INTERVIEW: Andrew Belle 'Dives Deep' Into His Personal Life and The Making of His New Song

    • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

    Often we forget that artists are real people. They go into hiding to make a record, release that record, and then go on tour for 2+ years to promote that record. Somewhere in between all of that craziness, they also try to maintain a normal life -- you know, starting a family and spending time with their loved ones while trying to keep the connection with their fans alive. It's certainly a challenge, but indie singer-songwriter Andrew Belle seems to balance it all too well, keeping calm, cool, and down-to-earth. He released his debut album, Black Bear, back in 2013 which was immediately followed by an absurd amount of touring and now, he's married, settling into his new Los Angeles home, and is expecting his first child. Needless to say, he's being put through a lot of change quickly... but all on his own terms. "In order to stay fresh, current, or relevant, I've been trying to not get too comfortable and keep chasing after new scenery and not staying in one formula," he told us. Although we'd rather be selfish and have our favorite artists in the studio or on stage 24/7, for Belle, his personal life is what drives his music. He uses his family and new home as a way to write from a new perspective and offer a challenge as a songwriter. That's how he got his new song, "Dive Deep," off of his forthcoming album out early next year, which he explained was written about the beginning of his relationship with his wife and was then later related to his relationship with his fans.

    Kirsten Spruch: You released your last album, Black Bear in 2013 and now you're gearing up to release your new album. How have your last few years been? Did you get to take a little break from music or were you always working on something?

    Andrew Belle: I put out Black Bear and then I began touring right away and was doing that for, gosh, probably a good two years. And so in between I would come home and keep working on music and we put out something called Black Bear (Hushed), which is kind of like a chilled out version of the record. I'll put out a record, go play all around the country, but then I like to come home and continue to write music and be with my family. So I kind of space it out.

    KS: And you're originally from Chicago, but you live in LA now?

    AB: Yeah, that's another thing I've been up to. My wife and I just moved to Los Angeles, it's been about two and a half months now. I grew up in Chicago and my wife and I lived there for about five years. We decided to get a change of scenery and be closer to the west coast creative community. Personally, I'm just more inspired musically out here. So we decided, "Yeah, let's take a chance, move across the country to an unfamiliar area, and see how it goes." I'm living just north of Bel-Air right now.

    KS: That's pretty brave.

    AB: Yeah! We don't have any kids yet, although we are expecting our first kid, so we thought there was no better time to do it.

    KS: Oh wow, congrats! Do you think that having a kid will affect the way you write? Or has it started affecting you already?

    AB: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it definitely will. Hopefully inspire a new season of music and maybe even kind of shape the way that I write music into a new way.

    KS: Yeah, because there's a ton of change in your life right now. Do you think that will give you a new perspective when you're writing?

    AB: Yeah, I hope so. I really do. I think in order to stay fresh, current, or relevant, I've been trying to not get too comfortable and keep chasing after new scenery and not staying in one formula. So yeah, I've been trying to purposefully do that. In Chicago we were a little too comfortable. I feel like we still have a lot of years left in us.

    KS: Is there a place that serves as your main source of inspiration?

    AB: Musically speaking, I feel like the west coast has been permeating me creatively for a while now. I think this record that I'm about to put out soon will definitely be a reflection of this west coast-inspired vibe. Chicago has never been a place I've been particularly inspired by musically. It's always been more of this place I retreat to when I'm not working. I would say definitely Los Angeles, the west coast, California. There's something to the vibrancy of the culture here. It's just really inspiring. And the fact that everyone here is doing something kind of similar or something interesting, for the most part -- it's just nice to be able to collaborate way easier or find people to work with way quicker. When I was living in Chicago, I was always traveling here or traveling to Nashville. So it's nice to be here, the epicenter of the creative culture that I want to be a part of.

    KS: Since you're surrounded by so many artists now, are there any that you would love to work with? Or any that you have already collaborated with?

    AB: Oh man, that's a good question. I collaborated with this guy named James McAlister on my last record. He's been a great collaborator, musically, and he co-wrote a couple songs on this coming record -- more so than I've ever co-written or collaborated with before. But I don't know off the top of my head... actually, scratch that! Dream collaboration would be with James Blake. I love him a lot, I heard he lives part time here in LA, so I guess that would be an aspiring dream collaboration.

    KS: I feel like you, James Blake, and Jack Garratt should all collaborate. That would be insane.

    AB: I love it, yeah, let's do it. Set that up.

    KS: Haha alright I'll get on it... So you have a new single called "Dive Deep" out now. Can you explain a little bit what it's about?

    AB: It's a love song. I wrote it from the perspective of when a relationship is first forming, thinking back about the beginning of the relationship with my wife, in particular. That exciting phase, we were kind of not sure... Like what is this? What is this going to be? Are you into this as much as I am? The verses depict specific scenes -- when I was thinking back about the early days of our relationship and then the chorus is a hesitation of like, if you're interested, if you want to know me at a deeper level, then here I am.

    On the surface, it's a romantic song, but I was also thinking about my fanbase. This whole record was shaped by the theme of that song, and I want people to feel like they can listen to my music and feel me on a much deeper level. They're welcome to dive into this record and dissect it, spend time with it, and get to know me better.

    KS: You think of your fans when you're writing?

    AB: Oh, most definitely. I'm always thinking about how it fits into the spectrum of what I've done already. Like, is this something they're going to be into? Or is it pushing the boundaries? I don't always cater. If I'm coming up with an idea and I'm like "my core demographic is going to love this," I pick and choose. If it's something I really believe strongly in, I'll push the envelope. But I definitely consider making the consideration -- Just because I've been trying to pay attention to the people who clearly are interacting and engaging with me the most on social media or at concerts, the people who are standing in line. I try to picture that person when I'm writing.

    KS: Are there any other ways that you connect with your fans besides music? There are some artists who tweet and respond to every tweet that they get in their mentions, and then there are some artists like Frank Ocean who doesn't talk to any of his fans ever except on Tumblr once a year. Where do you think you stand on that? Are there any creative ways you try to connect with your audience?

    AB: I try to remember that I'm a very normal, average person and much of my life is very non-exciting and not very interesting, so I feel if I were to let too many people into that, they might kind of be uninterested with the boringness that is my normal life. So I pick and choose.

    When I'm touring and people come up to me after shows, people ask me what songs mean sometimes, and there's certain songs I don't really love diving into, but other times people will repeat back to me what it means to them and what they've taken from it, how it affects their life. It's always really, really inspiring, really humbling. For that reason I try to, every now and again, reply to people on Twitter, or throw them a thumbs up emoji on Instagram or whatever. We did a little Instagram contest last year where we asked people to post videos of them covering songs of mine. I think it was like a week, and we got so many great submissions. This girl who I thought was by far the most captivating won the contest, and since then has ended up recording the song herself and releasing it. I was promoting that on Twitter the other day, and she most recently was working with friends of mine in Nashville who I've worked with in the past. So that's a fun example of a fan interacting in that way, now going on to do her own thing in music as well. I fall somewhere in the middle.

    Check out our session with Belle, filmed after the release of Black Bear:

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