Photo by JOSHUA HALLING
BY TATIANA SWEDEK Irish indie sensation Soak, aka 19 year old singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, has that shy, quirky boyish girl with a pixie haircut and delicate voice thing going on, but she’s more than a cute androgyne strumming a guitar. Best listened to in the dark on your bedroom floor with distant lightning periodically illuminating the room, her music explores the confusion of youth and her attempts to find a happy medium between mopey exaltations of adolescence and the scary vagaries of impending adulthood. She released her first EP at the ripe age of 15 and less than two years later she was touring with big names like electro-pop band CHVRCHES and long-lived pop duo Tegan and Sara. Her lyrics are the familiar whispers haunting the minds of youth everywhere, serve as a commentary on the difficulty of balancing a life of draining and restraining responsibility with dreamy spontaneity alongside the plucking of languid guitar chords and gorgeously blue cries. SOAK’s latest album, the aptly titled Before We Forget How To Dream, was released by Rough Trade Records on June 1st. She is currently in the midst of a stateside tour which stops at the Boot N’ Saddle on Saturday.
PHAWKER: You perform under the name SOAK, which is reportedly a mashup of “soul and folk” but you told an interviewer that your music has nothing to do with soul or folk. I’m confused, can you please clarify?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: Yeah, the idea was actually when we were trying to figure out what I was going to use as my performer name my mom was like “what about SOAK? Then you can say it’s a combination of soul and folk.” But I’ve never classified myself as soul or folk and I don’t think it’s either of those things.
PHAWKER: Back in 2012, you uploaded your early demo of “Sea Creatures” onto the BBC Introducing site and it instantly grabbed the attention of Radio 1 and every A&R man in London. Can you tell me about when they showed up at your parents house? How bizarre was that? What was that like?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: What had happened was BBC discovered my music at the same time a lot of local stations and nation-wide stations were playing them as well. Then from that, I guess, word mostly got out to labels and stuff like that who listened to Introducing playlist to find people. Then quite a few people flew over to where I live [Derry, Ireland] to have meetings with me about their labels so it was cool.
PHAWKER: Did that feel like it kind of all was happening at once?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: Yeah, it was quite intense and I was only 16 when that happened.
PHAWKER: You have a very unique and idiosyncratic singing style. What singers have influenced you?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: Vocally, I was never a singer or anything like that. I was never a vocalist who said “Oh, I wanna sound like them or annunciate things the way they do.” I think the one thing I try to do up is focusing on kind of making my voice mine and let that be as it is instead of kind of trying to sway it a different way. It would be easy, I guess, to kind of play up how my accent is but I’m not like that so it wouldn’t make much sense to me. But, yeah, I admire all the people I’ve seen who’ve given incredible performances and the one I’d mention are people like [The Blue Nile’s] Paul Buchanan.
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: I write when I feel like I have to or when I have to talk about something or anything along those lines. Writing style, I’m learning all the time when it comes to structures and lyrically. I don’t know, I don’t set any rules or have any kind of formulas for writing.
PHAWKER: If you could have written any song in the history of recorded music, which one would it be?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: Umm, I mean Foals’ last record, I think I wish I wrote that and I chill with Yannis so, yeah, Foals’ last record. Other than that, I don’t know. I know sometimes you hear a really smart lyric and you’re like “Oh, I wish I wrote that” but yeah, I can’t think of anyone else off the top of my head that I was instantly like “Oh, I wish I wrote everything they wrote.”
PHAWKER: I hate those questions, like the whole ‘Who influenced you?’ because you might as well ask “who are you trying to rip off?” I like that you don’t have very specific artists to name and you are your own.
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: [laughs] yeah, in general I kind of am always trying to find new artists to listen to and some of it is the A&R label sends all of the Introducing shows and I can find new people to get really excited about. I don’t know, like right now I really like a lot of the Japanese House, a band called Chastity Belt, a band called The Internet, which is a good band name, then just in general, from my parents, I listened to loads of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. So, quite a wide range of different types of music.
PHAWKER: You are from Northern Ireland which for 30 years was torn apart by bloody civil strife, known as The Troubles, that pitted Catholics against Protestants. You are too young to have had any direct experience of that but what’s your take on all of it?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: I was born after The Troubles so I got to grow up in the generation of people that were recovering and building up what was destroyed, I guess, in a way. But yeah, I’d say there were memories of The Troubles and the aftermath while I was growing up but also Northern Ireland, as a country, developed incredibly. I went to an integrated school and never had any issues with kids being Catholic or Protestant. It was never something I thought or cared about so I guess the whole country has moved on a lot in that sense. A lot of the peace walls that were built during The Troubles have been taken down. Generally, people have come a long way so I’m quite proud of my country with that.
PHAWKER: Do you ever see it going back to times like that where religion could cause people to go to such lengths?
BRIDIE MONDS-WATSON: I mean, it does in multiple places across the world. I don’t know, you never know what’s going to happen ever anyway. But I feel in the apparent future things will only continue to improve.