Though she doesn't believe either word accurately describes her music, Irish singer/songwriter SOAK says her stage name came from combining "soul" and "folk." Her breathy, emotionally revealing songs and spare, evocative performing style are certainly soulful and folk-influenced, but there's just as much indie rock in her musical formula. She released a series of EPs beginning in 2012 before issuing her debut album, Before We Forgot How to Dream, in 2015.
SOAK was born Bridie Monds-Watson in Derry, Ireland in 1997. 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 formed a band with some friends. She then adopted the alias SOAK 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, the project released its 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 the resulting Blud in 2014. By year's end, SOAK had signed a deal with Rough Trade, 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 debut album, Before We Forgot How to Dream. It reached the Top 20 in Ireland and the Top 40 in the U.K., as well as making an appearance on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the U.S.
In 2016, SOAK's covers of Bonnie Raitt and Led Zeppelin were issued as the stand-alone single "I Can't Make You Love Me/Immigrant Song." After entering her twenties, she returned in 2019 with Grim Town, which examined the broken promises and realities of young adulthood. ~ Mark Deming