Towa Bird is the Queer Guitar-Shredding Rock Star of Your Dreams

Which is why I find it refreshing and validating in a way, when an artist that doesn’t come from that world can play such a big stage. That’s a dream, right?

I’m not going to sit here and be like, “I don’t have privilege.” To be in this position, I had to be able to own guitars and be able to afford guitar lessons. There were doors that were opened for me. This is not the oppression Olympics. But there’s no one from my childhood who is doing things that are similar to me. It was a larger conversation among my family and my community of like, “This isn’t even a real job.” There was no one to look up to so I could say, “Look, so-and-so is doing this. It’s legitimate.” My parents have never seen me play live because they live in Asia, and that’s a long flight. But I’m leaving for a tour again on Sunday, and they’re going to come and see one of my shows for the first time. It’s going to be so cool. It’s unreal to me.

That’s part of the Reneé Rapp tour you’ve been on right? What are some things that you might’ve learned from Reneé, or maybe some things that she learned from you? Was there any kind of connection on the tour?

We are incredibly close. We would hang out backstage, and then go and do our sets, and then come back and hang out together again. In terms of learning things, I think just the way that she takes herself really seriously, but then also has this sort of lovely tongue-in-cheek element to her as well in her personality. Seeing that balance is really lovely. She really cares about her craft and really cares about her audience and puts in the hours and the work. I’ve always felt like a pretty hard worker, and I really give a shit. To see someone at her level give a shit as much as I do — it’s totally inspiring to be around.

Other than Reneé, who are some other artists that you look up to?

Well, my favorite band in the world is The Beatles. I want to be the lesbian Paul McCartney. I just think his fucking songwriting is so good. I love ’70s rock. Jimi Hendrix is my God. Zeppelin, The Who, The Kinks. Oh, MUNA is great. I met all of them recently which was really surreal, especially meeting Naomi, because everyone always makes comparisons. People are like, “You look like Naomi.” So meeting them and seeing them in real life and giving them a hug just created a black hole. Two people meeting for the first time who looked exactly the same? It was immediately on my Instagram.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

“B.I.L.L.S.” is out now via Interscope Records

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