SOAK talks 'Grim Town' and more at Bonnaroo

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SOAK aka Bridie Monds-Watson
Northern Irish singer-songwriter SOAK, aka Bridie Monds-Watson (Ellius Grace)
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Bonnaroo 2019: Jade interviews SOAK
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SOAK is the professional name of Northern Ireland musician Bridie Monds-Watson. Following her Mercury Award-nominated debut in 2015, SOAK released her second album, Grim Town (Rough Trade), on April 26 of this year.

Now touring in support of the album, SOAK stopped at The Current's broadcast booth at Bonnaroo to talk to Jade about the new album and about the thought-provoking power of scent.

Listen to their conversation above and read a transcript below.

JADE: You've been playing a lot of shows.

SOAK: Yeah, we've been busy. We've been in America for a week and a bit now, and we haven't slept or had any rest. But it's been very fun, so we can't complain.

Do you bring anything with you like a little talisman or a safety blanket when you go on tour that's just a comfort of home?

Not really. It takes up too much space, and we're usually very limited. I like smells that remind me of familiar things, so I'll carry scents. And more importantly my phone. I think just having something to contact people at home is the most important part, so I make sure I always have my phone.

So what's the scent that you have with you on this tour?

I have patchouli.

Why patchouli?

It just reminds me of my mum and my home. It's also in a deodorant I have, so it follows me everywhere, and my girlfriend uses the same one, so I think it's just kind of a recurring thing.

You smell it and you're like, "Something smells like home…"

Yeah! I'm like, "Where are the people I know?" because it smells like them.

There's a weird story where the Beatles, when they were making Abbey Road, they remember it mostly because of the smells … in some interview, they said that. When you were making this album, is there a scent that reminds you of this album that you were working on?

I moved around a lot whilst making the record, so there were many scents. I moved away from home and into my first apartment during the middle of it, [so] the smell of freshly cleaned floor is a strong scent, and also snow, which I think has a smell—

Yeah! I think so, too!

You know when you feel like snow's coming and it's cold and it's kind of like fresh-cold?

Yeah — I actually love that. I'm from Minnesota, so it's like you know that smell.

You know it's coming.

It's almost like a death smell in a way, which I think is a really good transition — weirdly — to your album, Grim Town, your second album. It is a little bit of a pessimistic-sounding album. Are you a pessimist?

I don't know. I think I vary it between being overly positive and enthusiastic and then very dark. But I think I have a good balance. I'm neither.

A realist.

Yeah, I'm just real. I'm realistic.

There's a question I'm asking everybody: Because we're at Bonnaroo — Bonnaroo is a festival that's named after a Dr John song and album — and I was curious if there was a song of yours that you would name a festival after, and what would that festival be and what sort of acts would play it?

Cool! If I couldn't name a festival "Grim Town" — which I would, because I think that's brilliant — I would probably "Get Set Go Kid" festival. I just think that that's a good vision; everybody's going to be nuts at it. Just like a really, I don't know, a festival with a sick lineup: I'd get Sonic Youth to get back together—

Yes! That would be a really tough one to get back together! But—

I mean, I'm going hard, but if I could. Sleater-Kinney, they're back. Snail Mail. Who else? It would be great. Courtney Barnett would play as well, hopefully.

I'm already in the audience. I'm already there!

It sounds pretty good! I want it, now.

I know — we'll make it happen.

And there would be freebies, but like, not freebies that are just trash. Like, legitimate good stuff.

Some good swag.

Yeah, good teas.

What's a song that you've been enjoying playing live on this tour?

There's a song called "Maybe" which really fun because it's like a big guitar song, and I always wanted to write lots of guitar riffs, so I think that's the one.

Interview transcribed by Luke Taylor

External Link

SOAK - official site

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  • SOAK, 'Grim Town'
    SOAK, 'Grim Town' (Rough Trade Records)