- 14 Nov 22
Hot Press chats to Irish-born, Berlin-based artist Wallis Bird during her national tour, and ahead of her two-date Whelan's shows this week. Bird has released seven albums since 2007, for which she’s won two Meteor Awards (now called the Choice Music Prize) and a prestigious 2017 German ‘Music Autoren Preis’ (Music Author Prize). Two further nominations for the Choice Music Prize ensued in the following years. Her latest album Hands is out now.
How does it feel to be back performing with a live band?
"I wonder if it is my perception or is it the actual vibes. Each show is vastly different - It feels as if you’re peeling the layers back on some towns, trying to assure them you’re safe here, you’re allowed to enjoy yourself, but most of the spaces have been gasping for the show and the camaraderie, the connection. On a personal level I’ve been prepping for the tour months in advance so I'm gig fit and arriving like a blank canvas ready to receive the energy of the crowds. It has been more work and much slower responses than usual, but that's because we’re all bewildered at the fact we’re on the conveyor belt of life again, and we want something different from life, post lockdowns."
How different is the live scene and industry in general since you started out?
"It's quite different. There’s a lot of rattled people, a lot of revitalised passion. A lot of fresh vision from the industry. I’m lucky to have grown a relationship with the promoters and owners to hear their stories of pain and relief. Personally, I had three shows cancelled due to low ticket sales and you just have to appreciate that things are different this time around. I have to appreciate that things might never be the same again, so I’m using this tour to try to make people feel good. My team has to be happy and we take that to stage. As shoddy as that might sound, it's so important for me that those who come to the concert go home lighter, more connected to anything. I see the time together as healing. We’re talking about nations coming out of collective trauma, so there’s a lot of ups and downs, and changes, and we have to move with it."
What is it like performing in Dublin compared to the rest of Europe/the UK?
"In Dublin, you have your safety net of family and friends and mad yolks and scream-singing and an abundance of pride and love. It’s a homecoming. In the UK, it’s generally not enjoyable for me. There’s a lack of care which comes from the top down which is really hard to ignore. And it doesn’t matter who you are. Europe generally treats you extremely well. Venues have good gear, warm home made food, nice backstages, competent crew and your working environment is safe and reliable."
What do you miss about living in Ireland, and where do you go when you come back?
"I miss the messers, the chancers, the dotes. They’re nowhere else but Ireland. I get to Wexford to my family, spend some time with friends in Dublin, head to Westmeath to meet my best friend, and head over to Kerry to my partner's family."
What has been the response (fan-wise) to Hands?
"There’s been a latching onto the song ‘Go’ and ‘DreamWriting’ which is really lovely to see. I love those natural flares of interest. The response has been one of “Fair play” and so far nobody has said it’s shite. Not to my face!"
Catch Wallis Bird performing at Whelan's on Friday and Saturday (November 18, 19) and Limerick this Thursday (November 17). Tickets here. Revisit Wallis Bird's cover story with Panti Bliss from June 2022 here.