Singer Travis Birds is one of the most recognizable and promising voices in the Spanish music scene. Self-taught, Birds began playing and composing at the age of 19 when she was struck by a deep existential crisis, which she now calls “my tunnel without light.”
Her first album was created through a combination of crowdfunding, word of mouth and a series of fortunate, chance encounters, laying the foundation for her breakthrough to international success with her second album. Coyoteswhose title song was chosen for the soundtrack of popular Spanish series The embarcadero (The Red Pier) by Money theft creator Alex Pina.
Her single 19 slides and 500 noches (19 days and 500 nights) a cover of legendary 20th century Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquim Sabina’s famous ballad, part of an album of Sabina covers, topped the Spanish charts and exceeded Birds’ wildest expectations.
Her stage name, Travis, is a nod to Robert De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle in Matin Scorcese’s Cab driver. She chose the last name Birds, she says, because as a child she was always told that she had “birds in her head.”
Birds new album, Perro Deseodropped on October 6. She spoke to THR Rome as she prepared to promote her upcoming tour, she discussed her inspirations, collaborations and why her new album features 11 songs.
Travis, let’s start by talking about the album. When did you realize which direction you would go in? Perro Deseo?
It was during the Mosquito coast tour for my last record I realized I wanted to discover something different. We started brainstorming by considering different genres of music: Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse and Nancy Sinatra; but also films and books that had a major influence on me. As for the lyrics, we chose Federico Garcia Lorca and other poets of the older generation. Central and South American literature from the Siglo del Oro, magical realism. When we focused on what we wanted to do, I started writing lyrics and bass music, and from there we moved on to harmonies and vocals. This process starts all over again, we can all contribute to the song until it is finished.
You said us, all of us. There is a sense of community in this album. People like Diego Herrera collaborated, even on the videos. You feel that there is a group, ideas flow from one mind to another. What is your working method when you collaborate with Tato Latorre and Paco Salazar in music productions?
Well, I always try to work out the idea with everyone, I never want my idea to be just that. I greatly appreciate the value and wisdom of the people I work with. Tato Latorre and Paco Salazar are part of my little family. The chemistry between us is very natural and that makes our productions so special. They are brilliant when it comes to finding the right sounds and musical textures to complement my lyrics. They are always willing to experiment and bring new ideas to the table. Their attention to detail really takes our songs to the next level. We work as a team. We discuss ideas and sometimes even challenge our creative limits to come up with something new and exciting.
This happened, for example, with “Peligro”, a song with a very Italian look and sound and very connected to Italian-American cinema, such as the soundtracks of Quentin Tarantino’s films, which had already inspired the music video of my song “Coyotes”. in the past. Danger was important in setting the pace for this album, because it’s very different, you know? It was a collaborative process where we relied a lot on our individual skills and the magic that happens when all the creative minds come together. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with them.
Your artistic evolution from 10 years ago is clearly visible in the music videos. The clip for “Cada Minuto” is the only one you made for this album that says in the description: “Original idea by Travis Birds.” How did the idea come about?
The truth is that with “Cada Minuto” the first thing I thought of was this “film”, a bit inspired by (Call me by your name director Luca) Guadagnino and other films, let’s say, and then write the music with this story in mind. Although then of course the video is not able to represent what was imagined, because the imagination can contain everything. (Director) Joaquín Luna has done a spectacular job and we have been able to tell the story of this relationship that starts with hitchhiking and quickly becomes an obsession.
Obsession was crucial to convey because each song on the album has a main emotion fueled by desire: Fame = “A Veces Sueño”; Property = “Cada Minuto”; Freedom = “Mis Aires”; Ecstasy = “Peligro”; Inspiration = “Perro Deseo”; Lust = “Cuando Satán vino a verme”; Magic = “Grillos”; Action = “Una romanticica”; Love = “Urgent”; Loneliness = “Oruga”; and beauty = “Canción del Valle.”
Why 11 numbers?
I know I’m going to sound crazy or something, but since you’re the first to ask, I’ll tell you that the number 11 has haunted me my entire life. This album would consist of 10 songs, because I believe all albums should have at least 10 songs. But when we saw that (Spanish singer-songwriter) Leiva was going to collaborate on “Grillos,” which was a very short song and I didn’t know whether to put it on the album or not, we decided it would be 11, we added ‘Grillos’. This reinforces the fact that the number 11 haunts me.
You have collaborated a lot in your career, especially in albums by different artists, such as the tribute to Joaquín Sabina. On ‘Mosquito Coast’ there was a vocal collaboration and an instrumental collaboration. On this album there are two singers (Depedro and Leiva). How did the collaborations with these two important musical figures come about?
I always wanted to work with Depedro and as soon as we wrote ‘Urgente’ the collaboration developed naturally, it was very easy for us to connect musically and I think you can see in the song itself that we shared our ideas could convey by putting the song first. With Leiva we didn’t know if it would happen because there were logistical problems and also Grillos is a completely different song than the songs he makes on his own.
His songs are very broad and “Grillos” was initially just a guitar song. But when I recorded with him he asked if I wanted to leave it that way and that touched my soul, it showed me that he understood the song more than anything and would defend it. Asking him to sing on this song was a question that took me some time. I think I even asked him 24 hours before I recorded it, and when he said yes, it was incredible. The song is also one of my favorites because it doesn’t follow the formula of most others, it simply describes a magical moment.
Check out the video for Travis Birds’ “A veces sueño.” Perro Deseo below.