California natives turned Austin mainstays The Belle Sounds have made a name for themselves as seductive indie pop rock aficionados, creating lush soundscapes intertwined with effervescent harmonies and beautiful lyricism. Their sound at different times will evoke Jenny Lewis, Neko Case, Aimee Mann, The Shins and even a modern day Fleetwood Mac, and yet they stand out in their own unique sonic space with their effortless melodies and hooks, floating guitars and reflective storytelling. Throughout the five years they have called themselves The Belle Sounds, the band has undergone different iterations with various musicians sitting in, recording and performing, but the core of The Belle Sounds has always been frontwoman Noëlle Hampton and her husband, musical counterpart and electric guitarist André Moran.
They are gearing up to release their latest single, “Light It Up” on October 18, 2019, produced by Danny Reisch. This is the beginning of a new phase for The Belle Sounds, letting go of the idea of an album or EP and just creating and releasing music as it comes. They hope to release a new single every few months, along with new music videos.
It has been over a year since they released their full length album, “The Sea Within”. They mark their return with their new single “Light it Up,” a bright, anthemic and utterly addictive track, a call to celebrate the little things in life that bring us joy in order to get through the darker days. Lead singer/songwriter and frontwoman Noëlle Hampton, received a prompt in a songwriting group that threw her for a loop.“I joined a group with biweekly prompts. When I saw that one of them was ‘Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily’ (from the nursery rhyme) I found myself feeling really pissed off.” she explains, “Then I had to ask myself why those words made me feel angry. These are some dark times we are living in and it can’t be ignored. I am reminded everyday of how hard it is and fight back deep feelings of sadness, even on days that show us some light. I took the prompt and turned it into a personal anthem to get myself through it all.”
Working with Danny Reisch (Shearwater, Jesca Hoop, Shy Beast, Okkervil River, Bright Light Social Hour) at Good Danny’s Studio in Lockhart, TX had long been on the top of the list for Noëlle Hampton and her husband/guitar player André Moran. Danny’s distinctive, modern, groove-focused production helped to showcase a new, elevated sound for The Belle Sounds. “It’s definitely more pop than I have written in the past. I have always had a love for a good hook and a simple, singable chorus. I wrote it to feel something positive again and my hope is that it makes someone else feel happy for a few minutes.” Noëlle says.
Noëlle took a different approach when writing “Light it Up.” She had finally installed Logic (recording software) on her computer and set up a little home studio. “I know I’m late to the party, but I am so excited to finally have my own studio. Before this I was writing directly off guitar or keys. Now I have the ability to experiment with drum loops and synths, synth bass and so on. On the demo for ‘Light it Up’ I even played the guitar solo, which we ended up keeping,” she laughs, “It’s the first time I have a featured solo (being married to the lead guitar player).”
Long time band member, Emily Shirley lent her sultry vocal harmonies to the track as well as newest member, Greg Hagen on bass. Loops, percussion and live drums were performed by producer Danny Reisch. André Moran played electric guitar, piano, and synth, and Noëlle Hampton added electric/acoustic guitar, synth and lead vocals.
As America becomes more divided and every day the news is more tragic and extreme, many artists are trying to bring any light they can to the surface. “Light it Up“ is four minutes of fresh air.
BAND HISTORY/PREVIOUS RECORDINGS:
Their album,“The Sea Within” (2018) came full circle in the sense that Noëlle and André were back to being the key players, inviting listeners to get swept up in the seductive interplay between their guitars and fall head first into the rich three-part harmonies underneath Noëlle’s powerful and at times very vulnerable lead vocals. The latest record features Noëlle on the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keys, percussion and lead vocals, André on the electric guitar, original band member Emily Shirley on the keys/synth and harmony vocals. They called on one of their favorite studio drummers Evan Hutchings (Nashville) and local Austinite John Michael (Night Glitter) to play bass. The record also features Kris Nelson on bass and backing vocals on several tracks along with Brian Standefer (Alejandro Escovedo) on cello. Noëlle and André enlisted the help of producer/engineer/keyboard player David Boyle (Patty Griffin, Fiona Apple, Robert Plant, Eddie Vedder, Okkervil River, Shinyribs) at Church House Studio in Austin, TX to help them create an honest, emotional approach to each song and pull the various lyrical themes and grooves together into one cohesive work. “David finds a way to get to the truth, a way that leads to the most authentic listening experience. When you close your eyes and listen you should have an experience that feels connected and true to your own story,” says Noëlle. Boyle also contributed to the record musically by laying down some vital keyboard and synth parts. “The Sea Within” was recorded throughout the Summer and overdubs/mixing happened through the Fall/Winter of 2017, with additional recording/mixing by André at The Congress House Studio. The record was released on July 20, 2018.
