Steven Van Betten – “Selling Soap”

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Steven Van Betten – “Selling Soap”


Every now and then I drive by the Aesop soap store on Sunset Boulevard. It taunts me. Recently I dropped $100 on their stupid Body Balm and goddamn if that moisturizer isn’t the most delicious smelling stuff I’ve ever slathered onto my skin. So when I saw that LA singer/songwriter Steven van Betten — who co-founded area musician collective School Of Song and is about to go on tour opening for the Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth — was planning to release a track about this godforsaken status soap, I knew I had to check it out.

“Selling Soap” is only about a minute and a half long but it gets the point across perfectly. Over tinny, feedback-packed guitar chugs, Betten outlines a typical shift spent working at the Aesop store: “People enter/ The building/ Potential customers/ Enlisting/ I serve them tea/ With mint leaves/ Smile hard… I ask them how their day is going/ What kind of facial products they are pursuing?/ They ask for samples/ They retrieve/ Smile harder/ They believe.”

“A couple of years ago, my best friend was working at Aesop,” van Betten tells Stereogum of “Selling Soap.” “Whenever I saw him after work he would be visibly drained and beat down — venting about how rough it was to put on a smile and try to sell soap to strangers all day. His pain felt so relatable and something about the setting of a fancy soap store felt like the perfect juxtaposition to complement this sense of deep anger and frustration. I wrote this song out of compassion for my friend, hoping he wouldn’t feel alone in his suffering.”

“Selling Soap” will appear on Betten’s forthcoming full-length album due out later this year. Until then, I’m going to think about “Selling Soap” every time I drive by Aesop. Delicious, aspirational, eat-the-rich Aesop.

01/19 – Sonoma @ Sebastiani Theatre*
01/20 – San Francisco @ The Chapel*
01/21 – Big Sur @ Henry Miller Memorial Library*
01/26 – Ojai @ Deer Lodge*
01/27 – Lo Angeles @ Lodge Room*
01/28 – Pioneertown @ Pappy & Harriet’s*
* Opening for Dave Longstreth

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