Irish singer/songwriter SOAK says her stage name came from combining "soul" and "folk," and while she doesn't believe either word accurately describes her music, her breathy, emotionally revealing songs and spare, powerfully evocative performing style are certainly soulful and folk-influenced, though there's just as much indie rock in her musical formula. SOAK was born Bridie Monds-Watson in Derry, Ireland in 1997. Monds-Watson was always a tomboy with an active imagination, and as a youngster she took inspiration from her parents' Joni Mitchell, ABBA, and Pink Floyd albums. When she was 13, Monds-Watson began playing the guitar, and a year later she'd formed what she described as a "shitty band" with some friends. (That same year, Monds-Watson came out to her parents as a lesbian, though she insists her sexuality is rarely a major factor in her songs, despite the attention it has received in the press.) Monds-Watson soon adopted the alias SOAK (which she notes spells "kaos" in reverse) and started playing solo shows, having adopted a new sound drawn from her fondness for the 1975 and Foals. With the support of her mother (who drove her to her gigs, since she was too young to drive herself), SOAK began developing a following on the lively Derry music scene. In 2012, SOAK released her debut EP, Trains, and a second release, Sea Creatures, soon followed. Chvrches invited SOAK to record an EP for their Goodbye Records label, and they issued Blud in 2014. By that year's end, SOAK had signed a deal with Rough Trade Records, and the BBC had put her on their Sounds of 2015 longlist, an annual year-end tally featuring 15 artists expected to break through in the year to come. In June 2015, SOAK released her much-anticipated debut album, Before We Forgot How to Dream. ~ Mark Deming
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