Having packed out a Nashville industry showcase at The Basement, as well as playing a Sofar Soundsset at London’s Amnesty International HQ this summer, Belle Mt. have now released their emotion-strewn debut single ‘Hollow’, which premiered on Mahogany last week.
The brainchild of singer-songwriter Matt Belmont, Belle Mt. create a cinematic alt-pop filled with intricate musical layers and rich lyrical storytelling.
We caught up with Belmont to find out more….
Hi Belle Mt., welcome to Gigslutz! Can you tell us a little bit about your latest musical project?
Thanks, it’s great to be talking to Gigslutz having read this site a lot! Belle Mt has been my obsession and pretty much the be-all-end-all of my existence for the last couple of years. It’s the distillation of a sound I started experimenting with back in 2015; concentrating on epic soundscapes. I wanted each track to have this power of transporting the listener whilst honestly reflecting on my own life experiences through lyrics that mean something, I’m concentrating on creating music that I love with collaborators that I respect deeply. In the studio Femke has elevated the sound of the project in ways I don’t think I could have possibly achieved without her and then in the band having Chris and Ben inspires new directions and energy. It’s all just an ongoing evolution aided by surrounding myself with the best creative minds I know.
What initially inspired you to start creating music?
This answer is so clichéd but at 17 years old my ex-girlfriend cheated and I wrote awful, awful songs about it. Those songs are now buried forever, but the process of healing and expressing through songwriting was cathartic and I was addicted.
We’re loving the new single ‘Hollow’ – what’s it all about?
‘Hollow’ is a story personal to my own experience. It was inspired by a point early in my relationship with a girlfriend whose walls were up because of things that had happened in the past which were projected onto this great thing that we had going on. We could talk things through but at some stage it would become too painful and she would shut down, I suppose while she processed and collected her thoughts. Her mind was in a completely different place at those times, sometimes for hours before she would come back to me. The song explores what could have been and what could be, depending on which path we take at those important forks in the road. It’s about not letting your past define your future.
You’ve been compared to the likes of Bon Iver, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
It’s a tough one to pinpoint. In early car journeys with my parents the soundtrack would always be Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Queen. I guess what those guys all have in common is great craftsmanship and growing bodies of work which were about something. Currently I’m fascinated by the evolution of a sound across albums with bands like Bon Iver & Radiohead, not forgetting that there’s almost definitely some Chris Martin in these melodies! Can I also say Sting and Paul Simon…? They’ll be terribly upset if I don’t…
How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
I try to see a lot of live music, London is awash with talent. It can be intimidating to the point that almost all of us London artists go through some form of early burnout and overwhelm in the first few months of being here. You have to embrace it though, there is something to learn from every good show you see, if you want to know what the bar of great talent is worldwide then go to London… after that go to Nashville and sh*t yourself all over again.
You’ve played a Sofar Sounds session and an industry showcase in Nashville, but what would you say has been your best gig to date?
Those two gigs were incredible in different ways. The Showcase was my first Nashville show playing a lot of new material solo acoustic and it was exciting that all of those people came to see me play 5 songs at 6pm on like a Thursday or something. Sofar Sounds is incredible because of the spaces they choose and the attentiveness of the audience; we played with no PA system to a room of silent new music lovers – we’ll be playing a lot more of those! Our favourite so far was a gig we did at Tooting Tram & Social in South London. It’s this epic space I’ve been working with for over four years, so they let us do whatever we wanted with lighting and setup. We went all out and set up in a circle in the centre of the room with the audience stood around our equipment and watching everything from metres away. We lit the place like a theatre set with lights borrowed from the National Theatre and savoured every minute. Despite it being a sell out we actually lost money putting that one on due to the epic setup, but it was totally worth it! It’s important to us that our live shows are something special and mirror the atmosphere of the music. Most of the budget went towards filming the whole gig so watch this space for that one to come out.
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
YES! These guys are friends whose releases have inspired me a lot in the music they create and the way they’ve performed and gotten it out there… Bruno Major (Easily), Lawrence Taylor (Bang Bang), Anna Pancaldi (Brother), Annie Eve (Ropes).
And how do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It’s both the easiest and the hardest its ever been. Budget is no longer as much of a defining factor as it once was so this has opened up music creation to almost everyone, which is incredible and fair but also makes it hard to be noticed amongst the wave of new tunes every week. I don’t know any secret formula to break through and I’d suggest you don’t try to find one, I’d say that its most important to be able to switch off from that noise, lock yourself away to do what you do best and never stop learning. Most of all make sure your work is rooted in deep meaning beyond “Making a hit and being famous”.
Finally, what does the rest of 2017 have in store for Belle Mt.?
Next stop Nashville at the end of September where I’ll be playing some solo acoustic shows as well as writing and working with Femke and Josh Reynolds (Mix Engineer) to finish the mixes for the next two releases which will be out in October and December. There are also plans for another full band London show at the end of the year which we’re very excited about.
Huge thanks for answering our questions!
That was fun, thank you for having me.
‘Hollow’, the debut single from Belle Mt. is out now via LV Music.