To the South, Bluebird is Sorin Pop’s one-man ‘dream pop' project, a transylvanian multifaceted musician who recorded his first album, Longings, in his bedroom. Since then, TTSB had the chance to open for acts such as Elsiane, Árstíðir, Behind the Shadow Drops or Crippled Black Phoenix. Blending melancholic guitar tunes and the backing vocals of Rahel Türk-König, the guest singer in live performances and some of the studio tracks, their music builds into an emotional and introspective journey, with songs about loving, leaving and longing.

1. First things first, how did you get into music?
Always loved listening to music. So when I was around 12 I started studying the keyboard at my initiative. But being a youngster who got bored fast and wanted to try many things, I soon quitted that in favour of trying athletism, and that is one of the things I regretted the most in the later years. When I got into high-school, I started a hardcore/metal band with a couple of friends. Screamed my lungs out, had a couple of shows, then brought an acoustic guitar and tried to explore other, softer sides of music by myself.

2. What's your earliest music related memory?

My parents used to listen to a lot of retro music, Boney M, Modern Talking and all that, so on a strict timeline, that's what I remember being the earliest. But my father would also sometimes jam to some rock classics like Scorpions or Pink Floyd.

Yet it was due to this strange music he brought home some day from a close friend of his, that I had my first encounter with an actual album and a true listening experience. It was the 'Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds' (1978) prog-rock album. Layed down on the floor one day when alone and cranked up the volume of our stereo and I think I listened to the whole damn album, having gotten so hooked by it. Still remember how the second track, 'Horsell Common and the Heat Ray' gave me the chills with that intro badass bassline.

3. Do you remember the first song you ever made?
Yeah, and it was a stupid and awkward one. But it made sense then, somehow, because I wrote it for a friend whose nickname was 'cinnamon'. So of course the title of the song was 'Cinnamons have feelings too'. It was a wannabe indie-folk piece with random lyrics. But it was a first step out of the basic guitar chords strumming, towards finger picking and alternative chords.

4. Name 3 massive influences of your sound and why, how they helped shape you.

I'm not sure you can really hear those influences in my music, as I've become a quite irregular and lumpy shape, but some way or another, consciously or not, these artists fed my creativity the most in the former shaping days.

One is Anathema, with their crushingly tragic songs and yet so hopeful too. Hell knows how many times I cried over songs like 'One Last Goodbye', 'Parisienne Moonlight', only to be then unwillingly saved by songs like 'Dreaming Light', which had that 'bright light at the end of the tunnel' vibe to them that I also kind of had on the Longings album too and that I now find so naive and annoyingly pure.

Another artist I held close to heart is Ólafur Arnalds. Discovered his first two albums, 'Eulogy for Evolution' and 'Found Songs' in 2009 and I was blown away by how fresh and different they sounded from everything I have heard by then. It was just what classical music would have sounded in an ideal universe for me then: minimalistic, nostalgic, bittersweet, floating and tingling like a feather. I discovered contemporary classical music. And I always wanted to exploit that more, but I haven't.

Last but not least, a rather obscure and terribly underrated artist, but whom I hold close to heart - The White Birch. Found him while looking for even slower and more melancholic music. There was so much space in his subtle music I almost felt suspended somehow, yet it felt so dense. I always wanted to achieve that, but I usually write without any objective, so I missed most opportunities. But this is a lesson I really have to learn from him: less is more.

Honorable mentions: Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Keaton Henson, No Clear Mind, Explosions in the Sky

5. What does a usual day in your life look like?
I work in a bookshop, I fantasize about reading more, writing better music, having better relationships, being a better man, and cutting the shawarma intake. I'm usually left disappointed, especially about the latter.

6. What was your most challenging moment as an artist?
Trying to separate the way my music was received by the others from my feeling of self-worth and accepting the realization that as an underground 'artist', and without a constantly harassing promotion, my music would just pour out into the endless abyss of songs no one had asked for in the beginning because there is already too much music in the world, just weeks from the release. Oh, and stage fright. Stage fright sucks.

7. The highlight moment of your career?
When mom saw me playing on TV. Can't get any higher than that. Got more attention than expected then and somehow ended up playing there and at the radio. That shit was way out of my comfort zone, but I survived with only a couple of things to overthink about in the following years.

8. What's your songwriting process like?
Randomly playing the guitar. Stopping when something sounds decent. Recording that up on my phone. Making variations of that tune to come up with a song, or just gathering more stuff and revisiting them after a while to decide if they're crap or not. Lately I've been trying to just think of melodies or to improvise by humming, instead of relying on my limited guitar playing skills or tuning, so more possibilities will reveal.

9. What are your 3 desert island albums?

Oh, that shipwreck will be pretty sad. But so are most of my favorite albums, so what can I do?

'High Violet' by The National - listened to it autistically. And I could still do it like I just discovered it. Never gets old this one. I'd happily cry myself to sleep to 'Afraid of Everyone' and wonder why no one is coming to save me.

'Takk' by Sigur Rós - ok, this one is pretty happy actually. Chose it over others of theirs because it feels like their most diverse. So many beautiful and catchy melodies, so full of life, so cinematic, so everything. And everything screams 'let's dance in the rain and have adventures!'. I'd gladly go exploring the island/Iceland to 'Glósóli'.

Third one was pretty tricky. But I chose this rather underrated album: 'Diamond Mine' by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins. And this was kind of written from/for an island too, if we can think of Scotland as such. First, I have to mention the field-recordings which captivated me from the first listen. Then, when I started working on 'Longings' I got a portable recorder and carried it with me in many of the places I travelled in that period: recorded people talking, singing, children playing, train announcements and others. But besides that, this album is one of those I wish I had written. So kind, warm, honest and lyrically beautiful. And this is a side of Jon I wish he explored more. The piano here just hurts. For King Creosote though, this is a proof that indie-folk is not dead. I'd definitely build a bamboo raft and attempt escape to 'John Taylor's Month Away'.

10. Name one person you're most grateful for in your musical journey.
There's not a single person, but more of those who believed in me maybe more than I did. Those who encouraged and supported me. Everyone that came to me after a show and told me how it touched them or wrote me a heartfelt message afterwards. Means more than you think.

11. What advice would you tell your younger self?
Reflect more on who you are and what you want and act accordingly regardless of how you feel. Don't swallow sorrow, look it in the eye and try to understand it and accept it. Spend less time on the computer and read more, ffs.

12. Any advice for someone just starting out into music?
Don't be afraid to experiment, even if you don't think you have the skills. You don't have to be virtuous to create good stuff. Get over playing covers all your damn life. Listen to a lot of music before you go out with yours, so you know when it's totally shit, but remember it doesn't have to feel perfect either. Get out of your comfort zone. Try to make musician friends and do more of that scary networking stuff. Because music alone sometimes doesn't cut through. It's the cynical truth.

13. What does the future hold for you? New releases, tour, interesting projects?
Writing new and refined songs will always be one of my main preoccupations. I've been feeling less like playing live until coming up with new ways to express my music in such a setting, because I feel limited. I also feel it becomes a bit monotonous for me if did a couple of times, so I need breaks. On the other hand, I'm looking forward to develop more of the visual side of things, by maybe working more on videos.