotify which weren’t really around properly. So he dedicated an article to the importance of our album. I was beyond humbled. We were definitely taking inspo from Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, and OMD so on that part in the musical ancestry I can say he is bang on.



GIRLONFILM:


What’s an exciting experience or encounter that you’ve had while in the music industry?



MAYA VON DOLL:


Getting an email from my university professor almost 19 years after I last saw him. He is one of the smartest men in the country, a renowned economist, and this time last year he reached out to me to say he heard my music coming out of his teenaged daughter’s bedroom. When he told her ‘I taught her’ she was really impressed and he was a cool Dad for a moment. I didn’t even know he was aware that I was having a career in music after studying Economic History. That made my day. That was more exciting than supporting Marilyn Manson in Tokyo!



GIRLONFILM:


What is your relationship with your musical/creative process, has it differed from when you first started making music? Do you have any specific rituals for your process?



MAYA VON DOLL:


I’ve always had several different processes. I recently got back into sitting at a piano and have written a new song which will be a single very soon. I don’t think the song is yet a year old so the fact that it’ll be a single soon means I should probably buy my own piano!


I don’t have an in-tune piano at mine so I tend to work on the laptop. I start by programming drums from scratch or I look for free drum loops online. I then think about what lyric would go with that beat. So I look at my lyric bank which is on my phone. I collect lyrics from everyday conversations, films, or intense emotions when I’m experiencing them.


After I have the rough subject matter of the song or even just the song title and the beat I then look at bass notes at the same time as evolving the melody.. and eventually I consider the chords although they are often implied already from the bass notes and melody. From then it’s a process of constant tweaking and evolving. Sometimes rewarding, but more often not! I’m not a prolific writer. I don’t think it’s necessary but I should address my musical weakness which is chord progression. One day!



GIRLONFILM:


Recently you released "Bad"; what were your major influences for "Bad"?



MAYA VON DOLL:


Bad has been doing really well - 25k streams in its first week and it’s already one of our top 5 tracks in real time on Spotify. So we are going to honour it by doing a music video for it.


Its influences are cabaret, burlesque, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, glam-rock, and of course electro-sleaze.



GIRLONFILM:


What is the story behind it?



MAYA VON DOLL:


It’s about rebellion, not taking shit from people, and committing to standing up for yourself. I had been downtrodden for so long in the music industry that I visualized what my strength would look like. I pictured myself giving my younger, naive, and meek self advice on fighting back and also having fun with it. Because when you’ve been downtrodden for so long you can end up being a little bit twisted with a deliciously dark sense of humour! So listen to the song if you like BDSM language, British humour, and a big chorus.



GIRLONFILM:


Do you currently have anything in the works for the future? What’s next for Sohodolls?



MAYA VON DOLL:


We are working towards the next album with our producer Otabek Salamov. He totally gets our sound. It’s a musical match made in heaven! It will be out next year I hope by September.



GIRLONFILM:


Finally, is there anything else you would like to include/mention?



MAYA VON DOLL:


Oh yes, there is! We are putting out two Christmas singles this Nov/December - both of them covers. So please follow us on Spotify and/or Instagram to be one of the first to hear them when they drop. Thank you for interviewing us.






Thank you to Sohodolls and Maya von Doll for the Interview. Follow Sohodolls on Spotify and Instagram to get the latest updates and be one of the first to hear their newest releases.


Listen to their newest single, "Merry Christmas Everybody" HERE!




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