Photography DANILO FALà Fashion Director FEDERICA TROTTA
Hair Elvire Roux @phamousartistslondon using Bumble and bumble Make-up Kristina Vidic using Mac and skincare Kiehl’s Photography assistance Michela Nale Video producing Eleonora Cristin Styling assistance Ilaria Paparella Producing Nicol Desiati Location Shoreditch studios London.
Text Simonetta Sciandivasci
All clothes by RED Valentino
Jasmine Van den Bogaerde was born in England in 1996, and despite her name, which sounds like a 19th century feuilleton heroine, she is a millennial.
She is part of a generation that leaves many today wondering whether to bestow upon them trust and admiration or apocalyptic predictions of the collapse of values, attenuation, and moral decline – part of the inevitable and ongoing dialectic between older and newer generations. Unlike her peers, however, Jasmine, who was lovingly nicknamed Birdy by her parents due to her habit as a small child of opening her mouth like a little bird when they fed her has a timeless quality about her. The sweet voice she has been blessed with and works hard to nurture carries the sounds of both lively youth and poised maturity. For such a young woman, she is very composed and easily holds her own in any conversation, yet with a discrete and delicate manner, that is reflected in her work and her music without having to resort to her generation’s extravagance, excess, overexcited ostentation, and provocation. Birdy started singing and playing from a very young age. At just 12 years of age Birdy posted recordings of songs she had written on YouTube and was subsequently offered a publishing deal. This then led to her signing a worldwide Record Deal at the age of 14 with Atlantic Records. Her first single from her self titled album “Birdy” was the globally successful beautiful ballad “Skinny Love”. Her interpretation of that song was the key to unveiling Birdy’s true talent: mature, intimate, and at the same time approachable, all the while respecting the original. Her second album, Fire Within, which was all original songs was released in 2013 to critical acclaim. It is the kind of music that speaks with a delicate freshness in a universal tone, but always intimate and similarly forthright, and accurate. Birdy’s universe is simple, proof of which can be found in her Instagram photos. The life she lives is tied to small delights, marked by light and harmony that goes hand in hand with the external world. Her gaze is curious and enchanted: nothing seems to deny her. She is a very intimate singer and we spoke to her about the relationship she has with her own private universe.
“I’m a singer, but I’m a songwriter first. I think songwriting and sharing your private thoughts and feelings about people and emotions in your songs with the world is certainly an intimate thing, and it exposes you at the same time”. Birdy
Birdy’s special interview for MIA
Interview by SIMONETTA SCIANDIVASCI
MIA – It was 2011 and you were only 15 years old when your cover of Bon Iver – “Skinny Love” revealed you to the world. Your first album is a sensational work marked by a profound harmony between adherence to the originality of the songs you’ve reinterpreted and your personal stamp – in other words “intimate”. We are incomplete at 15 – the key to understanding reality derives from empathy and not only experience: Was this a limit or an advantage in your work of reinterpretation?
BIRDY – I have never found my age limiting when I’m in my musical space. I appreciate that people would find it hard to imagine that I could understand the complex emotions and the meanings behind some of the songs like “Skinny Love” and “I’ll Never Forget you” on my first Album, but I don’t think empathy has an age. I would read and listen to the words of the songs and I would express musically how they made me feel, which is how I created my arrangements of the songs and I suppose that is what makes them unique to me. I’ve often heard people speak of the “intimacy” of the songs on my first Album, and I think maybe that came from how I interact with my piano, and how I feel when I play, it takes me into a completely different place.
MIA – I don’t think it would be incorrect to define you as a singer or intimate artist. What is intimacy for you? The space in which we explore ourselves to accord with our true nature, or one in which we look for the right relationship with the feelings that bind us to others? What do we gain from this search – Does it help us abandon our instincts or attempt to distinguish them from desires? ‘Fire Within’ was your second disc, and you personally wrote every song in it. I believe that with those songs you narrated, among other things, the importance of this distinction.
BIRDY – I’m a singer, but I’m a songwriter first. I think songwriting and sharing your private thoughts and feelings about people and emotions in your songs with the world is certainly an intimate thing, and it exposes you at the same time. I’m currently writing my 3rd Album and I feel in a very different place in my life now writing these songs compared to when I wrote Fire Within. I’m learning more about myself every day and I hope people will hear that in my songs.
MIA – In “all you never say”, contained in “Fire Within”, you talk about a love faded from too many investigations, too many questions. Perhaps, it is one of the tragedies of our time: to believe that everything has to be investigated. Love cannot be explained – do you believe that to be the reason for leaving only a few that still believe in it? You sing – “Are you uncertain or just scared to drop your guard”? Must someone be willing to loose control for love?
BIRDY – Love is so many different things and has so many different forms, the way you love your family, the way you love your friends, your first love, your love of music and so on, and I explore these different forms of love in my songs. In response to your question about “All you never say” specifically, this song is about Not making yourself vulnerable, not opening your heart up to someone fully. I think you have to loose yourself and fully trust to really be in love. I suppose that makes being in love both a beautiful and scary thing in equal measure.
MIA – What is your relationship with your body, and with the fact that due to your fame you had to expose it constantly since a young age? Is the need for introversion that transpires from your songs, a form of defense for this situation?
BIRDY – I’ve been on stage from a young age, but it’s always been my voice that is exposed rather than my body. Different types of Artist’s express themselves in different ways and for some their sexuality is part of their image, which can be a wonderful thing, but for me it’s always been about expressing myself through my music, that’s where I feel most confident with myself.