Andrew Belle’s new album ‘Black Bear’ comes out August 20th (iTunes pre-order). In preparation of Belle’s new album which takes a dramatic turn from his previous release ‘The Ladder,’ here are a few questions to get behind the music. Be sure to check out the newest single “Pieces,” as well as his previous music available on NoiseTrade.
There has been a good amount of time between the release of ‘The Ladder’ and the upcoming ‘Black Bear,’ was that deliberate or did time just slip by?
In a way, time really just flew by. But also, I just took a while to feel like I had something worth writing about again. I enjoy writing and recording albums but it takes so much out of me that I can really only muster up the energy to do it every few years – and then just give it all I’ve got.
What does the song writing process usually look like for you?
I actually changed my writing approach for this one and demoed all 10 songs at home before bringing them to the guys at Blackwatch. I spent a few months just having fun and experimenting with lots of different sounds and midi-instruments. It really opened up my previously semi-limited songwriting and helped to rejuvenate my enjoyment of the process.
How is this album different from the previous effort, The Ladder?
I wrote the Ladder in 2008 and so there’s 4 years of musical maturation and taste change represented in the production we chose, however, I approached the songwriting the same way I always have – with an emphasis on quality lyrics and memorable melodies. The difference lies in the way it’s being presented this time. It’s much less acoustic – much more electronic/ambient.
What’s the background of the album title, Black Bear?
There were a few themes that surfaced upon my setting out to write ‘Black Bear’ last summer. I had just gotten married and so my relationship with my wife played a large role in the inspiration – as well as my relationship with my family. But more importantly, the most consistent and overarching theme found in this album is that of a God that pursues a man until he inevitably succumbs to his persistence. I am not a Christian artist (in the sense that I operate in that genre) but this was my experience; a juxtaposition of free will and unavoidable foreordination. For sometime I resisted and I wrestled but, much like the relationship between a Bear and his prey, I had no choice but to be swept away by the overwhelming beauty found in the person of Jesus.
Any new songs that stand out and you’re particularly proud of?
It really depends on what day of the week you catch me, honestly. I’ve listened to this thing about 100,000 times now and it seems like every time through it, another song becomes my front runner for a different reason. I’m really into the last track, ‘I Won’t Fight it’, right now because I was aiming for this sort of ‘the National’ meets ‘Beach House’ kind of feel and Chad and Jarod at Blackwatch did a really good job of capturing that for me.
Which song do you see connecting the most with listeners?
I would guess ‘The Enemy’. The song mostly describes the human condition; the idea that we are imperfect and flawed creatures, desiring to do good but struggling with our pride and selfishness at the same time. I think that is something that most everybody, if being honest, can relate to.
How has the experience of being independent been from the release of The Ladder to this new one with everything in-between?
Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed being label-less thus far. I have really specific vision for all of the things I want my music to be about and to stand for, and so being able to, prayerfully, make all those final decisions and follow my gut on certain things has been really exciting…scary, at times…but very rewarding and fulfilling.
Tyler Hayes also contributes to Fast Company.