She may only be a teenager, but Irish folk singer SOAK has given up school to concentrate on her now blossoming music career full time. Certainly not what any parent wants to hear before their daughter before they finish school, but I think this young woman has made an amazingly brave decision that is definitely going to pay off. She definitely has talent and and a voice that is gently raw that completely compliments her music and the oblique narratives of adolescence in her lyrics. 18-year-old SOAK, born Bridie Monds-Watson, is a multi-instrumentalist who has recently been drawing comparisons to Cat Power with her vocals and lyrics. Scottish band CHVRCHES have signed her up to their label, Goodbye Records, and she toured with George Ezra last year.
SOAK has been performing and recording for nearly a quarter of her life. She broke onto Derry’s music scene when she was just 14, recording demos, gigging and playing in a band with her friends. She seems both overwhelmed and laissez-faire about her success, with Zane Lowe and BBC 6 Music selecting Blud as a favourite track and a headline show at St Pancras Old Church last April. Although SOAK plays all the instruments on Blud, she denies being a multi-instrumentalist, saying instead she “just dabbles”.Two years ago, struggling to find a good manager, SOAK enlisted her mother’s help to “look after things”. The pair also came up with her stage name: a portmanteau of ‘soul’ and ‘folk’, with SOAK’s music falling somewhere inbetween.
Like many teenagers, SOAK is hungry for the new, and it’s mainly new music that influences her sound. She does, however, find inspiration in the art-rock of Foals and The 1975. She grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, who acted as her introduction to folk music and songwriting, as well as the experimental whale song of Pink Floyd’s Echoes. As for her tales of adolescence, SOAK says she feels “compelled to write every song from being in a situation”.
The washed-out, sparse guitar-lines and dragging percussion on Blud mean it could sit happily next to the records by chillwave bands Beach House and Best Coast. SOAK’s raspy, vulnerable voice takes on a folk edge on the piano-led Sea Creatures, with a poetic lyricism and teenage insight previously pioneered by other young songwriters Laura Marling and Emmy the Great.