Band Crush: Wild Belle
If sibling rivalry is a real thing, then Natalie and Elliot Bergman have never heard of it. Instead of trying to one-up each other, the brother and sister joined forces to start Wild Belle, an exuberant dance-pop band that's about to release their sophomore LP at the beginning of next year. The video for "Giving Up On You," which you can watch below, should give you an idea of the band's good-time vibes. Filmed in their hometown of Chicago, it's basically a visual document of the best dance party of the year. The Bergmans recruited a bunch of their friends, along with members of Chicago's Footwork and Voguing scenes, to create a raucous, 12-hour celebration of letting go. We caught up with Natalie Bergman to find out more about their dynamic.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I love handmade things. I love collage, I'm obsessed with cutting things out of paper and gluing images together. I love bringing two worlds together and letting them exist on the same page. I like film. I love the colors of Polaroid and the grain and the washed out texture in the photograph. I like instruments. I love tube amps, old guitars. I love my 1972 Fender Mustang and my 1965 Ford Mustang. I love seeing how things were loved and worn and used. I like wild things: animals, men, and nature. I like to solve things. On our records we really try to create new worlds where things can coexist harmoniously—a pulsing synth and a fuzz guitar, island sounds and industrial sounds.
How did your career get started?
My brother took me on tour with him when I was 16. I was hanging out at rock clubs all over the country. I played an Indian tambourine in his band, Nomo, and sold merchandise. Touring really opened my eyes to a lot of things: U.S. cities, jazz music, uncomfortable sleeping situations. But it mostly opened my eyes to the stage. I wanted to be on the stage, not as a tambourine man, but as a frontwoman. The second I got my hands on a recording device I started making track after track. I became a minor professional on GarageBand. I learned the drums by playing along to "The Score" by The Fugees. Then I'd layer Wurli, Autoharp, vox, tin-can—whatever made noise, really. Elliot invited me to Key Club to work up some of these tracks and we ended up recording Isles.
Where do you hope to be professionally in five years?
I would love to have a studio in Jamaica. Bob Marley built his dream studio right before he died and he never got to record in it. It's currently sitting in the wilderness and out of use. The wood in the studio is gorgeous. The ceilings are tall. The studio overlooks the Caribbean and is tucked away in a sort of jungle. I hope to buy that studio in five years.
What’s your next project?
I want to show my collages in a gallery. My dream would be to have an exhibit next to Elliot's work. Let's start in Elliot's basement and move to the MCA in Chicago. I also want to make a raunchy, scary, haunting, beautiful, brain-blowing record with Doc McKinney. I'd like to write and record this album in four weeks, mastered by week five. He worked with us on our new album, Dreamland, and the songs that he produced are my favorite. He really taught me how unique my voice is. I had an idea, but when I record with him it's like I can hear my voice louder than ever before. It's almost like he gave me courage. And damn I got courage, but he turned me into a lion.
What is your favorite driving music?
Music to bang your head to.
Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Maybe Picasso. He had such an incredible body of work. When Elliot and I went to the MoMA a few weeks ago we checked out PICASSO SCULPTURE. It blew me away. I looked at things differently after leaving the museum. I would also like to be more like my brother. Elliot is a wizard of sound. He's been casting bronze and making beautiful bells. He's always been making instruments: bell trees, Kalimbas, things that don't even have a name. He can make sound out of anything. He is a sculptor and a painter, too. Every time I go to his house he has hundreds of new ink block prints. He is always starting a new project. I would like to have a body of work as wonderful as his.
If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?
I would love to have seen Miles Davis in concert. Besides Bitches Brew, one of my favorite albums of his is Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud. He recorded the album in 1957 at Le Poste Parisien Studio in Paris. I would have loved to be there for that. I also would die to go on tour with The Wailers sometime before 1974 and sing with Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh. I'm in the mood to say that Marley and I would have fallen in love and written some deep cuts together. Some mornings I'll wake up with a song he wrote called "Thank You Lord" in my head, and some nights I'll sing that before I go to sleep. I want to make music that people wake up to and also dream of.
What activities do you most enjoy doing alone?
I've been reading a lot on Nina Simone. She was a tortured soul. She had demons in her head. I like to understand how people cope with their mind when their mind is out of control.
How do you wind down before bed?
I usually party until I fall asleep.
When are you most relaxed?
Relaxation is overrated. The only people that ever tell me to relax are my enemies.
What kind of person were you in high school?
I was a damn hippie. I certainly wasn't the best student. I smoked weed in my '85 Mercedes station wagon in the middle of class. I didn't love school but I loved Mr. Bell, who was the head of the music department. He lead the gospel choir and he gave me every solo. I took piano lessons with him, and he really taught me a lot about African music and the Blues.
What’s a serious side of you that people are unlikely to know about? Either in terms of interests, hobbies, or personality?
I am a total freak show and have a pretty outrageous temper. I'm not proud of it. Last night, for example, I smashed my cell phone on the wall of my hotel room. I destroyed things. Something triggered me to do that. I can be tough and act like a rude boy, but I'm very sensitive.
What are some new hobbies you would like to take on?
I want to be a better sight reader. I'd like to be able to play Beethoven effortlessly.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life what might it be?
Love can and will outlast this world.