Jade Bird has just delivered the biggest understatement Music Week has heard in quite some time. “I’m actually quite an upbeat person,” says the 20-year-old Northumberland singer, whose sentences are delivered in an excitable blur. Bird’s sunny demeanour is particularly notable given she’s just played nine shows in four days at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, where she landed straight from a UK tour. After our conversation, she’ll fly to upstate New York to finish cutting her debut album with producer Simone Felice somewhere near Woodstock. Then, she’ll hit the road in the US.
“I’m getting to the point where I’ve got an album in the bag, that’s probably why I’m feeling so happy!” she reasons. “I’ve got the concept, the title and the songs. I’m really excited, this album is going to be a plateau of all the sides of me, a proper reflection.” Woodstock makes sense for Jade Bird, whose poppy Americana has the dirt of country under its fingernails and a folky spring in its step. Bird moved frequently as a child, thanks to her father’s position in the army, and has drawn lyrical inspiration from the break-up of her parents, after which she settled in Wales with her mother. “When I was younger things weren’t always peachy,” she explains. “I gigged, doing horrible competitions that were pretty demoralising, in pubs and clubs where no one cared. I’ve worked really hard, I’ve got a lot more to do but I’m having the best time of my life.”
At the heart of Bird’s satisfaction is her music: she takes justifiable pride in her songs’ hardiness. “It’s my heart and soul every time I get on stage,” she says, adding that she holds Patti Smith and Alanis Morissette in high esteem. “I’m inspired by getting something across in my own way, lyrics that no one else could write, I love that. Words that are true to you.” Bird set free the first example of her talents with last year’s Something American EP, released via Glassnote. It pricked enough ears to land her a place on the BBC’s Sound Of 2018 list, and things have been getting busier ever since.
“I feel really confident going into this phase, because I’ve got more and more material to release and I hope I can develop the relationships that I’m making more and more,” she says. “More people get on board with each step I make artistically, so that’s a really positive sign.” Bird dreams of one day “playing 10,000-capacity rooms around the world,” but for now, she’s ecstatic to be on stage full stop. “It’s the absolute dream, playing songs you write and people loving them, it doesn’t get better than that.”