A Bird with a Cello
An Interview with Musician Bird
Bird is probably quite unknown in Hungary, but not in the UK. She’s played cello for Emeli Sande and has worked with other musicians across Europe. One of her specialties is to sound like a whole band despite sitting on the stage alone.
When and why did you decide to be a musician/a cellist/a singer? Where does the name ‘Bird’ come from?
I started playing the cello when I was six and just never stopped! I used to always say I picked the name bird, because it is short, easy to say, and it’s also a term boys use for girls in south London where I am from. But I think more about it now, and I realise I’ve always loved birds, they represent freedom for me in the same way my music does. I feel completely free when I write, so for me it’s really a natural name to give my musical self.
Who inspired/inspires you?
Travel-meeting people, listening to people. Everyone has a story and the impact those stories have on me provokes a response that is my music. Not necessarily words, sometimes their story inspires a drum beat, a cello line.
Do you have a songwriting method?
Normally I write the music first. It comes more easily to me, so it seems the natural place to start, although occasionally I come up with a lyric that inspires the music. I record the bare bones into garage band, I use it like a sketch pad, then I go to the studio. It takes an average of two days per song to develop the idea properly.
I can really say that you have a beautiful voice. Have you ever learnt to sing or is it just pure talent?
I’ve never trained like I did with the cello — and drums — but I’ve sung professionally since my early twenties. I used to sing jazz gigs three times a week to practice vocals. That type of music is demanding for a vocalist both sonically and emotionally, so it’s a great practice.
Your first album was welcomed positively. Did you expect such a big success?
No, I was quite surprised. It sounds funny, but I didn’t have any expectations. I write because I can’t imagine not writing and recording music. Luckily enough, people like it allowing me to continue trying to create more of it!
Do you think it is easy to make a career in the field of music as a cellist in the UK or in the world generally?
I’m not sure it’s easy to make a career as a musician playing any instrument! It has to be a thing of passion first and foremost. I was lucky that I played more than one instrument, so I could do different types of session work as a musician before I started recording my own albums. It also helped living in London where there were opportunities to record and play with other artists when I was younger. I learnt a lot and applied that to my own work.
What kind of challenges do you look for?
I’m not sure I look for challenges. They find me, and I try to embrace them. Some are easier than others.
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
As a musician definitely my latest recordings. It’s the first time I have written and played all the instruments on my songs, it’s been a learning curve, but I love every minute spent in the studio.
Are you working on an album now?
Yes, it will be my third: still a work in progress but over half-way there.
I read that you graduated with a BA Hons in Design from University of the Arts. Do you work also as a designer or you mainly focus on your music career?
I took my degree during a break between recording my first and second album, I needed some time-out and I’ve always loved design, but I had no intention of doing design professionally. It was always just for the enjoyment of learning something new and to see how that might influence my music. It did in — unpredictable but interesting ways!
What are your plans?
To finish the next album and release it. I would also love to start playing live again soon.
Is there a chance that we can see you perform in Hungary in the future?
There’s always a chance if I am invited! I’ve been to Budapest only once. I remember going to a beautiful museum near the river and eating a lot of delicious food. I’d be happy to come back!
The interview was first published in August 2013.
Photos: Jakob Tekiela