UTG INTERVIEW: Belle Mare

Belle Mare

Belle Mare is one of my greatest finds on Bandcamp. There are those moments after clicking through hundreds of bands and coming up empty-handed when you finally click on one and the sounds that exude from your computer hit the spot and make you feel like all that time clicking and searching was worth the wait. The band’s debut EP, The Boat of the Fragile Mind is gorgeous. It’s melancholy and elegant and ethereal. It’s folky dream pop at its finest and I can’t stop listening to it as of late.

We had the opportunity to speak with the Brooklyn duo (Amelia Bushell, Thomas Servidone) about said debut, how they came together to make music, and some of their plans for the future of the band. Read through the jump and get acquainted with Belle Mare, who’ve won our hearts and will be remaining on our radar.

From the very little French and or Italian I know, I believe Belle Mare translates to “Beautiful Sea” which I personally feel fits your music perfectly, unless it has to do with a beautiful horse, which I guess could also work. How did you land on this name?
Amelia: We couldn’t decide on a name for ages! After a while we decided to try to find words that we were fond of. I suggested “Mauritius” but Thom wasn’t that into it. After looking at a map of Mauritius, Thom spotted a place called Belle Mare, and we thought the name rolled off the tongue rather nicely and suited our music, so we went with that.

How did Belle Mare originate and how did you decide on what type of music you wanted to create?
Amelia: We met at an open mic that I almost didn’t go to. I was singing with a friend of mine and Thom liked our sound so he offered to record some demos for us. After that, my friend moved away and I needed some help developing some songs I had been working on. I approached him knowing that I wanted to mix both acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and I wasn’t advanced in either area. I didn’t think that we would end up writing an EP together but we discovered we connected well as musicians and it just kept going!

Thomas: Amelia might or might not remember this – at our first practice we were talking about the music we wanted to make, and she said “creepy” music. From that moment things just clicked.

So your debut EP just dropped this past week and it’s beautiful to say the least. When you began writing the songs, what was your main focus with how you wanted them to turn out?
Amelia: First of all, thank you! It means a lot to hear that people like the songs. I was too embarrassed for anyone to hear them at first because the lyrics are very honest. I didn’t know how exactly how I wanted the songs to turn out; I mainly just needed a way to speak my mind. Like I said, I wanted them to have electronic-sounding effects in combination with acoustic instruments. When Thom added the instrumentation that he did I was blown away, because it was as though he had looked into my mind and manifested the sound I was hoping for but couldn’t explain.

Thomas: Francis Ford Coppola did this thing for the Godfather. For every page of the script he asked himself: “How can I screw this up?” I took that approach with each song on the EP. Ultimately this was an exercise in minimalism. Amelia’s voice is uncanny to me, and I just wanted people to feel the beauty of it.

I find the album artwork very interesting. What can you tell us about it?
Thomas: Well, at first we had this crazy idea that we wanted the cover to be a photograph of a woman in the nude drenched in wine. But, we came to our senses and realized that would be a total waste of good wine. So we settled on this. We just wanted the image to evoke that feeling you get when you drink too much wine, late at night, alone, naked, while staring at a wall in your room. Well, I mean I do that all the time anyways.

What themes would you say are prevalent in your lyrics on The Boat of the Fragile Mind?
Amelia: Time passing. Losing love. Losing your mind over love. Trying to reclaim love.

I see that you two have some one-off shows coming up here and there but do you have any full touring plans in the works? Any particular bands you’d like to get on the road with?
Thomas: We can’t wait to hop in a van and hit the road. We’re planning on doing a tour this summer at some point. There are a ton of bands that we would love to have the honor of touring with. Widowspeak would probably be our number one choice.

Amelia: Foxygen.

Have you already begun working on your next effort? A full-length perhaps?
Amelia: We have!

I found you through Bandcamp myself which I try to scour on a regular basis. What are your thoughts on the website and the affect it’s been having for indie musicians?
Amelia: Every time I log onto Bandcamp I think to myself, wow, I love Bandcamp. I think it is so perfect for indie musicians to showcase their music, and potentially earn some money. It’s also one of my main ways of discovering new music and quality local bands. I love how simple it is to navigate.

It seems as though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to create unique merch to pique the interest of fans and buyers. I really like your custom cassette and will be buying one before they run out. Did you guys create them yourselves? Is this something you plan to continue doing on future releases?
Thomas: Thanks dude!! We have our manager Eric to thank for the lovely cassettes. He did a great job on them. We plan on always adding a little personal touch to our packaging. It’s tough to sell physical copies of albums these days, so it’s always nice to do something special for people who do buy them.

Just out of personal curiosity, what are some of your favorite films? I sense this Criterion Collection vibe from your music. Like old Godard and Fellini films. I could be entirely off of course.
Amelia: Godard is very inspiring; in fact the only DVD’s I have with me in NYC are Godard films. I think my all time favorite movie is Forest Gump though. It never gets old.

Thomas: You were pretty close. I’m a big fan of Noah Baumbach. His films are definitely inspired by the French New Wave directors. The Squid and the Whale is one of my all time favorites. I’m also a big Werner Herzog fan. I love hearing him talk; he has such a meditative quality in his voice.

So what do the two of you do in your lives outside of the studio or practice space?
Amelia: I go to a liberal arts college here in NYC to study music. It takes up most of my time when I’m not working on Belle Mare or my other musical endeavors. I’m also big into hiking and being in nature, but I don’t get the opportunity to do much of that in this city unfortunately. I’m a huge foodie so I’m avidly searching for the best Indian/Thai lunch special in New York.

Thomas: I work on set as a production assistant and sometimes VTR guy when I’m lucky. Commercials. I love hanging out with my friends and family, laughing until it hurts, doing film projects, and wearing fake mustaches.

What’s the next big goal for Belle Mare?
Thomas: Well, according to Soundcloud, we have a decent amount of fans in Poland, which I think is great, and unexpected. We’re really excited to go play for them one day, and the rest of Europe. That, and I would say our next big goal is to make another record.


 

Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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