Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
BT: I am an artist who writes very personal, intimate and specific songs as a way of both processing my own thoughts and feelings from my experiences, in addition to a hope of giving voice to people who may have been in similar scenarios. I believe that the more personal/vulnerable a song is, the more universal it has the potential of becoming, and therefore anyone can draw from it.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
BT: I was born on the west coast, on unceded Coast Salish territory (Vancouver, Canada), and spent most of my childhood wandering the beach exploring tide pools and collecting sea shells. My parents have always been huge music lovers, so I grew up going on summer family road trips to Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle, as well attending Vancouver Folk Music festival every summer since I was really young, and then volunteering in my teens for a free weekend pass. When I moved to Montreal for university, I started playing (mostly violin and harmonies) in the indie folk band Saint Lo. A few years into this project, I began bringing my own songs to the band, but the more I grew individually as a musician, the more I started to imagine a project of my own, that would find it’s sound through dreamy lofi indie rock, which was a bit different from Saint Lo’s folk sound (although Belle Tower is still very inspired by folk as well). In the spring of 2019, I went into the studio with old and new friends + main collaborators, Ben Robertson (Winona Forever, Schwey), and Scott Boudreau (Mauno). We spent a year in the basement studio of Ben’s Rosemont home (also the Winona Forever house) putting together ‘tend to’ (out April 27th of this year).
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
BT: My biggest non-musical/musical influences are my parents. My dad has incredible taste in music (they both do) and he raised my sister and I to memorize a song’s artist, name and year released just by hearing the first thirty seconds of it. My friends and I were having a chat about musical influences the other day and it was really hard for us to choose so we broke it down to two categories from pre 2010 to post 2010 and I liked this way of breaking it up cause I have too many! With this, pre 2010: Joni Mitchell, post 2010: Phoebe Bridgers.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
BT: That is a big question! My dream is to have a little home + studio on the west coast, near the ocean, with a big garden (this is sort of my reality currently as I am currently on the west coast with my parents! but my dream is to carve out a little haven of my own close to them). My goals are to continue to create/record/release music, to tour eventually (when it’s safe to do so)! I am also hoping to go back to school eventually to continue my studies on looking at music from an anthropological lens!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
BT: I write all the music and lyrics to my songs, with huge production contributions from both Ben and Scott. Isolation, solitude, pain, love and healing are key themes at the heart of my collection; songs that explore vulnerable subject matter such as childhood trauma, resisting the male gaze/misogyny in the music industry, and embracing one’s identity. The songs on ‘tend to’ are a collection of how I have processed coming into a space of my own as a songwriter. The EP explores catharsis/healing/tending to what needs caring for, in addition to recognizing/ learning from patterns ~ in turn, from those experiences, finding my voice and a newfound confidence as a solo artist. My intention for the songs was that they were portrayed delicately, yet also communicate raw truths. This concept is something I feel Ben and Scott somehow understood immediately when we started working together, and so you can also feel it in the instrumentation of the record. Moreover, with most folk inspired songwriting, each track could seemingly stand alone just fine, but the guitar lines and rhythm as well as the string arrangements support and tie the storylines of the songs together, they are all a part of the world inside my head. My collaborators have made this project feel more full than I could have ever imagined or expected, so I am very grateful for them.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
BT: Mostly the internet! Due to Covid, my band and I are not playing shows as we are all staying safe and staying home. It’s wild to think how the music industry is changing so much because of Covid, and although I feel like I’m still trying to keep up with all the different platforms there are to showcase who I am as an artist, I’m grateful to have the internet because otherwise nobody would know who I am because we can’t play shows right now, haha.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
BT: I grew up around a lot of vinyl, tapes and CDS as my dad is a big collector so the era of downloading and streaming music hurts my heart a little bit, there is nothing like the feeling of holding a record in your hand and you don’t get that with downloading music online. On the other hand though, I wouldn’t have found a lot of the music I’m into/promoted myself as an artist if it weren’t for downloading music online! So I’m on the fence about it!
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
BT: A Case of You – Joni Mitchell. Joni is my favourite songwriter of all time, and the lyrical imagery of this song is unreal. Imagery in music is something I’m really into, almost like painting a canvas (like Joni does) with words, so that’s why I wish I had written this song.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
BT: I’m a virgo so i’m a little bit of a control freak, especially when it comes to cooking! My biggest pet peeve is having people in the kitchen when I’m cooking, haha. Oh also, and mansplaining, especially when it comes to music stuff, have had to deal with that a lot in my life.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
BT: I feel lucky to have many proud moments in my music career so far! But the most recent one was being featured on the Women of Indie playlist by Indie to Go among some big heroes for me (namely, Phoebe Bridgers).
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
BT: At the moment, I’m working on releasing my EP ‘tend to’ which comes out on April 27th! I have another single out this spring just before the EP release, and some videos to share as well. I’m also always writing new music and will likely be going back into the studio in the next little while, so you can expect lots of new music in 2021 and onward!
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
BT: I have a few singles available online, you can buy them on my Bandcamp here at https://belletower.bandcamp.com/
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