Birdy has been nominated for a Brit Award, featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack, and has just released her third studio album – and she’s only 20 years old. Abbie Llewelyn meets her.
At 20 years old, Birdy is a similar age to many students, but with 3 albums under her belt and over 10 million records sold worldwide she has not had the most ordinary teenage years. Despite that, she has always given off the impression of being a down-to-earth and humble young woman and when I spoke to her, her genuineness definitely shone through. She was modest, softly-spoken and thought carefully about all the questions posed to her.
Having shot to stardom at the age of 14 with her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love, Birdy went on to produce 3 successful studio albums that tell the story of her journey as a singer-songwriter. She now on tour around Europe, which includes a visit to York Barbican on 4th November.
Birdy, which is a nickname her parents gave her when she was a child, grew up in the countryside and her musicality was heavily influenced by her parents. Her mother was a concert pianist and her father a writer, so her career path seems like a seamless combination of the two. Her mother taught her to play the piano aged 7 and she was writing her own songs by age 8. Born Jasmine van den Bogaerde, she had her first taste of fame after a YouTube video of her performing an original song when she was 12 years old was discovered.covered from a YouTube Video performing an original song when she was 12 years old.
Being offered a publishing deal gave her a few years to develop her song-writing. After her self titled debut album ‘Birdy’,she went onto college and completed nearly a year before dropping out. She said: “I was making my second album at the time and it was just…I was away so much I wasn’t really taking anything in when I was at college. And, you know, I was doing what I loved already.” When asked about whether the decision was a hard one to make she said: “It was quite easy for me. I was more kind of worried that my parents would be like “no you have to stay in college”, but they were actually really supportive. They understand what it’s like to have that passion”. Her second album, Fire Within, which was released in 2013, was one of experimentation and finding out what she really liked in the production of music.
Her latest album, Beautiful Lies, was released in March of this year and it is clear that Birdy’s music and song-writing has grown up with her. Regarding the latest album, she said “It feels a lot more like me all of a sudden”.
Two years ago Birdy moved from Southampton, to London. She describes the move as being “kind of lonely actually at first”, which she says is reflected in the music of her latest album. “My new album is sort of about change and growing up and nostalgic and not really wanting to let go of that really lovely family I had growing up… and some of it is also really hopeful because it’s about me being more independent and realising that I can take control a bit more.”
Birdy describes her song-writing process as being driven by melody. “I’m constantly writing little melodies all day and then if one sticks…there’s usually a lyric or two in there somewhere”. The music comes easily to her, but once she has a tune that’s when she starts forming the words and the meaning around it. “The music comes easier…I love telling stories but it takes me a lot longer, a lot more thought goes into it, a lot more time.” During her tour she is visiting 8 different countries in Europe, but is most excited about the UK dates. “Some of them are near where I grew up which is Southampton, so its going to be a bit strange with old friends turning up!”. She is also coming to York for the first time, having only visited Leeds in the past.
We ended the interview by discussing any advice she would give to young people trying to get into the music industry. Reflecting upon upon her own beginning, she says that she was really just writing and playing music for the love of it, with no agenda. “I think that’s a really important thing to remember – why you do music – and just do it for yourself and you know, always just be as unique as you want to be.”
The third studio album from Birdy blends the flow and calming sounds of the East with catchy pensive lyrics, reminiscent of the early indie acoustic movement in the U.K. Reaching number 4 in the U.K Charts at it’s release, this is a must have for chilled student nights in. Available at most retailers.