Following the acclaim of 2019’s poignant Woman, Irish born/Berlin based artist Wallis Bird has now released her seventh studio album, Hands. Showcasing Bird’s unique, vibrant brand of alt-pop – combining fizzing ’80s-inspired blissful soundscapes with an empowering energy and stirring sentiment -, it reflects heartfelt and resonant themes with a raw emotion, delivered through an uplifting, cinematic musicality.
We caught up with Bird to find out more about the album; her live shows; her thoughts on the music industry today, and more. Have a read, and make sure you take a listen to the stirring sounds of Hands at the earliest opportunity!
Hi Wallis Bird! Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hiya, I’m Wallis. I’m intelligent, funny, very handsome and talented. Most of all I’m humble. Everything else is wiki.
Are you able to tell us a bit about how and why you initially started creating music?
Before I could talk I was whistling, before I could stand I got my first guitar. I’ve been writing songs since before I knew what songs were, so it’s actually been something I’ve followed my whole life without question. I wrote my first song as a toddler and I distinctly remember the feeling of comfort and excitement it gave me to sing a lullaby or poem. At around eleven I realised that my friends were singing my songs and since then I suppose I’ve been writing with others in mind, to gather people socially or for posterity. I’ve realised in the last decade that my music is there to inspire, and encourage solutions and conversation through respect and patience and positivity.
We love your vibrant yet gritty pop-infused sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
As a baby it was Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Sharon Shannon, Rory Gallagher, as a teen it was Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple. As an adult it was Björk, Radiohead, Villagers, classical. Nowadays I’m leaning towards jamming again and writing for comfort and collaboration.
You released your seventh album Hands earlier this year… Are you able to tell us a bit about it? Are there any particular themes that run throughout it?
Spiritual connection, asking for and offering help, the unknown future, exciting and terrifying new beginnings, giving up alcohol and going to therapy, adulting. Obsession and control, and taking care that it doesn’t own me. It’s in support of migrants and defiance of racism. Positivity and powerful vulnerability, and wanting to fucking sweat dance.
Being based in Berlin, do you get to see lots of live music? Would you say it’s recovered since the pandemic?
It finally has, but only in the last two months. Usually Berlin crowds are either tough as fuck, or wild and welcoming, but they seem to have lost their critical edge and are just extremely happy to see their favourite artist on stage again. It’s a golden age at the moment!
And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Tonnes of power. Power power power. I can’t ever tame it or hide it, it always comes out. Ugh!
How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and queer/LGBTQ+ artists?
I feel that new artists are defining the industry because there seemed to be no love for them, so they did it their way and are now defining the industry under their terms – it is revolutionary, and the labels are having to catch up. I love it. It has bred new and exciting artists who are fully aware of and in control of their worth and not taking any less than that – which hasn’t happened in my time on this earth. I’m all for it! In terms of queer artists, man I’m so excited at the normalised lyrics of same sex relationships in stories, something previously disguised and dangerous in my short lifetime. Across all genres, even the known homophobic genres like modern hip-hop or trap specifically, it’s just so powerful to see people laying their heart out in this vulnerable way. To be vulnerable takes the most strength, I love where the youth is going. Healing with abandon.
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists you’re loving right now that you’d recommend, we check out?
Síomha just released her debut album, Infinite Space, made over two years with the people from Vulfpeck. Irish traditional mixed with NY ’80s pop jazz cats – it’s deep and relentless in its adventures. Caoi De Barra is my bandmate and she’s just released a beautiful EP called Thicket – think private R&B Jeff Buckley Sin-è sessions. And I can highly recommend Landers – hi-fi lo-tunes from atmospheric jazz nerds.
What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
A ton! I don’t know about you, but it’s as if life happened all at once again. I’m renovating a farm house I bought with five other people and I’m also going on a European tour with my band for three months from September on (tickets are at wallisbird.com/live) It’s all nice things!
Massive thanks to Wallis Bird for taking the time to answer our questions!
Hands, the latest album from Wallis Bird, is out now via Virgin Records / Mount Silver Records.