Wild Belle is an incredibly talented brother/sister duo comprised of Natalie Bergman on vocals and Elliot Bergman on keyboard and saxophone. The siblings took some time to talk with me during this weekend’s Treasure Island Music Fest in San Francisco.
First off, congratulations on your recent signing with Columbia Records! How did that come about?
Natalie: Well, we released this single “Keep You,” and there were a couple of labels that expressed interest and liked who we are and liked what we were doing because we are doing it on our own. We met with a couple of people, and then after a couple months of wandering the label universe, we decided that Columbia is a good home for our record because they get it. They have amazing style, they have amazing artists on the label, and we wanted to be in that family.
You have such a unique musical style, who would you say are your musical influences?
Natalie: My little brother lives in California, so it was nice that he could join us at the festival today, and as we drove here, we were listening to a band called Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, and they’re amazing. They’re from Zimbabwe with a late-60s / early-70s Zimbabwe rock sound. It’s just good, tropical, happy-sounding music, and we want to convey that type of vibe. Happy and tropical, but then there are some kind of darker songs that are rooted in blues and rock and roll.
What was the process behind creating the music video for “It’s Too Late”?
Elliot: Jess Holzworth directed the video — she has done fun stuff with Beck and MIA before — so we went to LA and shot it all on a green screen. She then psychedelicised everything. We had a back and forth on trying to get the artwork together and do the visual collages, so it took a while, and then at the end of it, we put it through a filter.
Natalie: Yeah that made it seem further removed than it did originally and gave it a washed-out vibe. The song is based on ’70s rocker music in Jamaica, so we kind of wanted to have slight ’70s rockers look.
Elliot: We have a new video coming out tomorrow called “Backslider.” We’re really excited about that because our 19-year-old brother, who is here with us today, is a cool artist, writer, and photographer, and he did this video. We shot it over a couple of nights in our backyard with a slide projector and a white sheet. The more we do this, the more we realize you just have to work with the people you know the best, and even if the technical means are limited, it always ends up being something that feels closer to home and closer to what you want it to be.
You do all your own writing, recording, and producing. Do you split up these tasks or do you both do everything?
Natalie: It’s definitely a collaboration. We both bring different art forms to the studio or to the kitchen table or wherever we’re developing a song. We bring different things, and it all comes together in the studio.
Elliot, you switch between the keyboard and sax — which did you learn first and how did you progress into the other?
Elliot: It all started on piano, and then I took up the clarinet and then switched to saxophone in high school. This cool band called The Creepers asked if I could play the saxophone, and I couldn’t but I said that I could for a battle of the bands. My grandma had actually given me a saxophone, so that was how I got into that, but they’re all interconnected.
You’re wrapping up your North American tour today. What’s next for Wild Belle?
Natalie: We’re actually going to do another run with our friends Passion Pit, so we’re going to fly to DC tonight after the festival and just carry on from there. We’re going to go south and eventually end up in Florida.
Elliot: Yeah, we just did a tour and now this Passion Pit thing just came up last minute, so now we’re just getting on a red eye tonight and playing tomorrow. That’s how it’s been this year — you think you’re going to have a little break and then there’s another tour that materializes. We’re going to go to Europe in November, and then we’re coming back to do the West Coast again — it’s just been a little bit hectic.
Natalie: It’s what we signed up for. It’s our work field, so it feels really good to work, especially when you get to come and stay in an environment like today. Sometimes there are some rough nights in a shitty rock club and then there’s an amazing night with a wonderful crowd, but it all sort of builds up to the magic of moments like this.
Does your forthcoming album Isles have a specific release date yet or is it still pending?
Elliot: The record is done. We’re just waiting to see when everything is ready to roll out, but hopefully targeting February.
See Wild Belle perform live on 11/26 at The Echo in Los Angeles.
Wild Belle 2012 Tour Dates:
10/18 – Raleigh, NC @ Disco Rodeo *
10/19 – Charleston, SC @ Music Farm *
10/20 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade Music Park *
10/22 – Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues*
10/23 – Hollywood, FL @ ArtsPark Amp *
10/24 – Gainesville, FL @ Stephen O’Connor Center *
11/25 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah &
11/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echo &
11/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill&
11/29 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir &
11/30 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos &
12/01 – Vancouver, BC @ Electric Owl &
12/07 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
12/08 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall %
12/09 – Chicago, IL Metro %
* = w/ Passion Pit
& = w/ Deep Sea Diver
% = w/ Of Montreal
For more info: