Teen Singer SOAK Turns Her Diary into Hit Songs
It requires lots of guts to take your most intimate experiences—the kind of stuff that you don’t even tell your best friend—and turn them into hit songs. But 19-year-old musician Bridie Monds-Watson isn’t exactly lacking in the guts department.
The Irish singer (who performs as SOAK) first crossed our radar in 2014, when her gorgeous, relatable track “B a noBody” popped up online. She’s since released her equally beautiful debut album Before We Forgot How to Dream, which managed to encapsulate some of the most universal parts of growing up—like heartbreak and loneliness and finding yourself—in just 14 songs.
She’s toured the entire world multiple times over, and racked up plenty of life experiences far beyond her small town. Which is a good thing, because she’s currently back home in Derry prepping for record number two. Bridie called us up to talk about the scariest parts of baring your hearts for the world, missing her friends on tour, and avoiding the sophomore slump (which we doubt she’ll find a problem).
Your debut album sounds like it was ripped from a teen diary—is that what happened?
Sort of, yeah! The album took about five years to make; I wasn’t rushing at all. It spanned a lot of situations and observations that happened between ages 14-18, while I was going through stuff growing up. “B a noBody,” for example, is about figuring out who you are and doing what you want to do. This idea of not giving into anyone else’s expectations about what you should be is a recurring theme throughout the album. I kept journals for years, and now that I’m writing another album it’s interesting going back to them and seeing how much has changed.
What is it like, growing up in a small Irish town and then blowing up and having everyone talk about your music online?
I try not to read stuff online. I read my Twitter comments and interviews done by people I like and that’s it. It would be really easy for people to get too caught up in what people think of them, and start to change their own music in order to adapt to other people’s tastes. Comments scare me.
With one album done, how are you feeling about writing your second?
For my new album, I’m writing more about things that aren’t necessarily connected to me. It’s more political or statement-oriented than what I would've previously written. Before, it was all about me. The debut did quite well, and now there is a lot of pressure and scary stuff about the second album. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
What sorts of things are you writing about this time?
Well, because I’m older and I tour mainly with 30-year-olds, I’m paying a lot more attention to what’s happening in politics. I have a lot more to say about gay rights issues and certain politicians and bad choices being made for everyone by stupid people. I feel like politics is in a terrible place right now in most of the countries of the world. I have a lot to say.
As a 19-year-old, what’s it like being on tour when all of your friends are in college?
We toured for almost a year nonstop, which was fun because I like touring. But we did it for so long that after an intense experience like this, I’m glad for a break. Being away from your friends can be stressful. All my friends were doing normal things, like college, which makes it harder for them to come visit. When you’re on tour, you just have to get into your own head and not make the distance seem that bad.