Sidney Bird spent the last two years in her incubation period. She offered up a rare insight into the pandemic that has ravaged the world for the last two years, citing her time at home with her family as a major inspiration for her gorgeous new single, “Renaissance Man,” and crediting isolation with an unmissable chance to cultivate her sound and her dreams. Now, she’s ready to bring her hopeful songs and her incredible stage presence to audiences across the country and the world. Incubation is over, Sidney is ready to fly.
I sat down with Sidney Bird (on Zoom, as everything must be nowadays) to talk about influences, finding your unique spark, and her new song and music video, “Renaissance Man!”
What inspired you to write “Renaissance Man”?
Yeah so I started writing this song in the summer of 2020 and I was quarantined with family and I left NYC to go home to Arizona, and I thought I’d be there for a month but it ended up being like 6. And I hadn’t seen my parents that much since like middle school because I went to boarding school for high school, and then college, so that was really awesome for me to get that time with them, and my sister moved really close to my parents and she got pregnant again, so seeing her become a mom was really inspirational and then being closer with my parents, it just all got me thinking about how grateful for them I am and how maybe one day I’d like to have a family!
Did your family also inspire you to be a singer?
So I started musical theater when I was like 5, I’m definitely the most dramatic and no one else in my family really sings. My dad loves karaoke though, we have a cabin in Wisconsin and he put a karaoke machine in and my mom hates it! So besides musical theater I would just sing with him all the time, so he definitely pushed me to not be afraid of a stage, but no no one is musically anything else
Who are your musical idols? Who are your biggest influences? Are they the same people?
Yes! Kasey Musgraves and Maggie Rogers are my top two idols and influencers, but my biggest idol is John Mayer, and he doesn’t have a huge influence on how I produce my music. Kasey and Maggie are the biggest influences, how they storytell, create their world, write, and even live like how they dress.
How has COVID impacted your career trajectory?
It was the best thing for me! It’s very weird, because I didn’t start putting out music until like 6 months before the pandemic, so it was the perfect incubation period for me. No one else had jobs, everyone was trying to make something, so it gave me permission to let go of my ego and say I get to write a song today because there’s nothing else I can do. It was hard, but I didn’t have shows canceled or songs postponed because that was my creation period.
You live in NYC but you’re from Arizona; was it a culture shock to move? Anything unexpected about it?
So I moved almost 4 years ago. I lived in the East Village, but I went to boarding school in Massachusetts, but New York is definitely different. My sisters were already here so that made it a lot easier. But music scene wise, there’s so many of me, but also not. I’m unique and everyone’s unique, but everyone is so talented here! It’s amazing I’m never bored, but when I’m bored I get anxious about creating things. I still go home for like a month a year and write and bring my dog. It’s different and I love both but I think this is where I’m meant to be right now.
How do you fight to stay feeling unique, especially when you’re unmotivated?
I think I’ve narrowed down my niche so much. I’m not just a singer, there’s so many different types of what you can do. So whenever I get down, I will be as specific as I can about my goals, my future, and like how I can get there, because if you’re more open than that, it’s way too overwhelming.
If I was trying to explain to someone why they should see you live, what would you most like me to say?
That it’s fun! Like I’m not shy on stage, I love to talk to people afterwards and I always wear cool outfits and I love to mess around. I used to be a stand up comedian so I love making jokes on stage, I like self-deprecating humor, I just like having fun. I mean yeah I have a unique sound and the music is good but i love being on stage to make other people have fun!
What else inspires you to write songs?
So I get a lot of inspiration from my personal life and my friends’ personal lives, and then a lot from books and TV shows. I feel like when I write those songs especially and people are like “what are you talking about?” I love just saying things like “you’ll never know!” I won’t tell you what book or something. And then sometimes it’s just an idea, like “Arizona” is about being from Arizona. But like “Kisses”, for example, is literally about doing long distance with my boyfriend for 6 years, and then we ended up in New York together, so it’s about being in the same city after doing long distance for such a long time. That’s the most specific thing I’ve written about.
Can you name some of the books and movies without spoiling your songs?
Hmmm yes. I’ve teased this, but my favorite book is a book called “Daisy Jones and The Six” so I wrote a song about it called Miss Jones, it’s so cool it’s a very CA indie pop song. So that was something I couldn’t not write a song about. I just started writing a song about the show Succession, it’s not done or anything. And I guess I’d write a song about Big Fish, the old movie. It’s about aging, and I really like writing songs about Time.
Do you have a songwriting process?
Sometimes it just happens and I have to cancel my plans, but when it doesn’t happen, I just start with a chord progression. I always start with a chord progression, and then I bring it on a walk, and voice memo myself and then come back. If it doesn’t stick with me in 30 minutes, I sort of don’t stick with it. Like maybe we’ll try the words again or the melody, but it has to happen pretty quickly with me. It usually starts with a chord progression or a thought, and then I think about something that’s happening in my life or around me, and it comes together from there.
Is there anything else you want to say about “Renaissance Man”?
There’s a music video!! It’s super exciting. So the music video is about a little girl, foreshadowing my future daughter but also my past. It’s also a lot of performing aspects, because I’m gearing up, and I want to play a lot of live shows this year.
Watch the official music video for “Renaissance Man” here:
Go check out “Renaissance Man” on Spotify and Apple Music, and keep an eye out for Sidney Bird in what I’m sure is going to be a spectacular year!