Sophie sat down with SOAK to discuss her very mature debut album ‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’. Out now on Rough Trade. SOAK aka Bridie has been at her good game since the tender age of 14, in her hometown of Derry, co-managed by her loving parents until 17 years old and being scouted for her stunning voice, simple approach to composition and the easy comparison with acts such as Laura Marling and Beach House.
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‘Before We Forgot How to Dream’ is a stunning snapshot of SOAK’s formative years growing up in Northern Ireland, touching variously on the themes of isolation, family and what to do with your future.
SOAK’s debut album traces her extraordinary journey to this point, and marks Bridie’s graduation from raw talent to a significant songwriter for the years ahead. It seems also to speak of those more universal joys and fears of adolescence, before we, too, forgot how to dream.
Interview by Sophie, Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.[separator type=”space”]
Let’s start with your stage name. Monikers sometimes help us understand the direction of an artist but in your case it’s actually quite misguiding because it refers to two different styles (Soul & Folk) that your music is not, right ?
Exactly ! I was in a band when I was twelve and we were called That’s What She Said and when I finished that I wanted to do something on my own but I thought it was lazy to give it the same name than my actual name. That’s where the SOAK came from. My music isn’t either of those things though ! (laughing) I just like how it sounds.
Your first album, Before We Forget How To Dream, is due in June but you’ve been making music for quite a lot time. I guess some of the songs were created a while back. Do you still relate to your « old » songs ?
In a different way now ’cause obviously it’s been years since I wrote Sea Creatures for instance. I still relate but not like in a moment way, more in a reflective way.
There’s actually a mix of influences on this record. Some songs like Be A Nobody are very soft and there are also songs like Reckless Behaviour and Hailstones Don’t Hurt which are catchier. Which ones do you feel more comfortable with ?
I think all my songs are pretty self-confessional and I’m comfortable playing all of them on stage live.
There’s actually one song which is quite different, Oh Brother. You sound full of rage on it !
Yeah ! I tried to use my vocals in differents to kind of portray different emotions. With Oh Brother, the nature of the song is aggressive anyway so it’s only fitting. Be A Nobody for me is my mid-life crisis, rather a quarter-life crisis (laughing). All my friends were finishing school and my brother left university, I wrote Oh Brother kind of in the same way. My brother and I don’t talk very much but we still rely on each other and that song kind of portrays frustrations.
There are actually 3 instrumental tracks in this record.
I wanted to have a recurrent theme and they help create a clean canvas and I just love the idea of having instrumental tracks. It adds a bit of color.
You started making music when you were 12 and you made it pretty clear to your parents that school was not your thing. Did they support you on your choice ?
Yeah, they co-managed me from 15 up to I was 17. They were really really supportive and my friends were as well.
You come from Derry, a city sadly known because of the Troubles. Can you describe the music scene in Northern Ireland ?
It comes in waves, whether there’s a lot going on and then there’s not. A lot of bands from Derry don’t really stay in Derry, which is a shame but it’s good for them.
You recently covered Digital Witness by St Vincent. Why did you pick that song ?
My label asked me to do a cover for an American magazine and I chose that song because it’s a very strong song. My original idea was, you know when she does the whole « yeah » part, I wanted to do a printer but I didn’t have time to do it. She’s an incredible musician and it’s also very far from what I actually do so that’s why it was interesting.
I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure you were the youngest artist listed among the BBC Sound of 2015. How do you react when you discovered you were in the list ?
Are you sure Lapsley is not younger ? I’ll ask her ! (laughing) That was crazy. I didn’t actually expect it. I mean usually you’ve got tipped or you’ve got an idea and I genuinely got no idea at all ! It just kind of happened. I didn’t realize how big it was until it got announced and everybody went crazy and I was like « Holy Shit ! » (laughing) It’s an incredible thing to be part of. Just to be in it was really exciting.
Finally, what’s on your playlist right now ?
The Japanese House, not a lot of people have heard of them. I listen to them and Shura, she’s a good friend of mine. I’ve also been listening to Sun Kill Moon, it’s really good ! And Flo Morrissey, I love her music !
[title maintitle=”Tracklist” subtitle=”Before We Forgot How to Dream”]
B a noBody
A Dream To Fly
24 Windowed House
Hailstones Don’t Hurt
If Everyone Is Someone – No One Is Everyone