With a clean-cut vibe, the Soap Box Duo stands out from the rough-and-tumble esthetic of most local music scenes. Young newlyweds Jenesa and Alexander MacMullin are hoping to inspire, not alienate, listeners through sharing their own experiences of struggle.
The MacMullins met while studying music at Grant MacEwan and connected over a shared interest in social justice. Their self-titled EP, to be released on June 23, features an upbeat, folk-pop collection that reflects the band’s mission statement: “to inspire others to use their gifts to promote justice”—an ode to their band name.
The song “Kissed the Girls,” for example, speaks to the healing process after surviving sexual abuse. “Poison” illustrates Alexander’s struggles with addiction—namely, drugs and porn.
But the pair says the songs don’t come across as preachy because they are telling the stories through a personal narrative.
“We aren’t making the statement that no one should ever do these things,” Jenesa reflects. “It’s more like, ‘When I did these things, I realized it was destroying my life.'”
But carving out a squeaky-clean image can be isolating. Not only is the duo based in Spruce Grove, but their lifestyles diverge from both the liberal arts community and the larger music community in Edmonton.
“There’s times when you feel outside of the circle. It’s like being on the playground as a kid. We live a little bit different than other people, and sometimes we sit on the sidelines. But we’ve found people who are very encouraging and positive and [can] be world-changers and love on people through their music,” Jenesa says, referencing Chris Wiebe and Luke Deutekom, who play drums and bass on the EP.
She also mentions Sherwood Park trio the Royal Foundry as a positive influence on their band: “Music is central to who they are, and they use it in their best way to bring joy to other people.” Royal Foundry frontman Jared Salte produced the Soap Box Duo’s EP at his studio, and drummer-cellist Robbie Szabo rounded out their sound with his strings.
“In some ways, we’re separated from the community,” Alexander says. “But in another way, we’ve found a community of really great musicians.”
Thu, Jun 23 (7 pm)
With the Command Sisters, Josh Sahunta
Mercury Room, $10 in advance, $12 at the door