Interview with Andrew Belle
A few months ago (Around March or April) when I was just starting I searched and searched for new music and got a bit brave a decided to do some interviews (of course it wasn’t as simple as just wanting to do it). I started sending emails – some with no answer, some with circles and circles and out of nowhere I started getting a few among them French trio L.E.J. , talented singer/songwriter Kevin Onedr, up and coming indie rock band The Dose and the most unexpected the one that to me was at the top said yes. You know who that was? Andrew Belle and his team – I was in shocked, I would have never guess that he would be one of the Yes’s but he was and I rejoiced. His team set it up, I got a call and I was able to speak with an artist whose lyrics and melodies had inspired me and motivated me. This was a gift from something up above, he was so kind and so cool, answering the questions (I was extremely nervous and just had a few questions – if I had the chance again it would be better prepared and with more questions but still it has been one of the highlighs of my life as this persona that is know as the Wolf in a Suit. Please read on and get to meet the man and the artist known as Andrew Belle.
Finally the interview with Andrew Belle
The main question for me regarding songwriting – Do you have a special process? A way in which you get into the mood and just start creating a song?
Mmm… I have a little bit of a process. Typically I like to listen to other music to get in the mood or get inspired to create and be creative. Pretty much my whole life I’ve been inspired to create by listening to other artist or music that speaks to me in a way. That’s really how I’ve always gotten motivated to create music, is just being inspired by other artists who are doing interesting things and that way I set out to do something more or at least to be creative.
Typically what would be happen is that I would start playing around with my keyboard and some software that I have in my computer and I just start playing around with it …with drum beats and drum rhythms and things and play around with some melodies until something kinda feels like it connects and then I just start building from there. It’s not really a very specific process, it’s pretty random and sometimes I play around for a few hours and will not amount to anything but more often than that there will be some sort of moment that I can use to build with.
I work from home, I’ve got a little Studio/Office that I work in and that’s really it – there’s not really a huge process beyond sort of me playing until there’s something for me to build on and once there is I start finding vocal melodies and once I find a vocal melody that I am happy with I start shaping lyrics. Usually I start lyrics with just random thoughts or phrases or random words and once I find something that I feel resonates with me I explore that further and decipher what it means. I keep sculpting from there and so it’s usually a process of exploring and discovery as I go rather than setting out with a particular theme or something. I usually don’t know what I am writing about until half way into it and even some times I even finish a song and I am not sure what it is and I have to look at it from afar and think about it and decide what it is about.
(I praised Andrew because this process has led to the creation of some amazing tracks like: “Pieces” “In my Veins” and his latest “Dive Deep”)
Andrew has had music featured on TV – I actually found his music thanks to an episode of Castle (great show, you guys should check it out).
How did it feel to listen to your song on TV? To listen to “In my veins” and be like “oh that’s mine?
Well it’s a really surreal experience. The very first time I ever had a song on television was the fall maybe November or October of 2008, that’s 7 and a half years ago and I remember just being so excited that my music was going to be broadcasted on television. I grew up watching TV shows and specially in the last 10 years has really gone a long way for designing a soundtrack or at least designing a way for people to discover new artists that they would otherwise never hear before. I had discovered a lot of artists through television shows and stuff so obviously I was excited to becoming a part of that process. But yeah, it’s always a very flattering thing when someone wants to use your music to sort of shape the emotion of a scene or a show. It’s always a very exciting and flattering moment and like I said it’s such a great way for people to discover your music because my music isn’t playing very much on typical radio and the fact that someone like yourself (aka this wolf that writes this blog) discovered the music just by watching a TV show is really helpful for the longevity of my career. I am really grateful for it.
How was recording you album Black Bear? how did it feel? Was it a long process or did it come together pretty quick?
It was kind off a long process – I started writing for it in the summer of …well actually I started writing the first song maybe in early 2011. I kinda wasn’t super inspired for a while, I wasn’t sure what kind off sound I wanted to go for and I was just tinkering with ideas for a long time but then I began listening to more electronic and alternative music and I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go musically. When I decided that, I started looking for other artists in that genre and I just became more and more inspired and the writing started happening quicker and so even though I started in 2011, I ended up writing the bulk of it in the summer of 2012.
