- Words Isabelle Cassidy
18-year-old singer-songwriter Ladybyrd talks all things her new single, moving to London, and the cathartic experience of songwriting.
Although still only 18, Ladybyrd is an artist who relates with lyrical wisdom far beyond her years. New single “Too Close To Call” tells the story of a fictional secret relationship imagined by Ladybyrd, and the perspective of coming to terms with the emotional challenges of this experience. She hopes that “listeners will use their imagination to find their own special interpretation”.
Her songs often draw on the idea of coming-of-age, furthered by a fascination with literature and film. The idea of imagined lives, as evident in “Too Close To Call”, offer characters with life experiences beyond Ladybyrd’s own. She counts other key influences as artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Maisie Peters, and Gracie Abrams. The result is songwriting that provides a sense of grander scale, alongside teenage tumultuousness.
The video for her new track has a personal intimacy that works alongside the lyrics. Ladybyrd explains, “When we were growing up my mum and dad filmed our holidays on an old Panasonic camcorder. I recently found it lying around at home and started filming random videos on it, like summer road trips, my 18th birthday party and days at the beach. So, I thought it would be super fun to use the camcorder to record the behind-the-scenes footage of shooting the artwork for the single!”
Having recently moved to London and ready for new adventures that will undoubtably fuel her songwriting, we caught up with Ladybyrd during this exciting time. Find out her about the root of her name, songwriting process, strange sources of inspiration, and more. Dive in!
Hey! Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey and how you got where you are today?
Hey! I was lucky to have grown up surrounded by music. I often found myself singing and playing the piano next to my Dad. He’s a vicar so I mainly listened to modern church music which gave me a good understanding of very clear song structures and making things catchy! I started to write my own songs at age 10. It has always been my favourite thing to do. I had piano lessons and taught myself the guitar and have been in love with writing and performing on those instruments. I took music for GCSE and A-level in school and loved analysing the works of other artists, including Kate Bush. Her work was super-interesting and inspired me more to pursue being an artist myself. It hasn’t surprised me at all that she’s suddenly had a renaissance.
How did the name Ladybyrd come about?
Ladybird was a nickname that my grandfather – who I never got to meet – gave to my mum, who then passed it on to me. Although it’s personal to me, I think it’s a beautiful name that represents my music really well. We changed the spelling slightly as we thought it was more interesting – and it reminds me of the famous British composer, William Byrd.
Tell us about your new video for “Too Close to Call”. What inspired the visuals?
When we were growing up my mum and dad filmed our holidays on an old Panasonic camcorder. I recently found it lying around at home and started filming random videos on it, like summer road trips, my 18th birthday party and days at the beach. So, I thought it would be super fun to use the camcorder to record the behind-the-scenes footage of shooting the artwork for the single! And so the lyric video is a combination of lots of little things – me writing the song, recording it, and most significantly it has clips of nature, books, my home piano, the city and my general surroundings, all of which inspired me to write ‘Too Close To Call’…
What comes first for you? A melody or lyrics?
It is different every time, but most of the time the melody and lyrics come at the same time. I’ll usually be sitting down at the piano or on the guitar with my voice memo app recording. I’ll just be messing around and singing random melodies with random words and then something will stand out and I’ll go from there and develop it more. The lyrics flow more easily and sound better when you are forming the melody around them. But sometimes, like with ‘Too Close To Call’, the melody was predominantly written first and I went to my notes app and used past lyric ideas to write the verses!
What themes do you tend to draw in your songwriting? Do you see music as catharsis?
I am very inspired by certain characters I see in films or read about in books, and I’ll write my songs based on their life and situation. I enjoy doing that, but nothing beats spilling all of your bottled-up emotions into a song. It’s an outlet like no other. Songwriting and music in general is without a doubt a catharsis for me. If I’m sad, I will tend to write and listen to music that makes me even sadder – which is probably a bad habit, but somehow it does give some relief!
As well as music you are interested in movies and literature. Do you have a favourite book?
I have quite a few! Pride and Prejudice will always be one of my favourites. Other favourites that have stuck with me for the last few years have been Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ and Bryan Stevenson’s ‘Just Mercy.’ Although, funnily enough, thriller spy novels are my guilty pleasure and what I read the most of!
Where is the strangest place you have found inspiration?
Good question! I guess a lot of strange places have given me song inspiration and lyric ideas. I once wrote about my old family car… we lost it after a collision with a van. It made me think about everything that has revolved around that car – the trips and memories of course, but also the sonder – meaning ‘the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.’ The title for it is XYZ – the end of the car’s number plate!
How have you found living in London? Are you homesick?
Overall it’s been amazing, haven’t got that homesick but I do miss the countryside at times. There have been ups and downs, but I have kept busy and made the most of the time here – although, I’ll be here for a while now 🙂
Do you have any gigs coming up? What does a live show with Ladybyrd look like?
Yes, stay tuned on my Instagram for updates on gigs. At live shows I love talking a bit about the songs I’m going to play so that people can understand the lyrics much more. I love then doing my songs acoustically on guitar or piano.
What are you manifesting in the year ahead?
I’m praying that the year ahead will be filled with lots of opportunities and for as many people as possible to find and enjoy my music!