Little Bird, big heart
Approaching 30 has Wallis Bird ‘wanting to nest’, but she still plans to tear the house down at her upcoming shows, she tells Tony Clayton-lea
THE VERY FIRST thought is this: how can someone so small carry such a large guitar case? One hour later and you realise that Wallis Bird has, throughout her life, been carrying baggage far heavier than big protective casings for musical instruments.
Yet Bird seems an adept, practical sort, even though she confesses to feeling the need to “chop and change” things in her life on a regular basis. “It runs through my psyche,” she reluctantly admits over a reasonably early morning cup of tea in a tucked-away Italian cafe in Dublin. She is en route to catch a late morning flight to London, following her support slot with Rodrigo y Gabriela at Dublin’s Olympia, so she’s half clock-watching, half relaxing.
“I’m terrible at holding onto things – people, friends. We have intense periods of where we see each other every day for two weeks and then we may never see each other again. Intense relationships and then they’re gone, so moving around seeps into everything I do.”
She admits that such character traits can play serious fun’n’games with her personal life, but coming up to the grand old age of 30 is, she says, instilling into her “a sense of wanting to nest, of having somewhere nice to come home to. Prior to feeling like this, however, I didn’t really care – I just left everybody behind to pursue what I wanted to do.”
To date, Bird has pursued life and her music and what she wanted with no small level of smarts and style; there’s a runt-of-the-litter look about her, for sure, but there’s also a strong pulse of achievement and self-assertion pounding out a beat you can almost hear.
She says she can’t recall a time when she didn’t want to do music. “I was given a guitar as a baby and I assumed it was a toy, always taking it with me as a kind of comforter. I remember writing songs in the garden and singing them to myself, and feeling some sort of power or some kind of instant process happening.”