The Belle Game warms up WinterruptionBy Andrea Warner
Try listening to the title single off Vancouver-based band The Belle Game’s most recent EP, Sleep to Grow, and discover what thousands of people already know: sometimes beautiful music takes six, seven, even eight sets of hands. What began as a three-piece in 2009 with Adam Nanji, Andrea Lo, and Alex Andrew, just kept growing. And growing. And growing. Now Katrina Jones, Rob Chursinoff, and Ian Cook are regular members, though Cook has recently taken some personal time so Marcus Abramzik is filling in. And one can’t forget the Ruffled Feathers’ Andrew Lee, the unofficial seventh member who provides key Belle Game songs their trademark brass flourishes. Wrangling all seven together for an interview is nigh impossible, so Nanji spoke with WE in advance of the band’s show with Aidan Knight this Saturday, Feb. 25, as part of the Winterruption arts and culture festival at Granville Island, giving the scoop about their debut album (three years in the making!), playing in L.A. and why Montreal is second-best to Vancouver.
What’s your background?
I’ve always been a music geek; in high school I used to hang out in the band room. When it came time to pick a university to go to, which I promised my parents I would do, I thought, I’m going to go to Montreal because that’s where music is. I really wanted to be a part of a music scene and a music community, and that’s why Montreal seemed like such a good fit. Which it ended up not being. It’s a different type of music community. It’s amazing, artistic and people are there to live and do art, but it’s very insular.
Vancouver’s indie music community seems pretty supportive, at least as an outsider looking in.
For sure. There’s a tight-knit community in both cities, but the bands in Vancouver want to foster that community and bring other bands in. When we first met David Ortesi of Hey Ocean, he invited us to go on tour. Hey Ocean, Dan Mangan and Mother Mother kind of started this new wave of the Vancouver indie music scene, but they’re so willing to help everyone. It’s really cool.
You’re playing Winterruption and tour all over. You have an audience that follows you — even without a first album. Is this just the new reality of emerging bands?
I think it is. I mean, we could get into a big discussion about the relevance of the album in modern music. But people are so excited about music here and they come to shows. They really appreciate seeing things now that there are lots of venues and we get to play a lot. That’s what really gets to people: the live show. Which is strange, because so many bands have blown up on the internet with just a couple singles. But Vancouver has created this special, safe place where bands can actually play 40-minute sets and that’s how people become fans.
Sleep to Grow was supposed to be your debut full-length. What happened?
We recorded enough material to do a full-length, but we were writing newer songs and realized that older stuff wasn’t really who the band was anymore. We recorded all of our growing pains onto an album that will never get heard. Now we’re going in at the end of this month to hopefully finish the last half of the [new] album, which should be ready by September at the latest.
You were in L.A. recently. What was going on?
We were doing a music supervision showcase. The lovely Music BC people took some B.C. bands down to L.A. and into the NBC studios and we played for the people who put music in all their TV shows. We were really nervous to go down and play in an office and they were some of the nicest people we’ve met as a band! They were super supportive. They helped set up the PA in their office, they talked about their experiences licensing bands and music. We were expecting a room full of suits at a big long wooden table and they would, like, judge us but in the best way they were just music geeks.
The Belle Game perform with Aidan Knight Feb. 25 at Performance Works, 8pm. $15-$18 from NorthernTickets.com.