Towa Bird: I want to be the lesbian Paul McCartney”

100%: The British-Filipino musician’s anthemic pop-rock has won the approval of Olivia Rodrigo and Reneé Rapp.

Music does not offer job security, but I like that it keeps me on my toes!” says British-Filipino musician Towa Bird, who, for now at least, has nothing to worry about. Over the last few months, she’s supported Mean Girls musical star Renée Rapp on the US and European legs of her tour, released her tongue-in-cheek single B.I.L.L.S to critical acclaim, recorded and released an EP, Live from Terminal 5, and announced her debut album.

It’s been the opposite of chill, but I’m having the best time ever,” Towa continues, Zooming in from her hotel room in Dublin, where she’ll play her final show tonight. But my body is like, please give me a break!”

Born in Hong Kong and raised between Thailand and London, Towa reckons being exposed to so many different cultures growing up gave her an advantage when it came to writing lyrics later on. I had to learn to be vulnerable and string sentences together that everyone would understand,” she says, which inevitably influenced my songwriting and lyricism.” That, and the fact her dad constantly had early 70s, late 60s classic rock blaring in the house. Towa credits this for igniting her affinity for guitar music, her first love”. She picked up the instrument when she was 12.

Having dropped out of a music degree at Goldsmiths to produce and co-write music for other artists, the now LA-based Towa caught TikTok’s eye over the pandemic, thanks to her innovative covers and riffing R&B and hip-hop tracks. She earned a few famous fans in the process, too – namely Billie Eilish and Tyler, The Creator, who shouted her out on socials. Meanwhile, Olivia Rodrigo invited Towa to play the guitar for her song brutal in the former’s documentary, Driving Home 2 U. Now, Towa’s signed to Interscope, the same record label as Rodrigo.

I just want to be the lesbian Paul McCartney!” she says with a laugh. My favourite band in the world is The Beatles. I remember hearing the B‑side of Abbey Road specifically, and that being the first time I listened to music, how it flowed, how it made me feel.” Towa’s reverence for heritage acts, matched with sonic references to The Strokes and an exploration of her heritage and queerness, are what inform her specific flavour of pop-rock.

My songs are all about being open and coming to terms with my identity,” she says. I don’t think I could ever have dreamed to say in front of my parents, This is a song about lesbian sex’. I’ve come a long way and I hope that resonates with people.”


What ingredients are needed to make a great track?

A really great guitar riff and a really great concept, whether that’s lyric or story-wise.


What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

Be gay, do crime. Also being as honest and true to your story as possible. That’ll take you far. Keep your integrity.


If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?

It’s entirely contextual, but I’d try to make a good chicken adobo, which is a Filipino dish, with rice. There’s also a dish called lumpia, which is essentially spring rolls. I’d make them by hand, if I was really trying to get into bed with someone.


What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?

Probably drinking coffee.


You rule the world for a day. What goes down?

Get rid of men and make everyone gay. I’d also get rid of cars and make everyone walk around. Get rid of all the hierarchical systems so we can all hang out together.


What’s your trick for getting out of a boring conversation at a party?

Oh, man. I’m so bad at this. That’s something I learned about being in America – I’m probably too generous with my attention. My friends know I get stuck in conversations and they have to come and remove me.


Love, like, hate?

I love pho. I like Dr. Martens. I hate the fucking rain.


Favourite song of all time?

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window by The Beatles.


What’s the last lie you told?

I am the worst liar in the world. You can read every emotion I feel on my face. I don’t remember, but I hope it wasn’t bad…


What can artists do to help save the world?

Keep making bangers.

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