Everybody has been forced to adapt during the pandemic, and no matter who you are, life is starkly different to one we knew at the start of 2020. Rewinding to a life pre-Covid and Jade Bird had become accustomed to living out of a suitcase. It was a scenario that developed after spending four years glued to the road, then suddenly, for the first time in her adult life, she had time to work on herself as a person instead of solely an artist.
After a few months spent twiddling her thumbs, Bird headed out to Nashville to get to work on her highly anticipated second album.
Following the joyous experience of creating Different Kinds Of Light at RCA Studios, Bird fell in love with Texas so intensely that she made the bold decision – alongside her partner – to move permanently to the state and, from that moment, she hasn’t looked back since.
Over the last year, Bird embedded herself within the famous Texan scene and is living out her Americana-shaped fantasy in Austin. While the 23-year-old’s eponymous 2019 debut saw the singer-songwriter dealing with her own personal demons, Bird is now in an immeasurably more content place, and her joy sparkles on Different Kinds Of Light.
Having time away from life on the road – and having some stability – has allowed Bird to let her music take a backseat. From an artistic perspective, the last eighteen months have been challenging in what is a severely contrasting story from a human standpoint for the singer-songwriter.
Last summer, having headed stateside to Nashville to record Different Kinds Of Light, travel restrictions meant that Bird had a two-week stay in a quarantined hotel in Mexico en-route. Here, ideas for songs began flooding out of her, and six tracks that Bird wrote within those four walls appear on the upcoming album. “The strangeness of the situation and the alienness of being in Mexico City allowed me to write some pretty free stuff,” Bird tells Far Out over Zoom from her Austin abode.
“I never underestimate what a few months can do in terms of your growth as a human and also creatively,” Bird self-deprecatingly added. “I just think my songwriting seemed to leap forward, and I never, ever, write at home or anything, then I was writing every day. Everything I write at home is just meh and no use.”
For an artist who can’t work at home, being stuck with no place else to go for months on end at the start of the pandemic would seemingly be a troubling experience. Although the break is something that she’d never have entered voluntarily, unexpectedly, it has proven to be an unquantifiably beneficial period for Bird in the long run.
“I feel reluctant to say it because it was such a hard time for a lot of people, and I don’t underestimate the mental health kind of scares people have had, but it was really nice,” Bird says about the pandemic. “For me, it was very needed. I felt I was rushing off my own accord. I never know how to say no, I never know when to stop, my voice has to literally leave the building for me to cancel anything.”
Bird frankly added: “It was also growth as a human. You find a lot of artists, especially in a pop sentiment, who end up quite young in their heads because it’s not real life. It can stunt you as a person in your empathy, immaturity, and just in general. I can’t even tell you how much this year was needed for me, just to be Jade.”
In truth, the 23-year-old has always lived a nomadic lifestyle. The singer grew up in a Military family that took her from Northumberland to Germany via London before settling in Bridgend with her mother following her parent’s marriage ending. At 16, she returned to London and got a place at the esteemed Brit School, which has helped mould talents such as Adele, Loyle Carner, Kate Nash, and King Krule, to name but a few. After arriving in London, Bird played every gig she could possibly find, and this is where she truly honed her craft.
Since landing a deal with Glassnote Records in 2017, Bird has been touring across Europe and America relentlessly. This is becoming an all-too-rare trait among contemporary artists who, in modern music, prefer to focus on building online fanbases rather than burning rubber in a cramped van and following the well-travelled, old-school blueprint. The road is simply in Bird’s blood.
“A lot of artists I really admire had military families or families that moved a lot like Kris Kristofferson, Brandi Carlile, or Elvis,” Bird reflected. “There are so many artists who have that upbringing and, I think it must have something to do with it feeling more comfortable. The minute I get a chance to get on a plane, or move to America in the middle of a pandemic, or do something that’s just insane, I do it. I think that must come from feeling no ties to anywhere but my family.”
Following her relocation to America, Bird couldn’t resist the chance to travel around her new homeland and, in May, she set foot on her Little Southern tour for a run of socially distanced dates. After more than a year away from the stage, it was these shows that allowed Jade Bird to fall back in love with performing. It was just her and an acoustic guitar, which sent Bird on a trip down memory lane.
“It was acoustic, and that’s where I thrive,” Bird says with a glistening smile. “It was just me, the audience, and an open conversation. It’s where I feel most in my element, so it was incredible to get back on the road and just play with no pressure. It was super fun.”
Bird isn’t feeling the stresses of life right now, and second-album syndrome needn’t be a worry for her. Different Kinds Of Light is a constant beam of joy, which is a world away from the tone of her debut. With that in mind, no song on the album signifies her recently adopted glass half full approach more than ‘Now Is The Time’, a track that is simply bursting with positivity. Bird is no longer frightened of love, and diving two feet into it has allowed her whole worldview to shift 180 degrees.
“I want people to hear the ambition and what I’m trying to do,” Bird comments about Different Kinds Of Light. “I’m just trying to get one step closer to the great songwriters I love, and I hope people can hear that. It’s a lot about falling in love. With my first album, I had such conservations, and I really thought I was doomed because of my family’s history of the failed romances. This (Different Kinds Of Light) is about the realisation that I’m not doomed and how to get through that realisation as a young woman.”
“I feel more comfortable now,” Bird adds when discussing her relationship with songwriting. “I feel like I’ve earned the tag ‘artist’, which I never felt through the whole of my first record. These times are strange, but I think that’s more to do with the reliance on social media, which I find really tough because I don’t know how to compete with that. If you put me on a line-up and give me 60 minutes, then I know I can do well, but 15 seconds?”
Bird continued: “It feels like a million people are trying to be viral at once, which is really scary. I’m going to keep doing it in a traditional way. I love going to merch. I love signing things. I love seeing people and talking to them about their lives,” she says with vigour.
Her refusal to follow the pack and do what is expected from a 23-year-old artist is admirable. Bird has stayed true to her guns in an artistic sense by making the music she loves and refusing to take any shortcut to success. Instead, she’s here to enjoy the journey.
Bird’s confidence and zealous lust-for-life are infectious on Different Kinds Of Light. The involuntary recess from the fast lane has permitted Bird to swap airports and homogeneous hotel bars for a calmer life, one that oozes personal and professional maturity.
Like the songwriters that Bird grew up admiring, she writes anecdotally about her own experience. While her debut paints a gloomy picture of what her life was formerly like, the euphoric Different Kinds Of Light maintains the honest spirit of its predecessor, yet, the tale of the two albums couldn’t be any more disparate.
The blissful record sees Bird open her heart out to love, and that newfound courage extends has helped her create a gorgeous sun-kissed album handcrafted for summer loving.
Different Kinds Of Light arrives on August 13th via Glassnote Records. To purchase a copy, and more information about Jade Bird’s 2022 UK tour, visit here.