Wallis Bird on communal living: ‘We have the opportunity to invent a life we would like’

The Irish musician talks about her new album, grief and her ambitious renovation project

Listen | 59:51

When she’s not busy writing music or touring with her latest album Visions of Venus, musician Wallis Bird spends her weekends renovating an old farmhouse outside Berlin, with her partner and friends.

The group of six bought the house two years ago and since then have been slowly restoring the building, with the aim of converting it into their dream home for communal living.

“We have the opportunity to invent a life that we would like,” the singer tells Róisín Ingle on the Irish Times Women’s Podcast. “I recommend it to anybody”.

Though the house is far from finished, Bird says the group are enjoying working together on the renovations: “We have the craic, we meet in the evening, light a big fire outside and play music…so we do all of the cheesy, sweet things, actually”.


“The house is primitive and beautiful. It was the production farm for the neighbouring castle. So when the [Berlin] Wall came down, people just walked away from their instruments, from their workshops… so there’s just tools all over the place just sat there…it was a museum when we moved in”.

In this episode, Bird also speaks about the inspiration behind her new album. Visions of Venus is a creative collaboration with the German classical quintet Spark and together they are showcasing 1000 years of female composers, from Clara Schumann to Kate Bush, Enya to Hildegard von Bingen.

“Hildegard von Bingen is the earliest composer, she’s from exactly 1000 years ago. She was what I’d call a German St. Bridget… She wrote music, healing drone music, which they still use in music therapy to this day,’ explains Bird.

You can listen back to the full conversation in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan is an audio producer at The Irish Times