The first interview I had at SXSW was with the band Wild Belle, a brother and sister duo Natalie and Elliot. The band had some buzz before SXSW and I found out about them from The Guardian. At that point the band had only one single, “Keep You,” with a rock steady feel, and Natalie’s 1960’s vocals. Now the band has a set of songs that will make your summer soundtrack for years to come. I chatted with the band about musical influences, what to expect from the album and what it feels like to be the new kids on the SXSW block.
Me: How are you enjoying Austin?
Natalie: We are enjoying Austin! It’s so beautiful.
Me: Are you a little nervous?
N: A little bit, not necessarily in this room because it’s a bit dark. But I’m excited… we got three other shows after this. I think this will be a good one for warming up because it’s early in the day.
(Elliot walks over and sits down)
Me: Hi, how are you Eliot?
Elliot: Good, just had an epic drive from Chicago
Me: So you drove from Chicago. You guys are from Chicago and now living in Brooklyn?
Me: How are the two music scenes different?
E: They both have incredible music scenes. Chicago had a really cool experimental jazz scene a lot of young improvisers doing creative collaborative things. Brooklyn has an amazing jazz scene and New York has an electronic scene. Both cities have really incredible things.
N: They are both rooted in similar styles. Chicago is rooted in soul, Windy City soul. So many great artiest in the 60’s, and NY as well had some really inspiring musical acts. They are both wonderful cities for music. New York has tons of people tons of kids making music but both equally cool.<
Me: Would you say your sound has changed since moving to New York?
N: I wouldn’t say it’s changed I think that we grew up listing to jazz, Cold Train, Miles Davis and we have a lot of Studio One artists, and a lot of Jamaican recording artists, and we carried that to NY. Your influences follow you wherever you are.
Me: How is life on the road and what was it like playing a sold out show being such a new band?
E: It’s fun we been touring together for a long time. Natalie has been coming on tour with my band NOMO for years in one capacity or another. It’s nice to do it as Wild Belle, to have new energy, and new people discovering music. People have been so receptive to it. It’s been really positive and we have only been able to put out just the one single. So it’s really nice to let everyone hear the rest of the songs. We just finished the record.
Me: Oh, you just finished it. Do you know when the record is going to come out?
N: Hopefully late summer early fall. We are going to go and master it with Greg Calbi. Really, we are just finished mixing it and now need to master it and work on cover art. We’re really excited to share it with the world. We are just so proud of the album.
Me: You are going to the UK soon?
N: We are. Sweden and then we play a festival in London first part of May.
Me: You get a lot of press over in the UK. I was surprised to find out that you were American. How does that happen?
N: They just love it. They love the kind of rock steady feel to that song. It was fun; we got to go over there, meet some people, and have listening parties to the album. It’s just received very well in the UK, as well as here.
Me: What can we expect from the album? Is it going to be more like the single, or is it going to go all over the place?
E: It doesn’t go all over the place but it goes to a few different places.
N: There are some folky pop bits, and a little bit of electronic…
E: Some African elements; more kind of island stuff.
N: It’s a very summery-island-feeling record.