Content Warning: This article discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know is affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
In a year plagued by an invisible enemy and more rattling realities that we once thought was possible in such a short time, Melbourne artist Bel hasn’t been one to dive under the covers and pray for it all to be over. Instead, she’s taking action.
Between readying the release of ‘Good News’, the latest single from her trilogy EP T1, (produced by Konstantin Kersting), Bel co-founded the Facebook group Womxn In Music. The private, invite-only group for women, non-binary and trans people was sparked after recent personal accounts of sexual harassment and assault were brought to light by Jaguar Jonze and Michelle Pitiris.
To find out more Bel’s stunning EP release, her dreams, her lovely quirks, and the Womxn In Music Facebook group, Check out the Q&A below.
How did your artist name come about?
Pretty simply. My name is Isabelle, so Bel (my real and true nickname) felt right. I have nothing against using a moniker, but ultimately, I don’t see it as necessary. What you see is what you get, and I suppose my overall brand of ‘Eyes of Bel’ explores that narrative.
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
Haha I have never been asked this before. I would use descriptive and emotive words as opposed to genre specific. Fierce, introspective, sensual, empowering – those are some of the words I may use.
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
This year I have released three tracks – ‘Better Than Me’, ‘Spectre’, and now, ‘Good News’. These three songs, plus an extended Spoken Word track that amalgamates samples from all three songs is what comprises my Trilogy EP called T1. So, I suppose, that’s four tracks.
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Check out Bel’s video for ‘Spectre’:
T1 walks us through Part 1 of a narrative, my narrative, towards equilibrium and contentment. More so, it gives listeners an overall understanding of the world I am trying to create and my ethos as an artist. T1 (A Spoken Word), the introduction track to this EP, illuminates this in the most up front of all the tracks in my opinion.
My latest single ‘Good News’ pays homage to something that we all crave as humans, particularly right now during a global pandemic; Good News.
What do you love about your hometown?
Born and raised in Melbourne, I feel extremely lucky on the daily. I am first generation Australian, my father being Hungarian/Romanian and my mother being Polish/New Zealander.
The struggles that my parents faced as immigrants is something I will never understand. To be honest, the world is such a shit show right now.
Though I am currently writing from Stage 4 lockdown, Melbourne is the best place to be writing from. We are a diverse city with incredible food, fashion, art, culture, nightlife and charisma. No matter where I end up in the world, I’ll always be grateful to have been raised here.
Check out Bel’s video for ‘Better Than Me’:
Tell us about the Womxn In Music Facebook group you created.
As a response to the widespread callouts of various sexual perpetrators and misogyny within the Australian music industry, fellow artist Sarah Wolfe and myself decided it would be beneficial to create a space where women, non-binary and trans folk would feel safe and comfortable to connect, share stories and network away from cis-men.
Though it was obvious to us that a space like this was required, we never could have anticipated the response. We gained over 1200 members within seven days – artists, label heads, managers, publishers, agents, distributors and more.
We are currently working very hard at moderating this network and paving a future for it in a responsible and beneficial way for our members.
What do you see as the group’s primary role?
This is a really good question, and something we are still working out.
The ethos of the group spans wide as there are many things, we want to achieve from creating extensive resources, to bringing people together in a networking sense, to potentially working with governments to review legislations.
We are in an array of discussions at the moment as the reality of the situation is that change and accountability is necessary, the way in which we achieve this is still very much up for discussion.
What would you like to see more of in this music industry?
I want to see more women, queer and BIPOC folk at the forefront of the industry. This means on line-ups, in award shows, in label offices, in the music studio, on panels – all of it.
These three groups of people are the voices that should be elevated ahead of men because of the sexism, marginalisation, racism and engrained homophobia within the industry.
It’s one thing jumping on a bandwagon for BIPOC or LBGTQIA+ rights when it’s on trend, it’s another thing doing the work to elevate these voices ahead of our own behind the scenes.
Stream Bel’s EP T1:
Fave non-music hobby?
This is a tricky one because I have a few favourites. Typically, outside of music I love cycling, writing and reading poetry, cooking plant-based food, drawing and researching fashion history. Also, masturbation and anything sex related.
I’m a huge advocate for eradicating shame and stigma surrounding self-pleasure and sex for females. I was in a documentary about this a few months ago. It’s called ‘Me & Her’ – the her referring to our clits!
What’s on your dream rider?
My dream rider would be a vegan smorgasbord of sweet potato fries, kombucha/kefir, herbal tea, hummus and guac, berries and vegetable sticks.
If I am being super fancy maybe some cauliflower wings? Maybe some Japanese whiskey with rosemary too! Basically, anything vegan!
Dream music collaboration?
I would love love love to collaborate with Arca, James Blake, Thom Yorke or Future Islands. FKA Twigs or Frank Ocean too. Wake me up when this happens please.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m scared to say because my dreams are crazy big, and they scare me daily so I can’t imagine how they must sound to other people. For now, I’ll just say happy and content within myself.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears, easy. You should see me get slinky on the pre-chorus!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To trust my gut intuition. It is never wrong on either situations or people. Whenever I go against it, I end up in deep shit.
What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?
That’s a really interesting question and I love it. My music wreaks of vulnerability and I consider myself open book.
That being said, the antithesis of this is not allowing yourself to crumble. I have an obsession with achieving my goals and perfectionism I’d say, and I rarely give myself permission to “have a day off” or “do nothing”. Therefore, I suppose I have an obsession with momentum and the concept of achieving. It’s something I am working on and I definitely explore it within my music.