Rising Rock Star Towa Bird Talks Fame, Fashion and Upcoming Album
By Alexis Watkins
With almost one million followers and a whopping 19.3 million likes on TikTok, there’s an artist who is showing how the use of the internet can benefit a new generation of musicians. Known for her impressive guitar solos and covers of songs, Towa Bird is making a name for herself.
TikTok has become one of the most widely used social media platforms in the last few years. The sounds that make their way to TikTok are unique, and range from Nicki Minaj audio clips, movie scene audios, occasional memes, and, of course, music. Towa has been able to gain attention on the app and shows no sign of stopping.
At the age of 14, Towa started her own band, and eventually began performing in street festivals and dive bars in Hong Kong. Her love for music outweighed her desire for a degree, which led Towa to drop out of college to pursue her career in music. During lockdown, Towa began co-writing and producing for other artists. Around this time, she began soloing and covering classic hip-hop, pop, and R&B songs on TikTok, which caught the attention of artists such as Tyler, The Creator, and Willow.
Since then, Towa has been working on music of her own, and has been signed with Interscope Records since 2021. There have been multiple singles released by the artist, including her most recent, “This Isn't Me.” The song delves into the feelings of being an outsider in a space where Towa felt she couldn't fully feel like herself in.
“I was flown out to Paris for fashion week. Everyone there seemed to know each other, and I knew no one. Conversations didn’t feel authentic. Questions felt layered. ‘Who are you?’ felt like ‘Who can you be to me?’; ‘Where are you from?’ felt like ‘Why do you deserve to be here?’ There were celebrities, carpets, catwalks, and paparazzi. It was a paradox — the opportunity was so amazing and I’m so grateful, but I felt entirely alone,” Towa explained.
With lyrics like, “I’m nameless, and everybody here is so fucking famous/ Is it too soon to say I hate this?” listeners can hear the imposter syndrome take hold.
Other singles released this year by Towa include “Wild Heart” and “Boomerang.” The influence of artists like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who inspire Towa, can be heard on these two tracks with the indie rock and post-punk sound throughout each song.
The biggest release from her yet will be her forthcoming debut album, “American Hero.” Towa started writing songs for this album when she was in a transitional period moving from the UK to the US. During this time, Towa had to adapt to American culture.
“My girlfriend is also American, and a lot of the songs on there have to do with our relationship. I draw a lot of inspiration from our relationship. So you're seeing kind of a lot of vulnerability and a lot of heart that I'm putting out there — which kind of is the opposite of a hero. I'm not American,” Towa explained. “So the title is completely ironic, in a way, and when I think of American heroes, I think of people like Chris Evans, you know, literally Captain America. Tall, strong, white guys, which again, isn't me. So, yeah, it initially started as a joke, and then the more and more I developed this project, it kind of just stuck. So it's just supposed to be a little subversive.”
Towa will be touring starting this September with Reneé Rapp and Alexander 23 across the US and Canada. She’s excited to play “This Isn't Me” for fans, and is most excited for fans to hear the song “A Party” on her upcoming album.
When taking the stage, how Towa presents herself, with not only the clothes and jewelry she chooses to wear, but also her guitar of choice, plays a big role in how she feels. Currently her favorite is her Gibson Firebird.
“It's just like fashion. It's like a piece of clothing, like when you put it on and feel a certain way. Everyone knows when they put on that one shirt or that one fit and it makes you feel powerful.”
The guitar has long been Towa’s instrument of choice, although she took a break from playing the instrument for about four years. She came back to it, and since has been eager to share her intense guitar solos and cathartic vocals, which fans can expect to hear more of this Fall from her new album and live shows.