Andrew Bird - Bird In The Hand
Author: Jane Stabler
Friday, 14 December 2007
Since the age of four, when he first belted out a number on a makeshift violin, Andrew Bird has been doing things a little differently. Now an internationally revered lyricist and multi-instrumentalist within the indie-pop-folk genres, Bird’s talent for doing things his way has led to the release of nine albums, and a global following of his unconventional sound and style.
Bird’s sound has been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley, and while he admits that is a compliment, like most of us he would still prefer to be incomparable to others that have gone before.
“Of course I would prefer to be synonymous with myself,” he reveals, “and there’s been like six or seven names thrown around, all of whom I have respect for, but that’s kind of from the point of view of a music fan. They’re going to look at it that way, but looking at other white guys trying to sing really pretty – that’s not what I try to be like.”
Growing up playing a Casio keyboard and Albanian music, Bird’s career plays out like a story. “The way I look at it, I started making records when I was about twenty two, twenty three and I was still in a student phase,” Bird remembers. “I was in love with my record collection and a lot of writers start that way. You think ‘I’m going to try and do something that’s nearly as good.’ For me it was early jazz, and Latin music that I was enamoured with. Over time I kept getting greedier with the song writing process.”
Bird’s song writing abilities are also starting to receive increasing attention in their own right. Whilst his fame grew due to his unconventional violin playing, his focus is now shifting. “I think I’m getting known as a songwriter more now than before. I did put more emphasis on the violin before and now I’ll go and record a song and won’t even put the violin on there and someone will ask ‘where’s the violin’ but it doesn’t occur to me to include it. I play it because it’s fun and it’s the easiest way for me to communicate, but I’m just as happy to write a song on a guitar. I came around to writing pop songs because that’s the most gratifying and challenging thing I can do.”
A natural performer, Bird is looking forward to his shows in Australia. “I do prefer the stage to the studio.” he considers. “It’s a very honest situation. I feel very comfortable on stage. Once I step onstage on stage it’s the first time in the whole day I get fresh air. I like the situation of performing. It’s the exceptional and the best of everything in life. I like that rapport with the audience. Sometimes I talk to the audience and am more laid back than with people in my life.”
WHO: Andrew Bird
WHAT: Plays the Famous Spiegeltent for Sydney Festival
WHEN: 6-8 January
MORE: andrewbird.net / sydneyfestival.org.au