British singer-songwriter Jade Bird has been taking the music scene by storm. With the success of her debut EP Something American, released in July of last year, the young artist gained multiple accolades, including a place on the SXSW lineup, a spot opening for Stevie Nicks in Hyde Park, and international TV appearances. Showing no signs of stopping, her latest single ‘Lottery’ has been nominated for the BBC Music Sound of 2018 award.
We caught up with Jade while she was in Australia, to discuss the inspiration behind her music, artists she’d love to work with, and what’s in store for her in 2018.
Music Feeds: How are you finding Australia?
Jade Bird: I mean, I love it, the weather – it’s almost holiday-esque, but I’m working hard [laughs].
MF: What inspired you to start making music?
JB: Music has always been a huge part of my life. My parents used to play a lot of dance music. Music was there from very early. I played classical piano when I was seven or eight, you know with free lessons in school, and I did all my grades and stuff. Then I found the guitar when I was 12 or 13. A family friend played it and I just thought it was the most magical thing!
MF: 2017 seemed like a pretty big year for you, what were your favourite moments from it?
JB: I think ultimate standout would probably be… Well, like, Stephen Colbert was insane! I brought my Grandma and my Mum to New York and they were in the audience. I played with a band for the first time. I remember him turning around and shaking my hand and it was just the most surreal experience. That was just mental!
MF: And you got to play SXSW.
JB: I did! I played it last year and I had this crazy gig on the outskirts. Everyone else had these “showcases”, and I got chucked in this, like this blues bar [laughs]! I went in and there were all these people, like this guy with a hat and a skeleton thing on the middle of a bullet belt playing Johnny Cash covers!
MF: Who are your main inspirations when it comes to writing music?
JB: It changes based on every phase of my song writing. When I was really young I liked this band called Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I also really liked delta blues. Then when I was 14 or 15 I found The Civil Wars, and I remember that being a huge turning point to me. I remember being like ‘Mum, listen to this!’. It’s just beautiful, classic song writing, but in the modern day, I guess. Then there was country. And now it’s more stuff like Alanis Morissette, Patti Smith, these really strong women. I’m kind of fascinated by their perspective and of trying to incorporate it into my own song writing.
You have very powerful, honest lyrics in your songs, are they based around real experiences?
JB: It’s kind of a bit of both. I get really inspired by concepts and words, ultimately. So, ‘Cathedral’, the idea just popped into my head and I had this image of being jilted at the alter like ‘wah, screw you!’ But ‘Lottery’, the new single I have out now, you know the chorus wasn’t necessarily related, but the verses threaded throughout is a real conversation I had. Number Four Ferdinand Street was a blues bar I played in in London when I was sixteen, where we sat down and had that conversation that you have with an ex. So, it’s a complete half and half, I’d say.
MF: If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?
JB: I mean, from a production point of view, Jack White. I feel like he’s so on his own wave, it’s fascinating to me. So I’d say right Jack White… or Phoebe Bridges is great as well, I love her song writing. I think her album is great, I’ve played that again and again.
MF: What are you planning to see while you’re in Australia?
JB: Well I’m gonna go and see the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition. Every time I go to New York I want to catch that exhibition, so I’m definitely going to go see that.
MF: What have you got planned for the rest of 2018?
JB: The album is very much underway, I’ve got a couple of tours when I get back, but yeah, it’ll be finishing this album. I’d say I’m about eighty per cent of the way through it and I’ve written most of the songs for it. So, I think at the end of this year the album will come out, or the start of next year.
MF: In what ways is the album different from the previous songs you’ve released?
JB: Well the context of the album, obviously I can’t give too much away, but it kind of bridges everything together. I think the way the album is different is because every song shows a little bit of a different side. Like, there’s not one song on there that is a rip off of another. I’m really proud of it and it’ll be a body of work, almost!