Spotlight On… Towa Bird

Following her success as an opening act on both the US and European leg of Reneé Rapp’s Snow Harding Feelings Tour, Towa Bird rightfully deserves a place on everyone’s radar as their 2024 ‘artist to watch’.


The 24-year-old Filipino-British singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Hong Kong originally captivated many with her musical talent on TikTok. Her first video (posted in 2020, at the height of the first national lockdown), sees Bird enthusiastically shredding her guitar along to Tame Impala’s ‘The Less I Know the Better’. This online debut has since accumulated almost three million views and has earned Bird over one million followers on TikTok.


Her music encompasses her unapologetic identity as an androgynous, queer person


2023 brought the eclectic nature of Bird’s talent to the forefront with the release of her debut single, ‘Wild Heart’. The single features an energetic melody alongside lyricism featuring realism and vulnerability. The extent to which Bird exposes her vulnerability is a considerably compelling entity for a debut single, portraying transparency and an open mind within her music, which is particularly rare for a new artist. ‘Wild Heart’ honestly acknowledges the power of love, especially through gratitude and disbelief when a partner can “tame” her “wild, wild heart”.


Alongside ‘Wild Heart’, her following singles: ‘Boomerang’, ‘This Isn’t Me’, and ‘Drain Me!’ represent Bird’s efforts in revolutionising the male-dominated genre of alternative indie-rock. These efforts seem natural and almost effortless when listening to Bird’s music. This heightens her authenticity as an artist, as her music encompasses her unapologetic identity as an androgynous, queer person who is following her passion.


Bird’s charm and artistry ignite an element of nostalgia for fans of classic rock, particularly Jimi Hendrix, as Bird’s discography powerfully combines the melodic buoyancy of 1970s rock with the lyrical genius associated with 1990s Britpop. ‘Boomerang’ sonically imitates the style of Jimi Hendrix, as Bird’s powerfully executed guitar riffs provide vibrant instrumentation to juxtapose the song’s sombre themes. Bird’s clever lyricism constructs the metaphor of a boomerang to symbolise the back and forth of long-distance relationships, along with the immediate discomfort she experiences when distance defines her relationship. Although Bird’s mental turmoil and separation anxiety portrayed in the lyrics “My nervous system’s breaking down / and I’m missing you girl / and I hate that it feels like the end of the world,” may seem drastic, Bird’s lyrics illustrate the reality of yearning. A reality that heavily defines both the queer experience and long-distance relationships.


Whereas ‘This Isn’t Me’, provides introspection as Bird is overcome with sonder during her experience of alienation during Paris Fashion Week. The single’s honest and contemplative lyrics highlight Bird’s ability to reimagine 1990s Britpop lyricism. Lyrics like “I feel so small” and “I’m nameless, and everybody here’s so fucking famous,” overtly reiterate Bird’s feeling like an outsider within the industry and having to “take it on the chin” to appreciate the rare opportunities she is given. Throughout the song, Bird chants the title (‘This Isn’t Me’) as a form of grounding to avoid becoming all-consumed by ‘celebrity’ and fame. Aware of her position as an emerging artist, Bird remains critical of the industry and fame. This brutal honesty enhances Bird as an artist, challenging the male-dominated status quo of the rock genre and the archaic aspects of the industry. These nods to past genres provide Bird with a fresh and modernist perspective in the quickly developing world of rock music.


Bird’s charisma, electric energy, and immense talent make her a force to be reckoned with


This fresh perspective is seen through Bird’s ability to effectively encapsulate an often-unspoken reality for many young people experiencing the complexities of the world. Bird becomes the leader in expressing Gen Z’s anger and annoyance in her newest single, ‘B.I.L.L.S.’. This whimsical single is blatantly anti-capitalist, discussing the lack of opportunity for individuals without financial backing, seen through the lyric “land of the free if you can afford it” – which somewhat reflects Bird’s reality and potential isolation having left university and the UK for the US to follow her dreams. Despite its punchy guitar riffs and socially charged lyrics, ‘B.I.L.L.S.’ expresses a melancholic reality where ‘dreaming big’ is difficult. With lyrics like “I’m so tired of life’s expense” and “I’m so tired of writing checks”, B.I.L.L.S.’ is an anthem laced with references to contemporary anxieties surrounding finances and the over-powering ‘Establishment’. During a performance of the song in 2023 (which would later be released on her EP, Live From Terminal 5), Bird demands audience members display reverse-peace signs in the air, exclaiming the song is “saying fuck off to boomers. Fuck off to your landlord and fuck off to your bosses!” This socially conscious single could not have come at a better time, as individuals have been budgeting and scrambling to make ends meet between wage checks since the beginning of the Cost-of-Living Crisis.


Bird’s charisma, electric energy, and immense talent make her a force to be reckoned with within the music industry and will no doubt propel her into international stardom. Her long-awaited and highly anticipated debut album, American Hero, will be released later this year. The album’s release follows the infectious momentum created by the release of her singles and the fan response to her opening set and on-stage collaboration with Reneé Rapp during her European shows. If you are looking for evocative and socially conscious lyrics that you can scream at live gigs along with dreamy and nostalgic instrumentation from a talented, androgynous, queer artist– Towa Bird immediately comes to mind.


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