Being inconsiderable is the new being famous. And in such a position it almost feels as if an artist can access total freedom. Now, Bridie Monds-Watson doesn’t look like your usual pop star. She also doesn’t behave and talk like a one. She’s not even twenty yet and already one of the most promising newcomers of the year 2015. Although the Irish girl doesn’t see herself as a newcomer. She started writing and recording her own songs when she was 13, 14 without any specific goal. ‘I didn’t write my music for an audience so I can share it online and people can hear it,’ she explains NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION when we met her earlier this year. ‘I just did it for myself,’ she said with an almost shy level of modesty.
These days Monds-Watson will release the first album of her alias SOAK, called Before We Forgot How To Dream. It’s a testament of her crafted songwriting, her authentic character and a must-listen for all those who are not afraid to embrace soulful melancholia in their every day life. The album itself is a well-produced piece of moody pop that entirely circles around the voice and fragile songs of its protagonist. Although the record will show SOAK backed by a full band she’s at her best when you take all those elements away. Over the past months we had the joy of experiencing her live and direct on stage. Just her and her guitar – it were moments that made her audience turn silent within an instant. You could hear a needle fall when she played the Berghain cantina in Berlin back in late April. It was an intense performance but on the other side it felt so easy. Bridie Monds-Watson is the living understatement. Be a Nobody is the name of her first little hit single and one track on her forthcoming album goes by the name If Everyone is Someone, No One is Everyone.
When we met the Irish artist she remained as relaxed and unimposing as a shy girl at this age would act. Polite, calmed down but somehow also a bit uncomfortable with the buzz that was slowly building around her. Well, who wouldn’t be a bit scared of these things?
You started composing your songs on your own, just for yourself. When did you get the confidence to share it with the world?
It took me a year. I wrote plenty of notes and recorded a lot of demos in my bedroom. And then I eventually shared those tracks with my dad, my mum and my brother. And they were: ‘No way, you didn’t write this.’ They were quite surprised but also happy I was doing it. Although they were also a bit frightened by the lyrics because I wrote them for myself and sung about things I never spoke about. I was very shy when I was young so that was a surprise for them.
Is it true that you dropped school two years ago?
I didn’t drop school. It was more like: School dropped me. (laughs) I finished my compulsory education and joined a music school. And during that time I was already touring a lot, so it became harder to balance that stuff off. It was a relief at the end
All of your songs are based on certain situations from your everyday life. Is it easier for you to write about these subjects than, let’s say, coming up with cryptic metaphors or stories?
For me it’s naturally to write about something I know and understand. Especially since my music is very quiet and emotional. Otherwise it would seem false. And I feel that other people who hear it can get something out of it. They see themselves in those songs which is amazing. It’s real life and those subjects happen all the time to many people.
And Bridie isn’t afraid to show these situations. Her video for Blud sees the newcomer in her natural environment in her home town Derry in Northern Ireland. Fooling around with friends, petting a cat, visiting relatives and playing a small intimate gig at the place where she usually skates. SOAK is a non-faked example of ‘What you see is what you get.’ She doesn’t want to be a mainstream star, even if songs like Sea Creatures have an undeniable pop appeal. She prefers baggy clothes over tight dresses and casual look over extensive make-up. She doesn’t create a well-visualized concept to come up with her music, she keeps it real. Refusal is the key but not in the loud ‘Riot Grrrl’ spirit. It’s a more relaxed and honest way SOAK chose for her artistic alter ego. And so far it looks like it was the right choice.
Is your track ‘Be a Nobody’ a statement against that fame-focussed society?
It’s more about the fact that nobody should be ‘higher’ than anybody. There’s a lot of that happening in the human society and I really hate that. I despise that idea; it’s unequal and really offensive. But, unfortunately, it’s an actual logic a lot of people use so that really pisses me off. The song is something like my personal ‘Fuck you’ towards that idea.
Would you consider yourself being a role model?
I would like to see me as a role model more in the sense that I bring hope to the people. And maybe they get motivated to do the same thing. ‘If she can do it I can do it too.’
And it looks like there’s a certain demand for your music.
Yeah, also not everybody likes such tunes. Some people don’t want to listen to emotional songs. I know this by myself. When I listen to sad songs they always bring me down. But I think there’s a need for it. And somebody’s gotta do the job. (laughs)
You just mentioned the element of ‘hope’ in your music. What about passion?
I’ll never understand how somebody can walk on a stage and perform without passion. That makes no sense to me, I must say. You have to make people feel something. That’s the whole part of it.
Worldly-wise and friendly. When Bridie Monds-Watson speaks you really sense the whole ‘girl next door’ attitude. She might be young but not naive. She knows exactly what she wants and is determined to fight for her musical vision. So, even if the music of SOAK couldn’t be further away from the mosh pit it still got a certain punk rock vibe, although in a way more reduced understanding. The Irish girl is well aware of the industry’s difficulties and how tough it is to stand your ground in it. ‘Personally I didn’t have any difficulties due to my gender,’ she tells us while also adding ‘but I know that it is a male-dominated industry.’
Before We Forgot How To Dream is the testament of one of the most exciting new artists to recently show up on the musical map of Europe. It’s soulful, honest, surprisingly catchy and features a protagonist that is more than your usual ‘lovely British girl with a guitar.’ It will be interesting to see in which direction this talented lady will progress in the next years. But as far as we know her we’re pretty sure she doesn’t waste too many thoughts on this.