You may have heard Andrew Belle’s music before and not even known it. His lyrics have served as a soundtracks to numerous hit television shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, Castle, and Vampire Diaries. The Chicago-based singer-songwriter, was kind enough to chat with us at AMG. We caught him while on tour, calling from a car somewhere in Wisconsin.
Do you tour in Atlanta often?
I can probably count on two hands the amount of times I’ve come through there. I was just there in November actually at Vinyl. It’s good to be back. Besides that it’s been a couple years.
How did you get your start singing and writing music?
I have always sort of been attracted to music. I started playing a little bit of music and learning to play guitar when I was in high school, but I was always a background guy. Then I wrote my first song in 2003. I’m not sure where the inspiration came about. I always excelled at writing in school, and it was only a matter of time when I realized that I would enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed music and the emotive element to it. I remember 11 years ago, when I wrote my first song, really appreciating and finding fulfillment in the feeling of putting emotion into words. Explaining what I felt on paper combined with music allowed me to discover something I’d never felt before. I do remember being directly inspired by the band, Brand New. I had seen them in concert. Their music was a reflection of the time- pop-punk, emo-rock kind of music that really didn’t withhold the test of time. But it was the writing, the approach to the writing I was so enamored with there was such a dedication to cleverness and delivery of lyrics. I just wanted to do that. I wanted to be clever with my words. And I wanted to explain myself, and be emotive almost in a therapeutic way through my words. So I started writing and really felt like I had a knack for it, and was encouraged by my friends that I was good at it, so I kept it up.
Talk us through your songwriting process.
I don’t write a whole lot. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting for me, so it’s something I do in seasons. Right now I’m definitely in an off season, and doing more performing, touring, and promoting instead. I’ll write when I’m ready to be creative again. It’s usually brought on directly as inspiration from other artists or music I’m listening to that is allowing me to think in a way I hadn’t before. I’m not really a music musician. I know enough music to perform, but I’ve always thought of myself as more of a writer than a musician. I definitely get my musical inspiration from other artists and work with other people to push my musicality. If it was just me my music would probably be pretty simple. But the process does begin with the music. I start tinkering around and building stuff that feels right, and once I have enough to work with I’ll begin the process of writing the actual lyrics. I usually just fumble around, then I’ll find words that work together. At that point I’ll define what it is I’m actually writing about. At that point it becomes autobiographical, pertaining to something that’s going on in my life, or has gone on, or will go on.
Who are some artists you find yourself admiring right now?
Right now I like an artist called Washed Out. I really love Beach House, and anything Tom York does. There’s a Nashville band called Wild Cub that I think are doing some really cool things.
How do you connect with the crowd when you’re playing a live show?
That’s a good question. I actually struggle to do that. It’s hard to not only go out there and play your song right, sing all the lyrics correctly, and play all the piano parts. Then there’s keeping your eyes open, looking at the audience, and connecting with them. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s something halfway through the show I have to remind myself. Connecting sometimes falls to the wayside when I’m focusing on executing my music correctly. It’s something I should get better at.
What’s the most memorable gig you’ve ever played?
I was involved with a project called Ten Out of Ten, which was a Nashville collective of singer-songwriters that I really admired and respected. We were all on tour together, I was the youngest, and I really admired them. It was exciting and flattering to collectively go out and play shows with them. One of my favorite shows was a couple years ago when we were wrapping up that tour in Nashville. It was a Christmas show at the end of a 2010, which had been long year and tour, and the club was packed to the brim with friends and family. Touring was still new for me at this point and I remember feeling extremely grateful to be on stage playing with such talented people, and glad to be where I was at that point.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever seen?
Brand New. I was going to college in 2003, I drove to Chicago with my friends from school to see Dashboard Confessional. Brand New was opening for them, and I was just blown away. I was on the floor, had driven 4 hours to see Dashboard, and didn’t even care about them after that point. That was what really made me want to play music for a living and want to write songs. It was the most important concert I ever attended.
Andrew will be at Vinyl w/Diane Birch Wednesday, March 19th!
Doors @ 7 p.m. Tickets: $15 in advance, $17 at the door. Online and phone sales close @ 4 p.m. day of show.