Bridie Monds-Watson is the indomitable force that is SOAK. The Belfast-born 18-year-old folk rock musician currently resides in Derry, in Northern Ireland and she’s just released her first album Before We Forgot How To Dream on Rough Trade Records. She’s gearing up for festival season and tour dates both around Europe and here in the States.
photo by Joshua Halling
The out musician took a few minutes to chat with me about her relationship to her music, how she spends downtime and what music she’s got on repeat in the tour bus.
AfterEllen.com: What drew you to music?
SOAK: My parents were always playing music in the house so it was quite normal to hear a lot music playing loudly everywhere around the house and in the car. I grew up with my dad playing guitar and I really wanted the drums for Christmas one year, but I never got them. But my big brother—he got a guitar and he never used it, so I started playing it. And that’s how I got into it.
AE: When did you start writing your own music?
SOAK: I started writing my own music when I was, like, 12 or 13.
AE: How do you find the music scene in Northern Ireland? Any artists you’re really excited about?
SOAK: At the moment, there’s a lot of really cool stuff going on in the music scene in Northern Ireland. It’s usually very busy and there’s a lot of different people that really support local music, and we have quite a few good resources. So there’s quite a lot going on here. I have a few friends in bands that I really like. There’s a band in Dublin at the moment called Girl Band who are really cool. They tour the States quite a bit, I think. They’re a really good band, which I’m excited about.
AE: How do you define your sound?
SOAK: I’m not sure. Kind of dark, sometimes. Electric and acoustic stories about growing up. It’s hard to describe your own music, I think.
AE: What were your major influences for this album?
SOAK: Influence-wise I think I listen to a lot of different things like The Blue Nile, and a lot of really early 1975 stuff— quite a large variety of things. I think, lyrically, I was just writing everything down from my own thoughts. I write anyway when I feel like I have to talk about something or explain something to myself. So that doesn’t really come inspired by music it more comes inspired by real life situations and observations.
AE: How does your sexuality influence your music?
SOAK: It hasn’t. It means as much to me as it would to anybody else. It doesn’t have any influence at all, it just changes the pronoun that I direct some of my lines towards.
AE: Do you think that artists with visibility have a responsibility to stand up and speak out?
SOAK: I think it depends what kind of artist you are and how opinionated an individual you are as well. But I think if you have an audience and there’s something that’s bugging you, or something political or anything like that that you want to talk about, I think you should. ‘Cause a lot of people hold back from that, because they don’t wanna cause any sort of drama or anything. But I think if you have a strong opinion on something, and you have the audience or there’s something important that you would speak out about and it would help, and if by you sharing it would get the word out or it would help a lot of people, then I think you should. But I think it comes down to the kind of person you are.
AE: What are you likely to do with an afternoon off?
SOAK: Depending on the weather. If the weather’s terrible I’ll probably just sit in my room and enjoy my sound system and PS4 and lay reading all day. But if it’s a nice day, I’ll go and have some beers with my friends or have a barbecue in my back garden. I spend a lot of my time at home with my friends just hanging out.
AE: With Before We Forgot How to Dream just being released, what comes next?
SOAK: Well, I’m probably just gonna tour this album for the next year. And then go and have a little quiet time and write a second album. Then record it and then do the same thing all over again. And now we’re coming into festival season and all that so it’s gonna be a fun time which I’m going have a full band for all that which is cool.
AE: Are there any cities you’re really looking forward to playing?
SOAK: I’m really looking forward to when in November I go out on, like, a two month tour. We’ve got a bus and stuff, which is exciting. A full band is going to be playing that as well. And other than that I’m really looking forward to playing in Glastonbury at the end of this month.
AE: What’s your current jam?
SOAK: Let me go and check my Spotify. I listen to a lot of Chastity Belt; they’re really cool. And also Tame Impala and also—I’m trying to figure out her name; she’s really good. Oh yeah, SALES. She’s from somewhere in America. And there’s one other person called Yumi Zouma. She’s got a song called “The Brae” and it’s unreal.
AE: What’s one thing we wouldn’t be able to find out about you through an internet lurk?
SOAK: I’m quite short. I’m, like, five foot something but I have size seven feet, which is quite abnormal.