An Interview With The Brother-Sister Duo, WILD BELLE On Their Sophomore Album “Dreamland” And More!
Posted On 26 May 2016
Natalie and Elliot Bergman are the two siblings that make up the band, Wild Belle. They released their sophomore full-length album, “Dreamland” last month via Columbia Records.
Learn more about Wild Belle in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How’s 2016 treating the band so far? What were some of the highlights of 2016?
It’s been an amazing year. We are happy to have Dreamland out in the world. We wrote so much after the release of Isles, and we’re happy to have a new body of work for people to live with. We spent time in Jamaica over the New Year. We had a DJ gig, and also shot a video for the song “Our Love Will Survive.” We shot it on Super 8 film and basically roved around for a few days dancing and hanging out with some friends. It was an amazing way to start the year. We met Jimmy Fallon on that trip and he invited us on to the Tonight Show while we were down there. That was such an amazing experience for us. Jimmy is really a generous spirit and we had so much fun playing his show.
Why do you think you two work so well together? How do you balance each other out?
It’s great to have somebody to be accountable to. Making a record always has it’s ups and downs and it helps to have somebody that is counting on you to show up to the studio every day. We both have ways of getting ideas out of each other. We get excited about the same type of sounds and that keeps things moving.
You are about to head out on your spring headlining tour. Where are you most excited to play at? What do you think is the best and most challenging part about being out on the road?
We’re hitting so many of our favorite spots on this run. We’re almost halfway through the tour and it’s been amazing so far. Most of the shows have sold out and it’s fantastic to hear people singing the new songs. We love playing in small clubs, and sometimes the towns that are off the beaten path are the ones that end up being the most fun.
How do you think your newest music on “Dreamland” is different or similar to your debut album, “Isles”?
Dreamland is a bigger sound. It’s deeper and darker. The record is a bit more grown up. We opened up the family on this album and collaborated with a number of our favorite producers. We worked with Pat Carney from the Black Keys, Doc McKinney, Tim Pagnotta, Dave Sitek and Diplo. It was an incredible journey and an amazing boot camp for me as a producer. I tried to keep my student hat on through the making of the record and learn as much from everybody as possible.
What was it like recording a lot of “Dreamland” in Jamaica? Why did you decide to record there in the first place?
We started the record in Jamaica, and that was incredible. We worked at Gee-Jam for about a week. It was a great way to get the process going. We had been on the road for about two years following the release of Isles and needed to get a little bit of a fresh perspective to get things moving again. We recorded Isles in one studio in Benton Harbor, Michigan and we wanted to open things up on this record.
Let’s talk about your current single, “Throw Down Your Guns”. Where did the inspiration for it come from?
The song started as a plea to a lover, but as we worked on it, the song began to take on some other layers of meaning. We’re from Chicago, and it’s almost impossible for guns to be used as a simple metaphor in a love song. We thought about what we might do to try to create something positive and bring some different groups of people together to promote peace in whatever way we can. I’ve been casting bells for the past few years, and I thought it would be great to try to melt guns and bullet casings and create bells out of them- a reversal of a process that has gone on for centuries in times of war. Creating peace bells felt like a cool way to actually “throw down your guns” by destroying them and making music out of them.
Your video for the song features the Chicago Children’s Choir. Can you talk about getting them involved and making the video? How creatively involved were you all with it?
Josephine Lee, their director is a dynamo and total inspiration. Joe Shanahan who owns the Metro introduced us at one of our shows their and told her about the idea for the video. She jumped in right away and made it all happen. The first time we heard the kids singing the song on the set there was not a dry eye in the place. They brought so much energy to the filming, and I hope that comes through in the video.
I understand that much of your newest album is made up of collages created by Natalie. Why did you decide to use so much of your own work? How did you pick the ones that would eventually be the album artwork?
Natalie is constantly collaging, creating visual worlds that blend surrealism, psychedelia, biker mags, national geographics and vintage playboys magazines. It’s a great visual exercise for her and she manages to set up shop wherever we are. In a lot of ways it parallels our approach to making music. We like to find disparate sounds that you might not expect to find on the same record or in the same song. Layering images and sounds together can lead to some really unexpected results. Those happy accidents along the way are always what keep things exciting.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
We love Prince, Bowie, Miles, Dylan, Joni, Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, Etta James, The Meters, Dr. John, Howlin Wolf… It would be amazing to work with Kendrick Lamar sometime soon.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
We try to put love at the center of everything we do musically. I hope that comes through and can inspire listeners. Music is incredibly powerful and has the ability to bring people together in amazing ways. We hope that our music can inspire our audience in some way, large or small.
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