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My Firsts: SOAK

Wild Rumpus Begins

May 02, 2019 Web Exclusive
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My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Northern Irish singer/songwriter SOAK (aka Bridie Monds-Watson).

Monds-Watson just released a new album, Grim Town, via Rough Trade. Grim Town is SOAK’s second album, the follow-up to 2015’s debut, Before We Forgot How to Dream. Back then she was only 19 years old, now of course she’s older (22) and likely wiser.

In a press release announcing the album, Monds-Watson said that the central premise of Grim Town is “a dystopia that I’ve created in my brain: me on the inside, processed into a pretend location. The way I could wrap my head around a lot of what I was going through was to make it feel like something quite physical and real. Once I had the idea of the album being an actual location, exploring the dynamics of this town and what it would look or sound like felt like the right way to give my mental state a personality.”

Read on as Monds-Watson, who was born in Derry in 1996, talks about getting hit by a hammer, her parents’ creepy Avril Lavigne experience, her first pet, and the album and TV show that helped her come to terms with her sexuality.

First broken bone?

I always thought I was lucky as a kid that I wasn’t partial to injury like my friends and brothers seemed to be, having managed to last my first 14 years practically unscathed. Then one afternoon I was building a tree house in my back garden and somehow managed to get caught by a hammer falling from two stories straight onto my hand. I have a chunky pinky now but I think it’s kinda cute.

First car you owned?

First car I bought was a Shrek/snot colored Ford Fiesta. It was pretty much my home for the first year, I’d spend all my time driving with my friends on different boredom fueled adventures. I feel very protective over that car now, knowing how many memories live inside it.

First music festival you went to?

By some suspicious mistake Avril Lavigne ended up playing a festival near my house when I was seven or eight years old. Somehow my parents got into her dressing room (apparently) after she’d left (creeps) and gathered her used cotton buds, makeup wipes etc. and gifted them to me. Completely enamored, I kept my “trophies” in a Polly Pocket for years.

First musician you had a crush on?

I’m not sure if I was in love with Avril or if my “rebellious,” awkward, elastic tied, pre-teen self just wanted to be her.

First time you got drunk?

My parenting wasn’t at all strict when I was growing up and so I never had a menacing desire to get drunk like my friends. However that caught up with me on my first time when I, not having any concept of my limits, drank a quarter bottle of vodka accompanied by a Boost energy drink and subsequently threw up endlessly in a taxi on my way home from a one hour expedition in town.

First book I read outside of an assigned one at school?

First book I read voluntarily was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I used to beg my mum to read it to me every night and had decided that my name should be changed to Max, honoring the main character. I managed to keep that nickname for two years (begrudgingly accepted) and still favor it over my actual name.

First TV show you were obsessed with?

I remember when I’d started to fall into “the gay group” at school and was having my eyes opened wider daily with new discoveries. I was only becoming comfortable with my own sexuality and learning about the LGBT community when I was introduced to The L Word, a drama series about the complicated lives of LA lesbians. For me, at that moment in my life, just seeing gay people simply Blew. My. Fucking. Mind.

First favorite band?

Through associating with the school gays and feeling like I belonged for the first time, someone sent me a YouTube link to a Tegan and Sara song (typical, I know). I then went on to find their album The Con, it changed how I viewed music and showed me the whole spectrum of emotion that was achievable through self-expression. It remains one of my favorite albums ever.

First pet?

My first dog was a pretty lil grey haired dog called Zen who both looked and acted like a pensioner. Five-year-old me was weeeeeeak and my body didn’t react well to his fur (asthma) so we ended up having to re-home him (which is something I still feel guilty about).

First best friend?

When I was six/seven I moved to Derry from Lisburn. On moving in day I noticed that our new neighbors had a life-size inflatable Spider-Man. On closer inspection I learnt that was merely the cherry on top, it had led me to discover an entire playroom and in the middle of that well stocked room was my new best friend, Jack. We grew up side by side for the next 10 years and have been best friends ever since that day.

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