SOAK: Truth or Dare Interview | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

SOAK

Truth or Dare

Jun 03, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share


For every overnight success story, there is an over-365-nights success story: When it comes to Derry, Northern Ireland-born Bridie Monds-Watson's moniker SOAK, we're talking about something a good seven years in the making. The 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist may have just released her debut album this week, but she's been creating warm, intricate songs since the tender age of 14. In fact, as we chat about those early years over a crackling phone line, she recalls penning a track called "Waiting on the Corner" when she was maybe 11 or 12.

Her full-length debut, Before We Forgot How to Dream, is a true product of those formative years; a reflection of everything she has experienced and learned. It's an intimate portrait of youth and loneliness delivered by Monds-Watson's vulnerable, wispy vocalsthink Taken By Trees' Victoria Bergsman meets Laura Marling.

The title speaks volumes about the album's preoccupations: the loss of innocence and complex teenage emotions. "You find people don't believe in magic anymore," Monds-Watson says, explaining what it means to grow up. "People lose their creativity, I think, and their awe in everything. Reality gets in the way of your dreams. It's harder to survive this kind of life and career unless you're super good, and that takes time. Sometimes you have to lose your dream in order to stay above it and actually have some money to live."

SOAK is an artist who refused to give up, but she understands that the position she finds herself in is rare. When asked about whether there was a moment she realized she might be lucky enough to live her dreams, she explains, "I actually think that has happened really gradually. It's been a very steady rise, so I've just kind of grown into it."

As Monds-Watson has grown up, so too has her music. Her debut EP Trains and its follow up Sea Creatures were evidence of a unique voice, of a raw untamed talent that sipped from the same cup as Joni Mitchell once did, whilst 2014's EP Bludreleased by Goodbye Records (the label set up and run by CHVRCHES)solidified SOAK's distinct songwriting talents. Monds-Watson's songs have always been generous and outward-looking, but she has turned attention away from political and world issues towards much more personal matters.

Monds-Watson turned away numerous label offers before Rough Trade came knocking. She was keen to take her time with her first full-length and is adamant that that time was needed. "My music has changed because I do it so much. I play shows really, really regularly. Learning how to work with an audience, the emotion that you put into everything...it becomes more direct because I know direct lyrics connect with an audience more."

On Before We Forgot How to Dream, SOAK leaves little room to hideexposing herself between minimal metaphors and beautiful guitar strings. Having come out to her parents at the age of 14, Monds-Watson is no stranger to courage, and this new album almost sounds as if she's daring her listeners to engage with the raw, exposed material. It's a dare worth taking.

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's April/May 2015 print issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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