Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Belle on Airs and Graces

This is my interview with the rather magnificent Milly from Airs and Graces Blog....who spun my incomprehensible ramblings into a fully blown profesh interview...have a gander!

Très Belle

<a href="http://belle.bandcamp.com/album/belle">To And Fro by Belle</a>

Belle Moore-Benham is a singer hailing from t’norf, as she puts it, who’s music and fine self I was recently introduced to via the wonders of the web. I went to see her perform a couple of weeks back and was mesmorised by her spine tingling sound. It’s hard to narrow down her style as she’s worked with a lot of different people on a bredth of different tracks but one thing’s for sure, she’s incredibly sultry and soulful with a presence all of her own. Currently residing in the north side of London I met up with her to have a pint and get to know more about this incredibly talented lady.

When did you first discover you could sing?

I was 13 humming in the drama studio at school and my drama teacher said that I should do it more and forced me into singing in the school play!

You’re from up t’norf originally, how did a lovely lass like you end up in London town?

I’m from Huddersfield and ended up at uni in Leeds and wanted a change from t’norf so I moved myself down to London at 21. Lured by streets paved with gold and flowing crystal rivers, I thought I would give it a try! I then started a night called “Numbers” (we had Eric Lau/DjRags/Prose/Matman/2ndclass Citizen/2tall), started gigging and writing with Requiem, DJ 2tall and a producer called Guy Woods.

How would you describe your sound?

I think it is evolving from something more trip hop to a bigger, more soulful sound. I grew up singing northern soul and 70’s Motown classics, listening to Grunge and being steeped in the Hip-Hop scene so, I think they have infused my music with their own influences.

Who inspires you musically?

Phew! Where do I start…Stones Throw records, Nirvana, Radiohead, Uk Hip-Hop (Jehst, Foreign Beggars, Klashnekoff, Roots Manuva), Massive Attack, Cocteau Twins, Aretha Franklin, Gil Scott Heron, Billie Holiday, Spanky Wilson, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Fourtet, Max and Harvey, Heidi Vogel, Mos Def, Burial, Dubstep (Mala etc), Saul Williams, Dub (King Tubby), Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Polar Bear, Meshell N’Deogeocello, Manu Chao, Toumani Diabete….God I could go on and on!

Is it true that a well-known major label approached you, decided you were the ‘Northern Joss Stone’ and then offered you the big time if they could change everything about you?

Yes. It was a really disheartening and depressing experience as I had just started out. I was frustrated at the superficial attitude and the lack of vision and creativity. Being told I would not be able to write my own stuff, that I would have to make physical changes to supposedly “succeed” left me feeling like I should just give up. Fortunately I didn’t but it certainly made me take some time off and re-evaluate.

I can see where they got that big idea from but I take it you politely declined the offer?

Absolutely! To lose being able to write, which is something that is a vital part of myself as an artist and also as a human being was not an option. I think it has made the journey slower but has made me grow in confidence, have experiences that I would have never have had.

We all know it’s tougher than ever out there at the moment. How are you finding carving out a space for yourself in the London music scene?

It is hard, as the ability of artists to earn a living out of the creative industries has only been truncated by the major label’s historical greed, the change in consumption of music and also in Internet music consumerism changing how we perceive the ‘album’. Consumer power is now immense and creating an album that has a concept is more difficult because people just want singles. On a live level every promoter wants something for nuttin!

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a few new projects. I am getting my first EP together, trying to promote the ‘Cold Busted Compilation’ that I’m on, which is on the American label of the same name, I’m working on an all female project and my monthly night at Vibe Bar with the ‘Music is Life’ collective. I am also working on a Music project with young people from Newham and the Roundhouse.

Busy lady! A lot on the go for you in 2010 huh?

Yes! Oh I also have a gig Sunday 25th April in Camden at the Elixir Bar so come down and see for yourself…

This is one immensely talented and yet incredibly humble lady. When she’s not singing for her supper, Belle works on arts and community projects with young homeless people in Newham, East London. We’ve got a lot of time for Belle and very much look forward to hearing big things from her this year. Check out more of her music here

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