Photo Credit: Casey Curry
“We’re beautiful, awfully amazing, insane animals.”
This is what Elle Belle said at one point in this interview, and it stuck with me the rest of my day – and will likely remain a sentiment I look back years from now and smile about. Much thanks to the LA-based artist who went through the wringer but came out the other side with a new perspective that started as a character, but transformed into just who he is. Elle Belle and I spoke of how this all came to be, as well as the new album, ‘How Do I Feel?’ and more like bookends and peanut butter eggs.
Kendra: You went from the rural ways of New Hampshire to Boston and then found yourself going through some things after arriving in LA, which I get having spent 16 years there after college, but do you remember the moment things started to click and you realized Elle Belle was the next move?
Elle Belle: I was working on my second Miracle Parade record and felt really paralyzed. I would re-record vocals dozens of times and rework sections over and over – I was really indecisive. So, Elle Belle was born out of a desire to be bold with my decisions and not look back. Elle was a persona – a person who ONLY made bold, decisive moves. The trick worked and I was able to work through that paralysis and I’ve been Elle Belle ever since.
Kendra: And after that, you went and dropped a debut with almost two dozen songs. In hindsight, do you think that was just a major creative release you had building up inside of you? Because there are artists that can barely get an EP out as a debut, let alone a 20-song LP.
Elle Belle: I write a lot. Most of it is junk, but with that new freedom I had found in Elle Belle I did have a ton of songs I felt happy about. Also a debut double LP was the exact over-the-top “who does this guy think he is?” statement I wanted to make. I thought it’d be funny to call it “Greatest Hits” but settled on ‘WAKO GUMBO.’
Kendra: That was half a dozen years ago, and now we’re in the present day and you dropped ‘How Do I Feel?’ at the start of September. How would you say Elle Belle has evolved since ‘WAKO GUMBO’ when comparing it to your fourth record?
Elle Belle: The character has been dropped because Elle and I are one and the same.
Kendra: Right off the bat, I was interested in ‘How Do I Feel?’ because of the line in “Hey Dreamers,” “Is there a reason I’ve been getting sad.” I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since my teens, and that’s one of the most common questions circling my existence, and what’s sad but also oddly comforting is that it seems to be that we’re all in similar boats. Do you think that humanity has always been collectively like this or has something shifted in the 21st century?
Elle Belle: I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with that stuff. It’s debilitating to be sad without any obvious reason. It can take up so much of your bandwidth that it ruins the fidelity of your perception of the world. We all are in the same boat though, and we always have been. The absolute absurd terror of existence has driven our decisions from day 1. We’re beautiful, awfully amazing, insane animals.
Kendra: Thank you for that, but what I also liked about this record is that you start with “Hey Dreamers” and then cap it off with “Wake Up, It’s Alright.” What was the significance of those being the bookends of the record?
Elle Belle: Thank you! I wanted the album to feel like some sort of fevered dream to evoke that liminal space we were all in during the pandemic.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with this being October, I’m asking everyone to recall their favorite Halloween costume growing up – and if you don’t have one, perhaps your favorite candy to pick up for yourself now that you’re grown and don’t have to go door to door for it…
Elle Belle: One year I went as the Terminator and my mom made me this glowing red eye and did my makeup. I looked awesome. Fav candy now? Hmmm you can’t beat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Stick those babies in the fridge and whoooo wheeee. I love Halloween.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘How Do I Feel?’ out now, what else can people expect as we continue into fall?
Elle Belle: I’m going to put out some more stuff soon. I’ve got a ton of new songs and would like to just release them one by one for now. I feel like making a record would just slow me down. I’m going farm to table with this stuff.