Written and Interview by : SHOSH
An indie brother/sister duo, The Belle Brigade (Ethan and Barbara Gruska), drop their sophomore album “Just Because” on March 25th. In the meantime, they’re headlining a residency at the Echo for the month of February to promote their new tunes. Shosh sat down with the pair just before they performed to get the scoop on the new album, their sibling rivalry and what they have planned next,
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]:How does this album differ from your self-titled debut album?
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: Just more experimental with the recording process. We just kind of took more of our time with songs, didn’t just go with what we first did. We did different versions of the same songs over and over again. We worked with a different engineer and producer who brought so much to us.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Yeah. Sean Everett.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: He just totally changed the way that I like to work now..
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: Did you record in LA?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Yes at Tony Berg’s studio. It’s a home studio in his house in Brentwood and it’s a really small space but it’s just packed with every instrument you could dream of and it’s just got a great vibe and Tony is great and Sean has just worked there forever. It’s just great.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: Did you two play all of the instruments on the album?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Ethan played like 95% of the guitars and keyboards and stuff. I played drums and our friend Braham played bass also guitars and keyboards too. Keith played bass and Blake Mills played a little bit of guitar but mostly like harmonica and some percussion.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: As brother and sister, what’s your writing process like? Do you find that you’re more in tune than you would otherwise be?
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: I’ve never actually really written with anybody else. Like collaborated. I mean I’ve like given notes or gotten notes in a jam. So I have no way to know if I’m more in tune than normal, but I think so.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: It’s kinda awesome.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: It’s kind of every which way too. We write songs separately, we write songs together, all different kinds of ways.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: This record we have a couple songs that we wrote together and then the rest of them is kind of between Ethan’s songs and my songs.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: Do you find that there’s any sibling rivalry? I think I’d kill my sister if I had to play with her.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I think sisters might be different from brother and sister. Because the sisters that I know, I always wonder…
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: Yeah two boys or two girls, probably a different vibe.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Yeah totally. Yeah I don’t know, it’s just with a brother and a sister…Maybe it’s different for other people, but I’ve never felt that.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: We started becoming close friends before we started playing music together so we had like a few years of “oh like we’re going to be close and do it for real.” Its wasn’t the band that brought us hanging out together. We started the band after all that so we had some time to have a real foundation and relationship and we just try to keep it healthy.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: What’s the age gap?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: 6 1/2.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: What is your favorite song on this album?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I would say, it’s not about song, it’s about the recording, and it always changes, my favorite right now of how it sounds is this song called “Everything For a Stone.” Ethan’s guitar part is amazing. There’s just some really interesting sounds and stuff and I like it.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: I like one called “Miss You In My Life” right now. It’s like super chill and hypnotic and doesn’t really go too far from where it started.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: That times for number one for me too.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: Is there an overarching theme of this album. [To Barbara] I know you got married this year, does that tie into it?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: No. I don’t write about her.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: Yeah love songs are hard to write when you’re in love.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Totally.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: When you’re out of love, they’re easy.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I’m not going to write about watching Netflix and eating amazing food and snuggles. I’m definitely not going to write about that.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: Love songs are only good when you wish you had it. That’s not true, but…
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: Lyrically, I feel like the energy from a lot of these lyrics is kind of the emotions and built up stuff that we experienced over the couple of years that we were touring the first record. That’s kind of where the stuff that I wrote came from. I know Ethan also. And I spent all of the time away from my partner, so your head is in a completely different place.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: That makes sense.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I’m never going to let her read this.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: What about your influences? In general or for this album.
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: We brought up some Peter Gabriel songs when we were mixing and working. Sean liked to, in the middle of a a song, pull another song into the session while we were working, rather than just trying to remember it in our head and so there was definite just like “oh that’s a cool sound” let’s try to copy it or get close. But yeah Peter Gabriel. Who else? Ry Cooder.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I would say those were the two major ones.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: What are you listening to right now, that’s modern?
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: I’m really loving James Blake, recently. He’s probably my favorite current artist.
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: I love the new Daft Punk record. It gets better and better every time I listen to it.
Ellenwoodep [SHOSH]: And what’s next after this residency at the Echo?
Belle Brigade [Barbara]: South by Southwest and then we have a tour coming up in the summer. I don’t think that we can specify yet…
Belle Brigade [Ethan]: It’s not fully booked yet, but we’ll definitely be playing in the summer.
The Belle Brigade’s sophomore album, “Just Because” drops March 25th.
Pre-order TheBelle Brigade’s new album, “Just Because” & the first 500 physical orders will receive a limited edition autographed 7″ vinyl! http://smarturl.it/bbjustbecause
Pre-order “Just Because” on iTunes here – http://smarturl.it/itunesbb
The Echo, Filter, & Amoeba Present:
Tuesday Night Residency with The Belle Brigade
Alex Lilly, Clara-Nova, Tides
Tue, February 18, 2014
Los Angeles, California
This event is 21 and over