Thong Luc

Towa Bird Is Ready to Soar

Intimate writing and exhilarating musicality make up this versatile singer-songwriter who you should be listening to… if you’re not already.

Towa Bird is bringing back that unique female-fronted energy to the space of rock and roll again; think early-2000s Fefe Dobson meets a late-sixties Janis Joplin. Bird is fierce and inspiring as she takes on those eras of rock and lets them shine through her young, modern music.

She picked up the guitar at age 12 as a way to express herself and hone her dynamic energy, and here she is now at 24 opening up for Broadway star-turned-global sensation Reneé Rapp. It’s a can’t-miss run of dates with vocals galore. You see, born in Hong Kong, but spending most of her childhood in Thailand and London, Towa Bird has an epic journey to pull influence from. And it was only of recent that she moved to Los Angeles, breaking the mold with her classic style and melodic edge, which made her the talk of the town.

Her debut album, American Hero, due out later this year, is a slice of nostalgia. The rock and roll singles we have already heard – “Wild Heart,” “Boomerang,” “Drain Me,” and “This Isn’t Me” – are gaining Bird a slew of followers, including Thomas Powers and Alisa Xayalith from The Naked and Famous, who helped produce the forthcoming record.

The Aquarian sat down with the impassioned singer and budding rocker to talk her new album, what it means to be a female in a male dominated field, and what the Towa Bird live experience is really like. 

Where did you get your name from?

My surname is Bird and Towa is a family nickname that just stuck.

Do you think there is a niche to fill for women in rock?

I don’t think there’s any good time for women in rock. It always felt like it was a male dominated genre. There are artists like Olivia Rodrigo; she has that indie rock sound to a very clean pop vocal and songwriting. I think rock is slowly coming back, but I don’t know if I am filling a niche. I’m just out here thinking what I think I know is best.

Do you put the melody down first over the lyrics?

I usually put lyrics first! I write out the story or the context of what I want the song to be about. I write in prose and puzzle all the lyrics together. It depends on the context, but I do usually write lyrics with guitar, since they go hand-in-hand together. 

Your debut album American Hero is out later this year. Name one word to describe it and why?

Energy. There’s a lot of high tempo songs on the record with a lot of guitar solos and big anthemic moments. I grew up on classic and indie rock with these big choruses – growing up on that music fills me with such energy and makes me want to write songs like that. 

You have a handful of singles out right now. Are they indicative of what the album will sound like?

The four singles paint a clear landscape, but there’s more to come. There is a lot more vulnerability that I’m excited to show the listeners. This album is an introduction to me as artist. I’m showing different sides that I have never shown before. I am showing different sides of my personality and telling different stories.

So, for you, what is the meaning behind the album?

Yes, it’s supposed to be entirely ironic. I moved to this country and it was a huge transition for me, and while I was doing that, I was also writing this record. I was settling into this country as an immigrant. As far as being a hero, I am showing my vulnerability and being very open in my music. It’s entirely ironic. When I think of a hero, I think of a Chris Pratt character.

You’ve worked with Thomas Powers and Alisa Xayalith from The Naked and Famous. How did you end up collaborating with them and what were those experiences like?

Thomas reached out to me and heard my name around town in Los Angeles and reached out to my management. I was a huge fan and knew their music since I was a kid, so being in a room with them was incredibly surreal. It’s like your heroes turned into your friends. They were very supportive from the jump. 

You name Jimmy Page, Joan Jett, and Prince as some of your influences. What else do you listen to and what are some other of your influences?

I listen to a wide range of things. As a music fan, I listen to rock, pop, soul, R&B, and hip-hop. I like classical, too. In terms of influences I grew up on sixties and seventies rock: Pink Floyd, [Led] Zeppelin, [Jimi] Hendrix, The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Who. I love early 2000s rock, as well, like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kasabian, Oasis, Blur. 

What is Towa Bird live experience like?

It’s pretty energy based. I’m out there every night and breaking a sweat. I want to throw a party for my fans. I think every song has a guitar solo. It’s pretty fucking loud and there is a lot of head banging. 

What would you like to tell you fans at this point?

I think to be open. I want them to feel excited for this because I am very excited to show them the rest of this record. They’ve been very supportive and receptive to me so far. I just hope the more I put out, the more they can invest in and find themselves in my story.