Steve Kinrade caught up with Christy Bellis to discuss her debut EP, her style, influences, subject matter and more.
Liverpool Noise: Congratulations on your debut EP – Human Nature! Considering it’s your first ever release, the songwriting and production is very accomplished. I personally like the eclectic songwriting styles and the hint of an Eighties production. Were these conscious elements that you drew upon when you started the creative process?
Christy Bellis: Thank you so much! And it’s wonderful to have such a brilliant response in regards to the production, especially because it wasn’t created and recorded conventionally in a studio, it was produced at home by myself with my Dad! I think the eclectic songwriting is definitely something that was intentional, as I didn’t want to be put into a box whilst discovering myself as an artist. I wanted the freedom to explore each song and story in its own personal way, so producing it at home gave me full creative control over this. I think the eighties production is something that began subconsciously as I have grown up with my parents love for eighties music, but once the tracks began to take this route we definitely focused on those specific treatments and sounds.
LN: The songs – from a male point of view – immediately suggest the societal experiences that any woman may encounter today, or in fact have always experienced. Is that so?
CB: The songs definitely draw on my personal experiences as a woman. Some of the tracks have a tongue in cheek tone, exploring modern dating and relationships as well as celebrating independence and self worth. Whilst others are very raw and emotive regarding a woman’s experience of misogyny, sexual harassment, consent or the lack of it. I think there are elements of the society we live in that are progressive and open minded, they are definitely portrayed that way, but time and time again its proved that there is still a lot of work to be done. No Means No feels particularly fitting with recent events and the conversations that have opened up over that last year, but the sad truth is I didn’t write that in response to any specific event I wrote it previously to that about everyday experiences of a woman because it was already a reality. It feels as though people are listening at the moment, which is great, but we have to make sure it stays that way.
LN: I took the EP to be quite dark, with varying shades. The track Controller is for me the darkest, and the William Orbit-esque treatment really adds to the atmosphere. Am I reading too much into it?
CB: In short no you aren’t reading too much into it. I wanted the music to reflect the mood and allow the lyrics to come to life and take the listener on a journey. That’s something I have tried to keep consistent throughout the EP which is why the tracks are so eclectic in their style influences. The William Orbit style treatment wasn’t a conscious decision, but I am made up with that comparison!
LN: Can you talk through the creative inspirations of the songs?
CB: Singing and performing has always been apart of my life from a very young age, but writing and creating music is something that came much later. For some reason I always told my self I couldn’t write songs, I think I had been too comfortable singing other peoples and playing characters; but the truth is I had never really tried, and I had never had the need to write before. Certain events happened in my life and I was becoming more aware of the world around me, so having on outlet for my thoughts became a necessity.
One day I just put pen to paper when I was feeling a bit stuck, I thought music is always the thing I turn to in any moment of joy or sadness so why not create my own. The release of my thoughts and the new found ability to harness my creativity in a new way was thrilling. The songs then came out of my thoughts, my personal experiences and my perception of the world; this also transfers into the visual elements of the EP including the artwork and the music video for Bridesmaid. With the artwork I wanted to contrast the mans world of the local social club with a glamorous personal aesthetic. Nodding to the fact that there is no set way to present as a woman, a feminist can be glamorous if she chooses too and she can take her place in a man’s world.
LN: Who are your musical influences?
CB: I am influenced by such a huge range of music and I think thats reflected in the EP. I come from a very musical family, its made up of some musicians but mostly people who just love and appreciate music. My influences span from classic rock to 80’s synth-pop, modern pop and indie, as well as taking inspiration from theatre and film. However particularly for me I’m inspired by female artists including Marina, Billie Eilish and Kate Bush. I love how even though they are all so different they combine truth and rawness with elements of theatricality and they aren’t afraid to break the boundaries of music genres.
For me the music I relate to the most is where the mood of the story/lyrics is reflected in the melody and the track, because it takes you somewhere else. For me it’s more than just the songs, its the performance as well as all the creative elements and visuals that come together with it; and I think all three of these women are incredible at seeing and creating the whole picture.
LN: We talked about the production of the EP, but the song itself is the song. You show that by including an acoustic version of Bridesmaid. Is this important to you?
CB: Yes definitely I believe it’s important for the song to stand on its own two feet without the production element. Bridesmaid for example I always knew would do that, but after producing the track with the reggae feel I was unsure if it would now feel lost without it. However after putting the acoustic track together it definitely reminded me that there is a place for my music in both of those worlds and thats exciting. Sometimes the words and melody are all you need, but it’s also fun to elevate that through production.
LN: So this is first steps…..what are you planning next?
CB: The next steps on my journey are getting onto that stage and performing the songs live for a crowd. The performance is very important to me, it’s a huge part of who I am as an artist and i’m excited for people to see that side of me. Currently I haven’t announced any gigs but keep your eyes peeled on my socials as things are happening. I’m really excited for the year ahead and to keep building on what I have started, push myself creatively and keep making music that I love!