The Belle Sounds’ journey started in San Francisco where Noëlle and André were each pursuing their own music careers, playing in bands, writing and recording. Upon meeting each other they immediately fell in love, but it wasn’t until Noëlle dissolved the band that she had been performing with and entered a contest to play Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair that she and André started playing music together. Noëlle needed a guitar player for the contest and André agreed to play just that one show. The immediate chemistry and synergy that they felt when playing as a pair resulted in them winning the contest. The media attention that followed opened major doors for Noëlle and André as they were asked to open for a variety of notable artists such as Bob Dylan, Wilco, Chris Isaak, John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Train, Jewel, Richard Thompson, LeAnn Rimes, Pat Benatar, Jesse Winchester, Graham Parker, among others. They saw their songs placed in film and TV, released three albums under Noëlle’s name and she appeared in the first Apple iTunes commercial alongside such celebrated songwriters as Iggy Pop, Aimee Mann, Jeff Tweedy and Michael Penn. The duo had made a name for themselves in California and beyond, but craved a change in their day- to-day lifestyle.
In the early 2000s they visited Austin while on tour with their band and they fell in love with the city and decided to relocate there permanently.The move to Austin took its toll on both of them, but particularly Noëlle. Exhausted from years of performing and then starting over, she ended up in a deep depression and stopped playing music and writing for a few years. She was creatively stifled and bogged down with the emotional weight of feeling forgotten. It wasn’t until she and André met producer Mark Hallman (Ani Difranco, Carole King, Eliza Gilkyson) that they decided to go back into the studio and start making music together again. They recorded Noëlle’s last record under her name, the critically acclaimed “Thin Line”, which celebrated her newfound influence of a rootsy, Americana sound. The record saw a ton of radio airplay on everything from AAA, Commercial and College Radio to Internet Radio, and was embraced in Europe with substantial airplay as well. The passion and inspiration that came from recording and releasing “Thin Line” had reignited Noëlle’s drive, and the musical connection between this husband/wife team was stronger than ever. In 2013, the couple traveled to East Nashville,
TN to work on a batch of songs with a new producer, Neilson Hubbard. Noëlle, André and Neilson, along with a few other players including Evan Hutchings (drums) recorded the eponymous “The Belle Sounds” in a week-long recording session, full of creativity and sonic discovery. Their music had started heading in a new exciting direction and they decided to form a new band, The Belle Sounds. They went on to add more members to the band such as Emily Shirley on keys and vocals, and Harmoni Kelley (Bob Schneider, Kenny Chesney) on bass and vocals. After Harmoni moved to Nashville they were joined by Kris Nelson who fell effortlessly into the sound, covering Neilson’s vocal parts and adding immensely to the rhythm section. Since the groups’ formation, they have accomplished a great deal as The Belle Sounds. In 2013, the band traveled back to Nashville to record their EP, “Black Stone,” which they released in 2014. In 2016,
The Belle Sounds were named one of Austin’s “Best New Bands” by the Austin
Chronicle Music Poll and The City of Austin even proclaimed April 13, 2017 to officially be “The Belle Sounds Day.” They have performed at ACL Moody Theater, 3Ten ACL Live, One-2-One Bar, The Saxon Pub, Cheer Up Charlie’s and more.