17 year old Birdie Monds-Watson from Northern Ireland is rapidly gathering a reputation for her beautiful vocals, and song writing talent, under her stage name of SOAK. Having recently signed to Goodbye Records, the record label owned and run by Chvrches, we caught up with her as she prepared for her slot supporting her new bosses at Leeds Metropolitan University to discuss her career to date and future plans.
Sat backstage Birdie came across as a genuinely sweet, timid and modest character. I began by asking her how the tour was going so far. ‘We have only done three or four nights it’s been really, really, fun and the crowds are quite receptive.’ The previous night Chvrches and SOAK had played at the Barrowlands venue in Chvrches hometown of Glasgow. ‘That was crazy, beer flying and stuff, so it was pretty cool.’
SOAK has a fairly unique musical style so I wanted to find out what her influences were. ‘From being younger and stuff it was mainly Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell, but more recently it has been just anything that’s decent like Chvrches and Polica. I don’t limit myself to anything but I wouldn’t say anything mainly inspires me either.” Being a fan of Chvrches and then being signed to their imprint Goodbye Records was a huge honour for her “It’s pretty sweet, you get to do a show every night, it’s amazing, especially with the lights and everything. They are lovely people as well.’
When an artist like SOAK is such a creative singer/songwriter I wonder whether they prefer the creative process or playing their material out live. ‘I prefer gigging definitely, writing is fun but it is completely different because you are isolated when you are writing. It’s fun but it is not half as fun as gigging because you don’t really know what is going to happen whenever you do gigs, you just kinda have to wait and see.’
Birdie’s fledgling career has already incorporated more strange and unique gig venues than most artists will ever appear at. ‘Last summer I did a gig in the Marble Arch Caves in Cork, which is literally caves, people had to come down a massive flight of stairs to get to the gig and it was freezing cold down there. The acoustics were unbelievable. I also played for “Other Voices” last year and they do the thing of taking you to a strange setting to play the song, they took me to an aquarium to play “Sea Creatures”. I got to sit beside to pool and the Penguins went around my feet, it was quite funny, they started barking in the middle of it.’
As well as her gigs occasionally being obscure the influences for her lyrics also seem to be a tad obscure, she is certainly not one for writing lyrics about everyday situations. ‘I never force myself to write anything, a lot of artists who be like here’s a song topic and I’m going to write a song about that topic, I can’t do that I only write about when something interesting happens or something that is significant and would compel me in some sort of way to write about it. When I write it’s just complete honesty, that’s what makes it a bit different and soulful or whatever.’
Her modesty was clarified when she discussed the beginnings of her career ‘I didn’t know I could sing at all.’ It was hard to comprehend that someone with such an amazing voice could be so unaware of it at any point in their life but it is clearly a recent revelation to Birdie. ‘I was in the choir thing when I was younger but I never got any lead parts, and I was always jealous of the people who did. Then when I was 12/13 I set up a covers band with my friends called “That’s What She Said” and did open mics around town, we were so shit, but I didn’t sing then either. When we broke up I still really enjoyed the whole performance side of things so I started singing and stuff in my room and my parents heard it and they liked it. My mum was like “you can sing!” and I was like “no I can’t”. It is a bit of a weird vocal, at times it can be high-pitched and accent.’
SOAK’s Blud E.P. is available now and with further E.P’s to follow she is definitely someone to look out for in the future.
You can buy SOAK’s music on iTunes.