Energizing Irish artist Wallis Bird dives into the wisdom of age, connecting with one’s parents on a deeper plane, living mindfully, and her spirited, uplifting new song “Life Is Long.”
Stream: “Life Is Long” – Wallis Bird
Irish singer/songwriter Wallis Bird sees life like a fine wine: It gets better with age. “I’m 36 now,” she says, glowing. “I’ve always wanted to be 36. I love getting older and looking back at my life, my opinions, my achievements, and seeing where I can improve. I’m also ready to be open about my opinions on life and love in a more candid, critical way which is leaving me vulnerable, and so I’m ready to be questioned, challenged on my thoughts in a way I wasn’t before. It’s daunting and good for me.”
Now in her second decade of professional music, Wallis Bird is as fired up as she’s ever been. With five albums under the belt and her highly-anticipated sixth one due out this month, she’s in a great place – and nowhere does this show more than in her music. Bird’s latest single is “a big bowl of madness and memories,” to quote the artist: Out this Friday, “Life Is Long” revels in a special moment of love and laughs, capturing the connections that make our time on Earth so worthwhile.
Not to mention, it’s an absolute thrill of a song!
6 AM, hotel bed,
drunk and laughin’ our heads off
My Mam, Dad and I
…was hugging Mam was hugging Dad
And when they started snoring
I started to cry, cos
35, 66 and 71 are we
Oh my my, stop the time
What a wonderful memory
(Like my Dad says)
Life is long
But the time is short
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Life Is Long,” the fourth single off Wallis Bird’s forthcoming sixth studio album Woman (due out September 27, 2019 via AntiFragile Music). Available to stream now via Bird’s Marius Müller-directed music video, “Life Is Long” highlights the artist’s message of living in the moment and taking advantage of every second we have here.
“Time is relative,” Bird says. “If you think and move and live slowed down and more mindful, even a short time can be filled with value. Life is about our mindset and connection with the moment, our environment, our imprint.”
Clifden town to Galway bay,
Sunday driving the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’
We pulled over to stare
Lost in awe and prayer
“Life Is Long” is a strong exemplar of the radiant light shining throughout Woman, a record that dives deep into today’s societal injustices and flaws while also celebrating the good in our world. In this particular instance, Bird is dwelling in “a significant and hilarious weekend with my parents in the west of Ireland.”
She reflects, “I think it’s a very lucky thing to have a strong bond with one’s parents, let alone to share such beautiful intense times with them and I’m unabashedly thanking [them] and showing the world my love for them.”
Bright, euphoric whistles set a rich scene before Bird makes impact, slowly taking listeners through her story: “6 AM, hotel bed, drunk and laughin’ our heads off,” she sings, lost in the reverie of her own past. Percussion, strings, and the warmth of a marimba slowly rise behind her until she bursts out into the chorus, exclaiming, “Life is long… but the time is short.”
In the video, we watch as Bird dances to her own beat in a color-changing chamber and basks in a field of red and white roses, more than content with her place in the world. It’s exciting to see someone as at home as she is at this junction: Bird’s happiness is utterly contagious, her spirited jovial attitude permeating every inch of her passionate music.
Atwood Magazine spoke to Wallis Bird about the wisdom that comes with time, connecting with one’s parents on a deeper plane, living mindfully, and putting 100% of herself into her music. Stream “Life Is Long” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and get to know this exciting singer/songwriter ahead of her new album!
Drink your pint
And I’ll see you in a few short weeks
(Like my Mam says)
Life is long
But the time is short
Stream: “Life Is Long” – Wallis Bird
A CONVERSATION WITH WALLIS BIRD
Atwood Magazine: Hi Wallis, thank you so much for your time today and thanks for premiering with Atwood! For starters, can you talk about the personal significance of your song, “Life Is Long.”
Wallis Bird: Thanks for getting in touch! “Life Is Long” is a sentimental song about a weekend away with my parents in the west of Ireland last year. It was a beautiful, unforgettable weekend where we had deep conversations, shared lots of memories, lots of stories, lots of drinking and singing songs in hotel lobbies until the wee hours. There was a funny incident where we ended up all sharing a bed as if I was a child again. It was really pure and sweet, so I just had to share the story!
We hear a lot of different, diverse instruments and sounds throughout your new album, and especially in “Life Is Long” alone! Can you specify please a few of those sounds, and talk about the musical process of creating this song on this record?
Wallis Bird: Glad you could hear that 🙂 Throughout the record there’s guitars, piano, bass, percussion, synths, strings, noise, voices, rhodes, marimba, whistling, tin whistles, clarinet, harps, field recordings of bars and parties, it’s a big bowl of madness and memories, and that’s just on ‘Life Is Long’! Ah, what can I say, I just love instruments and hearing their mechanics and their soul ebb and flow so I never really know when to stop adding instruments. It’s the feeling of inviting more and more friends to the party, I simply love the company they bring.
