Jade Bird finds unique passion in the American music scene.
It’s difficult to these days to be hopeful about anything American, but Jade Bird finds excitement in the American music scene. The 21-year-old, British songwriter born Jade Elizabeth Bird has an affinity for American songwriters, and is working to keep her work porous and evolving. She is currently opening for Hozier on tour, and will have a stop in New Orleans at the Fillmore Wednesday, March 27.
Being from the UK, her work serves as a survey of what she considers Americana’s best. She’s inspired by people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but has lately been listening to riot grrrl bands, Cherry Glazerr, and Kurt Vile. Stylistically, her music draws from these influences, but thematically she veers away from Americana sentimentality. She doesn’t want to simply repeat her influences, or even herself. Bird says, “I think it’s definitely in my nature to constantly try to defy expectations. I hate people putting me in a box.”
She is proud of the imperfections and subtleties in her work and takes a fast and loose approach to songwriting. She records her songs essentially live and moves on if they’re not done in one or two takes. Her confidence in her work, and the trust she has in it to stand on its own keeps her from polishing and perfecting until the work no longer feels honest. “If it feels right, quite often it is,” she says.
Her debut album, Jade Bird, is due for release April 19, and the songs she’s already released are diverse and powerful in their own respects. “My Motto” shows a personal, vulnerable side, while “I Get No Joy” is fiery and lets listeners know she’s holding her ground in the scene.
“I’m definitely playing a more long-term game by releasing a lot of different music,” Bird says. “I have so many dimensions to me as a songwriter and an artist, it wouldn’t make any sense to keep releasing the same type of song.”
Bird’s confidence in her work is the power behind it. She writes all of her songs herself and is adamant about making that known. She was always disappointed to learn that her favorite artists hadn’t written their own songs, and she wants her work to come from herself entirely. “I often think that a lot of songs nowadays get a little bit diluted by the co-writing process," Bird says.. "You need some uniqueness in the tones of your songs."
While Bird does not rely on industry feedback to make her music, she cares about fan feedback to make sure that it lands. “Whenever I write initially, it’s just me and an acoustic guitar,” Bird says, but she performs everything live before deciding to record it. “I tried all my songs out on in front of an audience, in a live environment...I just really value their opinion.” She cares about the relationship between musician and listener and views it as a reciprocal exchange of energy.
Bird is particularly moved by American crowds and the energy they give performers. She recently received a standing ovation in Buffalo, a feat extremely rare for an opening act, and this type of passion for the music is something she sees as unique to American fans.
“Smaller places around the U.S., people are music lovers, and they’ll buy your record, and they’ll shake your hand," Bird says. "They just have this respect, and I give so much respect back.”
This relationship between artist and listener is mutually beneficial. As Americans, apathy is an easy route to take, but Jade Bird finds points of excitement and authenticity, and fans return her energy back. She is a reminder, especially for young women, that music is a place to give and receive and grow from.
“In America, you guys have a really strong indie, female scene--you know, girls with guitars," Bird says. "I just hope young females can see that and think, Well, why the hell can’t I do that? because that’s exactly what I did when I was a kid. I just hope so many people watch me and do the same.”