Although she may have just turned 18, Jasmine van den Bogaerde, aka Birdy, is not your typical poppy teenybopper. With a writer for a father, a classical concert pianist for a mother, and a unique and hauntingly beautiful voice, it seems as though Birdy was destined to be a singer-songwriter.
Her debut, self-titled album from 2011, was a collection of heartfelt and emotional covers by artists like Bon Iver, Ed Sheeran, and Phoenix. While the success of her debut album gave Birdy wings, she’s about to take flight with her latest album, Fire Within, which is available online and in stores today.
We caught up with the little Birdy herself to get the full scoop on Fire Within, her entirely original sophomore album, the inspirations behind her lyrics, and the three songs she wrote and recorded for the soundtrack of the forthcoming film The Fault in Our Stars, which stars our June cover girl Shailene Woodley. Here’s what Birdy had to say.
Tell us a little bit about Fire Within, how is does it compare to your debut album?
It’s an album of all originals and for me that is very exciting! It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I had never thought of doing covers before “Skinny Love” so that was a different experience. I had an amazing time recording this album and worked with some very talented people.
You worked with some of the biggest songwriters on this album like Ryan Tedder [of One Republic] and Brian Wilson just to name a couple. What was it like co-writing?
It was my first time co-writing and it was really weird because I’ve always been a writer on my own. It’s weird to be open with someone you just met but I learned a lot and I love what we made.
What inspired your song writing for this album?
The songs are really about the past few years—being away from home and being away from family and friends and how those relationships have changed. Also the feeling of a new place and traveling. It’s just from things that happen around me.
You’re so young and your songs are so deep and profound, do these come from personal experience? Have you already experienced a devastating heartbreak?
No I didn’t, I’m not really sure where it comes from! I think a lot of it is creative writing and just where I grew up. I grew up in the south of England in a place called New Forest. It’s just really beautiful countryside right by the sea with lots of wild animals running about. It’s so secluded and peaceful that it’s almost sadness. It’s quite reflective.
Do you have a favorite song on your new album?
Right now I really enjoy playing and performing the U.S. version of Words As Weapons live. The U.S. version has real drive to it and is quite upbeat. The U.K. version is very melancholic and slow.
How was collaborating on The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack different from recording your own album?
I really enjoy writing for film and stories. I read the book quite quickly and loved it. It’s such a beautiful story and film and it was really wonderful writing for it. The songs were inspired by and are about Hazel and Gus and their relationship. There’s one song on the soundtrack I wrote when I was at home in England called Not About Angels,which is about Hazel trying to keep her distance from Gus but realizing they have something so true and raw and special that it should be cherished.
Is it harder to write a song for a specific story rather than something you’ve come up with on your own?
No I really like being influenced and inspired by a film or a book. For me that’s really helpful. I’m really lazy and slow at writing, but when there’s a deadline it motivates me.
Ok, we just have one last question: Where did the name Birdy come from?
It’s actually a nickname that my parents gave because when I was a baby and they tried to feed me, I would open my mouth really wide like a baby bird. And ever since then I’ve always been called Birdy.
Be sure to check out Birdy’s latest album Fire Within as well as her featured songs on The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack out now on iTunes!
Obsessed with The Fault in Our Stars and want more Shailene Woodley? See her best looks ever in our gallery!