Taking a step back, do you feel you could have made an album like Woman a decade ago, when you were starting out?
Wallis Bird: Yeah and I should have, but here I am, time and tide and all that! I tend not to regret things I have or haven’t done, if I can change the fact in the future then I just do that, but otherwise I can’t change the past so I acknowledge it and do it some other way.
What is it about where you are today, that makes Woman an especially powerful album for you right now?
Wallis Bird: It’s a retrospective for me. I’m 36 now, I’ve always wanted to be 36, I love getting older and looking back at my life, my opinions, my achievements and see where I can improve. I’m also ready to be open about my opinions on life and love in a more candid, critical way which is leaving me vulnerable, and so I’m ready to be questioned, challenged on my thoughts in a way I wasn’t before. It’s daunting and good for me.
I love your opening track and single, “As the River Flows”! Why did you open the album with this song?
Wallis Bird: Because it’s a statement. I’m banishing racism, shouting for empathy, physically using words to incite change in the disgusting and lazy racism against migrants – our fellow humans. I’m so sick of racism towards refugees and migrants so in this song I get pretty personal. It’s not like me to name people, or be so aggressive, but honestly, times are hard now with the rise of right wing politics and populism and I’m scared shitless so I’m calling it out. This song purposefully celebrates the power and the story of migration – nothing and no one ever stays static.
This song purposefully celebrates the power and the story of migration – nothing and no one ever stays static.
“Life Is Long” comes third in the record. What role do you think it plays on Woman?
Wallis Bird: Nice question! I think if you listen to the lyrics you’ll see that I revert almost to childlike adoration for my parents. I think it’s a very lucky thing to have a strong bond with one’s parents, let alone to share such beautiful intense times with them and I’m unabashedly thanking [them] and showing the world my love for them. I think any parent would be happy with that, wouldn’t they? I hope it inspires more people to do that!
Can you talk about the numbers you sing in the verse, “35, 66…” etc?
Wallis Bird: I was 35 when I wrote it, My Mam was 66, my Dad was 71, we were all in the bed, arms around each other – 3 drunk dopes in a hotel after a hilarious night together.
The chorus line, “Life is long but the time is short,” has really stuck with me since I first heard it. Can you talk about why this symbolism was important for you, and what led you to write a song about it?
Wallis Bird: It’s a line that my parents said one evening. My Dad said, “Life is long,” and my Mam said, “but the time is short,” so I absolutely had to write a song about it. Life is long is such a beautiful thought because by changing one word from the old phrase “life is short”, I actually gain my time back – it’s just how I use it! I am the creator of my time. Time is relative. If you think and move and live slowed down and more mindful, even a short time can be filled with value. Life is about our mindset and connection with the moment, our environment, our imprint.
What are some of your favorite moments on Woman, and why?
Wallis Bird: I love the pause in ‘Time It Is Not Waiting’, that whole song was a proud moment where I noticed an upgrade in my songwriting skills. I saw it as, “Well, I put the hours in, so my work is working for me,” – if you know what I mean. And I wrote it so quickly. The good songs often happen like that for me. Hypnotic, subconscious, just dishing out! I barely feel like I wrote it, I was so lost in the song. To be honest, I love the whole record. I wrote it with everything I had; it feels like just one song.
How do you think you grew as an artist over the course of making this music?
Wallis Bird: Jesus, how much time do you have! haha! In every which way possible I’ve grown, including any retrograde because I also see that I can absolutely take my work further. I could be a virtuoso on some instruments if I only put my mind to it, but I’ll get around to it! Over the years I’ve learned to put more intent into all facets of the songwriting and performing and work on it as a sculptor might. I’ve learned to give 100 percent of myself without burning out when I’m ‘working’ because I believe I have 110% to give, [so] I just save the last 10 for myself. That realisation has been a game changer for me. I’ve also taught myself to be gentler on myself and flow easier.
In the interest of hyping everyone up about your album, why would you say this is a record other people should listen to this year?
Wallis Bird: Because it is a fucking good record!
Lastly – and I like to ask everyone this question: Who else should we be listening to? Who else should be on my radar?
Wallis Bird: Listen to Anais Mitchell, Villagers, Devo, Björk, Radiohead, Sam Vance Law, Get well Soon, Tullara, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Carol Pope, Laurie Anderson, Nils Frahm, Amanda Palmer, Ani DiFranco…..
Stream: “Life Is Long” – Wallis Bird
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📸 © Jens Oellermann
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