Name: Wallis Bird
Occupations: Singer, songwriter
Nationality: Irish
Current Release: Wallis Bird's new album Hands is slated for release in May 2022 (Pre-order here). The first single off that release, "What's Wrong With Changing?", is already available.
Recommendations: Book: Dervela Murphy: Full Tilt. An Irish (waterford) woman cycles from Ireland to India alone in the 70’s. She’s a fuckkng living hero. A real one.
Piece of Music: Gerry O’Beirne’s album ‘Swimming The Horses’. It is everything he is, wistful, deft, alive, playing to the wild landscape of the Atlantic Ocean.

If you enjoyed this interview with Wallis Bird, visit her official website. Stay connected with her on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I’ve had a guitar in my hands since I was a toddler and I’ve been creating my music ever since. I began writing songs very early, as a kid, kids songs about the moon and the sun in the same sky, or kids nursery songs. I could sing you back the songs to this day. I remember the feeling of being a child sitting on the grass, singing to the moon and the sun and feeling like having these songs was like having a new friend and that I felt very safe and comforted.

An obsession with recording / layering productions began with recording onto a tape recorder at the age of 6. I was hooked the moment I heard our voices back. My brother and I had a radioshow and we sang songs. Then when he was away I was recording entire albums onto tape for my friends. I remember I was making 3 tapes at a time and it was becoming too time consuming so I began duplicating on my father’s double deck.

At 12 I bought a Tascam 4track tape recorder, and I saved up with my friends Eugene and Paul to record our first time in a real studio. We needed a piano player but didn’t have one so I jumped in, we needed a bass player & didn’t have one, so I jumped in, we needed drums … you get the gist - I just wanted full band sounds but we didn’t have anyone to do it, so I just did it myself. And it was so satisfying.

In the studio I will never forget ‘seeing’ my music as a WAV form on a screen, and how the engineer edited my drum fuck up - it sent me into space! It’s just been a series of learning, doing courses and developing ever since!

Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?

I imagine landscapes and environments. The songs become places for me. Sometimes the scenery changes but every now and again I’ll hear a song I haven’t heard for years and I’m directly back in the scenario in my head, a rainy city street at night, sat by a babbling brook, that kind of thing.

Lovely question, no one ever asked me anything like that!

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I always say “Every day’s a school day”. Each mistake, each tiny development is a win. For this exact reason I’ve learned that to create with a free heart and an fearless drive is the very least I should offer my art.

I see every reaction or emotion I feel towards my work as something to listen to and develop from. That’s why throughout my whole career I’ve never done the same thing twice, the genre always away, the tempo and the temperature is natural and carnal.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

These are great questions! My identity is a vulnerable thing to explain out loud but fuck it, it’s good to feel embarrassed sometimes!

I aim to be natural, passionate, a listener, youthful, consistently searching and investing in myself, the people I love and my art. I work very hard to maintain that standard of identity. Before I would have shouted it to be heard and even to be loved. But the last 5 or 6 years I’m very pleased and relaxed with myself. Most likely because I did the work.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

On a personal level self reflection and self improvement comes first because my subject matter is about social reflection now. I must know myself to be able to stand behind the mottos and opinions I hold. I’m an avid promoter that art should be free from commercial draw. Art tastes shit when it follows the fame. Just be yourself, and push yourself, dissect and love your art.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

In some ways it doesn't matter what I think in this instance because everyone does their own thing anyway, because it’s the law of nature to create with or without thought.

In terms of the future of music, I will try all I can to press the idea of re-valuating ‘free’ streaming. As well as it murdering the industry (I don’t have a big gripe with that, but what I do have a problem with is the knock on effects), commercialism and capitalism are murdering art, radio is homogenising, it’s near impossible for new artists to have a full time job in music. It’s almost survivalism in cities especially, where the most artistic circles convene.

But I feel that shifting at the moment. The next generation artists making music, coming from this ‘free’ background will also want a slice of the touring and studio pie, the artistic dream to travel and share your art,  so they will bring back the musical economy.  

