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Belladon loses a member, gains a new sound

“Less is more” mindset makes for a more spacious feeling

Belladon: fewer members, simpler sound.
Belladon: fewer members, simpler sound.

The year 2020 was a transitional one for Belladon. The progressive-pop quintet released two interconnected four-song concept EPs over the summer. Dreaming arrived first in May, followed by Dreading in July. Nearly simultaneously, the group shed a band member and sought a new sound.

“All I knew about the future was that I was going to write more songs, and that we were gonna be a four-piece,” Belladon singer and keyboardist Aimee Jacobs explained. “When we had an album release, I already knew Anastasya [Karol, keyboards and vocals] was leaving the project. She gave us a heads-up and was very organized and sweet about it. I was already practicing combining the parts. Right now, I play a double-tier synth, whereas before, I was just playing one. My responsibilities became a lot stronger. I was like, ‘I just need to learn how to hold my own if I want to keep this project going.’ That was my main focus.”

As the four-piece was reconfiguring the way they would perform their previous work, they also began to brainstorm about their future output. Jacobs cites Karol as a driving force for the band’s progressive side and song structures, which may have been so complex that listeners had a tough time forming a notion of the band’s identity. Is this a pop band? Is this a progressive band? Is this a rock band? What is this?

“With the older stuff,” says Jacobs, “as much as I like it and as much as I’m proud of it, looking in from an outside perspective, I feel like I’m asking a lot from the listener. I’m asking them to take in a lot. If you’re ready for it, it’s great, but most people listen to music in a way that they’ll have it on in the background. They’re more passive about listening to it.”

The remaining quartet started working on a new track, “Truths We Crave,” that would showcase a more focused, easy-to-digest sound. They worked individually at their home studios, bouncing tracks back and forth while the covid lockdowns were in full swing. “It’s definitely more spacious,” says Jacobs of the new sound. “That was something that we talked about as a band after we released that double EP. We talked, and it was like, ‘Less is more.’ You shouldn’t put something there unless you really feel it needs to be there. We experimented a lot with taking parts away and replacing them with other things. Hearing sections with only drums and bass and vocals, and just trying to understand what was necessary for the song and what wasn’t. That resulted in a much more mature composition, and something that I think is a little bit more pleasurable and relaxed to listen to.”

Over the summer, the band spent many evenings at a beach in Windansea shooting a video for “Truths We Crave.” It would prove to be a labor of love, as the unpredictable Pacific became a formidable foe. The salt water’s priciest victim was director RC Krueger’s camera; after that, there was another close moisture call with a rental camera. “We had so many crazy experiences just breaking gear or losing lighting. The bass player lost his shoes. I lost a dress. The beach destroyed so many things that we had. I had no idea that the beach was going to be such an insane environment to try to get something like this done. It was stressful, but also a very fun process.”

Jacobs seems very comfortable with releasing singles, so while there is potential for a future, four-song live EP, don’t look for a full-length anytime soon. The band did perform a handful of shows this year, and Jacobs is considering bringing in a new keyboardist and transitioning to being vocals-only at gigs. “I don’t think it’s very entertaining for our audience to see me stuck behind what is the equivalent of a keyboard spaceship. I’m kind of a petite person. I want to be more free on stage, because ultimately, it’s going to make the experience of coming to see us live even better.”

As for a New Year’s resolution, Jacobs said hers is “to finish more music that I feel is better than what I did before.” She added “It’s kind of my permanent goal all the time.”

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Belladon: fewer members, simpler sound.
Belladon: fewer members, simpler sound.

The year 2020 was a transitional one for Belladon. The progressive-pop quintet released two interconnected four-song concept EPs over the summer. Dreaming arrived first in May, followed by Dreading in July. Nearly simultaneously, the group shed a band member and sought a new sound.

“All I knew about the future was that I was going to write more songs, and that we were gonna be a four-piece,” Belladon singer and keyboardist Aimee Jacobs explained. “When we had an album release, I already knew Anastasya [Karol, keyboards and vocals] was leaving the project. She gave us a heads-up and was very organized and sweet about it. I was already practicing combining the parts. Right now, I play a double-tier synth, whereas before, I was just playing one. My responsibilities became a lot stronger. I was like, ‘I just need to learn how to hold my own if I want to keep this project going.’ That was my main focus.”

As the four-piece was reconfiguring the way they would perform their previous work, they also began to brainstorm about their future output. Jacobs cites Karol as a driving force for the band’s progressive side and song structures, which may have been so complex that listeners had a tough time forming a notion of the band’s identity. Is this a pop band? Is this a progressive band? Is this a rock band? What is this?

“With the older stuff,” says Jacobs, “as much as I like it and as much as I’m proud of it, looking in from an outside perspective, I feel like I’m asking a lot from the listener. I’m asking them to take in a lot. If you’re ready for it, it’s great, but most people listen to music in a way that they’ll have it on in the background. They’re more passive about listening to it.”

The remaining quartet started working on a new track, “Truths We Crave,” that would showcase a more focused, easy-to-digest sound. They worked individually at their home studios, bouncing tracks back and forth while the covid lockdowns were in full swing. “It’s definitely more spacious,” says Jacobs of the new sound. “That was something that we talked about as a band after we released that double EP. We talked, and it was like, ‘Less is more.’ You shouldn’t put something there unless you really feel it needs to be there. We experimented a lot with taking parts away and replacing them with other things. Hearing sections with only drums and bass and vocals, and just trying to understand what was necessary for the song and what wasn’t. That resulted in a much more mature composition, and something that I think is a little bit more pleasurable and relaxed to listen to.”

Over the summer, the band spent many evenings at a beach in Windansea shooting a video for “Truths We Crave.” It would prove to be a labor of love, as the unpredictable Pacific became a formidable foe. The salt water’s priciest victim was director RC Krueger’s camera; after that, there was another close moisture call with a rental camera. “We had so many crazy experiences just breaking gear or losing lighting. The bass player lost his shoes. I lost a dress. The beach destroyed so many things that we had. I had no idea that the beach was going to be such an insane environment to try to get something like this done. It was stressful, but also a very fun process.”

Jacobs seems very comfortable with releasing singles, so while there is potential for a future, four-song live EP, don’t look for a full-length anytime soon. The band did perform a handful of shows this year, and Jacobs is considering bringing in a new keyboardist and transitioning to being vocals-only at gigs. “I don’t think it’s very entertaining for our audience to see me stuck behind what is the equivalent of a keyboard spaceship. I’m kind of a petite person. I want to be more free on stage, because ultimately, it’s going to make the experience of coming to see us live even better.”

As for a New Year’s resolution, Jacobs said hers is “to finish more music that I feel is better than what I did before.” She added “It’s kind of my permanent goal all the time.”

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