Although Eve Belle and I live in the same city, we do not live within the same five-kilometre distance. Therefore, the lockdown restrictions have demanded a Zoom call, and we find ourselves talking to each other through a grainy video on our computers. Thankfully, Belle’s charm easily translates through a WiFi connection.
There’s been a tangible shift in Belle’s career – she released her debut album, In Between Moments, last October to great critical acclaim, she has been named as one of Hot Press’ Hot for 2021 artists, and has been a part of the Other Voices #Courage series.
Releasing her debut album during a global pandemic could not have been an easy choice.
“If I had waited for the right moment, four months on, I’d still be waiting, so I just decided to make the right moment,” she tells me.
Luckily, there was an upside: “I think people are consuming more music than before. It’s an unusually good time to release music because there are people who are really reliant on having a new thing to focus on and a new thing to listen to.
“It’s counterintuitive when you’re a musician, because so much of why I do what I do is gigging and the rush I get from gigging,” she adds.
In-lieu of the stage, Belle has been diligently performing over Instagram live – a platform many musicians have relied on during the pandemic. These virtual performances offer “a nice in-between” and give her an opportunity to connect with her fans. When I tell her I once heard another musician describe them as the fat-free version of gigging, she laughs and says “that sounds about right”.
Performing as part of the Other Voices #Courage series alongside Neil Hannon and Cathy Davey gave her a chance to escape the virtual world. “It was the first time I’d gotten to do anything resembling a gig since March. So, I was literally beside myself to be at anything even remotely in the shape of a gig,” she says.
She’s just released this performance as an EP of paired-back, with acoustic versions of three songs on her album.
Other Voices has been a constant in Belle’s career – performing on the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic when she was 16, and then playing the musical trail in Dingle a few years later. “It was a lovely way to continue the trajectory of that, and all the #Courage shows were really beautiful, so it was definitely close to my heart to be back,” she says.
I ask her how she saw herself as an artist when she was just starting out – even before her first Electric Picnic performance.
“I wanted to be in emo bands in school, but my mum said no. I’m very glad she said no – I would’ve absolutely wrecked my voice, but at the time I was like ‘oh my god, why are you doing this to me?!’” She laughs.
When it comes to writing, Belle’s lyric-driven style comes naturally to her, holding on to her emo roots by writing what she calls “sad bops”.
She tells me about her first forays into song-writing, “I remember, I was like 13, and went to some event where I saw a boy I liked. He didn’t want to talk to me, so I went home and wrote a song about it as if it was the end of the world.”
“I’ve changed in no way – everything that happens to me I write a song about… But it was cringier and worse back then,” she laughs.
Coming back to the present, I ask Belle how she made the move from acoustic guitar to a fully produced, popified album.
“I was just lucky enough to have somebody in the studio who, when I would say ‘this might sound really weird, but I want to try this’ he was saying ‘I’m already there, I’m already doing it,’” she tells me.
This “somebody” is Fred Cox, who has also worked with Rag‘n’Bone Man and Grace Carter. Belle credits her confidence in the studio to their creative relationship – one built on trust and sonic experimentation. This, she says, was all part of the creative journey she was on at the time – and the album is a snapshot of that journey.
“It’s strange,” she tells me, “when the country’s open again, I’ll want to tour this album, but, these songs are not what I’m writing now.”
What’s been responsible for the sea change?
“There is a distinct difference between what I’m writing now and what I was writing before, because there is such a distinct difference in how I exist now,” she says, referring to her life in lockdown.
“It’s just had an effect on how I view the world, myself, and the things that are happening. In the same way I have grown and changed, my music has also grown and changed,” Belle continues.
Her tools of writing have changed as well, “in the past six months I’ve started writing more with the piano, which definitely feeds into a more lyrical style – the melodies flow in a more natural way,” she explains.
“With guitar, you’ve got it in your hands, which is grand, but you’re driving the process completely along on lyrics. I feel like with piano, it’s more atmospheric, which feeds back into writing,” she continues.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the world opens back up to hear this exciting new material, and Belle can’t wait for that to happen, “I keep telling everyone, I’ll even go to the opening of an envelope,” she tells me.
Catch Eve Belle at her gig in Whelan’s in April and stream In Between Moments and Other Voices Courage (Live Acoustic Sessions) on Spotify now.