California natives turned Austin mainstays, The Belle Sounds have made a name for themselves as seductive Alt-Pop aficionados creating lush soundscapes intertwined with effervescent harmonies and beautiful lyricism. Although their sound is at times evocative of established bands you know and love, they stand out in their own unique sonic space with their effortless melodies and hooks, floating guitars and underlying synthscapes. Throughout the seven years they have called themselves The Belle Sounds, the band has undergone different iterations with various musicians recording and performing, but the core and founders of the band are lead singer/songwriter Noëlle Hampton and her husband, André Moran, both multi-instrumentalists.
The evolution of their sound falling deeper into the world of Alt-Pop continues with an enticing new single, “I Lose Myself.” Noëlle received a call from The House of Songs in Austin to co-write with an artist from Finland, Sirja Puurtinen. The House of Songs invites songwriters from around the world to the United States to share the universal language of music in collaborations designed to bridge cultures, build friendships and cultivate peace. The women met at the house and spent an afternoon getting to know each other and diving into a song. “We had an idea to write a love song to creativity, the process of writing. It’s the only relationship in our lives that we know is infinite. The process is imperfect and beautiful, just like us. We shine through each song, connecting more of ourselves and hopefully to music fans as well.” says Noëlle. Beginning with a melody Noëlle had created on the Minilogue synth, they hashed out the idea, Sirja feverishly typing on her laptop to translate her thoughts from Finnish to English and jumping up on the piano to move through chord variations. “There was an immediate sisterhood between us. You can’t force that. It was just meant to be that we met and wrote together. We are so proud of the way it came out. It turned into a sensual, universal love song.” Noëlle and André are also working on a music video for the song which will include footage from Sirja in Finland.
“I Lose Myself” will fittingly be released on Valentine’s Day, produced by Noëlle and André and recorded and mixed at Congress House Studio in Austin, TX by André. This is the beginning of a new phase for The Belle Sounds, creating, producing and releasing music as it comes. Starting on 2/14, they will release a new single every month in 2020.
Long time band member, Emily Shirley lent her sultry vocal harmonies to the track as well as newest member, Greg Hagen on bass. Synths, drum loops and lead vocals by Noëlle, live drums performed by Evan Hutchings and André Moran on electric guitar.
Some exciting music on its way from The Belle Sounds for 2020. Each track will bring something different to the table, sonically influenced by artists like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Laura Veirs and more, all with Noëlle’s distinctive songwriting style.
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 officially “The Belle Sounds Day.” Peter Blackstock wrote,"The Belle Sounds have become one of Austin’s best pop bands” (Austin 360). They have performed at ACL Moody Theater, 3Ten ACL Live, One-2-One Bar, The Saxon Pub, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Empire Control Room and more.
BAND HISTORY/PREVIOUS RECORDINGS:
In late 2019 the Belle Sounds released the single, “Light It Up” produced by Danny Reisch (Shearwater, Jesca Hoop, Shy Beast, Okkervil River, Bright Light Social Hour) and recorded at Good Danny’s Studio in Lockhart, TX. It was the seed that sparked the band to create and release singles instead of the traditional album or EP. “Light It Up” also showcased a shift in the sound of the band. Noëlle had begun writing and pre-producing tracks at home, playing multiple instruments, working with drum loops and samples and letting the sounds guide her toward the story she wanted to tell. This track weaves through Noëlle’s desire to find moments of pure joy again in a world that can appear very bleak. It is an anthem to reclaim our happiness, if only for a moment a day.
Their last full length album, The Sea Within (2018) was an open invitation into the mind and heart of songwriter Noëlle Hampton. She was intensely struggling with panic attacks at the time and navigating through daily stress, trying any way she could to quiet her mind and having no success. She wades around the waters of her own angst alongside what all Americans are dealing with, insane politics, corruption, grief and more. Listeners to get swept up in the seductive interplay between Noëlle and André’s guitars and fall head first into the rich three-part harmonies underneath Noëlle’s powerful and at times very vulnerable lead vocals. The Sea Within 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. Boyle also contributed to the record musically by laying down some vital keyboard and synth parts. “The Sea Within” was released on July 20, 2018.
The Belle Sounds discography also includes their eponymous release, The Belle Sounds (2013) and Black Stone EP (2014), both produced by Neilson Hubbard in East Nashville, TN along with singles, “Olivia”, “Call Out Love” and “Inside The Gun,”
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 that she and André started playing music together. The immediate chemistry and synergy that they felt when playing as a pair resulted in a whirlwind of performance opportunities. They performed at Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair and went on 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 eventually relocate permanently. Shortly after the move they met producer Mark Hallman (Ani DiFranco, Carole King, Eliza Gilkyson) and went back into the studio to start an album. The last record under her name, critically acclaimed Thin Line celebrated her newfound influence of a rootsy, Americana sound. The record was played 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 new songs with a new producer, Neilson Hubbard. Noëlle, André and Neilson, along with a few other players including Evan Hutchings (drums) recorded the eponymous album 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 members 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. In 2013, the band traveled back to Nashville to record their EP, “Black Stone,” which they released in 2014.
The live band includes Noëlle Hampton (guitar/keys vocals), André Moran (guitar), Emily Shirley (keys/guitar/percussion/vocals), Greg Hagen (bass) and Jim Echels (drums.)