We’re back with another ‘Fan Connection’ profile where we spotlight a member of our NoiseTrade community and their relationship with an artist they first discovered through our platform. Our recurring series continues with Joel T. and his fandom for indie-pop songwriter Andrew Belle. Read on to find out how Joel first found out about NoiseTrade, what caused him to connect with Andrew Belle’s music so deeply, and how NoiseTrade has affected the way he engages with other artists and bands.
How did you first engage with NoiseTrade?
When I was in graduate school I was sitting next to a classmate who was on NoiseTrade downloading several CDs from CXVI (another amazing group everyone should check out). This may or may not have been during class. I asked where on earth he was getting all this sweet music for free and he explained the NoiseTrade concept to me. I thought it sounded like a great concept but I’m a little protective of my email so I wasn’t sure it was worth the trade unless it was to get something really exceptional. Very shortly after that, Andrew Belle was giving away his first album The Ladder, along with an EP and a single on NoiseTrade. That was enough to win me over and it was the beginning of an amazing journey of musical discovery.
What are the things that tend to grab your attention the most when you’re first discovering a new artist?
It’s hard to explain exactly what grabs me, for the most part I just know it when I hear it, but I can describe the process. Whenever I got a new NoiseTrade email I would glance at the descriptions and the “for fans of” on each of the artists and if something in the bio intrigued me or the “for fans of” seemed like a good fit I would pull them up and play the first song in the background while I kept working on papers or whatever. Sometimes I knew within 10 seconds it just wasn’t my thing, on to the next artist. Sometimes I’d give it a few songs and definitely appreciate there’s talent here but it’s still not my thing. But sometimes I would hear something so good, whether a melody, a riff or a lyric, that I had to stop what I was doing, pull back up the NoiseTrade window and start the song over. If an artist can stop me in my tracks because I know there’s something so good here it needs my full attention — game over, I’m sold.
Tell us about what specifically first drew you to Andrew Belle.
The song Static Waves, specifically the amazing vocal combination of Andrew and Katie Herzig (another great artist), along with the clever and emotive lyrics: “the static waves across the screen define this notion, back and forth and in between like my emotion, and I know you’re never gonna understand”. If you don’t feel something listening to that song, you’re not paying attention. Or maybe you have never been in a relationship or had emotions, I don’t know. That’s the first Andrew Belle song I heard and I believe it was on Pandora. It was one of those songs I would find myself really enjoying multiple times and I kept forgetting to go back and check the artist. (Anybody who has ever used Pandora knows what I’m talking about, right?) Then, as I mentioned, I saw Andrew’s whole first album on NoiseTrade and was super excited just to have that song, but then as I listened to the rest of the CD, for me it was just home run after home run.
How have you engaged with Andrew Belle since first discovering him on NoiseTrade?
First of all, you have to understand that I started getting into music as a teenager in the days of Napster, so I have been tragically conditioned to undervalue music. At the time of this story I had not bought a CD for years and years. I very rarely bought a track or two digitally but I’m pretty cheap so I never trusted a whole album to be worth it. I can’t remember for sure if I tipped Andrew for The Ladder (sorry man, I was in grad school at the time), but I shared it on Facebook and tagged some of my friends who I knew appreciate good music. This may not sound like a big deal but I very rarely post on social media so it was significant (seriously, I just checked and so far in 2017 Andrew Belle is tied with my 7-month-old daughter for most posted about subject at 2 posts each). When I heard he was coming out with his second album Black Bear, it was at the top of my Christmas list and I loved it. Then when he released a CD of stripped down remixes from that CD called Black Bear (Hushed), I bought it immediately, sight unseen. I went from not being willing to spend money on music at all to paying money for alternate versions of songs I already owned! I haven’t had a chance to see Andrew live yet, (I live in Orlando and we don’t get much concert love from the artists I like) but I’m hoping some day he’ll be in town and I can convince him to come hang out (AB if you’re reading this, I can probably get you and your family into Disney or Universal for free if you want to come visit. I’m completely mentally stable, I promise) .
Has the way you’ve connected with artists via NoiseTrade changed the way you’ve engaged with other artists that you have discovered outside of NoiseTrade?
As the story about how I’ve engaged with Andrew Belle hopefully illustrates, I am an entirely different kind of music fan than I used to be. I have a much deeper appreciation of the value of art and I am more keenly aware of the humanity of the artists. As simple as it seems, being on the mailing lists of a bunch of artists really helps with that. As far as how it impacts my engagement with artists I discovered outside of NoiseTrade… well, there’s not too many of those I guess. Almost all of my favorite artists I discovered or expanded my knowledge of through NoiseTrade — Andrew Belle obviously, Bear’s Den, William Fitzsimmons, Andrew Peterson, The Oh Hellos (all such great artists, I am serious everybody, check them out), the list goes on.
Finally, what’s your current musical obsession, NoiseTrade-related or otherwise?
As it just so happens, Andrew Belle just came out with a new record so obviously I’m stoked about that (and you can still get Black Bear on NoiseTrade right now so that’s exciting for the world). But even more exciting, my wife, Jessi Trigger recently wrapped up the production on her first album so I am just loving getting to hear that before anybody else. Keep your eyes out on NoiseTrade in the near future, who knows, maybe you’ll get a sample?