“The first album was about loss and heartache,” says Natalie Bergman, who makes up one half of the musical act, Wild Belle, along with her older brother Elliot. “The new one [album] is really about finding love and talking about how I don’t ever want to lose it because it feels so good.”
It’s late May, and Bergman and her brother have been hard at work on their forthcoming sophomore album. If she’s feeling any pressure to follow up on the band’s hugely successful first studio effort in 2013, Isles (a mix of rocksteady, reggae, soul and African sounds), she doesn’t show it. “We’ve come a long way from the first record,” she says. We caught up with the Wild Belle frontwoman to hear more about her musical and style evolution, relocating to Chicago, and her dream gig.
Interviewed by Kristin Tice Studeman; Photo by Wild Belle.
You are a former Brooklynite, but have recently returned to your hometown of Chicago. Do you find it to be a more inspiring place for music?
I am in Chicago because I am trying to finish my second record and I thought it would be more of a calm, peaceful place with fewer distractions. My family is here, and it’s a creative place for me to work. Also, I fell in love with a dude in Chicago, so…
What can you tell us about the second album?
We just got back from Nashville (where we did some work with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys), then we went to Jamaica for a week and did some music there, and then we are off
to Toronto in a few days to finish up the record. It’s a little darker than Isles. I think the record has a little more of a spooky vibe than the first one.
What is one of the best (or worst) parts about working with your brother?
We see eye-to-eye on lots of things and I feel like we share the same vocabulary. I think it’s because we grew up listening to the same records and saw the same things. It’s really a special thing to get to work with your sibling.
What is one of your most memorable musical experiences from growing up?
My mom used to encourage me to do open mics when I was really young. I just remember when I was about 9 years old, I sang this Lucinda Williams song in a talent show and wore a leopard cowboy hat. Everyone in my school was like, ‘This girl is the coolest thing ever.’ That was like my debut into Chicago.
It sounds like you have always had a flair for fashion. How has your style evolved since officially launching your musical career?
I have always been conscious of style and presentation, it goes hand-in-hand with my music. I just know what I like—vintage guitars, cool blouses that look groovy, pants (because I think they are more powerful than dresses), art that looks like a child made it, stuff from flea markets, etc. I have been recycling clothes from my mom’s closet from the ‘70s for years.
What has been one of the greatest experiences in your Wild Belle career so far?
We played a show last week in Alabama and it was so magical. We got to play this gorgeous festival right on the beach and afterwards, our whole band went swimming. We saw like 30 or 40 dolphins right off shore and Elliot and I took kayaks and paddled right out to them. I was like, “I have the best job in the world.”
Bonnaroo would be really fun, for sure.
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