One of the reasons I started this site was to help eradicate the social barriers that new media creates between artists and fans. Blogs tend to perpetuate this divide; often led by an individual or a group of people who (sometimes even unintentionally) use their platform to make musicians feel even more distant and as if their exclusive circle has tightened further. In doing this, a blogger becomes elusive in a similar way – they become one of the few who’ve been invited into the conversation and therefore, gain credibility.
And there’s obviously been merit to that journey for both the artist in question and the writer. In the past and especially now – both are synonymously categorized as high brow or ‘cool’ because of their proximity to mysterious and grandiose themes of exposure and rock stardom.
Did you pick up on that one looming adjective? ‘Cool’ – the one word that has changed meaning more than any other since it was conceived. Today our idea of cool has shifted drastically and in terms of ‘music cool’ the bar has really been raised. Take SWMRS – a band that started their own entity entitled uncool records, a venture that came as a response to them wanting to avoid signing to a label at all.
Today, the uncool is by definition, in. Artists in the media are celebrated and gain the most positive attention from today’s youth culture when they go against the grain and own their political feelings, sexuality and obscure opinions. With that changing definition it brings us back to longing for a shift in music, not dissimilar to one that was spearheaded by Kurt, Krist and Dave in a Seattle garage.
By nature, we’re drawn to authenticity and even if someone is absurd, it’s easier to celebrate them when they’re living some sort of truth. Our own respective truths are often hard to identify which is why we spend thousands of dollars in schooling, hundreds of hours at internships and an immeasurable amount of time overthinking our futures in order to find some insight to our ‘purpose’.
Enter Brirdie Monds-Watson a.k.a. SOAK. With an understated charm and a relaxed aura, SOAK has created music that resonates because of it’s blunt honesty; effortlessly woven with a simplistic, yet inherently poetic lexicon. The light guitar strumming, synthy nuances and drawn out vocals take listeners on a journey of self-discovery and reflection that’s inexplicably refreshing. At her show last summer, I couldn’t help but notice the crowd: burly, bearded men, young hipsters, 60 year-old women and a score of music business professionals. SOAK’s show was inadvertently administering to almost every demographic.
Yet, during our interview we talked about our new favorite bands, big business and the motivation it takes to leave a small town. We laughed like the teenagers we were about Radio 1 challenges and dumb band names. During that conversation, the barrier that is often created through press and media relations was removed. SOAK was Brirdie because that’s exactly who she is – someone who can make the soundtrack to your life and still be a human being. That’s why I created this site and that’s why she curates her own playlists on Spotify to share new bands with people as well as the tunes that are playing during her own big moments and decisions. Brirdie reaches out and is approachable to the fans that she draws artwork for and perhaps, even more importantly, the ones who draw for her.
Let’s remind ourselves how the bridge that separates an artist’s message and their fans is lined by teams who are given the job of guarding it – often more fiercely than a musician might want them to. For that reason, distance grows.
I applaud artists who rebel against that divide that forms. SOAK might not realize she’s having that impact, but there’s a lot to say about musicians who don’t feed into the media’s ability to make exclusivity into something that generates even more buzz and obsession – an ability that often disheartens young people and immortalizes a select few whilst alienating most others.
To sum it up: It’s hard to embrace your truth, but when you do you could quite possibly touch human beings just as SOAK has —
and still remain an authentic, inclusive and passionate one yourself.