Little Birdy Biography

 
Little Birdy

Some album titles need explaining. This isn't one of them. "Confetti fell out of my mouth, the word just literally came out of nowhere", reflects Little Birdy's singer/songwriter/guitarist, 25-year-old Katy Steele. It was a happy accident because the title perfectly captures the ying/yang, bittersweet feelings that inspired this special album. It's a collection of classic-sounding tracks that sound like Dusty Springfield has been teleported from her Memphis heyday into modern-day Melbourne...and she's brought Burt Bacharach and Midlake along for the ride. Written during a rollercoaster year of old endings and new beginnings, it's no wonder that so many of the songs seem to look into the rearview mirror and out the windscreen all at the same time. After dabbling in a more keyboard-driven approach on their previous top 5 charting album "Hollywood", "Confetti" sees Little Birdy returning to the organic sounds which featured on their acclaimed debut "Big Big Love". However, this time they also introduced a slew of new instruments -- brass, strings, even theremin - to create a distinctive piece of work that goes well beyond anything they've attempted previously. With two acclaimed, gold-certified discs already under their wings, the four members of the band chose to produce "Confetti" themselves with the help of Melbourne- based engineer/mixer Steven Schram. The guys and gal all dedicated over 12 months to obsessively honing the tunes and capturing appropriately spirited performances. If you've been paying close attention you'd know that the album's opening song - "Brother" -- was released as a free download a few months back and became the most played track of the month on Triple J during February. The raw-boned track features guest vocals and harmonica from Australian music legend Paul Kelly. The song is a compelling piece of acoustica inspired by a lifetime with Katy's brother Luke and father Rick. It opens with the unforgettable couplet, "My brother he taught me how to fly. My papa he taught me how to cry" The actual lead single from "Confetti" is "Summarize"; an up-tempo stomp that's already a live fave. It will hit the airwaves in March. Also bowing that month is a memorable video directed by the team at Head Pictures who created ARIA award-winning clips for Silverchair and Bernard Fanning. Like the song itself, and the album's artwork, the video fuses imagery from the Stax & Motown era with some undeniably post-modern hues. Unlike many albums these days, this is a cohesive body of work that's intended to be heard from soup to nuts. Each and every song helps tell the story of a bittersweet year of ups and downs, so let's give Ms. Katy the last word ...

"We just want to try and continue to be as honest as we can with our music. We don't want to be swept away with any trends. We want to make it feel timeless and most of all, we want people to feel something real when they listen. That's all."
Confetti -- Track by Track
Brother Katy: It was hard showing the band that song because it seemed so obvious and simple. It was so personal that it felt like standing naked in front of someone and going...here I am! Simon: When we first heard "Brother", Barney, Matty and I thought, "that song is amazing!" It had a pleading or questioning in the way it was sung...it just sounded like a true, pure song. Summarize Katy: This was probably the hardest song on the album to finish because when I wrote it I imagined it to be a country song. If you actually listen to the chord progression and the melody it has a real Johnny Cash/Hank Williams vibe and that's what I had in my head. But when the guys got their hands on it, it changed into a totally different sound and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Matty: It took a loooooong time to get this one right. It was a song Katy wrote on acoustic guitar - as a country song - and I really liked it right from the start. I thought it was pretty perfect the way she had it. But we ended up turning it completely on its head and it ended up a Motown/Stax Records-influenced song and that really gave it a life of its own. It did take us ages and ages to get it right though -- with a little help from a friend. Simon: The guitar literally came to me in a dream. The other guys were recording some other parts whilst I was napping on the studio couch. When I woke, the riff was playing in my head. It was too good to be true - I thought it must be another band's guitar line! Hairdo Katy: I don't mind that this is a straight-up song. Yes, it's catchy and yes, it's simple - the theme or message of it is to just be you. I find it so refreshing when I meet someone and they are just themselves and there is no mask, no falseness, there is just a person -- purity. It's like saying, you don't need any trendy shit, if you just be yourself you will stand out in the crowd. To me the whole album is about that in a way. Be yourself, enjoy it, live long, smile, be happy. Simon: It's the track that I really enjoy. I tried to capture the same vibe on this as our song 'Baby Blue', although it's quite different musically. Stay Wild Katy: This is a full-on driving song. It's a song about being free, embracing life, moving. We got the gospel choir in for it and the bass and drums sound very '70s, which is totally cool. It's a glorious kind of song. Matt: We got our friend Kathy Potter to add some strings to this one as it wasn't quite 'there' when we first recorded it. Her score is amazing and took the song to another place. It really made all the difference. It's my favourite song from a production point of view. Into My Arms Katy: It's a painful song with painful subject matter and I think we really captured the moment. Matt: This was recorded all in one complete take. Katy sang live while playing piano with all four of us in the same room. Drums, bass, guitar, piano and vocal were all recorded to tape in one take -- which, sadly, is not how most people record these days. It was important that this song had the 'old-school-vibe' to really bring out Katy's emotion. Dark of Night Katy: Production-wise it's my favourite song. It's got a genuine Shangri-Las quality to it. I think in a lot of ways it's the kind of song that unravels. It might take one or two listens, but once you hear the lyrics it's an unforgiving song - it's brazen. On the surface it sounds like a cute little song, but underneath it's a bit like a slap in the face. The lyric is basically saying, 'I have to go out into the Dark of Night to go and get what you can't give me." Matt: We had Dash & Will on that one -- they added the very cool "Doo Wop" backing vocals to really give it that 50s girl group sound. Run Run Run Katy: I think it's such a great example of how we really connect as a band. The band really nailed it. This was written over a long period of time in my life. It was very transitional. I like the fact that it's got a dark feel to it. It's written like a lot of songs on the record, about my move to Melbourne. It's about challenging yourself and throwing yourself into the deep end. I think that when you challenge yourself you become a lot stronger. Barney: It's the up-tempo track on the album. It's a bit more left of centre. The music seems to take over -- there is some breathing space in the vocal. Everyone Is Sleeping Katy: I wrote this song as if I was singing it to someone lying next to me...actually it was inspired when someone was lying next to me. I wanted it to be like an old Hank Williams song or a cute little country song -- imagine Dolly Parton singing a song with a Ukulele in a caravan...something reminiscent of an American lullaby or bedtime song. We made it a little more grand and theatrical in the studio. Visually, this song makes me think of Breakfast At Tiffany's...it's A little "Moon River-esque". I like the pure simplicity and the honesty in it. It's an invitation for people to be honest and open with their emotions. It's the most romantic song on the album.
Confetti Katy: This song is about emotions. It's saying my heart isn't like a little piece of paper - it isn't something you can just pick up and throw away. Emotions are real, people are real and we all get caught up and we forget that the small things are really important. It's just saying, 'I'm not some inanimate object you can throw away - I'm real'. Matt: This is a really dramatic song. We wanted to create a lot of tension leading up to the end of the track and then have it explode into a grand, anthemic climax to end the album. Porcelain (Hidden Track) Katy: Simon wrote this one. It's a really pretty and yet sad piece of music. I think Simon is really talented at writing music and melody. Matt: We recorded this in one take at the very end of the album tracking. Late one night, everyone was starting to get very sleepy which was the energy that was needed for this song to sound right. I think it took us 3 or 4 takes to get it just right -- with the perfect amount of sadness. It's a very powerful song and is easily the saddest song we've recorded...even though it doesn't have any singing on it. There is something about the chord progression and the brooding cello that rips your heart out. Simon: A girl I met with china-white skin inspired this one. I write most of my songs on an old 1920s upright piano that has so much character it inspires me everytime.

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