In terms of tradition, the sooner new artists stop singing cheap lines over quick written melodies to try get a play in radio, and the sooner radios stop selling their playlists to free streaming, and the sooner people begin treating music as a social reflection and dissection, the better. It’s a nasty circle at the moment, but I believe I’m going to see a resurgence of craft in songwriting in my lifetime.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Well, guitar is my lifeline. It’s like an extension of me at this point since I have one over my shoulder since I was a toddler. I adore instruments, machinery and technology. Trumpet can sound like a human singing, accordion sounds like lungs breathing, flute sounds like thoughts, drums can make you shit your pants! Grab everything, try everything, drop what’s not working, but try it all.
I’m a believer that a song should need only a voice to carry everything, timing, melody, harmony, story. For the last bunch of years I pare my songs back to just the voice to see if they explain themselves. That’s the mark of a good song: If I can sing it unaccompanied. It’s the very essence of music. A voice and the body tapping or pulsing a beat.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

If it’s a good day I’ll stay in bed with an idea for hours. Then I’ll take a fleshed out bed idea and head in PJs down the hall to my home studio and record, record, record for hours until it’s time to have a tea and give my girlfriend a kiss, maybe make some lunch together, then chill, catch up on the outside world, check in with my team, maybe get dressed, maybe not. Do some work. Make some dinner with Tracey, have the chats. Then get back to creating, if it’s still a good day I’ll do that till the early hours of the morning and repeat for days.

Sometimes I forget to get dressed at all.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that;s particularly dear to you, please?

Well like I say, I’ll record record record until I’m happy with a piece, then I’ll meet my team of co-producers and we flesh and distill the work together until we’re happy with it. Most times we have a deadline for that which helps!

Live performances for me are a high energy affair so I have to prepare my physical fitness for months before a tour, cardio and vocal fitness must be at a high or else I get angry at myself for not having made the effort. That’s the very least I can do considering this is my job and people should expect the highest effort from me if they bought a ticket.

I love making the effort for my performance and my recording. They are so important because you only get one chance at them. Every show has the possibility to change your world, your life and every show has the possibility to do the same for someone else. That to me is a duty I’m proud of and responsible for.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

To be honest this is changing at the moment in a huge way for me. I used to be quite controlling over what goes on my records, no one touched a lyric or chord, and usually didn’t play unless I could.

But since the last record I’m proud to say that I’ve worked hard to be far less precious and hand my most prized space over to others, allow others to input and offer their soul, change things up for me and I’m delighted to say that I’m open to creative influence and I’ve learned more in the last year than I have in 20. It’s a game changer.

Also, I’m jamming with people more, that’s been so uplifting!

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

Whatever I think about my own personal work, I believe that we all do what we do for reasons, and that absolutely everything, graffiti, not cleaning up your dogshit, driving early to work, watching waves roll at sunset alone, affects us all, creates the life story. All of life has a sound and a tempo, a timbre and a frequency felt or imagined.

Music is vibration, it is air swinging and rippling through the liquid of us all, through the Earth, the algae, the whistle of wind. Everything is a song.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

The first time I had sex was to OK Computer, the first time I kissed a girl was right after I sang a song, my parents dancing in the kitchen last year sealed my love for partnership, any time I hear a steady foot tapping I immediately boogy.

People cry uncontrollably to a song, especially played live, especially now after the lockdown. I bawled my eyes out to Viktor Mann’s painting ‘Pink Chair’ a couple years ago.

It celebrates us as groups or individuals and punctuates and punctures us, like some invisible puppetry.

There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

Jacob Collier is a wonderful mainstream loveable professor for music science and the emotional connection. Watch any talks he has, I won’t even begin to talk about that because I failed maths in school - I have no theory, can’t read or script music, don’t know what chords I’m playing. All I know is that music is physical and psychological and the two are tangibly linked and being thankfully proofed so that we can stop second guessing the fact.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldnt or wouldnt in more mundane tasks?

Oooooh! This is another lovely question. I love cleaning, I did it with my mother for years as a job and there’s very little I consider mundane because (again to harp on about the effect cause vibe) everything is linked. Someone who takes pride in cleaning a sick person’s desperate spoils has rhyme and beauty in the same way that a drummer makes a person scream with joy.

To me it is inner peace with the task, and occasionally being ‘seen’ for your efforts.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

Ah lads, you just wrote what I wrote!!! I am tripping with your interview! I actually would love to hear what you have to say about it … would you care to elaborate please, petal? X