Lauren Bird, it’s fair to say, has cemented herself as one of Chordblossom’s favourite talents. Previously more of a hidden gem, the Strabane singer-songwriter came to our attention through last year’s Kickstart competition, winning it outright in the live final. Her autobiographical songs of anxiety, relationships and things she’s good at (sort of), captured not only our attention, but that of plenty of others since that winning moment.
Thankfully, Lauren Bird (real name Lauren McGeough) has similarly fond memories, describing the live final as having ‘the best vibe’ of any show she’s played to date. For Bird, the competition, the subsequent single and a first headline show ranks alongside other highlights including a slot at both Stendhal and Sunflowerfest, a London showcase gig and providing the soundtrack for a friend’s film. ‘Goodbye Good Luck’, the single and video (Dog Kennel Productions) recorded as part of Kickstart being picked up by Irish website Her.ie seems to be another personal highlight in Bird’s flourishing career.
2014 saw Bird’s first release, a self-titled six track EP, with the focus very much on her voice and ukulele, was followed by last year’s single release for ‘Goodbye Good Luck’. With the EP and single under her belt, Bird now has her sights set firmly on a debut album. Gently talked into both an album and a crowd funding campaign by Cormac O’Kane of Red Box Studios after bringing in a raft of new material, Bird is in the midst of raising funds for the recording. The campaign is well off the ground, so hopefully Bird’s prediction of ‘a loan and more debt’ won’t be needed any time soon.
Bird has had the album penned and re-penned for the past few months. “I thought I had written the album 2 and a half months ago but then because I’ve been held up getting in to record, I’ve had months of writing more songs. I’m sitting with a tonne of songs but I think it’s probably better to be able to pick the best out of the bunch.”
The usually self-depreciating Lauren Bird has certainly grown in confidence since the Kickstart win, “The main thing I learnt was that I’m maybe not completely rubbish at music.” Along with the title of Chordblossom Kickstart winner, earlier this year she was a finalist in the Guinness Versus competition, the only singer-songwriter to get so far. While missing out on the cash prize, Bird gained the other prizes herself, playing a Sunflowerfest slot, a recent show in the Empire Music Hall and a feature in The Thin Air magazine.
The Kickstart winner notes her progression in her songwriting and arranging, with her time spent in Millbank Studios with Michael Mormecha and James Lyttle opening her eyes to new perspectives and avenues. “Getting an idea of how to add instruments, and the way Michael did the drums on that. I’m one of these people that can tinker with a load of instruments but”, she admits “I’m not very good at many of them. I’ve been trying to diversify the types of songs and to expand on tempo, chord progressions, keys etc.” And finally, seeing that maybe she’s “more of a pop writer than a folk writer.”
‘Goodbye Good Luck’ was written a year and a half before its single recording, with the experiences since playing a big part on the new album. “That’s probably what the album is kind of about, when you come out of school or university and you have to be an adult but you don’t really feel like one, or know how to be one and you don’t think you’re doing anything right.”
The new album will feature a more diverse sound, reflecting Bird’s progression from the first EP and new studio experiences on the first single. “Cormac has so many ideas, he actually threw in Sufjan Stevens as a reference. I demoed some tracks and he tinkered around and arranged things. On one called ‘That’s the Truth’ he’s put really subtle horns underneath.”
Of course, it’s hard to get too far away from Bird’s love of the ukulele. She started her musical journey at a young age with viola and wrote her first songs on guitar but it’s without doubt the ukulele that is at the core of Bird’s music. “Not to be in any way selfish, but I feel like the ukulele was made for me to play.”
“Guitar was the first instrument I wrote anything on but as soon as I started playing the ukulele that changed pretty much everything. I just love it, it sounds nice and how often do you see people on stage with a guitar? The first gig I ever got was from playing the ukulele at Lavery’s open mic.”
The Indiegogo campaign will feature rewards including CDs, handwritten lyrics, a Skype session and a shoutout in the album’s liner notes. Backers over £15 will also get to preview the album through an online concert which Bird claims her and O’Kane have ‘big ideas’ for. Bird plans to document the whole recording process, with song previews and regular video updates from the studio available to backers of the campaign.
Even Bird’s excitable puppy Buddy will be getting in on the act, “I have been trying to get him used to sitting while I play, eventually he’s going to sit next to me so I can exploit him to get more views on Youtube. Probably.”
One listen to Lauren Bird’s music, whether through her tracks or her live show, is enough to showcase her instant appeal. Her personal style of songwriting marries often sad and reflective subject matter with an upbeat and happy sound. Throughout each of her songs, Bird’s pop sensibilities and endearing charm shine through. Through her crowd funding campaign, Bird will hope to further her songwriting craft and produce an album that people can relate to.
“I think that it’s different, and I wouldn’t ask people to fund it if I didn’t think I was doing something good.”
Lauren Bird’s album funding campaign runs for just a few more days with multiple perks available. The campaign can be accessed at the link below.