Birdy talks Geishas, ‘leaving the nest’ and her quest for a cheesesteak

Olivia Bee

Birdy has accomplished more in the five years of her young career than most hope to accomplish in a lifetime. At just 14, she wowed the world with her heartfelt cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” Since then, the British musician has toured the world, sold 10.5 million records worldwide and is now on her third album, “Beautiful Lies.” We chatted with the now 20-year-old about being inspired by Geishas, her upcoming tour and what it’s like living on her own for the first time.

Where are you calling from today?
I’m calling from London. Sunny London. It’s really beautiful today, actually. I’ve just come up from my family’s home in the countryside, in New Forest, which is in the south of England. But I’ve been living on my own for the past year and a half for the first time.

What’s the biggest change for you living on your own now?
Cooking for myself and taking the bins out. [laughs]The weirdest thing is that it’s so quiet. I’m used to a full house of people and it’s usually loud because we’re all musicians and we all make so much noise. It’s weird having so much space to think.

I bet that’s great to have all that space to fill songs with.
It’s been amazing for writing. I have an upright piano…it’s so nice.

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<p><b>You mentioned cooking. Getting creative in the kitchen too?</b><br />I can’t cook anything. I’m so bad. [laughs]I’ve made myself ill a few times because I’m such a bad cook. I try not to. Apart from pasta. But luckily that’s my favorite.</p>
<p><b>So it’s been three years since your last album, “A Fire Within.” What have you been up to in that time?</b><br />I’ve been making the new <a href=album [“Beautiful Lies”] for a year and a half and touring a lot. I came to America to support Christina Perri for two months and gosh [it was so long ago.] Two years, I think. But that was amazing. To tour on a bus with my band. It was so much fun. Making this album was a chance to get back to normality and see my family.

Let’s talk about the new album. Were you inspired by anything in particular this time around? I notice some eastern influence with the artwork.
It’s inspired a bit by a book called “Memoirs of a Geisha.” I read it at the beginning of the process and it’s about a girl who is ripped from her family in the country and is forced to become a Geisha in the city and has to learn to fight for herself. The imagery in the book is so beautiful as well. I love the strength of the Geisha.I’m wearing a kimono on the album cover and wear it onstage sometimes because I love how strong it makes me feel.

What would you say is the most personal song for you on “Beautiful Lies?”
One of the most personal for me is “Lost it All.” I had a lot of frustration at the time I was writing it because I wasn’t as confident as I wanted to be.But it takes time to know what you want and try different things. Looking back, it’s apart of life and growing up.

You’re about to hit the road again for your upcoming tour. What are three things you can’t leave home without?

I have to take my pillow from my bed. It’s so comfy. It’s a feather pillow. Then I have this Unicorn head that I got in Nashville. It’s a blowup one. I put it on the wall. It makes me laugh! [laughs] I also like to have a keyboard so I can play through the night on my headphones in my bunk.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Girl on a Train,” which was quite good. It’s a murder story. I don’t want to give it away in case you want to read it! My mum gave it to me.

Listening to any good music these days?

I don’t listen to a lot of music but recently I’ve been listening to Lauren Mvula. She’s really talented. She’s quite soulful and really weird. Lots of harmonies. Her videos are really powerful, too.

What are you excited for most when you come to Philly?
I didn’t get a cheesesteak the last time I was there because there was a huge queue, like an hour-long queue! It was a really famous one. I can’t remember the name. So that’s where I want to go when I get there.

Birdy performs on Friday, June 10 at the TLA.

Follow Jennifer Logue on Twitter @jenniferlogue

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