Big Year For Little Birdy

Little Birdy are capping off a big year in 2004 by playing the Big Days Out across Australia in the coming months. The band’s singer/songwriter Katy Steele talks to about the upcoming shows, their debut album, and the exploding Perth music scene.

The last twelve months has seen Perth band Little Birdy go from strength to strength as they have firmly established themselves in Australia’s music landscape. The release of their debut album last year, BigBig Love, was received well by critics and audiences alike, and has led to exposure and success in both the independent and mainstream arenas.

Lead singer Katy Steele says although the last twelve months have been hectic, its really been something of a frenzy for the band since its inception in early 2002.

“It’s been pretty full on since we started, really. We kind of started and then straight away things kind of evolved quite quickly,” Steele says.

“That was something that took a while for – well didn’t really take so much to get used to – but kind of going from doing normal jobs to doing a band full time was a bit of a shock, I think, for all of us.”

The band’s success, although not quite overnight, has been remarkably rapid. However, Steele points out that the band’s current status would not have come about were it not for the constant hard work put in by the whole band.

“Once all this stuff kind of happened we just took it on board and instead of kind of getting freaked out by it, we just got inspired by it, and worked even harder, and we haven’t really stopped working since – since we got the attention that we got at the start,” Steele says.

“In a way it feels quite fast, but we don’t really have a grasp on how long it’s been because we’ve just been working the whole time.”

Little Birdy are but one of a number of emerging Perth bands who have gained increased recognition in the last year. Bands such as Eskimo Joe, End of Fashion, Gyroscope and the Panda Band have all enjoyed a certain amount of success on the national stage over the past twelve months.

Steele says Perth has always had bands putting out great music, but its only recently that the rest of the nation has caught onto it -thanks in part to increased airplay from commercial radio.

“There’s always been a lot of music there, I think commercial radio and stuff has really helped with getting bands, you know, a bit more exposed.”

“Triple J’s always been there and Triple J is amazing and does so much for so many bands, but you know, on an Australian level there are so many other radio stations which are playing new bands as well which is really good.”

Steele says there is no precise reasoning as to why so many bands from the West are receiving the attention from commercial FM stations, but perhaps it has something to do with the radio-friendly pop melodies they are producing.

“A lot of bands that are coming out of Perth are quite poppy, so that generally is a good way to start, I suppose. But I don’t really know – hopefully it keeps going though,” she says.

Although not strictly a pop band, Little Birdy’s catchy, melodic music and lyrics certainly has some healthy elements of pop music infused, a fact Steele is happy to admit.

“Being the main songwriter and being the person that writes the melodies, I’d like to think of myself as a bit of a ‘pop-head’,” she says.

“I think, generally, I like listening to a melody that is catchy and melodic, and I think most pop is catchy and is based around melody – and that’s the one thing that I strive for, is writing a song that has good melody.”

“So if you’re looking at it like that I think we are quite a ‘poppy’ band, but I wouldn’t say we’re a pop band, I think there’s a lot of influences in there.” Steele says.

Despite its amplified exposure to the national consciousness, Perth’s music scene is still fairly tight knit, according to Steele.

“It is pretty small, obviously my brother in The Sleepy Jackson, and my boyfriend in End Of Fashion, our drummer Matty lives with Joel from Eskimo Joe, and we’re good friends with The Fergusons and the Panda Band, and there’s like a million bands but its more than just knowing them, it’s being quite close to them.”

The band’s debut longplayer, BigBig Love, has been a total triumph for the band – hitting the Australian charts at number five, as well as receiving some favourable critical acclaim.

Steele says she and her bandmates are very proud of the work they have produced, although the successfulness of the record wasn’t at the forefront of the band’s thinking as they were aiming towards a quality album from the get-go.

“We were pretty much aiming towards the album since we started. That’s always been the goal, to put out a really good album. We’re proud of it, I’m hoping the next one is going to be a step up, and then the one after that is going to be a step up again,” she says.

Before the album was even complete, Steele says she was already writing new songs and thinking towards their second album. A testament to the band’s prolific work ethic.

“It was like a week after we finished the first one that I started stressing about the next one and started working on it,” Steele says.

“I’ve already got quite a few songs, probably about fifteen new ones that I need to get out.”

There will be plenty of opportunity for Steele to test out the band’s new material in the coming weeks, as Little Birdy takes to the stage for the Big Days Out across the country.

Steele says she and the rest of the band are thoroughly looking forward to playing their debut year on the Big Day Out bill.

Steele is particularly excited, as the band performing at the annual set of concerts will be something of a dream come true.

“I remember going to the Big Day Out when I was 14, standing in the crowd, as everybody does when they go there thinking ‘man, one day I want to be on that stage, one day I want to be on that stage doing what they’re doing’ and I can’t believe that my dream has come true.”

“I’m really going to enjoy myself and try and put on the best show possible.”

The Big Day Out Shows:

Auckland:        Friday 21st January, 2005
Gold Coast:     Sunday 23rd January, 2005
Sydney:           Wednesday 26th January, 2005
Melbourne:      Sunday 30th January, 2005
Adelaide:         Friday 4th February, 2005
Perth:              Sunday, 6th February, 2005