Interview: Dorothy Bird

Dorothy Bird

Del Osei-Owusu interviews Dorothy Bird

Congratulations on Kaleidoscope making the Fresh Faves, how does it feel?
I’m over the moon as it’s such a dear song to me. It’s nice to hear such positive feedback on something that I’m so proud of.

You are a singer/songwriter/musician from Berlin and Liverpool. How did it all begin for you?
I grew up in the East part of Berlin and between Berlin and Bulgaria. In my very early years I was able to sing with a choir, singing a repertoire of Eastern European and Bulgarian folkloristic music. That’s where it started. My parents also got me a recorder. I kept up the singing, but I let the recorder go! I studied the equivalent of a Masters in Jazz at Bremen University and then eventually moved back to Berlin to pursue a career in music. I was playing with different musicians, started writing more and eventually a style and sound of music that resonates with my soul.

What did you grow up listening to?
I was only little when the Berlin Wall came down, but even after that, growing up in the East and Bulgaria, meant that we listened to what we had access to… which wasn’t much. My mum and dad didn’t play much music around the house, but they went to the opera and took me, too. The only other time I remember hearing music with them was on long drives between Berlin and Bulgaria and they would only listen to Boney M and Neil Diamond for the whole time! I rebelled at by listening to Techno music and Depeche Mode… then, as soon as I listened to Bjork and The Beatles for the first time, this was it. They captured my heart immediately.

Synthesisers play an important part in your music, what are your favourites?
I use the Korg Minilogue and the Arturia Microfreak live. I also compose using Ableton and I like lots of their synths and Spitfire synths. I hope to add some synths to my collection, such as a Juno, one day.

Who are your favourite synth players?
I don’t really have a favourite synthesizer player, but I like the way certain composers use synthesizers in their music, such as Thom Yorke, Goldfrapp or Bat for Lashes. I’m interested in the way synthesizers are used to create an atmosphere, tell a story or transform a feeling into sound. What it adds to the music is what I’m interested in.

Your song Kaleidoscope is gorgeous and dedicated to your niece what was the writing process for this?
Thank you very much! I started writing on the piano and I had a piano and a vocal melody idea I was playing around with. Then I decided to switch the piano parts with a synthesizer that led towards sounds that had the atmosphere of a fairytale. All of this coincided with the news of my niece and the song followed that path. I started to think about what a newborn might need in this world and the image of the kaleidoscope appeared. As in life, its shapes are constantly changing. I thought it would be nice to use the kaleidoscope as a compass in life to follow our dreams and not get lost. The things that we do are defining the shapes that we will become ourselves.

You’re from Liverpool and Berlin what are your three favourite things about these cities?
Berlin: I like that there is a music scene for everything and communities are built up around each one. The people are very open and you are allowed to be yourself and express yourself. And within a few tube stops, you can be by a lake or in a forest to escape from the city and recharge your energy in nature. I love that Berlin is so big.

Liverpool: I love that it is so small and that from my apartment I can walk to the docks and hear the seagulls or I can be in the park or the middle of town. I love that not just Liverpool but the whole UK has such a rich musical history and I like that musicians and people, in general, have an instinctively good taste for music. Also, there is a community in Liverpool that I found that really supports independent music, where people go to each other’s shows and buy each other’s records.

What artists are getting you excited at the moment?
I really like Olafur Arnalds’ music for a long time and I feel that I’m discovering even more of it because he has made some VST’s and sound packs that I’m exploring at the moment. His music calms me and I am excited about his combination of neo-classical compositions with electronic elements. I’m also enjoying listening to the new Battles records around the house and Agnes Obel and James Blake get me every time. Recently I’ve discovered Bat for Lashes and I’m so happy about that.

What are you looking forward to doing next?
I’m looking forward to completing my new album this year. It’s well on the way and we’ve nearly completed recording 10 songs. Also, I’m looking forward to everything that comes along with it: creating music videos and putting together a band for playing these songs live. In the meantime, I’m also working with a group of talented female artists on a project called ‘7 women’, which is a Berlin-based all-female theatre and contemporary circus company, that is directed by Anna-Katharina Andrees. The project brings together music, theatre, art and acrobatics. I’m composing music for our performance that we’re hoping to get on stage and tour when it’s safe to do so.

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Del Osei-Owusu

Del is a songwriter, producer, keyboard player arranger and musical nerd from South London, Del comes from a gospel music background but listens to anything, everything and nothing. Read More

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