Jasmine van den Bogaerde, better known as Birdy, is an English singer, songwriter and musician. She gained serious fame after releasing an absolutely enchanting cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” on YouTube back in 2011. She began going by “Birdy” as it was a childhood nickname, given to her by her parents because she would open her mouth wide like a small bird when being fed. The video now has over 25 million hits, and the official video has over 50 million hits. The song was released as a single, marking Birdy’s breakthrough as an artist. It topped charts across Europe and went platinum six times in Australia. In November 2011, Birdy released a self-titled album of covers that peaked at No. 1 in Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. Barely a year and a half after her debut album, Birdy released “Fire Within”, an album comprised of all her own songs.
Music and song writing is in Birdy’s blood. Her mother is a concert pianist and her father is a writer. She was first introduced to the piano by her mother at age 7 and began writing songs and singing to melodies by age 8. Birdy got her first taste of success at the young age of 12 after winning UK talent show, Open Mic in 2008. She beat over 10,000 competitors with her own song “So Be Free” performed in front of 2,000 people.
At 14, Birdy’s Bon Iver cover hit 17 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming “Record of The Week” and was chosen for BBC Radio 1′s B-list playlist. She teamed up with music video director, Sophie Muller to continue to create videos for her covers and later, her own tracks. Her music and collaborations have been featured on The Vampire Diaries, Brave, and The Hunger Games. Now Birdy is 17 and has a second album released. The first single “Wings” has received over 7 million views on YouTube, been featured in the trailer for Winter’s Tale, and hit the charts at No. 1 in Ireland.
We met up with Birdy talk about her inspiration, the art she loves and what this new found fame feels like.
We’ve heard you speak in a lot of interviews about your introduction into music. Your mom taught you to play piano at a young age, how did you start making your own music?
I learned by doing a lot of scales and really being forced to practice the piano. It’s really easy to be naughty when your mom is teaching you. I remember when I was eight I discovered some films that really inspired me as well. I first got started with scales, but then I transitioned to language.
When you were 14 you signed your first record deal after winning Open Mic, what was that like?
They found me from my video on YouTube, which is just me sitting at the piano playing a song. It was way after the competition that someone contacted me from the label. I was 14 when I released “Skinny Love,” but there were a few years in between where I had a publishing deal and was just working on music.
Since then your music has been featured in The Hunger Games and Brave, and you worked with Mumford and Sons which was later nominated for a Grammy, how does it feel to have your work and your sound recognized on such a large scale?
It feels really amazing, especially since I’m such a fan of The Hunger Games. I read all three books in a week. They really inspired the song, it was huge and so crazy for me.
Who is the first person you played a song for?
The first people I played for were my parents, I didn’t really think anything of it. It was just something that I loved doing and it was really natural. I think it was weird for my parents hearing me sing and hear my voice at the piano.
So how would you describe your sound and your music?
A lot of people say its quite melancholy, but I think with this new album, there are a few songs that are a bit more upbeat. It’s more soulful.
Your video for “Wings” has over 7 million views on YouTube, do any of those 7 million people ever recognize you or stop you on the street?
It’s really strange, it’s been an amazing reaction. I have fans from so many different places, reading the comments I get, it’s quite strange going to a different country or somewhere you’ve never been before and have people recognize you. It’s really surreal.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listened to a lot of older stuff like, Tracy Chapman, The Beatles, George Michael, bands my brothers would play as well. I think being inspired by people around me is very important.
You worked with Fraser T on “Standing in the way of the light,” who has also worked with Adele. You’ve also worked with Sia Furler. Do you like collaborating and getting feedback?
At first I was really against it, being with someone you’ve never met before and then sharing your ideas with them can be really weird. But then you find someone you really gel with and it can be amazing to work with someone who shares the same passion and understanding as you.
“Strange Birds” is the song I wrote with Sia Furler, it has a piano part in it that I wrote when I was 10.
“Wings” seems like it’s directed at someone or some thing, is it speaking to someone specific or a metaphorical outreach?
“Wings” is really about friends and having a really wonderful time. It was about a festival I went to with my close friends and just wishing I were back there. The video was fun because it’s all my friends and family in the video – its nice for them because they can’t always be here with me, so to be able to be involved is really cool for us all.
Is there another artistic field you feel connected to or does music totally have your heart?
I think music has always had my heart. But, I love art, painting and drawing. I like writing stories as well, my dad is a writer, so I think I got that from him. That’s why I like songwriting; it’s like writing stories.