I found some guys that had a studio in Oklahoma – I started recording in the fall of 2012, we recorded a couple songs and decided it was a good fit so I came back around the holidays that year and early 2013 and we just spent several months in the studio and started bringing it to life. I had an idea and the structure of how I wanted the album to feel, but the guys I was working with were really helpful and responsible for the overall feel that the album has. All due to their equipment and their access to different keyboards and the gears that they had – it was very collaborative, like a band situation, I really couldn’t have created those sounds and emotions without their help. I am actually working on my next record now with the same guys.
What can you tell me about Black Bear Hushed?
It was something that when I was first began touring with my ‘Black Bear’ record, I discovered that touring can get really expensive because you have a lot of people coming with you traveling in a van, there’s hotels and gas and all these things you’ve got to pay for every night and it just gets really expensive. After doing that for a while I decided I wanted to scale things back and maybe try to simplify it and go out and perform more solo shows. I started doing that and I wanted the songs to still have a lot of feeling and still have a lot of energy but it was just going to be me – I started using a keyboard and an electronic drum set pad and started creating this sort of stripped down versions of the songs.
People really seemed to enjoy them and connect with them and I had a lot of fun playing them in that way. I decided it would be fun to record this alternative version of some of the songs and that’s how that came about.
We spoke some more about the difference and similarities of the albums and how they each create a unique feeling while keeping the same spirit.
I know you’ve probably been asked this before, I know you wrote “Pieces” for your wife – what was the creative process for it? What lead to the creation of the lyrics that are truly beautiful?
Well, in the writing of it I remember just playing around with the music of that song and really liking the sounds and the course that I had found and I just started singing this melody and it was in a much higher key when I first started writing it, I was singing it in this really high falsetto portion of my voice and it just kind off sounded funny so then I scaled it down until I could sing it in my normal voice. I really liked that melody a lot, I just had that one line: “I love you and all your pieces”. I felt like a really good little hook and I started working backwards from there and I just wrote those lines: “There’s too much smoke to see it, there’s too much broke to feel it but I love you in all your pieces”. When I wrote that I started thinking back to when there was a portion of our relationship where we were going through a hard time and we decided whether or not we were going to be together before we got married. I wrote this song basically saying that in the course of a relationship there are a lot of great moments but there’s also a lot of hard moments and you have to decided if that’s worth it to you or not; to see the relationship through. I wrote the song about feeling committed despite those difficult things we were working through.
I complimented Andrew on the fact that the song does not only focus on the good things, but it’s real and speaks about the ups and downs of a relationship.
Do you have any advice, anything you would tell an up and coming artist?
When I first decided to get into music, I didn’t know where to begin. I think I had a little bit of a talent for writing lyrics and maybe melody but I didn’t really know how to sing or record – I really didn’t know what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of, I was living in Chicago and started going out and asking restaurants, bars and anywhere that basically had a microphone and would let me play. I would just go and ask if they would let me play for a few hours; I would just do that a few times a week. It was tough after a little while doing that over and over again and not really making a lot of money and not being sure if it was going to work in the long run. Looking back to it now, I can really see that that time was really helpful for me to learn my craft and my playing other people’s songs it helped me find my own voice and my own style. I never really had anyone teach how to sing properly and singing other people’s music lead to me finding my own voice song to song.
It was really helpful for me to discover my style, my range, how to sing in public and helped me get over (a little bit) my nervousness and my anxiety. Singing in public is a big hurdle people need to get over. Stage fright is something that I had to get over. Doing that for years, even though I wasn’t making a lot of money or truly advancing my career I see know that it was really helpful in teaching me how to perform and getting better in my skill set. In the end I tell people to find places that would let them play and find a bunch of music that you are inspired by and just play those. Start by doing other people’s music and eventually through that you’ll be inspired to create your own songs.
After this Andrew Belle told me about his upcoming new music, which we heard in “Dive Deep”