Cat On The Wall: What is the Jack Bird effect?
Jack Bird: Right now it’s me. I’m working as a solo performer. I write all my own songs
and I play an old Norman acoustic guitar. I think of it as a stripped down performance, intimate and personal. I wanted to create a set that I could perform anywhere that me and my guitar happened to be; a teahouse in the foothills of Nepal, around a beach fire after a days surfing or on a stage at Glastonbury.
COTW: Please tell us a bit about yourselves and your music.
JB:A couple of years ago I was in a car accident that left me in constant mind numbing pain for about six months, left me with a prematurely aged spinal column and completely wrecked my mental health. The accident essentially changed who I am and what I do. Since then I feel like I’m climbing out of my own grave, one handful at a time. My music has become my vehicle for connecting with the world and with people, my way out. But it is not therapy. It is more that after all the other parts of my life have been stripped away and destroyed this is what is left. This is what I should have been doing, this is what I’m meant to do, and this is where I was meant to be.
COTW: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JB: From Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, from flamenco music, from Vanessa Bell, from Qawwali, from the landscape of the Somerset levels, from early blues, from pantheistic beliefs, from bluegrass and country music, from the art of the prehistory of mankind, from Gene Pitney, from Nirvana, from friends.
COTW: How are you finding the Bristol music scene? Playing live/Audience reactions etc?
JB:I’m quite new to playing the Bristol scene but it seems a lively and interesting place to be. One of my first introductions was the Eldon House songwriters evening in Clifton. Acoustic musician (guitars/fiddles/saxophones/clarinets) and song writers basically getting together in a backroom to play each other their songs, joining in, playing along, swapping ideas. It’s a great vibe and a real nice way to spend a Sunday night. The Bristol scene has produced some of the best and most innovative music in the country and I hope to continue that tradition.
Right now playing live it’s what I’m about.
Audience reactions are excellent, I started out playing live just to test the water and see how
things went but I’ve been pleased to discover that people really seem to like what I’m doing. Whenever I play I get people coming up afterwards and wanting to hear more, know more find out where I’m playing next. I’ve also had a great deal of support from other musicians.
COTW: How do you feel about downloading music?
JB:I’ve started making music in a time when this kind of technology is a part of the landscape. It has it upside in that your sounds can be heard around the world in moments and it is so much easier to discover others who share your passions. But for those who made music before the Internet and downloading become so common I can see they might feel like the rules of the game have changed.
COTW: In what ways has the Internet been a venue for musicians like you?
JB:Apart from the response from people at live gigs the Internet has been the main tool for me to get in touch with the world and an audience. I have fans across the world from Tennessee to JACK BIRDMalaysia, from Mexico to Manchester. In the old systems one would have to be such a huge star to do that but now it really is a matter of putting your songs and self forward. If people like it they will tell you and tell others and it seems a much more immediate and genuine process.
COTW: If you could work with any artist/s (past or present) who would they be and
JB:Kia (http://www.myspace.com/kiakiastheme) – Mexican artist I met through myspace – to create my next album cover.
Tessa Bickers (http://www.myspace.com/tessabickers), Emma Harper (http://www.myspace.com/missemmaharper), Tanja Rice (http://www.myspace.com/tanjarice) to sing on my next record, all great voices and all very different,
PJ Harvey to write and record some new songs with.
Tricky to take my songs in a completely different direction
Bob Dylan – just so I could say I have
COTW: When can we expect an album to be released?
JB:Hard one to confirm right now. I have an extended demo album available now that I sell at gigs and over the Internet but I am planning to create a completely new album during 2007 that will involve more musicians and maybe a producer. Whether this is released through my own record company or through another label hasn’t yet been decided.
COTW: What are your plans for the near future?
JB:Gigs, gigs and more gigs. I already have dates in Sheffield, London, Bath and the sunset ridge festival but my intention is to play Bristol, Bath and Exeter as much as I can over the next 12 months.
Recording of an album.
Putting together a band or a team of other musicians to perform live with.