To 23-year-old Northern Irish musician Soak, her success is something she never anticipated. But if her second album, Grim Town – backed by independent British record label, Rough Trade – is anything to go by, it’s no surprise that her coming-of-age and introspective anthems have garnered her a loyal, unwavering following.
In 2015, Monds-Watson’s debut album, Before We Forgot How To Dream won her a coveted Mercury Prize nomination (of which she was the youngest recipient) alongside music heavyweights Florence And The Machine and Jamie xx. Fast forward four years and the reserved singer-songwriter’s songs of teenage anticipation and confusion – like the soul-baring tune, Reckless Behaviour – have made way for a slightly more grown up version of Monds-Watson’s experiences.
In the haunting Fall Asleep, Backseat, she touches on her childhood memories of her parents’ divorce. The equally soulful Crying Your Eyes Out, speaks of the unpleasant fog of twenty-something heartbreak. The overarching theme of her work remains as such: it’s always okay to talk about how you feel.
Impressive achievements in tow, Monds-Watson is also set to make history later today as the first musician at the long-dormant Pasir Panjang Power Station in over two decades. Ahead of her performing as the first of a 14-act line-up at The Alex Blake Charlie Sessions, we speak to Monds-Watson about her coming of age as a musician:
On how things have changed since her first album:
I think everything has changed since my first album. I was 18 or 19 when my first record came out and I don’t think I really anticipated it having any success so that was a real surprise. And since then I’ve released new records. I started out playing as a solo musician and now I have a full band around me.
On one thing she wants people to take away from her new album, Grim Town:
I want people to hear it and feel like it’s something to lean on. I want other people to get rid of stigmas around mental health and that it’s okay to talk about how you feel and be honest. It’s okay to search for support.
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I’m so happy to reveal the artwork for my new album Grim Town! ‘Grim Town’ describes a fictional land that I created in order to help myself come to terms with how I felt inside my own head. I started writing this album two years ago, when I was planted stationary in my home town for the first time in years after hectic touring and rapid changes in my life. The reality check provided by my quiet new environment, free from distractions, meant I couldn’t avoid myself anymore; I couldn’t run or hide from my bad feelings and thoughts. I built this sonic location based on the landscape of my mental health, thinking that if I could create a space where I could see- or at least hear- my own thoughts (almost as if they were someone else’s) it would be easier to confront them. I’d forgotten who I was, and what I was about in every sense. I’d lost myself. Grim Town is the story of how I remembered. How I dealt with the growing pains of being a ‘Life Trainee’. I wanted the artwork to represent works in progress; to symbolise finding contentment in not always being sure. I fell down the well for a bit but it feels so good to be back on the other side take care of yourselves, SOAK
On how she’d describe her sound to someone who’s never heard it:
I’d say my music emotional, kind of like you can dance and cry to simultaneously.
On a song of hers that she feels most connected to:
Maybe I’m cheating but there are kind of two songs that I feel are most significant at the moment – “Get Set Go Kid”, which is about the realities of realising that you’ve become quite depressed and isolated. It was when I had just moved away from home the first time. And also song “Nothing Looks The Same” is about coming out of that depressive period and trying to get my life together.
On a book or film that has inspired her:
I would say it’s “Where The Wild Things Are”, which is a kid’s book from when I was four. I remember telling my mom to read it to me every night for like a year. And I convinced everyone in my family to call me Max, who is the main character in it. I think I’ve always been interested in that idea of escapism and using your imagination to create a whole different land. I still think about it quite fondly.
On what’s next:
I’m looking to work on writing new songs and a new album.
And as confirmed by Monds-Watson? She’ll be opening for the legendary Sinead O’Connor in Ireland next June. How’s that for all grown up?