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INTERVIEW: Belle of the Fall

Hello Julia and Tracy!  Welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

TW: Well. Things have been crazy. Where to begin? We still use the quote, “Belle of the Fall proves musical soul mates do in fact exist.” from the review you guys did of our first album, so thanks for that. Since then we have done a couple hundred shows covering 27 states and Canada. We love getting in the van and exploring the landscape and hanging with so many different people. We produced some albums and made videos for other artists at my studio in CT. We are starting to do some producing as Belle of the Fall, which has been a lot of fun. We also spent a little over a year recording ‘Rise Up’. We had a really specific sound in mind for this album which made the process a struggle at times to realize. In the end we are thrilled with how it came out, but it definitely took a toll on us. It was just nominated as Album of the Year in the New England Music Awards.

Can you talk to us more about your song “Rise Up?” I really love that song!

TW: Thanks! We have a lot of dark songs and mostly live in that world musically. It felt like this record needed an anthem that had a positive spin to it. Production-wise it’s the biggest on the album. We brought in Jeff Chen to write and play a 4 part cello section which he just nailed. There was a moment in the mixing process where we turned to each other and I asked Julia if we just did that. It’s an ambitious recording. It’s really satisfying to feel like you got it right and made something special.  

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

TW: It’s not really written about a specific event, although it has struck a chord with many people that feel they need to rise up in this political climate. If you look at the lyrics, it’s really about rising up to the challenges we all face in our daily lives. It’s a song of hope. We try to inspire each other and the people around us through positive action. We work with kids in songwriting camps and try to get them to see the beauty in music. We both feel like we can accomplish more through empowering people, rather than focusing on our differences.

I really enjoyed the video for “Rise Up.”   Please provide some insight into how you came up with the storyline for that great video.

JAF: So glad you enjoyed it! We had the general concept for the video in our minds for awhile and were waiting for the right song to bring it to life. Rise Up being about people rising up and overcoming struggles seemed like the perfect fit. It felt right to have the video be a bunch of different people; family, friends and fans, who have all individually dealt with the troubles of being alive and being human coming together and creating something positive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHbbKa_xQZE

Why did you name the album after that particular song?

TW:  It seemed like the single so we went with it. It was between Rise Up and Spinning Around the Sun.

Describe your recording and writing process?  

TW:  We generally write alone. We bring each other fairly complete songs. Usually they are really stripped down with just the guitar part, basic vocal melody, and lyrics written. At that point we really sit down and arrange it to become a Belle of the Fall song. Many of the songs have full two part harmony vocals so we spend a lot of time writing the harmonies. The recording process is much more of a team effort. I own On Deck Sound Studio in CT so we engineer, produce, mix and master all of our albums. Julia plays her guitar parts and then I play most of the other instruments, with the exception of an occasional cello or organ part. We then sing all of the vocal parts together in the same room. We tried overdubbing the vocals separately, but we lose all the magic that happens when we sing together. Julia has become a much more confident producer as of late, so Rise Up is much more of a collaboration on the production side. I then mix and master with an assist from Julia’s ears.

Give us some insight into Connecticut’s music scene and what other markets do you enjoy performing in when you tour?

JAF: Connecticut’s music scene is small but mighty. Aside from our home state, we really love playing anywhere people will listen to us. As long as people, no matter how many, are there listening and connecting to the music we are happy. We also are very food driven individuals so that has a lot to do with which markets we enjoy and return to. We absolutely book tours around certain foods and restaurants we want to try or have tried and NEED to return to. The Tomato Head in Knoxville is one of our favorites, Mas Tacos Por Favor in Nashville, Wisconsin cheese is well worth the drive. We have been dancing with the idea of starting a food blog for quite some time now. Maybe someday.

Your songs reflect several musical influences – how do you balance those to create your own sound.

TW: We both have really eclectic taste in music. We listen to everything from jazz, rock, metal, pop and back. With any band, you start in a place that is common amongst you. For us that was Simon & Garfunkel. From there we began to sprinkle in some Tom Waits, Talking Heads, The Beatles to name a few. It took us a little while to really figure out what it is that really makes the Belle of the Fall sound. Our first album, ‘Earthbound’ explores a bunch of sounds. With Rise Up it felt like we really figured out our personal sound and it made it much easier to figure out what worked for the album and what helped us make the statement we wanted to make.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs on the new record?

JAF: I like to think of music (and any form of art, really) as a mirror to the culture, society and individual that it is coming from. So I suppose the songs are just a product of the world outside of and within us. Nothing Left to Lose is a very abstract depiction of a tour we went on to Texas. Spinning Around the Sun is written in the perspective of someone looking down at the Earth who is looking down on herself and thinking, “WHAT ARE THESE BIPEDAL, EGOTISTIC BUT GOOD HEARTED FOR THE MOST PART LIFEFORMS DOING TO ME?!”

Any plans to hit the road?

JAF: Absolutely! We plan on playing all 50 states, we have 27 down so far. We also want to do some more touring in Canada. I want to go way up north and see the Canadian polar bears. Can you believe I never knew there were polar bears in Canada until we went there and someone told me? They are not teaching kids the right stuff in school. Anyway, I’m not sure how much live music they have going on up there.

What’s happening next in Belle of the Fall’s world?

JAF: A couple of weeks after we released the album, “Rise Up”, we started recording another one so we will be working on that. We have some singles/covers that we are recording and shooting videos for so those will be out soon and we are putting a lot of focus into working with other artists as well whether it be making them videos, producing as Belle of the Fall, etc…

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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