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 each new release. Experimenting in her home studio has brought Noëlle closer to her love of the lush pop music from the 80s that inspired her as a teenager and never left. Being able to produce the tracks up as fully realized demos has given her the freedom she was looking for all these years to express the sounds and vibe that she wasn't able to get access with other producers. Noëlle and André then take the demos to The Congress House Studio (Austin, TX) and co-produce each track to its completion, often using many of the loops and synths from the demos and re-cutting live instruments and vocals. Of course no track is complete without the addition of the sweet backing vocals of bandmate, Emily Shirley and bass lines from Greg Hagen.
The first single of 2020 was I Lose Myself, a co-write with an artist from Finland, Sirja Puurtinen through The House of Songs in Austin, TX. (They invite 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.) After that came Lucid Dream, Golden Hour, Like Glass, En Solitude (an instrumental), Love Will Change and on July 31st they release their summer jam, a nu-disco song called Until The Light Comes Up.
The Belle Sounds are Black Fret 2020 nominees, an organization that is modeling the patron/artist relationship in a way that is truly helping musicians right now. “We will see what happens this year.” she explains, “They know it is a bizarre year to be nominated. In the meantime they are trying to find ways to support us with paid online gigs and safe in-person distanced shows, along with mentoring.”
Their song, Safe From Love (Instrumental version) was recently placed in the hit Netflix show, Outer Banks.
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 was produced by David Boyle (Patty Griffin, Fiona Apple, Robert Plant, Eddie Vedder, Okkervil River, Shinyribs) at Church House Studio in Austin, TX and 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.)
"Light It Up" Single Release:
"It’s been a surprisingly short amount of time since singer Noëlle Hampton and guitarist André Moran first met in San Francisco, became partners in marriage and songwriting, and moved to Austin as The Belle Sounds. And it’s just as impressive that in the five years since then they’ve become a treasured indie pop rock mainstay, to the point that the City of Austin has declared April 13th as “The Belle Sounds Day”.
Now equipped with some at-home digital production software and producer Danny Reisch (Shearwater, David Ramirez, Erika Wennerstrom), The Belle Sounds are venturing further into the pop realm, while still retaining the vivid soundscapes and infectious harmonies that made us fall in love with them in the first place."
- Jack Anderson- KUTX
The Belle Sounds, “The Sea Within.”
"Centered around singer-songwriter Noelle Hampton and guitarist Andre Moran, the Belle Sounds have become one of Austin’s best pop bands since forming five years ago. “The Sea Within” has been a long time coming: Their last release was a 2014 EP that followed 2013’s self-titled debut. Working with producer David Boyle at his Church House Studio in East Austin, the band recorded 11 original songs that reach back to the classic sounds of 1970s FM radio, an approach that stands out today precisely because they’re not trying to board the indie bandwagon. The album’s title comes from the mesmerizing track “Innsaei,” an Icelandic word that translates to “the sea within” but connotes a deeper, zen-like sense of intuition and empathy. This is a very well-constructed and sequenced record: Five tracks build up, and then down, from “Legend of the Silver Moon,” a masterful eight-minute centerpiece that luxuriates in Moran’s brilliant atmospheric guitar soundscapes. Throughout, contributions from keyboardists Boyle and Emily Shirley, bassists John Michael Schoepf and Kris Nelson, drummer Evan Hutchings and cellist Brian Standefer make “The Sea Within” sound very much like a band record, not simply a duo project." - Peter Blackstock (Austin 360) 7/19/18
“ Absolutely fantastic! It’s fucking awesome-super dreamy!” Johnny Goudie (musician/songwriter/How Did I Get Here podcaster)
“Excellent record! Every song is good. A superior recording. Everything on this record is just placed perfectly.” Tom Tranchilla (musician/songwriter/DJ on KPFT Houston)
“Austin’s The Belle Sounds are back with a new gripping album that weaves together everything from overcoming some of the weaker points of the human condition, and the struggle to take on others.” - KUTX (Austin, TX)
The soaring synth and vocal harmonies for the chorus definitely give the song a Fleetwood Mac vibe, but The Belle Sounds take things in their own direction as they craft their own dark and jagged pop sound.
- Glide Magazine 6/6/18
“KUTX is proud to premiere their latest music video “Like A Villain,” a stunning, all-visual vignette and an absolute playground of textures to evoke the duality of anxiety-driven suffocation and the strength found from putting that baby in the corner.” - KUTX (Austin,TX)
Needless to say, The Belle Sounds are a group well worth knowing – especially as they gear up to release their highly anticipated sophomore album. The Sea Within is, as its name suggests, a provocative exploration of internal turbulence full of introspection and emotion. Finely balancing darkness and light, “Like a Villain” exemplifies the band’s depth with an intimate portrayal of anxiety and inner strife.
Hampton’s incredibly moving words speak volumes to the intensity that is “Like a Villain”: The band set out to make a statement with this video, and they ended up with a true work of art. “Like a Villain” explores some of our darkest personal spaces, unearthing our innate fragility and emotional extremes. It’s a think-piece, a conversation-starter, and a defining moment for an emerging rock band as they prepare to burst out of Austin. - Mitch Most (Atwood Magazine)
It’s tempting to draw parallels between Belle Sounds and Fleetwood Mac, given the triple-threat interplay between band leader Noelle Hampton, masterfully atmospheric guitarist Andre Moran and keyboardist-vocalist Emily Shirley. They play sophisticated pop originals and have a great rapport with the audience."
- Peter Blackstock - Austin360
"Helmed by superb songstress Noëlle Hampton, The Belle Sounds navigate the difficult divide between seductive folk pop and the sterling accessibility that successfully prevents them from ever becoming too self-absorbed."
- Lee Zimmerman/No Depression