A joyous force of nature, Berlin-based Wexford woman Wallis Bird is a musical soul-injection, producing sparkling odes to life and its many charms. Bird has been a loss to the Irish music scene, where in the mid-00s, her Temple Bar shows became regular haunts that shone sunshine on gig-goers’ weeks. With a long awaited return post-covid on the cards, she’s chomping at the bit to see her home crowd in the coming weeks, and keen on some collaborations.
“I’m nervous, I won’t lie,” she says. “I feel like a newborn in this now because everything is different. The usual “deadly buzz” wild audience is an understandably careful thing now. It will pass, as all things do, but it’s a play it by ear situation. Technically I’m prepped for every kind of buzz, so I’m gonna take it one song at a time.”
“I hope to be involved in everyone’s session, that’s my aim. Collaboration shows like this [HIbernacle, in Galway in late September] are one in a million and it’s something I love best about being a musician – jumping into someone’s world and fleshing it out together.”
Bird’s German show returns have signalled the emotion that might be involved: “Some moments were like tearing our skin off with elation,” she recalls of recent shows. “Then one song later swiftly clutching our skin back on again, people bawling their eyes out, it’s been real intense. I know that in a few years I’ll think “lord those were once in a lifetime shows”.
Despite the harder moments, though, Bird has taken the chance to appreciate life – as is her nature – as well as to write and to indulge in some nostalgia.
“I’ve loved the pause,” she says. “I didn’t realise how much I needed one until it was there. Probably like everyone, I lost the first three months to worry, but after that it was rearranging and a new “right, let’s get on top of this” attitude. I work well under uncertainty because I love change and the coming together and the stress and the changes and the solutions of everything was exhilarating in its own way. It’s been a really complex and interesting time to be alive and I’m simply riding the wave and keeping positive.”
“[The retrospective shows] were heftier on me than I envisioned, as I’m a forward-looking person, rarely looking at my past, so the bad stuff was having to harp on to old memories, old stories, dragging up embarrassing choices I’d made.”
“My catalogue goes back from my early 20’s to my 30’s so I had countless photos, old boxes in the basement, videos, drag up long-lost thoughts to sift through for the retrospective and that took more out of me than I imagined. I was often very emotional. That and coming out of the first lockdown, I was obsessed with my sudden unknown future, so looking backwards felt like a pain in my arse.”
“But the good stuff was that I was able to shed a lot of my past work. Leave it behind me. I reconnected with my past (like I say, I rarely do) and with old buds and partners and shared a lot of memories we had forgotten, and in doing that it shed a lot of unwanted weight. I was a clean slate so to speak, and with that I made a huge jump personally and creatively.”
After her return to the stage, that’ll mean yet another new lease of life for Bird, as she’s worked towards what she promises will be a mighty new record.
“Spring next year,” is her planned release date. “And I’m not joking but I can’t wait. It’s the best album I’ve made yet, it’s a reckless and feckless power pop bomb!”