SOAK revels in relationships on debut LP

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Bridie Monds-Watson, who records and performs under the moniker SOAK, kicks off her 2015 debut Before We Forgot How to Dream with a line that serves as a nice summary of the record, singing, "A teenage heart is an unguided dart."

Over the course of the album's 14 tracks, the singer and songwriter continually navigates unsteady ground, turning out deeply personal tunes inspired by the dissolution of relationships both familial ("Oh Brother" wrestles with the growing divide between the singer and her sibling) and platonic ("Hailstones Don't Hurt" touches on the difficulty of walking away once a friendship has run its natural course).

"It's such a central part of everything in life, the relationships you have with people," said the Northern Ireland-born Monds-Watson, reached in early June prior to a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado (the singer visits the Wexner Center for a show on Monday, June 20). "I guess because I write based on how I feel, a lot of things come about through difficulties or happiness or strong emotions brought by relationships."

This includes her parents' divorce, which occurred when the musician was 14 and serves as the backdrop for the bruising "Blud." "Hear the anger through the ceiling," Monds-Watson sings atop delicate acoustic strumming and looped, sighing backing vocals. "I wish I missed it."

"I wrote that song because [my parents] were arguing in the kitchen and I could hear it, so I'd lie on the floor [of my bedroom] and listen through the ceiling," said Monds-Watson, 20. "[Writing] has always been my main outlet for any anxiety or anger or anything. It helped me work out what I was feeling."

Music has long served this role for the self-described introvert, who embraced songwriting early in her teenage years as a means of expressing the emotions she had difficulty conveying in day-to-day conversation.

"I started writing songs when I was 13 … and I was able to kind of write everything into a song that I didn't feel comfortable saying out loud because I was quite shy," said Monds-Watson, who started playing guitar at age 12, inspired by her musician father. "It was the way I spoke about things for a while, and that way I was able to say what I wanted to say but in my own way, using metaphors and sneaking things into songs."

These days, the musician has branched out from this approach, conscious of a new audience gravitating to her work in the wake of her debut's unexpected success.

"Now I think more about it, I guess," she said. "I didn't have any pressure the first time … and now there are a lot of people anticipating what comes next for me. I don't want to disappoint in any way, but mainly I don't want to disappoint myself. I'm in that mindset where I'm not going to release anything until it's absolutely 100 percent what I want it to be."


Wexner Center for the Arts

8 p.m. Monday, June 20

1871 N. High St., Campus