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Towa Bird Is Ready To Spread Her Wings

The guitarist is becoming a headliner with her debut album and solo festival sets.

by Dylan Kickham

Towa Bird is familiar with being a supporting act, but now she’s taking center stage herself. For the past several months, Bird’s been on tour with Reneé Rapp, playing guitar in her live band. But as her debut album American Hero finally takes flight on June 28, the shaggy-haired rocker is headlining her own concerts, like her upcoming solo set at the All Things Go Festival in September. Although she’s enjoyed winning crowds over as Rapp’s opener, the 25-year-old from Hong Kong (who’s now based in Los Angeles) is ready to play for her true superfans.

“When you're a supporting act, the fans aren't there to see you. They don't know who you are,” Bird tells Elite Daily. “It is definitely humbling. You're going out there and no one really gives a sh*t about you. And then by the fourth song, people start to get a little bit more into you. And I'm like, ‘OK, this is a win. I’m doing my job well.’”

She’s had a much different experience when she’s top-billed at her own concerts. “Headlining, I feel that’s much easier,” she says. “It feels like I'm at home. I am with my community. I know the fans by name.” Bird’s gained a lot of attention in recent years for her shredding. About three years ago, she became a viral sensation for her guitar covers on TikTok, then she had a standout guitar solo in Olivia Rodrigo’s performance of “Brutal” during her 2022 Driving Home 2 U film. Her biggest break came in 2023, when she was featured on Rapp’s spiteful single “Tummy Hurts.”

They first performed the song live together at the start of Rapp’s Snow Hard Feelings Tour, and Bird recalls that performance fondly. “It was very surreal,” she says. “We didn't really plan anything. We were like, ‘We're just going to have fun and play on stage together.’ I think that's what made it quite natural. We don't know what's going to happen, but I think it's going to be cool.”

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Also surreal? Bird’s flashy Hollywood moment last March, when she attended Vanity Fair’s Oscars after-party arm-in-arm with Rapp. Their appearance together fueled a fan rumor that Bird and Rapp may be in a relationship. Neither has confirmed the speculation — seemingly avoiding red-carpet questions about it — but Bird says she finds the sudden interest in her personal life “strange to take in.”

Still, she’s gotten better at handling the attention. “I can navigate those spaces a little bit better than I used to. I'm less like a deer in the headlights now,” Bird says. She sang about her discomfort in disorienting celebrity environments on her 2023 single “This Isn’t Me,” which was inspired by an isolating trip to Paris for Fashion Week the year prior.

“Before, I was just so overstimulated by everything,” she says. “But it’s definitely still a little anxiety-inducing. It's certainly not comfortable, but there's part of me that enjoys it.”

The lesbians are rising up! We're finally getting our stage.

Where Bird truly feels at home is on stage — especially when that stage is full of queer energy, like when she played at Coachella with Rapp in April. This year’s festival was celebrated by LGBTQ+ music-lovers for how much it highlighted queer women artists.

“It's great that the lesbians are rising up! We're finally getting our stage,” Bird says of the event. “It feels like I'm part of something bigger that's happening in queer culture, and in pop culture in general. It’s like, finally there is this space for lesbian anthems and songs about p*ssy.”

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Bird will be riding these gay music festival vibes all summer long, especially when she performs her solo set at All Things Go. The Maryland-based festival, which is also expanding to NYC this year, has a stacked lineup of queer artists, and Bird is looking forward to seeing her favorites on stage, singling out Chappell Roan, Julien Baker, and The Japanese House. “I'm mostly just excited to be gay with everyone,” she says.

Her All Things Go set will likely serve as a live debut for some new tracks on American Hero. The songs she’s most eager to finally sing live are her latest release “Sorry Sorry” and a blistering breakup banger called “Deep Cut.” The album is the result of two years of Bird’s work, and it’s gone through many forms as the singer has gotten new pieces of inspiration from the superstars she’s worked with. Along with her musical collab with Rapp, Bird has also played guitar for Olivia Rodrigo and worked with Billie Eilish.

“They are all incredibly honest and transparent as individuals. So just watching them be so honest, open, and willing to share authentically, that’s what I took from them.” Bird says of how Rapp, Rodrigo, and Eilish impacted her. “People really can tell if you're bullsh*tting. Fans are smart. So seeing how they work encouraged me to put my defenses down and be more open as a human being and as an artist.”

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That emotional honesty is at the forefront throughout American Hero on confessional love songs like “Wild Heart” and odes to long-distance yearning like “FML.” Not every track is about romance, but queer love is a clear central theme.

The release seems poised to further cement Bird as an artist at the forefront of young queer pop, a genre that a certain “Karma” singer has recently claimed to invent. Yes, Bird has thoughts on JoJo Siwa’s “gay pop” controversy, but she sees the silver lining of how it went down.

“I'm so happy there was that spark that allowed all these queer artists to be like, ‘Hey dude, I'm also here, by the way,’” Bird says, referring to the queer pop stars who responded to Siwa, including Tegan and Sara and Betty Who. “I'm glad that it's being discussed. I feel like before it wasn't even being talked about. Now, lesbians are really having their time.”

And Bird is at the center of this exciting moment. With buzzy festival dates ahead and a head-banging debut album finally seeing the light of day, this summer’s forecast seems clear: It’s Towa Bird season.