SXSW: Soak interview
Upon walking into the Trinity stage room, I hear the soft voice and lowly tuned guitar of Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as Soak. A recent Rough Trade signee, she makes ornate indie pop. Beautiful and melancholic, it’s hard to believe it’s coming from an 18-year old girl from Northern Ireland, but hearing is believing, and it would in your best interest to hear as much as you can from this girl. In our interview after the show, she and I chat about how one gets to be so candid at such a young age, skateboarding, and a mutual love for Tegan & Sara.
Northern Transmissions: Have you ever done a festival like this before?
Bridie Monds-Watson: Yeah, I mean I’ve done the Great Escape. And I’ve done a few showcase things.
NT: How long have you been writing songs?
BMW: Since I was about 12.
NT: How did you get into that at such a young age? Had you always felt comfortable expressing yourself as a child?
BMW: That’s why I started writing songs. So I could do that instead of actually directly talking to people. It was just easier. I could hide some things and word things differently without being direct.
NT: What types of things were you listening to as a kid to bring you to that?
BMW: I guess because guitar was the only expressive thing I had, at that time I just felt comfortable to sing along. My parents though are big music heads so I would always listen to Pink Floyd or Joni Mitchell, I mean you name it.
NT: The sound on your record is so full and developed. What kind of music brought you to your production aesthetic?
BMW: Everything that I’ve recorded professionally if you want call it that, I did with the same guy. I grew up with him — Tommy McLaughlin. He plays with Villagers. I like the idea of having it different live than with the studio. I like having the two different sides.
NT: How long did it take to record the record?
BMW: About six weeks. I think that was the perfect time for me to be concentrated for that period of time. I mean and it’s 14 tracks as well which is quite a few songs.
NT: How did you get in touch with Rough Trade?
BMW: I have this history of coming really close to signing deals with people and there being situations where on the day that I was supposed to sign, they couldn’t make it for some reason. And always when that happens, someone else comes in like a day later to be like, “We really like you! Blah blah blah.” I almost signed with Domino.
NT: What music did you feel you discovered on your own?
BMW: When I was 12 or 13, finding my own stuff, I would say Tegan & Sara, and Mew. Everything from that kind of time.
NT: Yeah, I’m about 10 years older than you but I think I started listening to Tegan & Sara around that time too. Whatever year The Con came out.
BMW: Oh, that’s the best record!
NT: Yeah, that’s my favorite. I like So Jealous a lot, but The Con is real peak. The new one’s really good.
BMW: It’s a complete different vibe. They really just went…Because The Con is really indie and alternative, and Sainthood after that is kind of poppier, and they just fucking went for it on Heartthrob.
NT: Yeah, I mean on Sainthood, they were still doing the same sound but it was kind of running out of steam.
BMW: Yeah… [When Heartthrob] came out, I didn’t like the record at all, like I thought it was too much pop. But then I saw it live. It’s a great live show. I think it’s pretty good that they’ve been able to expand. The songs are so strong.
NT: Do you ever listen to any mainstream pop music?
BMW: I do more so than I used to. I was definitely like 15, 16 and was like “I won’t listen to that.”
NT: Me too, I was weirdly jaded when I was in my mid-teens about mainstream music.
BMW: Yeah like Sia right now, is so good.
NT: What’s you favorite Top 40 track or artist right now?
BMW: I’m really getting into Years & Years.
NT: In your video for “Sea Creatures, you’re skateboarding. Do you do that a lot?
BMW: Yeah. I’ve been doing that since I was really young with my best friend. I stopped and started again. And then at 10 I started again, and then at 12 stopped, and then I got really into it the last three years with my mates.
NT: It’s crazy how ahead of the game you are. I can’t even touch a skateboard at 27, and you were taking breaks from it before you were even a teenager.
BMW: It’s just ingrained in some people.
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