By Noah Sollinger | July 15, 2022
Music was not always the plan for Sidney Bird. Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a different creative outlet attracted her early on: acting. After being enamored with theater growing up, she eventually attended the University of Southern California for comedic acting, and got the chance to move to New York to pursue her dream.
“I took off my fall of senior year to stay here to work at SNL, and I became obsessed with stand up comedy and comedic acting and thought that it was what I wanted to do,” said Bird. But this success quickly soured. “I moved here thinking that it would come really easily and it just didn’t. And I thought ‘I don’t know if I can go day-to-day with this.'”
After completing college and finding herself struggling to thrive while working a 9-5 in New York City, Bird channeled her musical theater roots, and began “writing music therapeutically and posting it on Instagram.” It began as nothing more than a passion project, but the clicks began to pick up on social media, which led her to seeking out a producer.
“He produced a song overnight, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I have 100 songs on the guitar.’ I just never knew that it could just happen so quickly once I found a producer,” she exclaimed.
So, when the pandemic hit, Bird was all in on the music. She had already released a couple singles earlier in 2020, but the shutdowns allowed her to spend all day making music. Fast forward to 2022, and dozens of those 100 songs have been produced and released. Her album Bad Timing dropped in September of 2020, filled with cheerful yet insightful tracks that just make you want to dance. One single from the album, “Kisses,” has over two million streams on Spotify to-date. She has truly established her own brand of western influenced pop and has built a vast repertoire of songs that both lyrically and sonically reflect her journey and identity. Her accounts have gained tons of traction on streaming and social media platforms alike, and she has even put together multiple music videos for her tracks which have surpassed 50k views on Youtube.
Bird’s journey may have just started, but she has spent enough time in the music industry so far to feel the pressure to fit into one genre. She does a beautiful job of expressing the struggle that comes with this pressure in the video for her new single “On Brand.” In the video, Bird sports several different costumes, which represent her “first six months of doing [music] and trying out all these different characters.” As the video reflects, Bird has come to acknowledge the presence of this pressure and realized that she does not have to give in. “I think the music industry puts a lot of pressure on girls to be one way. You’re either this Britney Spears, sexy pop icon or you’re this Billie Eilish kind of incognito, like an enigma,” she told us. “And I realized I like to wear cowboy boots, and sometimes like to wear sweatpants, and sometimes like to get all dressed up. So that was what I was trying to really hone in on [in that video].” Bird’s ability to recognize this pressure, not let it affect her, and make a beautiful piece of art that reflects is undeniably impressive at this stage of her career.
We caught up with Bird at the Turk’s Inn restaurant before her Sultan Room show where she answered a few questions for the groovement:
So where were you raised? And what was your musical upbringing?
I’m from Phoenix, Arizona, in between Phoenix and Scottsdale underneath Camelback Mountain specifically. I would say, no one in my family is musical at all. But my parents definitely appreciated music.
With my dad especially, I would say I was exposed. Starting off when I was three, my dad would sing karaoke all the time. We had a karaoke machine in the house. We have a cabin in Wisconsin, where we spend our summers whenever we get too hot. And I think my family discovered that I could really sing when I was five, and that’s when I started doing musical theater.
How has your creative process changed as you’ve gotten older?
I remember when I was starting, I put this pressure on myself to be this sad, indie, alternative girl, like the girls I was listening to and was obsessed with at the time…and through these past few years have I discovered that I’m more theatrical and my writing more like Ashe or Maggie Rogers.
Let’s talk about your videos. Do you have a specific creative process behind your videos and how do you make sure your personal and musical identity comes through in those videos?
So my personal musical identity was something that I really wanted to nail down and that took a solid six months of asking myself “am I this sad indie girl who only wears black?” And then I decided, I just want to be me! And me is Western dressed, and from Arizona. I love cowboy boots, and I love the west coast aesthetic, although I live on the East Coast. I love dream landscapes, this vintage 70s grandma living in Palm Springs, so all of these aesthetics go into Sidney Bird, and I tried to make that very clear in my music videos.
Do you write a lot of your music in Arizona? Do you feel that you have a certain thing there that you don’t have when you’re in New York?
Yeah, I just feel very nostalgic when I’m there. And I don’t co-write while I’m there. But when I’m in New York, that’s when I really like to get into sessions. But in Arizona, I literally wake up, write music, hang out with my nephews, my sister, and my parents, and we cook and drink wine at night. And then I do it all again. Whereas in New York, I just get very distracted here.
What was the first concert that you attended?
Hilary Duff. I think I was eight. It was the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, and my dad took me.
How would you describe your music’s vibe or genre?
I describe it as this disco in the desert electric Western, kind of like Palm Springs. Like we’re vibing with lights, Joshua Tree vibes, with neon feathers and cowboy boots.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
Kacey Musgraves and Maggie Rogers are my top two. I’m really into Leon Bridges, Ashe, and Noah Kahan. I also love Chelsea Cutler and Florence + the Machine. Also Vampire Weekend. I always like to throw that in there, because that was the band that got me into music when I was in eighth grade.
Do you have anything you want people to take away from your music?
I don’t like saying this song is about blah, blah, blah. I just want people to take away the fact to just let your mind have the ability to daydream and go anywhere. And don’t take things too literally. People will say “that song’s about a breakup!” and I say “You don’t know that!” I’m not writing music for myself. I’m writing for you to get out of your own head.
Do you have a dream venue to perform at?
The SNL stage.
Do you have a pre-show routine? Is there anything you have to do before you get on stage?
I always watch an episode of 30 Rock. I just did that at home.