Ever since we first heard of Bridie Monds-Watson (AKA SOAK.) we were sold, and in the time since the Irish musician has released debut LP Before We Forgot How To Dream, been shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Prize, played countless festivals across the globe and is now preparing for her second jaunt to Australia in 2015.
This year has been pretty massive for you, not just with the record release, but the extensive touring on top of that. How have you found you’ve adapted from being a high school student last year, to life on the road?
I feel like this year’s been the most intense touring that I’ve ever done. I’ve been touring since February of this year. But before that I did a lot of touring that was kind of here and there, so I feel like I was ready for it, but it’s definitely been very intense and a lot of fun as well. Especially with the full band tours and that, I’ve had friends on the road with me, so that’s been fun.
And how do you think you’ve evolved as an artist over that time?
I think after playing with the band for that long and just doing so many shows that it’s made me want to write for a band and I think- because I’m home now and have been home for a little while- I think even the songs I’ve already kind of written and demoed and stuff, I think I’m writing for the dynamic of a band. Doing so many shows makes you think about the next shows you’re going to actually do.
The Mercury Prize nomination must have been an exciting experience, too. What was your reaction when you first found out?
Oh, that was mental. I think I’m quite realistic when it comes to what I think could happen, things we might potentially get selected for and stuff like that, and it never crossed my mind that that would happen at all. Especially on the first album. Definitely didn’t see it coming whatsoever, it was a really really cool surprise. It actually feels quite weird that I made the shortlist for that.
On this visit to Australia, not only are you hitting up some killer festivals, but you’re coming out with a full band- as you’ve mentioned. Does having the band make your live shows more flexible?
Yeah, I think it’s a completely different show. The solo show’s quite intimate and quiet, and it is what it is, and then when the band’s there it’s a completely different dynamic and it’s a lot lighter, just a lot more going on. Yeah I think both shows are just so separate.
Speaking of festivals, you’ve played a huge number around the world this year. Have any been specific highlights?
Of festival shows I think definitely, we were lucky we got to play a lot of big, cool festivals- especially in the UK and Europe that we’d never played before. I think Haldern Pop Festival- I think that was in Germany- also I played one in Switzerland. I can’t remember its name, but it was amazing. I played Glastonbury for the second time, I got to do that with the full band and that was such a weird thing to do. Proper mindblowing. So that was probably my highlight.
Did you ever expect when you were writing those songs that this’d be what you’d potentially get to do as a result?
No, definitely when I started writing- kind of weird now looking back to like four or five years ago to when I just started playing and doing shows, and that it’s got to this stage and I’ve already for to do such crazy stuff and I’m still not even 20. It doesn’t feel that real. It’s such a privilege. I don’t feel blessed because I don’t believe in religion and all that stuff but it’s the only word that I can think of.
Last time you were here you got a very Australian tattoo. Any plans to add to the collection this coming summer?
I really want to. I want to and the idea is in my head but I don’t know. I feel like I’m going to get to Australia and it’s going to come to the last day or the second last day and I’m just going to go and do it. I don’t know what it’ll end up being but it’ll be something really Australian and really dumb.
The ‘Reckless Behaviour’ video is excellent. Seems to have a bit of your personality in it, too. Were you involved in that creative process at all?
I was, yeah. The ‘Reckless Behaviour’ video was the first video that I’ve kind of branched out on. I feel like, because I’m a little bit older now and I guess my personal aesthetic or things that I’m into now have strayed from when I did my first few videos- if that makes sense?- that this is the first one that’s been different/ Work with different people and see what we can do, and Bob Gallagher who directed the video and produced it, he came up with the whole idea himself and we shared loads of emails and worked out how things were going to work and I was actually on tour when the whole thing happened. It’s also the first video that I’m not in, so that was kind of cool. I liked not being in it ’cause music videos are kind of awkward to do. Yeah, I was really pleased with how it came out. Bob’s an insanely smart scriptwriter an when he sent me through the entire treatment, he’s so intensely detailed. I was reading it like I was the characters. I think the video really matches the song really well and shows a whole different part of the song that people might not have initially thought of.
Make sure you catch SOAK. at Falls Music & Arts Festival, or one of her sideshows;
Wednesday 6th January – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Friday 8th January – Newtown Social Club, Sydney