Soulful and ambient, the voice of Birdy Bardot is one that you can’t forget. The New York transplant has made her way in the San Diego music scene through working with The Redwoods Group and playing innumerable shows over the years. Now, on the cusp of releasing her second album, Bardot seems more confident than ever in the music she’s producing.
DiscoverSD sat down with the singer/songwriter at Tiger! Tiger! to talk about how she got started playing live music, The Redwoods label and the support she’s received from the scene here in San Diego.
DSD: How did you get started in the music scene in San Diego?
BB: I definitely didn’t plan on moving to San Diego to be in music. It was sort of a change of pace from New York. At first, I just fell in love with the environment. You know, being so close to the beach and the palm trees. I sort of fell into it, I guess, in 2010. I started going to to see some shows and meeting some musician friends. I started a band called the New Kinetics with Brian Riley. We got some momentum there and started playing all around town and found it to be a lot of fun. Meeting so many other people in the bands, it just kind of spun from there.
DSD: Were you performing before you moved here?
BB: Well, I’ve been singing since forever in school, college, things like that. I was never professionally gigging or anything like that back then. Funny enough, it all started when I moved to OB. I ran into Al Howard at the record store in OB. I played some shows with him. I used to like to write back in the day. Al is just so quick with writing, and I have an easier time with melodies. After working with him, it just happened to be at the same time they were starting The Redwoods label. It got a lot of momentum from their contacts, design people, the art work -- everything was all them. So many other musician friends I know live in OB. Matt Molarius lives there. Jason Littlefield lives around the corner. Since we are so close, I can head over to Matt’s house and create stuff.
DSD: That sounds like you found a magical niche in this place.
BB: Totally, I really have. I mean all of the girls in the Redwoods Label alone, Rebecca Jade, Shelbi, Dani Bell and everyone. We are all writing with each other and listening to each other. We write more when we are around each other. It’s really been cool.
DSD: Have you been working on anything since your self-titled album was released last year?
BB: Yes, I am! We have been writing a lot throughout this time while playing shows, and then we started playing some of the new stuff at the shows. We are starting to lay them down and record them. All the songs are kind of the same vibe, but just a lot more stuff going on. I’m very excited that we are starting to record them. They’re going to be really, really fun. The same vibe, but with all the stuff going on: politically, environmental stuff. I think it’s perfect for right now. We’re taking our time with it, but we are excited.
DSD: What influences your music most?
BB: When you’re growing up, I think you listen to music that is popular or what challenged you. As a vocalist, I listened to interesting vocals. I loved Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Gwen Stefani in No Doubt, Elastica, Amy Winehouse was great. There are a lot of strong female vocalists I listen to and enjoy, but I also love the classics. I love Etta James, Tina Turner, so many to name. I feel like when it comes down to it, when you are handed a lyric sheet, you have to find something in you and make it your own. It’s like your speaking voice, it just kind of happens.
DSD: It seems like you have had a relatively easy ride to a successful place in San Diego. Do you think so?
BB: I mean, yes. I think really what happened is I lucked out. It is really hard to do a solo project on your own, but when you connect with the right people, it helps exponentially. People that know people, people that influence people. I get to know people that way. Everything was so organic at first, it was easy, but it didn’t come without effort. I lucked out with the right people at the right time, but you still have to go out there and play all the time. If you don’t keep at it, you can get pushed out. I am fortunate enough to meet good people and be able to get good feedback. I’m really looking forward to people’s input on the new album. I know it was supposed to be a sh*tty year, but I had a really good year music-wise playing shows.
DSD: Your band plays with The Midnight Pine and several other bands. How do they make time for all the shows and touring?
BB: These guys are just machines. We have done shows before where they have played like, I would say four back-to-back sets basically. They’re all like heavy, heavy songs. I don’t know how they do it, that’s part of the magic of it all. These people have such limitless energy to be able to play behind all of us, five or six bands. They’re unstoppable. Al writes every day. They just keep going. Never a complaint, never ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m not interested.’ And Al, well you could run the city off the energy he puts into his lyrics. He is so prolific.
DSD: What inspires that go-go-go quality within your work?
BB: I have always been very receptive. As far as my writing, I am really observant of situations and things. Very reflective, I guess. Music gives me an outlet where I can express something. Working with Al, though, is something else. His words are poetry. I can instantly read them and be like oh, I can totally sing on this and project the right feeling. I do it for myself but I also do it for them. It’s just such a lucky thing to be a part of.
DSD: What’s your opinion on the music scene here?
BB: I am from New York, and it was so easy to get lost in that scene there. You get a show if you’re a big name, you’ll get a big pull if you’re known. San Diego isn’t like that. You don’t get these avid followers even if you’re not huge in New York. You don’t get people who will take pictures, and bring friends there like you do here. We got something special here. I think it’s a really unique place, and we cannot discount the effort that the music-lovers and fans put in to seeing the shows. I hope we are doing a good job for the people who are waiting for an upcoming album. What’s great is that you can actually grow a following here.
On With The Show: Psychadelic Masquerade at the Lafayette Hotel, Dec. 31.