Andrew Bird delivered another solid album this year and his career continues to move forward - looking for purity, perfection and an intimate communication with his audience. We spoke to him about what is going through his mind.
Andrew Bird's particular universe is full of beautiful landscapes, magical places, familiar to his fans and instantly loved by those who experience them for the first time. “Break It Yourself” - his most recent, live recorded album - is a set of stunningly beautiful moments and sounds, on which the Chicago musician continues to experiment and take risks. He breaks from the classic pop song format, twisting it, and delivering jaw dropping songs like “Hole In the Ocean Floor”: over eight minutes of instrumental refinement, and brief but heart-felt lyrics inspired by the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Last year, he worked with inventor Ian Schneller to create Sonic Arboretum, a sonic installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and he wrote the soundtrack to indie film “Norman”. The consistent quality of his work, over more than fifteen years of experience, and his magnificent live shows, make him one of those artists you have to see at least once in your life.
We briefly spoke to our man about his latest album, and the things he's been working on in the past two years.
"I like to exercise
pieces on each
album, and use them
as a bridge to the
For this album, your band members were more involved in the writing. What was that like for you?
I felt ready to work with them. I had been making records on my own for eight years, and I felt like going back to the time when I started to play, when I was 19, to that process that is not entirely democratic, but more social.
How long did it take to record?
We did most of it in eight days in August 2010, in my barn. We programmed the sessions at the same spot a year later and we mixed it in the following months, we did it pretty quickly. I had written the songs over the course of three years. Before, the others would come by and record with me, and sometimes I would feel like they kidnapped my songs. No matter what the musicians' intentions are when you work like that, when you least suspect it, you feel your songs are someone else's, too, and this time I didn't feel that.
I don't know why exactly, but I feel the record flows very well. Could it be because there are more instrumental parts than on other albums?
Maybe it's because there isn't too much information, even when the sounds mix in the air, this album isn't over-produced like so many others that pile layer upon layer, sending your brain too much information at the same time. We had our limitations, but at the same time we had the sound of the space where we recorded, the sound of the instruments, and so on. We played at a much higher volume and with a lot more power than other records, because we had to hear ourselves with all the other instruments playing as well.
“Polynation” and “Things Behind The Barn” are a bit what “Ouo” and "Unfolding Fans” were to “Noble Beast”; instrumental interludes connecting the songs and blending the album. Was that your intention?
They're more like ideas, like clouds.
So do you think they'll become songs for future albums?
Yes, I suppose so. Sometimes they're ideas, I like to exercise making instrumental pieces on each album, and use them as a bridge to the next song.
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