SPOTLIGHT: Jade Bird on Breaking Out of Little Boxes
Photo by Colin Lane
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jade Bird is No Depression‘s Spotlight artist for August. Read more about her and her new album, Different Kinds of Light, here.
I think we live in a world that likes to package things in little boxes. I think it makes it easier to digest — when in reality my life feels like such a squiggly line, no heading or slogan to really tell the story. Instead it’s album after album of unpacking, some released and some not. I give so much credit to those that get a lot out of my songs as I feel they are probably like me: human in every way, unique and indescribable by algorithm or age.
In brief, I moved around a lot until the age of 7. After my parents divorced, I moved to a very small town in Wales for 8 or so years with my grandma and Mum, and began following the residue of things I was too young to understand ever since.
It makes sense to me that my art (songwriting) does anything but allow itself to be defined. Whether it’s writing a blazing riff one minute or a gut-wrenching ballad the next, just like the feelings I pour into them, they refuse to be compartmentalized any longer.
I’ve often thought of making myself an easy one-bite “Americana angel” or “indie Brit,” but it’s not a reflection of me, I’m a bit like a compass on the moon.
The only thing to do is to write down the searing highs and musically analyze the agonizing lows, and stand back to see what colors that’s evolved into.
I think my instrument knows how dark it’s got before I really do, “I Get No Joy” written six months before a bit of a mental reset. A recent turn to the grey songs before personal reconstructing. You can’t really explain the magic of the subconscious until it starts to soundtrack your future.
It can also write me out of bad phases, “Different Kinds of Light” being the ultimate premonition for a blaze out of the cold year that was 2020.
As much as I wish you could regift life’s traumas to the sender, it’s clear as I get older that they’re yours to feel, process, and scatter into the wind. If someone were to really ask me what songwriting is, then it’s that. Feel, process, scatter to the wind.
An album of mine feels like a portrait, of those around me in my imagination or reality and of myself within that. It’s as close as you’ll come to being there, so of course it’s all the things we makers always say: terrifying, nerve wracking, cathartic. It’s impossible to write everyone who had a part of it into a little paragraph really, but that’s okay, we like to put things in little boxes.
It comes to me as I write this that we have even resorted to capturing our lives biggest moments in small squares. Perhaps that is why most writers I know aren’t the fondest of social media, it’s impossible to tell you what it felt like in a 64-character text, to move to America, to meet the person I love, to see my friends hurting and big political shifts. So I choose albums, 15 track ones at that! Every time. It’s probably a selfish need to remember who I was and what I thought, it’s a noisy diary really, isn’t it?
I think everyone should have a noisy diary.
To me, live music is so important, it’s a direct shared experience that can’t be truly captured, it’s this electricity and warmth that can’t be recreated by AI, no matter how many online gigs we do. I hope that my generation comes around to seeing things in 360, and my retinas don’t adapt to everything in 7 seconds. Maybe I’ll end up a very entertained goldfish …
Jokes aside, there’s always a physical hand to be held and a view to behold. Every bad feeling is inside a Pandora’s box of others. So I’ll be waiting, pen in hand to see what’s next.