Birdy’s sound offers the haunting emotion of a seasoned performer, despite her appearance as a soft-spoken 17 year old. The British singer (born Jasmine van den Bogaerde) emerged on the music scene in 2011, when her gut-stirring cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” gained her international acclaim. A smattering of cover songs and an EP later, Birdy is set to release her first original album, Fire Within, in the U.S. this spring. “The album is inspired by the past two years—traveling and meeting people and being away from home,” she says in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “The songs are all my stories. They’re all original songs and that’s something that’s new to me, that I’m sharing for the first time.”
While Birdy speaks gently, she is learning to be braver with her look. The new version of the “Skinny Love” video, shot in black-and-white, shows the singer in a ruffly tiered skirt, oversized coat and boots, wandering around an empty graffitied club like a ghost from a bygone era. “I wanted the video to reflect how I look now,” she says. As she prepares to kick off her U.S. tour in April, Birdy gives rare insight into her transformation from a girl raised on hand-me-downs to an artist who is figuring out she has a flair for avant-garde designers like Alexander McQueen.
In the third installment of the Style Record series, Birdy talks eccentric style, the inspiration behind the new version of “Skinny Love” and blue suede shoes.
Paste: Has your style changed in recent years?
Birdy:I think I’ve grown up a bit. I guess now everything I love is quite eccentric. I love high street shops and little vintage shops, I like unusual things in the main street shops. I love Topshop. It’s one of my favorite shops. Then we travel and go to new places we always end up with vintage stuff.
Paste: Where is your favorite place to thrift shop?
Birdy: I think France. Just because there are tiny little shops in the middle of nowhere and you come across them, and it’s pretty cool.
Paste: How do you blend vintage and high street style?
Birdy: Sometimes it’s like finding jewelry or other things that can make an outfit really bold and unique. A lot of my jewels I find in unusual places. There’s a ring that I found the last time I came to LA at the flea market. I always wear that.
Paste: Are there any artists who’ve influenced your style?
Birdy: I’ve never really had a fashion icon. I’ve grown up with so many cousins, when I was younger we had so many hand-me-downs and that’s what we’d wear. But I love Florence and the Machine. I think she has such cool style. She’s so eccentric.
Paste: Do you find your stage style is also more eccentric?
Birdy: Yeah I think sometimes. It’s still a little new, but I think on stage it’s a bit bolder. It’s kind of more fun to dress up a bit. It’s a chance to do something else. I was really lucky, I got to keep an Alexander McQueen dress from a video. It has an amazing cape on the back.
Paste: Where did the inspiration for your look in the newest “Skinny Love” video come from?
Birdy: I think I wanted it to be kind of edgy and unusual. The song to me is quite fragile and kind of mysterious and I wanted it to really match that. I thought the outfit was kind of Victorian. It was kind of eccentric and there were lots of ruffles.
Paste: Is that a sandwich you’re eating in part of the video?
Birdy: Yeah it was kind of random. It was a bit weird but in a previous video for my song called “Wings” I’m also eating a sandwich because I was hungry but I had to keep filming. I kind of wanted to carry that on in the next video.
Paste: Your cover of “Skinny Love” was originally released in 2011. Why did you want to release a new video for it now?
Birdy: It’s kind of the first time that it’s taking off in America, which is really cool. I wanted to do a video that was more up to date. I’ve grown and I look older.
Paste: What do you want audiences to understand about your look now?
I think I’m a bit braver now, and it’s kind of nice being away from school, because everyone wants to look a certain way. It’s kind of nice being free.
Paste: What are your favorite stores to visit on tour?
Birdy: I really like Forever 21, which we also have now in London. It’s a really good shop. Topshop I really like because a lot of it looks like it could be really vintage or older. Each piece of clothing is very different. It’s a lot of different styles in one shop.
Paste: How would you describe your festival style?
Birdy: The first festival I did was actually in San Francisco at Outside Lands. I loved it. There’s always a really wild audience. I always bring black skinny jeans, and I always bring a onesie on the tour bus. I have some really cool blue suede shoes from Topshop that I’m obsessed with. I’m wearing them all the time.
Watch the newest version of Birdy’s cover of “Skinny Love” below: