1) That record, I first heard last year, was ‘The Boat Of The Fragile Mind’ EP, released in 2013. Since that release you have released a single a year, including, ‘Cicada,’ released just this February. Are you guys onto something top-secret I’m not privy to? A project that has been brewing between you? What has 2013-2015 in terms of your writing been like?
T: “The past few years for us are a bit difficult to put into words, there were a ton of highs and lows, but that’s life. Im realizing I have no idea how to answer this question at this point so Im going to give you a safe politicians answer like a total bore. 🙂 We were asked to record an EP at Electric Lady Studios a couple years ago, which we are forever grateful for. It really pushed us to set the bar really high and also was just a great experience working in such a professional environment with some truly beautiful people. From an EP we went on to track 13 songs in total, about 11 of which we’ve singled out to comprise our full length album. ‘Cicada’ was the first track we released from the bunch, and we’re happy to announce that we’ll be releasing our second single, ‘Dark Of My Evening’ in November. As for the rest of the album, it’s tough to give a release date with 100% confidence, so I’m not even going to try because i’ll probably end up eating my words.”
“This past year was particularly challenging in terms of creating new music, mostly because it’s hard to assess yourself creatively while your sitting on unreleased material.” – Thomas Servidone
T: “It’s difficult to describe, but I feel like I need to close the door to whatever emotions spurred our upcoming album before I can open another door and begin the catharsis all over again. However, Amelia and I have started tracking new songs at my apartment over the past few months and are already beginning to compile an EP of sorts. It’s a bit different from what we’ve been doing, which feels good and necessary, and Im not sure when or how we’ll record and release it, but the plan is from this point out we’ll have a steady stream of new music.”
A: “In terms of writing, I haven’t felt compelled to write as much as I used to. Perhaps it’s because I’m happy right now and most of my songs are written when I’m struggling and have no other choice but to express myself. I guess you could say I’ve got a touch of writers block at the moment, but I’m trying to get into the habit again. Like Tom said, our sound is beginning to shift into something different, and I think it’s important, as you evolve as a person, to honor the way your music might evolve with you.”
2) Speaking of your latest, ‘Cicada,’ was a Trax Of The Day here on our site when it was released—the song features live drumming, I don’t recall much of that on your previous EP, I understand it was recorded at Electric Lady, in the heart of Greenwich Village.
- Is this something we can imagine hearing more of on your upcoming record?
- Will it be a full length and can you give us something the music public does not already know of this project? I think I just want to say, “you heard it here first ladies and gentlemen.”
- Did you feel the ghost of Jimi around? (For those who don’t know, Electric Lady was originally built by Jimi Hendrix and designed by John Storyk in 1970.)
T: “Yeah, thanks for including it! ‘Cicada’ was the first track we released off the album I just mentioned, and is definitely more of a benchmark of what to expect for the rest of the album. It’ll eventually have to speak for itself, but I will say that it incorporates a much more diverse set of genres, while maintaining the aesthetic we achieved on our EP. I think for those people who haven’t heard us live and only have our EP to go off, our new album will seem like a dramatic change, as all the songs were recorded with our band. Amelia and I might do something like the EP again, but for now we love playing more dynamically with our bandmates Tara Rook and Rob Walbourne. Unfortunately, and with much sadness, our bassist Gary Atturio’s last show will be this one on November 15th. Hmmm, what can I tell you about the album…it will feature 2 songs from the EP, reworked with the band. One of those songs will be ‘All This Time,’ which was definitely a high point of our sessions and a night I’ll never forget, mostly because we have a lot of it on recording, which was hysterical to listen to the next day. I won’t say too much, but I passed out mid-take during that song and also played ‘Just Like Heaven’ on repeat in every room in the studio that night. I’ll let you all fill in the blanks, but its fair to say that there was certainly some magic in the room that night and I think Jimi would’ve been proud of us.”
3) Speaking of the aforementioned debut EP, I’ve done my research, you two recorded that in Servidone’s Brooklyn apartment! (It sounds like you knew what you were doing I might add!) Recording yourself is like being the scientist performing the test and the subject being tested on—so go ahead, bring on the brilliance and set backs of recording on your own. The defining memory about that time? Good/bad/both implied.
“That is the benefit of recording yourself, that you can capture those moments as they occur without having time to out think the emotional decisions that you make. I think there is something beautiful about letting people peel back the gloss and see things raw without the polish, kinda like what Neil Young did on ‘Tonight’s The Night,’ where you get everything, even the fuck-ups. I also like the opposite, and that’s where the studio is a dream.” – Thomas Servidone
T: “Thank you! I think we knew what we wanted, the trouble was that getting what we wanted took a bit longer as we were working with a much more limited set of gear and know how. It was a lot of fun though. I love recording in general, and my favorite part is usually in that stage where you start to see that everything is going to come together and that the song has shape and definition. The rest is all fun, tweaking things, trying anything out, layering instruments. Once you know the foundation is in place its hard to fuck it up, and at that point you start to relax and really enjoy what you’re creating. There is such immediacy when recording yourself that I really love. From concept to completion, there were songs on that EP that, essentially, were done in a matter of hours. So Long, for instance, is a great example. I had a chord progression I was toying with, and Amelia came over, and I started playing it and the rhythmic pattern was totally normal and it just wasn’t working. We started changing things up and playing it with swing, as its heard on the EP and then all the words starting coming out and that was it, we hit record and captured it. That is the benefit of recording yourself, that you can capture those moments as they occur without having time to out think the emotional decisions that you make. I think there is something beautiful about letting people peel back the gloss and see things raw without the polish, kinda like what Neil Young did on ‘Tonight’s The Night,’ where you get everything, even the fuck-ups. I also like the opposite, and that’s where the studio is a dream.”
“It was nice to be in Tom’s company every weekend and find a creative partner away from home. One thing I will never forget about that time is the train journey— it took about 50 minutes to get to Tom’s apartment from where I lived in the East village. I will never forget the solace I found walking into his warm apartment on a bitterly cold winter day, hours of creation ahead.” – Amelia Bushell
A: “When I think back on recording with Tom at his apartment, I am baffled at how quickly our first EP came together. I had such a need to let out some intense feelings at the time that everything came out so naturally. I was new to New York and still finding my way. It was nice to be in Tom’s company every weekend and find a creative partner away from home. One thing I will never forget about that time is the train journey— it took about 50 minutes to get to Tom’s apartment from where I lived in the East village. I will never forget the solace I found walking into his warm apartment on a bitterly cold winter day, hours of creation ahead.”
4) In my humble opinion, I feel like you guys have crafted such a niche in ‘the dream pop’ genre that has really made your sound stand on its own with a feeling that captures the spirit of the genre it takes part in—if it were a mood on Spotify, just choosing: Belle Mare, implies something more than to the listener. What can you tell us about this adjective of sort? — Does your writing come from heartache? Or ethereal realms, as some may attribute to your textural layering that can walk the line, in an almost, apparition-like territory?
A: “My writing comes almost entirely from heartbreak on The Boat of the Fragile Mind. Although some of it is still about lost love on the new album, it’s also about moving forward, growing up and experiencing new things as an adult. One major theme of the new album is loss of youth and dealing with some of the guilt that comes with it.”
5) Has making music been a solace for you in any way as, Amelia Bushell and Thomas Servidone, the persons, that you wouldn’t mind sharing with me and our community here?
“I’ve said this before, but I often use music to say the things I’m not able to say in person. I write letters to people and the world through song.” – Amelia Bushell
T: “It definitely has for me. Music, and art in general make a lot of sense to me, in a way that life never can. I always try to imagine the first human who tried to draw or sing what was in their head. To me its proof of life. It’s the true mirror image of a person. My favorite professor in college would always say, “You don’t know anything until you write it on paper”. Without taking that literally, I think the heart of that statement is that you can’t prove what’s in your head until it becomes physical to this world. I know I’m going down the rabbit hole here, but to me the compulsion to create something, whether it’s music or whatnot, that’s what gives me purpose.”
A: “I’ve said this before, but I often use music to say the things I’m not able to say in person. I write letters to people and the world through song.”
6) From what I understand, you two met at an open mic, did you both perform solo and happen upon each others musical performance? What was meeting each other like, was it a meeting of musical minds, something immediate in your minds that made you say, sure, let’s record an EP the following year.
A: “I was performing with a friend and Thom was there with his buds trying to pick up chicks I’m pretty sure. Tom asked us if we had any demos and when we said no, he offered to record some for us. When we went over to his place for the first time, I had no idea he was so experienced and figured he was a professional and that we couldn’t waste his time so had to be really on point the whole time. I think it was his musical and technical skills combined with my desperate desire to create that led to us working together on an EP.”
7) Now, you two have had some success through the kind of exposure that cuts through the inter-web noise. Performing on Buzz Sessions, The Northside Festival, and even getting wordage from Spin Magazine, I’m sure I don’t need to mention how that can help an artist gain exposure, but, it’s no mystery that while you can upload music on the web and have an almost infinite reach, you are also vying for the ears a billions of people that are sought by a bevy of bands, how do you guys think the way music and how we discover music (which has gone through a major rapid change in a considerably short time since the dawn of emerging technologies) will evolve? You don’t have to feel like you’re an authority on the matter, give me your best guestimations, I love a good dialogue on this subject, ideas envelope.
“We are indebted to blogs that supported us early on, especially The Wild Honey Pie, and Eric Weiner who runs the blog. Its hard to cut through the noise, and there is a lot of it these days. Whats really great about the system that we have now, is that we can reach a multi-national audience, and that somewhere so far from Brooklyn, there is a community of people that hear about us, enough to generate some hype there.” – Thomas Servidone
T: “For sure, we are indebted to blogs that supported us early on, especially The Wild Honey Pie, and Eric Weiner who runs the blog. It’s hard to cut through the noise, and there is a lot of it these days. What’s really great about the system that we have now, is that we can reach a multi-national audience, and that somewhere so far from Brooklyn, there is a community of people that hear about us, enough to generate some hype there. I think, before, without being signed to a label that has the proper distribution channels, something like this would have been much harder for us and other bands operating on a similar level. I hope that at some point we can have enough of a fan base that when we do release an album they can buy it directly from us, without going through online distributors. The issue is that people just aren’t buying music as much, they are opting for streaming, and the profit that the musician sees is not much, so it’s a bit of a catch-22 for us as we get our footing and solidify a strong enough audience where we can sustain ourselves financially through our own hard earned distribution networks. I think there are going to be many opportunities for bands with emerging technologies. I recently got to try out Oculus, a device that creates a fully immersive virtual reality. Its in its infancy, but as it develops I see virtual concerts becoming possible, where we can reach audiences far and wide and have them experience a live performance in there own virtual world. The possibilities are endless, it scares the shit out of me, but it’s so impressive that we are at this point in our evolution.”
8) Are your moms happy with your choices to be musicians?
T: “I’m sure she is, although I’ve never really asked her. I did ask her once what she wanted for me when I was young, what aspirations she had for me. She just said that she wanted me to be healthy. I was a bit surprised how simple her answer was, because I have all these dreams for my unborn kids, like they are gonna be this, that, or the other thing. My mother has always let me act on my impulses, and I respect that.”
A: “My mum is so supportive. I feel so blessed. She inspires me to be the same kind of parent if I am ever to have kids. I’m so glad she trusts in what I’m trying to do.”
9) You two have been living in New York for some time, how/why does work for you? (I understand every city anywhere comes with its highs and lows) “New York can feel like the most inspiring place at times and then turn on you just like that.” – Thomas Servidone
T: “My answer to this question is always changing. New York can feel like the most inspiring place at times and then turn on you just like that. It’ll be almost 5 years for me now in New York and at this point I’ve built a life here that would be hard to walk away from. New York feels like a home, it’s no longer this place that I feel like I’m on vacation in. Living here is tough, making a life and earning money here can leave you feeling like you’re chasing your tail. I imagine that’s the case of any major city, when the honeymoon stage wears off, and it has for me at this point. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity here, and I’ll always like that. But it’s been a weird year for me, and this is the first time I’ve ever questioned leaving Brooklyn. I work in the film industry, and I’m trying to make a life in the music industry, all I can say is that both are not nearly as glamorous as one would imagine.”
“I feel as though I thrive here and I’m not ready to leave just yet. I’ve lived in many different places and New York feels like my home.” – Amelia Bushell
A: “I want to stay in New York as long as I can. I go through a couple of phases in every year that I spend here when I say to myself that it’s time to get the hell out. It’s a love/hate relationship and it’s definitely tough at times, but it was everything I needed to develop the confidence and strength I feel I have today—which still isn’t a massive amount but it’s ten million times more than I used to have. I can look at the people sitting opposite me on the subway and call them my family. Every day is entertaining in this place. I feel so connected to the world here. I feel as though I thrive here and I’m not ready to leave just yet. I’ve lived in many different places and New York feels like my home.”
10) What neighborhoods have you lived in during your time here and what is the neighborhood (of any borough) that’s perpetually nostalgic for you both? Also, i’m going to have you commit to the bombastic New York opinionated curmudgeonry we have all taken part in at one time or another!
- top cafe
- top venue (play or see)
- top comfort food spot
T: “It’ll always be Windsor Terrace. I really liked living down there, I mean yeah sure there isn’t a ton of bars on every corner, but the neighborhood vibe it gives off is warm and relaxing. It was great coming back to, and having the park that close is something I miss a lot. The Double Windsor was my favorite bar down there, and one of my favorite bars in general. Up in my hood now, I go to Mothers a lot and a little gem called Il Passatore. Baby’s All Right is my favorite place to play, although Rough Trade is tops as well. Both places treat you like champs and that means everything to me. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Ft. Greene this past year and there’s a few staples like Romans and Dino that I highly recommend. When Im feeling low and want to stuff my face to feel better, I order from this no frills mexican place called New Mexico Taqueria, and I’ve never been disappointed.”
A: “I spent my first year here living in the East Village, and the remainder of my time here in Bushwick. There are a few places that will forever hold memories. Wreck room (the divey-est of dive bars– now closed) was my favorite bar for a while, and Big Snow Buffalo Lodge was my favorite venue. I was so sad when both of those places closed! Now I love Baby’s All Right too. It’s the ideal place to hang out—great food, great music, fantastic DJ’s, and Pink Baby’s (my fave frozen drink.) My top comfort food spot is definitely The Meatball Shop. Even though I don’t eat meat I’m obsessed with the lentil balls and pesto sauce. I go to Sweetgreen on a regular basis. They have the tastiest salads in the world and I can’t get enough of the spicy cashew dressing. I could drink it.”
11) Your next show is with a band you’ve played with before, Oracle Room. Alex Nelson has actually been a guest contributor here before, like what they are doing?
A: “I’m very impressed with Oracle Room’s music. Alex Nelson has a stunning voice. I love that song ‘Have Everything.’ We are excited to be playing with them again. I see good things coming for them. Because I’m a psychic.”
“That concludes our in-depth interview, thank you guys so much for taking the time out of your busy lives to talk life and how the magic all fits in there. Belle Mare are played our curated night at Black Bear Bar this Sunday November 15th! Don’t miss out on Brooklyn’s best hosting a night of music in Williamsburg with Fine Animal, Oracle Room, and Belle Mare headlining. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketfly and over at Turnstyle Music Group’s website.” – N