Photo: courtesy of Glassnote Records
Jade Bird Talks Empowering Female Fans & Upcoming Tour With Father John Misty
"There are a lot of things [going on] in America [that make me] feel passionate about being able to give young women the strength and make them feel empowered," says British performer Jade Bird about how her passion for young womens' experiences comes together with her music on her recent visit to the Recording Academy.
"Since becoming 21 and playing these shows, [I've realized] that the message in my songs can relate [to young women] in a way because it's my life as a young woman," she continues.
Before launching her debut self-titled album in April, the Americana singer/songwriter's 2017 EP Something American and singles were enough to land her on several "Artists To Watch In 2019" lists, including for the New York Times and Nylon. She's hit the road with GRAMMY winners Brandi Carlile and Hozier, and in the fall she'll tour the U.S. with more golden gramophone winners: Father John Misty and Jason Isbell.
The Recording Academy sat down with Bird to talk the meaning behind her debut, her upcoming tour with Misty and Isbell, her love of jumpsuits, and what she's passionate about outside of music.
My parents always kind of played music and then when I was about seven or eight there were free piano lessons in school. So I was like, I'll go and see about that and then I started studying piano. But then when I was about 12 or 13, my grandma had the acoustic guitar. For a while she was learning kind of... well, she wasn't really learning, but a family friend picked it up and kind of introduced me to chords and a few bands like Mazzy Star and The Civil Wars, and just a few bands that came into my life, but I most liked the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And I kind of got a little bit obsessed with the blues after that. So I started digging back to Son House, all the while trying to learn it on the dining room floor. So since then I started gigging when I was 14 and the rest is history.
Your debut album is out now. How does it feel to have that out?
It's interesting because you're left without any more songs to release, so then you've got to start immediately writing the next to feel safe again. It's fantastic. I'm so glad everyone can get an idea of who I am, not just by a certain dimension like guitar or piano. It's this culmination of work, so I'm pretty thrilled to have it out.
What does the album specifically mean to you?
This album is kind of like your biography in a way because it's everything to do with my life. It's naturally self-indulgent, I say, because your debut is always about yourself. So [for] every song I can imagine where I was, who I was with, who I was writing it about. And that's pretty special to have the memories in your head of good times and bad.
You're going to start a tour with Father John Misty and Jason Isbell. What are you most looking forward to?
I am a huge, huge fan of them both as artists. I love both their catalogs. Some of my favorite songs... "Elephant" by Jason Isbell, is just the most beautiful track I've ever heard. And Father John Misty, all his albums contain some of the best lyrics, I think, that have been written. So I'm just really looking forward to actually sticking around and watching their set and just playing in front of other crowds. It's a lot of outdoor shows. I don't play them apart from festivals. So, we'll see.
You're just starting your career, but I'm curious, what's been the most challenging aspect of it all so far?
I mean there's this kind of... not to talk about memes, but there is one that's kind of like a guy walking across the street going, "Yeah, I'm so great," [while] banging a drum. And then he's in bed kind of going, 'Oh, God, I hate my life." And I think the keeping of your self-esteem to a certain level you can create with, is probably the hardest thing. Because you kind of go through these things where you think everything's great and it could be the best it could possibly be, or everything's terrible. I guess that's just being a bit manic of a person. Every kind of artist I think you find is a little bit like that. So, probably finding calm.
What's something outside of music that you really care about?
It depends in what sense outside of music. Like, hobbies? I love writers and I love books. But something I feel really passionate about is probably just other young women. I think, especially since becoming 21 and playing these shows, and realizing that the message in my songs can relate in a way because it's my life as a young woman, basically, so there's a lot of things in American right now that I feel passionate about. Being able to give young women the strength and make them feel empowered; that's something I really care about.
You're a fan of jumpsuits. What do you like about them? Will we be seeing them as your merch any time soon?
I guess I was never really into fashion and I kind of just put on whatever's in the cupboard. And I think I found jumpsuits and it felt, like my friend says, like power dressing. And you just feel so confident when you just... because there's no ripples or anything. You can just zip it up and there you are. And I think being a kind of small individual, petite, 5'3", jumpsuits are just the perfect thing for me. And they will go out on merch very soon. I'm working on it, because the red jumpsuit's become a bit of a thing for me.
Awesome. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
No. I guess the only thing I'd probably like to say is that fans can expect new music sooner rather than later. Hopefully this side of the year. I'm really passionate about writing more for them.