Birdy Interview: British Songstress Talks New Album, Touring With Christina Perri + More [EXCLUSIVE]
Many teenagers go about their carefree lives just posting photos on Instagram, checking their friends’ relationship statuses and watching the latest teen dramas on the CW. However, that isn’t the case with 17-year-old singer-songwriter Birdy, who chatted with PopCrush before she hits the road opening for Christina Perri.
Birdy started garnering national and international attention when she released a haunting cover of indie folk favorite Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ in 2011. The Hampshire, England, native was just 14 when her version of ‘Skinny Love’ climbed the UK singles chart. After releasing her debut self-titled album the same year, which included covers of Ed Sheeran, Phoenix and the Postal Service, Birdy will drop her new disc, ‘Fire Within,’ on June 3, but will have three new tracks before that included on the upcoming soundtrack for ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ a guaranteed tear-jerker.
You’re currently on tour with Christina Perri, which is the first time you’ve opened for anyone. Are you learning about the business from Christina or new ways to approach making music?
Well I’m definitely a big fan of her music, and for her to release a new album I think is wonderful. I’m actually looking forward to talking to her a bit more and learning about her experiences.
You had the honor of performing at the 2012 London Paralympics opening ceremony. That had to be one of the most nerve-wracking moments of your life, considering you were in front of a global audience.
Yeah. I mean, moreso when you’re on something that small [stage] and can see everyone. The Paralympics is scary but I don’t think I’m as nervous as I would be for a small show. It was beautiful with all the colors and you couldn’t really see anything [laughs].
Despite being so young, you have this classic soul about you that shows in your music. Whether it’s your interpretation of another artist’s track or original work, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot in your life already.
[Laughs] Yeah, it has been crazy. Most songs I’ve written are about things that have happened around me. Definitely from the last two years of my experiences and the people I’ve met. In a way I think it’s definitely expressing myself on what these songs feel like.
You gained a following after releasing a string of beautiful covers. Obviously ‘Skinny Love’ is what brought the initial attention, but your covers of Ed Sheeran, the xx, Naked and Famous and Phoenix further developed your fan base. Were you worried about doing too many covers and risking losing your own individuality?
Well, I’ve always written my own songs. I’ve never done covers written before so it was kind of weird to experience. That can be annoying when people are saying that I just do covers. That’s why I’ve been working on this album for such a long time and it’s coming out soon. Hopefully people will like what I’m writing. I learned so much from doing the covers.
Watch Birdy’s ‘Skinny Love’ Video
How do you balance your music career and being a normal girl going to school?
I was going to school at least during the first album and kind of recording the second album. I mean, I definitely miss being at college and to be with all my friends. It’s nice to be in that cycle. But I recently put it on hold. I’m not in college anymore and just concentrating on music. That’s what I want to do.
YouTube was a big reason why so many people around the world became aware of your music. Do you think it would have been harder, or at least taken longer, for your career to take off before the Internet and social media became so commonplace?
It definitely would have been harder. I mean, it was a video on YouTube which someone from the record company [Warner Music] happened to see. It was one video that I put up back when I was 12, and it went from there really. ‘Skinny Love’ was next on YouTube, so yeah, it’s been a huge part on how I started.
How personally active are you on social media?
I joke that I’m not very good at it. But I try to be on my Instagram and just posting, especially on this tour. It’s been amazing. I have so many selfies [laughs].