Wallis Bird is releasing her sixth album on September 27 via Caroline International. A sensual mix of modern folk, roots and soul, it’s the Irish songwriter’s attempt at speaking out against injustice and counteracting apathy through bold and confessional songs. Today, she has fielded our twenty questions.
Hi, how are you today?
Ah thanks I’m great! How are you!
How do most of your songs start life? A piano part? A chord? Or melody?
A feeling. That moves to thinking about it, perhaps writing it down, perhaps going for an instrument. It’s always at the behest of what the song wants to do. Sometimes I’ll compose an entire symphony in bed and live it out in my mind, never to meet it again!
You’re living in Berlin now, what’s the music scene like there? And has it helped shaped the new record?
The music and arts scene there are huge inspirations to me. It’s Avantgarde, egoless, shaped by wildness, history, immediacy and courage so I never see the same thing twice. Previously my music was influenced by the city heavily but Woman is based on the planet, politics across the globe, humans and Mother Nature.
Do you think you’ll ever move back to Ireland?
There’s a very good chance of it. Possibly Kerry.
Tell us about your new album, Woman? You’ve said this is your most political album to date. Was this a conscious decision or could it not be helped with today’s climate?
Ha, nice way to put it! It couldn’t be helped is the best way to describe the process. For the three years of writing this I was engrossed by news and propaganda, media and major shifts in social change so I went through a seachange of what was important to write about, political shifts, populism, sexual and reproductive and female rights, LGBTQ+ rights, Brexit, white supremacy and migration, under this beautiful planet we call Mother Earth- these subjects took the driving seat.
Roughly, how should we ‘categorise’ you? Or should we categorise you at all? What sort of ‘genre’ do you fit? Or are you one of that growing number of people who work outside of ‘genres’?
I’ve always worked outside of a genre. It’s funny because for almost my whole career people used to find that as a weakness, they always wanted to box my music or compare me, and I always laughed this off to say ‘just relax, take it for what it is’. And now I’m glad to say that it is a strength in music, that means we’re de-homogenising, we’re awakening back into the Avantgarde and pushing through whats commercial. That’s what makes art wonderful – being unique 🙂
Best gig you’ve ever played?
Fuuuuck, tough one. I’ve played way over a thousand. Hmmm, maybe Hadestown with Anaïs Mitchell, The Low Anthem, Martin Carthy and an orchestra in Glasgow. Looking across the stage and thinking “I can’t believe I’m sharing the stage with these people” was something I’ll forever cherish.
What’s your favourite single?
I’m a sucker for ‘Finally’ by CeCePeniston
What do you listen to in your tour van?
Every bodies favourite tunes. It’s completely eclectic, guilty pleasures to comedy shows to podcasts and field recordings, everything’s welcome!
Who were your favourite artists growing up?
Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Tina Turner, James Brown, Simon & Garfunkel, Radiohead, Björk, Villagers etc. Etc
Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?
What would be your dream collaboration?
Vinyl, CD, Download or stream?
Vinyl. Credits, artwork, beautiful sound.
What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?
Dolores Keane singing ‘Caledonia’
Have you ever been starstruck?
All the fuckin time. Anyone who’s really good at something I get really excited. Spinning pizza, making a brick wall, whatever.
What’s your favourite book?
It’s a toss up between 1984 by Orwell and The Twits by Roald Dahl
What’s can people expect from one of your live shows?
I’ll get lost in it. That’s all I can promise. I’m gonna work really hard to make you happy and get lost with me too.
What is your favourite thing about being a musician?
Everything about it. The creativity, the travel, the spontaneity, the people you meet, the concerts, the jams, the collaborations. Every day’s a school day.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to be?
A music therapist, a kids music school teacher, A truck driver
What are your hopes for 2020?
That everything dear to me is happy and healthy
Wallis Bird‘s new album, Woman is out September 27th via Mount Silver Records/Caroline International. For more information and live dates please visit: www.wallisbird.com