5 Minutes With SOAK: 'I feel lucky to have had so much support from independent venues in Northern Ireland over the years'


The seven day celebration of music venues around the country that is Independent Venue Week is only a few months away, and we couldn't be more excited.

We sat down with one of the many talented artists that will be playing up and down the country for Independent Venue Week, SOAK, to have a chat about their career, their role as Northern Ireland Ambassador for IVW, and their relationship with independent venues as an artist.


What does it mean to you to be a part of campaigns like Independent Venue Week?

Being from a small city, my first experiences of live music were at indie venues and when I started to play shows myself, it was these local venues that took chances on me and encouraged me to pursue music seriously. I’m thankful for the opportunity to give back and highlight just how essential they are.

Do you have a show that you played from early in your career as a singer/songwriter that holds a special place for you?

My first year of touring around Ireland playing shows was particularly special because everything was so new. I was only 16 or 17 but I was taken seriously and given a lot of support, even though I was just chancing my arm. Being invited to play Other Voices in Dingle by Philip King was a magic experience and I’m really lucky for the opportunities he and the Other Voices Team have given me.

Who are some of your Northern Irish musical inspirations?

Northern Ireland has a huge amount of talent for its size. Recently I’ve been listening to Ciaran Lavery, Joshua Burnside and Roe but when I was a bit younger I was at every single General Fiasco show I could be. I miss them.

In your experience, how does the relationship between fan and performer change when you’re playing indie venues?

I feel a lot more at ease in those rooms and find that shows can become a lot more unpredictable. I like to tell stories about my songs and talk with the audience, I think with indie venue shows there can be more intimacy and less pressure. I’m also quite keen on a good heckler and appreciate that shows in Northern Ireland usually feature a full scale conversation with someone in the crowd as if you’ve known each other years.

How important are indie venues?

Essential. They provide a launchpad for new artists and a safe space to develop and try new things.

Which venues did you look forward to visiting growing up?

Cafe Del Mondo in Derry used to have an open mic that I’d play every Monday night. My first band was called 'That's What She Said', we couldn’t get enough of the place. Unfortunately it is no more but thankfully we have the likes of Bennigans, Sandinos and The Glassworks which are all special in their own ways.

What are the main differences you see as a performer in an indie venue?

Everything usually feels a bit more personal.

If you could curate a line up who would be on it and where would it be?

Hmmm I’m really into a warm festival. Not desert warm though. Shorts weather, so let’s say like Paris in summer? Broken Social Scene, Clairo, Yo la Tengo, Pavement, Jockstrap, The National, Dry Cleaning, Angel Olsen, Pillow Queens and Ailbhe Reddy would play.

What does it mean for you personally to be the IVW ambassador for Northern Ireland?

I feel lucky to have had so much support from independent venues in N.I. over the years and I’m really excited to play those rooms again and show my appreciation.

What can we expect from your upcoming shows?

Self deprecation, sympathetic laughter and tears (likely just mine).

Check out all the artists that are taking part in Independent Venue Week on the See Tickets website.


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Hola – I’m Michael. Big fan of dogs, frogs, and writing blogs. Avid grebby music enjoyer.

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